No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 3)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

More answers revealed this time around, and of course, more questions raised. While we didn’t check-in with Tetsuro at all, there was plenty going on with Juzo and Mary.

And seeing them face off against ‘Victor’ was quite satisfying, plus there’s a little comedic moment that I won’t spoil in there too. At this point, after getting that tiny morsel about Juzo’s past, I’m realising that I probably know more about the back-story of everyone else, so I’m ready for extra details in that department from the next few episodes 😀

What I continue to find (and not enjoy so much) is that even though I think I can comment, in the form of prediction/gut reaction, upon big picture things like ‘pacing’, is that it’s very hard. Ideally, before I attempt a series review of No Guns Life, I’d like to watch the whole thing in a few sittings first.

Glad that it seems Victor will take the role of significant villain (and ally, as it turns out) but when we no doubt visit Tetsuro’s storyline with the next episode, I’m hoping things start to surge forward.

It feels like the audience now has plenty of background, context and understanding around what’s happening and who is responsible for what – and once Mary (or someone else?) fixes up Juzo, I’m hoping it’ll be time to start drawing the main protagonists together!

So, how’s everyone finding the second season so far? (For me, each week certainly gets harder to wait for the next episode :D).

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

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Now that the recapping/tiny wrap-up bits from episode 1 are dealt with, it feels like it’s time to move the story along again! (Though right at the beginning, I like that little nod to possible audience impatience with Juzo’s voice-over interruption :D).

A bit more action this time around, and more Juzo – so I’m happy there of course, as he’s still a force no matter his injuries. In fact, I’m hoping he and Mary take a moment for repairs soon.

But since they haven’t, I believe that adds a touch more tension to the upcoming fight between he and Victor. And, like episode one, we’re given a few more answers that lead to more questions. Big questions, especially around Tetsuro, so I’m growing increasingly keen for No Guns Life. In fact, it’s getting harder to wait – part of me wants to ‘save up’ a few episodes so I can watch back-to-back.

One thing I mentioned in the first half of the season, I’m still wanting to get a feel for a ‘main antagonist’. And it’s interesting to speculate upon whether Victor will take that role, since he has a connection to our heroes.

So far, outside of flashback, he’s been shown as ‘unhinged with some cunning’ rather than just being ‘broken + destructive’, so I’m kinda hoping he’ll end up in the ‘main villain’ category or at least in the ‘untrustworthy ally’ basket. I also hope that the plot doesn’t essentially discard him too soon, as there have been a lot of players entering and exiting the stage too quickly… so far.

Further to this, I still don’t quite ‘feel’ Berühren as the villain of the series, even if the corporation clearly must be, based at least on their activities and general stranglehold on the city.

Still, plenty of episodes left to find out!

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 1)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Okay! Into the second half of the series now at last. It’s always tough to wait, but I’d obviously rather have the creators be safe, so in the end it doesn’t matter that the show was delayed, because it’s here now 🙂

This was a great ‘return’ with a focus on intrigue rather than action, and I got an actual answer on a few characters and their threads, one of which had been simply left dangling for a fair few episodes.

Several smaller hints have also been solidified here, and Vincent makes an actual (satisfyingly dramatic) appearance, so that was great. There are also two other characters introduced, and I’m keen for things to tie together to others who haven’t really returned (like Cronen) or other villains.

Still, watching + writing up weekly is fraught with issues for me – in the moment, what I think might be an issue with storytelling or pacing for example, turns out not to be, when things happen in a subsequent (or even the very next) episode.

So I’ll wrap this quickly and say I certainly enjoy the episode, but in the next one I’m looking for a bit more Juzo screentime 🙂

(and very quickly, I think I slightly prefer the older opening/ending songs and sequences).

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (6)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

And now to the final in a series of ‘not an episode review’ posts – this time it’s episodes 11 and 12:

First thing I noticed was that perhaps this mid-point doesn’t have a really big cliffhanger to tide everyone over until April – but it still has me curious and maybe the fight will now be taken to Berühren? (Okay, that was actually the second – the first was that Pepper is extremely stable and regular :D).

