2009 TV Series (episodes 1-26). Director: Toshiyuki Tsuru. 650 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $49.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Being dead isn’t such a drag for Brandon Heat – and yes, with a name like that you’re either on the street kicking ass or in porn. After all, he has a second chance at one thing: revenge.
After years of working for Milleneon, a mafia outfit with supernatural abilities, Brandon is bent on bringing this house of crime down. There’s just one problem. Milleneon is now run by Harry McDowel, his best friend. Be that as it may, armed with twin guns and a coffin full of big heat, the undead Brandon initiates a chain of killing that cannot be broken. Neither men nor the demons employed by Milleneon can stop him.
But can he kill his best friend?
Story, story, story, story, story! Thank you, Gungrave. Although the body count runs high in this anime series, it’s not the point. Think of A Bronx Tale and De Niro. This is a crime drama about two street-wise friends who get caught up in something bigger than a midnight holdup. This is a tale of transition and change, that ultimate choice between desire and our better saints, all hurled against the backdrop of organized crime. The question: does friendship last forever?
From start to finish, the gunpowder and blood of Gungrave doesn’t wash off easy. It gets under your fingernails and into your veins. You just don’t want to see bullets flying; you want to know why triggers are being pulled.
Okay, so the demons employed by Milleneon, who are typical foils for the zombie-like Brandon, could have been omitted. But this is anime; demons plaguing mankind are more common these days than a Japanese schoolgirl skirt.
Hey, it’s anime. It’s a movie. Gungrave is the TV show you’ve been waiting for, but isn’t coming because everyone is still watching American Idol and Dancing with the Stars!
So, get out there and buy it. And don’t be fooled by mediocre or half ass reviews. Gungrave is a long series devoted to plot and character development; you know, the difference between Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Watchmen. It even contains a wonderful example of ring composition.