It’s January and time to begin girls with guns month. Gunsmith Cats was a manga written by Sonoda Kenichi that ran from ’91 to ’97. In ’95, OLM, Inc. released a three episode OVA. Incidentally, OLM also worked on Steel Angel Kurumi 2, Berserk and the anime that never ends or changes, Pokemon. So, let’s take a look at the OVA and see if it’s worth the three episodes.
Rally Vincent & Minnie-May Hopkins are bounty hunters who also work as gunsmiths. After a mission, they’re approached by agent too much hair oil of the ATF. He coerces them into working for him, using the gun shop as leverage because Rally, apparently, couldn’t be bothered to get a proper license. Someone is sabotaging the ATF’s operation to find the mastermind behind the man they just captured and several other illicit arms dealers. Little do they realise, the case is going to be more difficult and dangerous than it appears.
The biggest issue with the OVA is just that it’s really formulaic. The ultimate antagonist and person behind sabotaging the investigation are both obvious from the first moment you see them. The narrative has no real surprises behind it. Which isn’t exactly conducive to getting you invested in the action. The only thing the series really does differently is that it’s very deliberate and absurd with how over the top it can get. It doesn’t take itself particularly seriously, which definitely leads to its strongest moments.
The bulk of characters in this are tropes played pretty straight. The sleazy cop. The helpful friend. The corrupt politician. The cold-hearted assassin. They’re all here. The only two characters who don’t quite fit neatly into standard tropes are Rally and May. And the big thing that elevates them above that is the way they interact with one another. These two play off of one another really well, and not just for comedic purposes. They manage when things get more serious as well.
The artwork and animation are pretty good. Dated, but still solid. The biggest issue is the way the series shamelessly uses fan-service. We’re talking close calls that conveniently tear shirts in order to show off the bosom shameless. The character expressions are definitely the best element of the artwork. These characters are highly expressive and they do different things with expressions for different characters. May’s mischievous grin isn’t the same as Rally’s more wry smile and they’re both distinct from hair oil’s faeces consuming grin. The action scenes are pretty good. The car chase in particular.
I’ll give OLM full credit for their casting. Our dynamic duo are voiced by Neya Michiko (Riza Hawkeye) and Araki Kae (ChibiUsa). Not only do they both do really well in their roles, but they work well together. I’m not sure if they were ever in the same room while recording their lines, but the direction is good enough that it maintains that illusion. There are some good actors in more minor roles as well, notably Hisakawa Aya, but their performances come across as a bit lacklustre since none of the other characters are particularly strongly written. The score isn’t brilliant, but it does suit the OVA well and it has some good pieces. The best being the tracks played during intense action sequences.
There really isn’t any. The closest you get is Rally offering to buy her trustworthy friend, Becky, dinner in exchange for her help. And that definitely doesn’t come across as a date.
That’s Gunsmith Cats. Ultimately, it’s a predictable, clichéd action work. The only aspects that save it from true mediocrity are the dynamic betwixt Rally and May and its sense of humour. If you don’t mind the tropes and you really love the genre, you may very well enjoy it more than I did. If you want something more original or aren’t a fan of this type of thing, it’s not going to change your mind. For myself, it was decent enough. My rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week we’ll continue girls with guns month with a look at Noir.