Hoping so! I’m assuming also that Rosa will soon join the team.

So far I’ve been critical of certain threads feeling abandoned, and a reluctance from the story to give us a main, memorable villain rather than keeping it only as an Evil Corporation. None of the antagonists thus far seem impressive enough to be a mastermind; they all seem to be minions. However, at this point, there’s plenty of time and I remain plenty curious about how everything will go.

It’ll be tough to wait for the series to start up again but I’ll be there as I’m still enjoying the intrigue and the aesthetic, though I’d love a little more narration from Juzo to keep that noir/detective feel front and centre 🙂

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (5)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

Fifth in a series of ‘not an episode review’ posts – this time it’s episodes 9 and 10:

So far there’s been zero follow-up on Olivier and so I’m not sure what the show wants us to assume about her at this point, and the Colt storyline was still engaging to me but I’m hoping some of the bigger players start moving more visibly soon.

I’m finding it hard to keep some threads in mind as I watch each new episode, because sometimes it’s two weeks between viewing for me, so when I say now that I wonder if the storytelling is beginning to feel a bit choppy I don’t know how much of that is just me.

Having said that however, I’m excited to see Vincent mentioned in both threads from these two episodes because that might reveal some more pieces and possibly introduce tension between our heroes, or at least give me some much appreciated backstory for either Juzo or (more) for Mary.

As ever, I’m keen for the next episode! No Guns Life is one of only two seasonal shows I’m watching so that somehow keeps me extra-engaged.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (4)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

The fourth of my ‘not an episode review’ posts focusing on this series:

I’ve only seen 1-7 now but the last two episodes definitely upped the ante. Happy to get some backstory for Olivier and also receive a few more answers re: Tindalos too.

Despite the deepening intrigue I think it’s the action that took up the bulk of my attention here, the struggle between Juzo and Mega Armed especially being great stuff – not in the least, when Juzo goes a little berserk there 🙂

I will say that it’s been so long for me between episodes that for a moment I thought Pepper was Karen, but I finally figured it out. That’s hardly a flaw in the show however, as much as the nature of watching something week-to-week and at the same time, watching so many other things. (I also see that Gondry will remain a pawn and that the ‘bigger bad’ is still a corporation rather than an individual.)

Big finish to episode 7 too, perfect cliffhanger really.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (3)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

Continuing my ‘not an episode review’ posts 🙂

Just finished 4,5 & 6 and very happy that Tetsurou got at least something in the way of a consequence for his stunt and seeing Juzo’s ‘head gun’ in action was impressive – I actually didn’t think it would be fired so soon in the season.

It’s nice to meet Olivier and while her costume is kinda typical fan service fare I thought the blue lipstick was something different at least – and as her screen time increased over the last two episodes I appreciated glimpses into her and Juzo’s past – though new (long-term?) villain Gondry probably gave us more hints to Juzo’s mysteries in episode six.

The introduction to Kronen was pretty slick too and the stand off between he and Juzo in the mansion was a highlight. (I had a chuckle when later, Juzo scratches his car.) I’m interested to see whether more threads are introduced next or current ones are expanded, because the political situation is growing more complex now and maybe I’d prefer to dig in where we are a little deeper before experiencing something new.

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (2)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2019

As with my last post on this series, I’ll quickly mention up front that this won’t be an ongoing ‘episode review’ kinda thing, but I will mention bits and pieces from episodes as I go (although I don’t have a schedule in mind either.)

So! This time I watched episodes two and three and they continued to hold my interest quite easily. Both eps were pretty heavy on the expository dialogue, so while it was at times clunky, my knowledge of the society is expanding nicely at least.

It’s also nice to meet some more characters who will eventually make up Juzo’s team – Mary seems interesting and I think she’ll operate beyond ‘fan-service side-kick’ so that’s great too.

