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.

The Sacred Blacksmith (Seiken no Burakkusumisu)

The Sacred Blacksmith (Seiken no Burakkusumisu) 2009

Lots of tropes here!

But did that ruin the series for me?

No, yet on a related note, if any of the following items bug you, then perhaps don’t rush to The Sacred Blacksmith: classic good vs evil plot, moe character designs, a jerk-ish male lead, a fairly absent villain and finally, pretty clumsy fan-service re: its delivery in general but also our leading lady, who is meant to be a klutz.

Having outlined those issues as I see them, there’s a great story that pushes through. I also found myself engaged by the leads; there’s character conflict both internal and external, and the show is happy to spend a bit of screen time there, which is welcome in my books 🙂

Most of the action sequences seemed good too but again, I think I kept watching mostly for the characters, both to learn their secrets and see them finally fess up to each other about the emotional things they were dealing with. The world presented is typical of dark fantasy traditions and had some fun aspects re: the demon swords, but overall it isn’t so grim that there wasn’t room for comedic moments or episodes.

Okay, to try and control my tendency to ramble, I wanna now switch to some dot points:

  • I needed to spend more time with the villain as he remained nebulous a little too long for me, only really beginning to evoke visceral responses at times in the final two episodes.
  • The series pacing was kinda shot for me when the story introduced Charlotte, (the Lisa-clone, small and blonde, moe etc). Worse, since she first appears as a brat antagonist the series then has to spend far too much time rehabilitating her. Part of me thinks she was only added in so they could undress her retainers for the obligatory hot springs/bathing scene.
  • The main storyline didn’t get a chance to expand, which was a shame because the bigger picture was really starting to build pressure on the characters and I would have watched another season, especially considering there are plenty of light novels. Doubtless the debt-ridden and bankrupt Manglobe means there’s no chance of any further seasons.

Okay, so due to the things I’ve brought up it maybe sounds like I didn’t enjoy The Sacred Blacksmith at all, but that’s not true – I mean, I finished it and I wanted the story to continue.

And again, it was the character development that kept me on board as much as anything – for instance, our secondary hero Luke has as much or more growth than heroine Cecily and at times, the humour was great (I’m mostly thinking head maid Fio here) so The Sacred Blacksmith is by no means something I loathed.

But there is better fantasy anime out there – which is maybe a bit of an empty statement perhaps, I mean, for every genre only a few things are at the top 😀

3 Stars

*Oh, and if I can borrow a drinking game approach from Irina, then if you want to get trashed, take a drink every time the characters discuss Cecily’s breasts. For alcohol poisoning, add in Each Time the Shot is Framed to Keep them in View.