There have been some anime over the years that take you into the seedy side of the world. Animes such as Black Lagoon and Jormungand come to mind when talking about such a genre. Bandai and Manglobe come together to bring another anime into that realm of underbelly goodness. Welcome to Gangsta. (and yes.. that period is part of the title for whatever reason!)
The story of Gangsta. takes place in the city of Ergastulum. Four crime families rule the streets as well as different sections of the city. In the middle of it are Nicolas and Worick.. two Bendiya or “handymen” who are called upon by the different crime families, as well as the town’s police, to do the jobs that nobody else wants to do. However, as the story progresses… it transitions from odd jobs to an all out war!
Gangsta. is relatively interesting and is a great example of making the most of what you have to work with. With only 12 episodes, Gangsta. does a lot with their two main characters by weaving the present story and their backstories seamlessly into each episode. You learn about what’s going on in the world today as well as the past for both Worick and Nicolas. This isn’t easy to do with a limited number of episodes, but the ends leaves things WIDE open for a second season which, at the time of this writing, has not been announced.
However, while I do applaud the series for balancing past and present stories, the present story does get a bit convoluted and semi-hard to follow. This is the downfall of having a very big cast of characters in such a short time span. Things did seem to escalate quickly and at times I actually felt a bit lost in the story. I understand the war going on and what the Twilights were and such, but towards the end of the series when the big reveal came as to who was behind the latter incidents, I wasn’t really surprised because all of the flashbacks they gave showing the clues that hinted towards the reveal just seemed to have so little impact I was left saying “oh…. okay?” rather than “oh my God!”
All in all the story was pretty good, though, and I did enjoy it for what it was. There needs to be a second season to do this show some justice because if they decide to just end it where they did and not continue this into the future, I am going to be one very angry anime nerd.
As aforementioned, there’s a HUGE cast of characters in this show. I won’t detail all of them, but I will cover the groups that they are a part of.
I’m going to start off with, perhaps, the best main character this anime season had to offer. Nicolas is deaf and communicates through sign language, but he does speak when he needs to, but when he does speak, subtitles are needed because the voice actor for him understands what a deaf character is supposed to sound like. If you’ve ever heard a deaf person try to speak, you know that it doesn’t sound right because they, themselves, cannot tell their own tones, inflections, or pronunciations. To nail a difficult character like that takes talent and Kenjirou Tsuda nailed it perfectly.
Nicolas can also understand others just by lip reading and sometimes, he can understand what people are saying even when he’s not looking right at them.. it’s as if he already knows what’s being said or what needs to be done. That’s also the kind of bond he has with Worick and through the flashbacks, the viewer comes to understand the strength of that bond between the two of them. Nicolas is also very handy with a sword and carries around a pair of dog tags. When people see those tags, they know to run because Nicolas is someone you don’t want to mess with… period.
Nicolas’ personality, however, is that of a military soldier. He takes care of business when it needs to be taken care of… even if he does go overboard and has to get brought back down to Earth by Worick. Underneath that is someone who has a caring side, but he never truly shows it in a direct fashion. It’s through some of his actions that you get to see that side of him.
Worick is Nicolas’ lifelong friend and the other half of the handymen. He is skilled with a gun and ends up being Nicolas’ voice (or voice of reason in some instances) for most of the show. The biggest trait that Worick presents is an incredible eidetic memory. He can recall almost any and every face he’s come across for pretty much the span of his entire life. Chad, of the police, makes use of that in identifying victims or when trying to find a culprit in a case.
Worick also comes off as a happy-go-lucky person, but get can down to business when it counts. Despite his appearance, complete with an eye patch, Worick seems like a very approachable person. He just gives off that vibe when you see him. There really isn’t much to Worick outside of that. He’s just the down-to-Earth voice of reason.
Alex was a prostitute and was a hit target of Worick and Nicolas, along with her employer, however, since the two of them have seen Alex hanging around the vicinity of their office, they’ve gotten to know her situation a little bit before meeting her. Instead of killing her, they employ her as someone who answers the phone for them since Nicolas can’t hear it and Worick isn’t always there to answer it himself. In fact, it was Nicolas’ wish for her to be employed which is a testament to his softer side that he rarely shows.
Alex is a pretty nice character. You really feel sorry for her and you also want to root for her as she’s trying to dig herself out of the hole she dug herself into. She is plagued by her past, but slowly and surely, she begins to overcome it and you can actually see some growth with her character. She’s a nice example of a supporting character doing the job her role was meant for, but also stepping out of that role from time to time to get some focus and spotlight as a semi-main.
The Four Families
I’m lumping them together because it would take forever and a day to go through the characters here.
There are four main mafia families in Gangsta.: The Corsica Family, The Monroe Family, The Cristiano Family, and The Paulklee Guild.