So far, for me the stopping the train scene is the peak – dramatic and as Juzo later admonishes himself for, pretty cool. I really like the way the cigarettes have become a little more than the clear ‘I’m a detective’ prop and I’m interested to see if they’ll have any further plot relevance.

And while I was warming to Tetsurou nicely, his little stunt in episode three (which certainly makes sense and drives the story forward) didn’t impress me and I’m hoping he actually faces some consequences from Juzo soon 😀

I’ll quickly note that while I’ve seen a bit of disappointment around Juzo’s ‘face’ becoming hyper-comical so he can blush, I’m of two minds about it myself because I get it – you have to do something to change his expression in order to express things other than steely determination.

Keen for episode four.

Metropolis (Metoroporisu)

Metropolis (Metoroporisu) 2001

Metropolis was fascinating and I know I’ll watch it again – mostly for the visuals and direction rather than the story perhaps (which is kinda conventional but not boring by any stretch).

But setting that aside for a moment, another aspect that I found really interesting was the many links to one of my all-time favs: Astro Boy.

Now, obviously I’m writing about a 2001 adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s 1949 manga – so his style is all over the film and the ‘look and feel’ of these 1949 heroes and villains are one day developed further when he creates Astro Boy, and then of course, tweaked again in this 2001 film. It was nice to see a lot of those hallmarks really faithfully recreated by the Madhouse team actually, and maybe not unsurprisingly considering Tezuka’s successor/collaborator Rintaro was at the helm.

So what I got to see was something enjoyably out-of-step with the chronology; it was really fun to see a host of familiar faces – like Skunk, that seemingly immortal jerk! And of course he’s not the only one, you’ll notice Ban/Daddy Walrus, Kenichi/Astro, Duke Red/Temnu+Dr Elefun among others too (and for those like me who crave some comparison images, I’ve put a few shots below).

(I tried and failed to find a gif showing Kenichi’s bulky/Astro-like legs and even kinda Popeye arms, but you can see the development/reiteration of characters here.)

The other aspect that Astro/Tezuka fans who might not have watched Metropolis yet will notice is the way the heroes seem to be striving for robots to be treated fairly – and a common theme to sci-fi; that the villains are quick to blame robots for all the ills of society. I won’t go into the plot here, but that’s one of the key motivators for villain Rock, who is a pretty nasty fellow.

Another somewhat recurring theme I think most folks will have noticed across a certain amount of anime (and one which appears here too) is an attraction to Christian themes and symbols, and so in Metropolis there is a Tower of Babel/pride element to the film which is pretty effective and makes for a big finish too.

While I’ve been sorta rhapsodising a bit about some of the irregular things I liked, I want to say again that while the level of animation and setting detail is stunning, the story isn’t as strong. For example, I felt like the main characters (esp Kenichi and Tima) didn’t really get enough time to interact and build their relationships. Or maybe I just wanted more dialogue and a touch less CGI?

And maybe I was a bit disappointed in the story balance because Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) is credited with the screenplay – so on paper, it sounds pretty ace, huh? Rintaro directing an Otomo-penned adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s manga! With just those elements alone the film should be Out of This World Good – and in many ways it is… but I dunno, maybe if it had been a little longer? Had room for just a few more scenes between characters here and there?

Still, despite my gripes – it’s surely a modern classic, and one that brings together that Golden-Age* Science-Fiction feel, social issues and a Film Noir aesthetic (right down to its jazz OST) really well.

5 Stars

Quickly, I’m mentioning again how much I enjoyed the direction – I’m really curious as to how much storyboarding was inspired directly from the manga actually.

But in any event, here’s one aspect I loved: compositions like these really show the immense scale of the city and add to the kind of latent menace to the place too, and the idea that the characters are really facing something mammoth.   

* Maybe I’m a little off re: the exact era/influence here, but it doesn’t feel like New Age sci-fi of the 60s and 70s and it’s doesn’t feel like 20s/30s pulp either.