B: The Beginning – Succession

B: The Beginning – Succession (2021)

I’m not sure how to write about this short season…

It seemed like the prologue to a bigger story to come, and at the same time, like an epilogue to a bigger story that had already been told.

Which it basically was.

In terms of negative aspects, first up is that fact that I didn’t enjoy the side-lining of Keith Flick* for pretty much the entire series. Maybe it’s like Superman needing kryptonite. If a character is too smart, it can be hard to surprise them and so dramatic tension is cut.

While the political intrigue was an interesting extra facet this time around I think it maybe took the place of a compelling villain, but since this season seems to function as something to tide folks over, I should probably hold back on judging too soon.

Things still look great and there was plenty of dramatic lighting and warm colours, along with some exciting action sequences, but overall I’m still finding myself a bit disappointed.

Having said that, I’ll still watch more episodes if they appear one day and it was nice to see Izanami return.

So, maybe 3 stars, I guess?

*I’m also wondering if Keith’s past with his adoptive sister is going to be explored or whether it’s just some run of the mill shock tactics stuff?

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

As with my last post, I have a few weekly write-ups starting here from back when No Guns Life was airing and so I guess I’m going to kinda summarise some of them here 😀

There’s a fair chance that if you enjoy science-fiction, action and noir then you’ll like this series and I did for sure… but I do wonder if Madhouse has any plans to keep it going. (Looks like there’s plenty of material available with Tasuku Karasuma’s manga at least).

I mention that possible third season because at the end of No Guns Life I felt that there was still far too much to be explored and I want to see more.

That’s probably the main issue I had with the series.

There’s plenty of action, some eventual backstory reveals about mostly interesting characters and of course Juzo himself was a favourite element, but I wanted a more compelling central villain. It’s clear that the Big Evil Corp (Berühren) take on that role but the episodes here are often building up and then pulling back from developing that central narrative/mystery.

And without a future season there’s not going to be any payoff/resolution for me in that respect.

Instead of expecting that, I eventually started to focus on enjoying some of the smaller arcs or character designs of the humans and Extendeds who live in the almost perpetual blue-green-grey or brown-orange-pink of the city.

What I found really interesting was Juzo and other ‘gun-head’ designs – it obviously makes them seem more impassive, and for Juzo it feeds into the ‘detective with a past’ trope but it also created an issue for comedic moments or scenes that maybe required facial expressions.

And so I thought it was fun that when any given scenario needed to show Juzo as more human, you’d end up seeing stuff reminiscent of Alphonse Elric 🙂

Elsewhere, Kronen and Mary are other fav characters and Victor definitely remains someone I’d love to see more of too but when I balance out some of episodic elements that didn’t work for me (S2E5 for example) and my fear that the beginnings of a great central storyline will be abandoned by financial pressures, then I worry.

And I worry because No Guns Life feels like 24 episodes of establishing character, setting and stakes, all of which has left me invested enough to want more of the story, and it probably won’t happen…

3 Stars  

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 12)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Okay! Another series final – this time No Guns Life wraps up and I’m left kinda desperate for a further season one day.

I feel that mostly because all 24 episodes of No Guns Life seem to be set-ups for something that cannot possible happen within 24 episodes.

There’s just so much more story! And I fear I won’t get a chance to see it. (Especially because I don’t have the shelf space to start collecting the manga, and thus my hope is that Madhouse green lit more.)

Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy this ending episode as much as I’d hoped – but that doesn’t mean I thought it was bad, not at all. (It was interesting to get some backstory on Pepper for instance).

And there was a bit of welcome focus on comedic stuff and the switch in colour palette was refreshing, but the finale wasn’t an explosive finish, even if I appreciated an important reveal in there.

Still, as I said before – I really do want more No Guns Life one day.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 11)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

After a fairly large recap for an intro, and a bit of recapping within that kinda impacted the pacing for me, the fight between Juzo and Seven kicks up a notch or two.

At the same time, there was a little widening of the focus to bring in other players too, and to give Pepper a chance to make a mess of things.

Maybe there are a few cracks in Seven’s resolve too, enough to weaken him – but I think the most important thing I picked up with episode was basically confirmation that those two have essentially gone rogue.

Not much else that I think needs highlighting for me, other than my feeling that the over-sized arms as weapons could be a touch comical… but then, is it really any more odd-ball than guns as heads?

Nope 😀

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 10)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

So, I didn’t get the big confrontation I was hoping for on Kronen’s behalf, but I’m sure he’ll be in action again soon.

Instead, aside from a bit more of the struggle between Juzo and Seven (and a quick check-in with Mary) it’s mostly a long flashback where we meet Juzo’s Hands and see events that made him who he is today.

As the audience is meant to be, I think most of us have been quite curious about certain details in his past and so I was glued to the screen here. Feels like my old (obvious) prediction that the Big Bad was not going to be dealt with this season has been accurate.

I guess it’s Seven instead, who will be the main antagonist after all, which is, in a way, a little disappointing. He’s no Victor for one, but then, he (and Pepper) are at least more interesting than Cunningham 😀

Gangsta

Gangsta (2015)

Mafia-style stories can be an incredibly hard sell for me in many ways, since I tend not to enjoy the idea of glamorising career-criminals via entertainment media.

