DVD Review: Gungrave: Geneon Series Based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s Playstation 2 Game
Is it possible to make a revenge tale, involving gangsters, guns and super-powered zombies, boring?
Geneon/FUNimation’s 7-disc series Gungrave pulls off that seemingly impossible feat. Based on the popular third-person-shooter for the PlayStation 2, it wears out its welcome long before the 7th disc hits the DVD player.
FUNimation, Geneon Adapts Yasuhiro Nightow’s Gungrave As An Anime
Brandon Heat (voiced by Kirk Thornton in the English dub) is a mobster with a heart of gold. He not only passes the woman he loves on to mob boss Big Daddy so that she can have a better life, but also helps his best pal Harry MacDowell (Tony Oliver) climb to the top of Millennium, the high-powered crime organisation they belong to.
However, “Bloody Harry” repays Brandon’s efforts with a bullet when Brandon discovers his friend’s misdeeds.
Cue the guilt-ridden Dr. Tokioka (William Frederick Knight), a brilliant scientist who has discovered “necrolization,” a way to reanimate the dead and make them into super-soldiers. Dr. T turns Brandon into “Beyond the Grave” (“Grave” for short): an undead killing machine hell-bent on avenging his murder and protecting Mika, Maria’s 13-year-old daughter.
Blood, bullets, references to James O’Barr’s The Crow – plus a hilarious homo-erotic subtext – ensues.
PlayStation 2 Gungrave Anime Gets Boring Fast, Despite Beautiful Visuals, Score
Gungrave would have made a smoking 90-minute movie. It would have been perfectly acceptable as a trilogy or even a mini-series. But Geneon stretches this series to a full 26-episode series, and the flab is showing. The 7th disc is especially bad, needlessly drawing out the last remaining episodes with endless monologues.
It doesn’t help that the main characters’ constant repetition of “Brandon” “Harry” “Brandon” “Harry” creates a – no doubt unintended – homo-erotic subtext, not to mention being a great source of comedy (“Wabbit season!” “Duck season!” “Wabbit season!” “Duck season!”).
Those used to feisty females, like the ones in True Blood, will get annoyed with the passive, weak-willed women on display here. Chief among these is 13-year-old Mika, whose job is to repeat other people’s lines, burst into tears, or do something colossally stupid so Brandon has to rescue her.
The good bits? The battle scenes are beautifully rendered, and there are some wonderful images: such as when broken glass sparkles against a blue sky while a character falls to his death. Kudos also go to Tsuneo Imahori’s jazzy score, which gives Gungrave a film noir feel. It’s a nice change from the usual nü metal that’s in most recent anime.
Other than the trailers, there’s not a heck of a lot. There is, of course, the text-less opening and closing credits, where you can listen to the songs without learning the key grip’s name. There are also various character and art galleries: definitely worth a look if you’re not ready to hurl this DVD set across the room by the time you’re finished watching it.
The Final Analysis
Wonderful visuals and a kick-ass score by Tsuneo Imahori are Gungrave’s chief selling points. However, the flabby plot that restates everything multiple times gets old awfully fast. Here a trailer below to judge if the series is worth watching or not yourself.