Gangsta, spelled that way because proper spelling wouldn’t be extreme enough, is an ongoing manga created by Kohske that started in 2011. In 2015, Manglobe did an anime adaptation, finishing it slightly before the studio declared bankruptcy. This is their last work to be released right now. There’s a film, Genocidal Organ, that was supposed to open shortly after this series ended but, given the situation, it’s uncertain when it will open at this time. So, how is Gangsta as the Studio’s last series, possibly ever?
Nicolas and Worick are Handymen, which is the term used for mercenaries in this series. Because calling them mercs wouldn’t be special enough. In the crime-filled city of Ergastulum, they take jobs that no one else will. We get to see the two of them work for the police, Mafia and back alley doctors. During a mission for the police, the two exterminate an upstart gang of thugs and take in a prostitute, Alex, as their assistant. Offering her a new life. But everything isn’t kosher in Ergastulum. Someone’s encroaching on the city and breaking its rules, which could result in problems for everybody.
The biggest issue with the series is the ending. Like Code Geass, Gangster doesn’t feature any kind of resolution. Rather, it ends on a bombastic note with everything seemingly going wrong and a lot of cliff hangers. The big difference between this and Code Geass is that Sunrise was stable when they released the first series of that and Manglobe… well, who even knows at this juncture if they’ll be able to continue in the wake of their bankruptcy. Putting that aside, there’s also an issue with the world building, mainly the overuse of exposition and flashbacks. The series expends a lot of time on discussing their people with superhuman abilities, how the city’s rules work and a lot of it is done through clunky exposition or overly long flashbacks.
On the positive side, the series features a lot of interesting conflicts with some strong sources of tension. In spite of the somewhat sloppy execution, I will also credit the world building for having some good ideas that may very well have developed into something really good. I also appreciate that the missions get a lot of variation and the back story for how Nicolas and Worick partnered up has some really strong elements to it.
This series has a really strong cast of characters. Both the major and minor characters have a lot going for them, even with a lot of the minor characters having fairly minimal use. There are great interactions with these characters as well. Worick and Nicolas have a great dynamic. I also really like the scenes with Nicolas and Nina. They’re actually really sweet.
The artwork in this is quite good. The character designs are well done. The action sequences are strong and there are a lot of really good details. It’s definitely up to Manglobe’s usual standards.
There are some really good performances in this. Tsuda Kenjirou does a really good job providing the voice for our deaf protagonist. It definitely has that quality that you get when an actual deaf person speaks where they can approximate the sounds but they aren’t sure what the words actually sound like so it’s a bit off. Suwabe Junichi, Noto Mamiko & Yuuki Aoi all give strong performances as well. There aren’t any bad performances, but those four are the ones who really stood out. The music is more mediocre. It isn’t bad but it’s not good either. It’s there and it’s serviceable.
There’s a scene where two of the minor female characters are shown in bed together in a way that illustrates quite strongly that they are, at the very least, having sex but it’s late in the series and they aren’t characters we spend a lot of time with, so the extent of their relationship beyond that is unclear. Alex also gets groped by another woman at one point, but the woman in question is shown as being in a relationship with a man and the scene is just kind of odd and out of place. So, it’s probably safe to say it’s not important.
Gangster is a pretty enjoyable series. It has some solid ideas, good tension, some really strong characters, solid art and strong voice acting. It is, however, weakened by an ending that resolves nothing, bland music and a general abuse of exposition & flashback scenes. Overall, I give it a 7/10. If the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a go. Next week I’m looking at Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan- Tsuiokuhen.