But Gangsta isn’t a straight-up crime drama either because there is a little something more going on – namely the human experiment angle, that and the fact that one of the lead characters is deaf, which was a welcome change from typical action heroes.

Having said that, this series still features vaguely super-hero style fights at times, so typical action conventions definitely dominate. Nic and Worick are memorable leads, and while they don’t get a chance to be fully developed, I think it’s clear they were going to get even more dimensions – even, or especially – Alex, who does function as more than eye-candy sometimes.

The villains are fairly strong too and the setting is distinctive – or at least, I enjoyed its general Italian-look for sure. I think you could argue that the super-human ‘Tag’ aspect to the world-building was going to escalate far too quickly for the pacing of a story that definitely needed more than one short season to tell. For me, that meant that some of the action-sequences and associated tension tapered off because characters seemed a little overpowered for so early on.   

But basically, I was pretty happy to see something a little different in this unfinished story from Manglobe and Shūkō Murase. I know that Gangsta sometimes comes with a little asterisk next to it, as ‘the series that no-one liked and which killed Manglobe’ but of course, that’d be a little simplistic. Manglobe certainly did close up shop [a few details here] and some of the vitriol directed to this short series is due to the ‘ending’.

And if there had been a second season, this would be a cracker of a cliff-hanger… but alas, it was not to be.

Like the majority of anime out there, there is a manga luckily, and so if you wanted to keep reading to catch more of the storyline then you’re all good. However, as usual with me, I’ve written about the anime since that’s all I’ve got 🙂

4 Stars*

*This might be me being my usual generous, uncritical self, but since the Gangsta anime is a truly unfinished story, I wanted to add this note about the lack of resolution, since I’m certainly on record as saying that endings are vital.

The selective colouring in the opening I liked a lot.
There’s probably a touch more sexualised stuff and violence than in typical shounen anime, so it’s more firmly in the seinen age-bracket.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 9)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Yes! Kronen is back 😀

The action is escalating, as are the stakes and risks too, so I’m still enjoying this half of the season. I’m also expecting the narrative to check in with Mary soon, though we’re mid-battle at the end of the episode.

A few surprises in episode nine, and some handled… differently than others, but overall the tension is rising toward that big finish I’ve been craving. I’d really like to see a few characters drawn into the struggle more directly for the next few episodes, chief among them Victor.

As I feel like I’ve said many times before, I hope this does get a second season so a few scores can be settled, especially things that I don’t think there will be time for right now.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 8)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Happy that my guess from the last episode was right, but on the other hand it was more fun to see that nasty surprise from Wachowski near the end.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m noticing the most of the more serious episodes use this blue, green, grey palette with the lighter ones going for warmer tones, though it’s not a bright show in any sense.

Despite the action and revelations here, it still feels like that ‘pause before the big finish’ I’ve been expecting.

I’m hoping for some rising tension to build quickly now, as we head to the end of the season. But maybe I’ll be extremely wrong and there’s only a really cruel cliffhanger coming, rather than a strong resolution?

I’d love for some other folks to return also, like Kronen, and he was at least mentioned here, so I have hope!

Again, I’m a bit short on stuff to say – basically, I still look forward to No Guns Life in spite of how much I grumble about what I consider to be pacing issues.

Onward!

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 7)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Ah, the cliffhanger – I’m on the edge of my seat a bit after having watched episode seven, both because I’m keen to see what happens next but also to see if my prediction comes true, re: Juzo and Tetsuro.

It feels like all the silence from Juzo in that final scene is meant to push me toward assuming one thing, but comparing it to the conversation he has with Tetsuro in the office and I suspect I’m meant to go with another assumption 🙂

Anyway, since this ep once again offered glimpses into Juzo’s past I was pretty satisfied and while I still feel like there’s not enough time to take on the Big Evil Corporation, I’m ready for whatever debris will fall when Juzo begins his wrecking ball act!

Not just this weasel, but a few other familiar faces finally make a re-appearance in this episode too.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 6)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

This episode plays out like classic film noir in nearly every way, and it gives us another glimpse of Juzo’s past. I enjoyed it more than last week and I’m slowly trying to adjust my expectations re: the storyline.

Maybe instead of a pause before the storm, what we’re in the middle of is the collecting of more allies and enemies? It feels like there’s already not enough time left to take on Berühren.

If so, that might be a battle for a future season. (Assuming, of course, a future season happens.)

Invariably, if I’m anywhere near correct, this suggests that Spitzbergen are going to serve as the main antagonist for now, with Tetsuro’s dilemma being linked up with Mary and Victor as the main emotional struggles. (Which I’m happy with too, of course).

Making predictions is still kinda fun, and taking screencaps ‘as I go’ very handy, but writing up weekly posts on an ongoing anime is hard work!

It’s not my usual approach because I prefer to think on an entire season once it’s done… still, I can now include a part in my final write up that addresses how well/not well I was able to pick up on foreshadowing and storytelling beats 🙂

Film noir!
More film noir!