The Monroe Family regulates the commerce within the city and provides support to Twilights not associated with the Paulklee Guild. Their members include Daniel Monroe (Family Head), Delico, Diego Montes, Miles Mayer, and Yang.
Loretta Cristiano Amodio
The Cristiano Family once brought balance to the city, but it fell in power and is now under the Monroe family. They are in charge of distributing the drug Celebrer to all of the Twilights, which is something they need to survive. They also go to great lengths to aid and protect Twilights as well. Due to a legal notice, this is all they can do so in order for them to carry out some jobs, they hire the Handymen. Their members include Loretta Cristiano Amodio (Family Head), Galahad Woehr (Owner of the bar Bastard), and Marco Adriano who is dating Constance, a girl who runs a small restaurant and the granddaughter of Joel, an elderly woman who runs a cigarette shop.
The Corsica Family is pretty much the seedy underbelly of the city. They smuggle weapons into the city and run the city’s sex industry as well. They are also known for having a seething hated against the Twilights. Their members include Uranos Corsica (Family Head), Georgiana, and Ivan Glaziev.
The Paulklee Guild is kind of a human trafficking family.. but they don’t supply regular humans to the families.. they supply Twilights. Their most notable member is their leader Gina Paulklee. She’s a very tough individual and she, herself, is a Twilight. She is a very strong individual and takes a very dark humor approach to the world. Despite be a Twilight herself, she doesn’t have much sympathy, if any at all, for her own kind when they make mistakes.
Doug: One of the featured Twilights in the show
A bit of a minor spoiler here, but The Twilights are individual humans who have used the Celebrer drug as children. From birth, they are chosen and fed these drugs in order to genetically alter their bodies. They are given dog tags starting at D/5 (the lowest rank) all the way up to S/0. They need Celebrer in order to live, but it is known that their life spans are much shorter than a normal human. The city of Ergastulum was created as their safe haven after the war.
Also known as the Twilight Hunters, they are a group hired by the Corsica Family to purge the city of Twlights.
In addition to all of the guilds, factions, and main characters, there are side characters as well such as the staff at Bastard, a bar that accepts Twilights, Chad and the police department who use the handymen for certain jobs as well, Dr. Theo who specializes in looking after the Twilights, and so forth. As you can see, there is quite the large cast that they crammed into 12 episodes.
All in all, I felt that this series overwhelmed the viewers with too many characters. There simply just wasn’t enough room to fit everything together comfortably and you spent more time trying to remember which person belonged to what family, who hates who, etc, than enjoying the actual story being told. It’s the one big weakness this show had, to be honest.
Art, Animation, and Sound
You’re not going to find cute cat-eared moe girls in this one. This show has a very big senin feel to it with good reason. This show is for mature audiences as there are scenes of sex, violence, shady deals… you name it. However, the city was created in such a way to enhance that vibe. I really want to compare this city to that of Roanapur from Black Lagoon. Both cities just give off that feeling that this is not the place you want to spend a quiet evening in. Nothing about the city looks “run down” like Detroit, Michigan, but just from the colors and textures, you just get this immersion into the world of Gangsta. that it almost feels like a natural fit.
Who would spend a quiet evening in a place called this?
The characters themselves are designed decently, I would say. Worick and Nicolas’ designs aren’t anything over the top and fancy, but compared to the other characters, they stand out enough. A lot of the mafia characters do look a bit on the bland side with only Gina Paulklee REALLY standing out as something unique. Even the heads of the families, with the exception of Loretta, appear to look just like you would expect a mafia head to look. Nothing is really over the top and outlandish, but that’s typically what you get from a senin series.
You also typically get Nicolas sitting on top of a cop car because he can.
The soundtrack doesn’t have a lot going for it. The background music isn’t very versatile and they seem to repeat a handful of tracks over and over again.. which is okay because you’re too busy trying to keep track of who everyone is to remember what song is being played anyway… although I do have to give a shout out to the opening theme as it was very well done. “Renegade” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION doesn’t really represent the vibe that Gangsta. gives off. It’s a techno/rave song with upbeat lyrics that you can dance to or enjoy on the way to work. It’s kind of in the same boat as “Flyers” by BRADIO which served as the opening theme to Death Parade.
In my First Reaction series, I called this the standout anime of the summer season. At the end of the show, I may have to take that statement back just because of the confusion with the huge cast of characters. The story itself was pretty good, but I really dislike shows that end on a cliffhanger with no follow up planned. I have seen a lot of series go unresolved because they didn’t wait until the material was finished and just jumped on the hype bandwagon hoping that it would be popular enough to continue on down the line and then it just never does.
But if you want a good seedy city story, then Gangsta. should sate your appetite.
If you are looking for more, Dr. Theo might have what you need.
More Characters Than Carter Had Liver Pills
A little bit hard to follow, but still a pretty solid story that sucks you into their world
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