A tragic tale of crime, ambition, and turning into video game monsters.
Gungrave holds some nostalgic value for me, as some of the first fansubbed anime I watched ‘live’. It might not be great, but for an adaptation of a video game about shooting monsters it’s better than you’d expect. The problems lie more in the execution than the concept. The action, the dialogue, the pacing, the characters… save for a few legitimately good episodes, they’re all kind of average at best. The gun fights in particular are almost embarassingly bad. Whether it’s due to poor direction or low production values, a lot of them consist of characters just standing there firing their guns at other characters just standing there firing their guns. It makes them boring to watch, and it’s hard to feel like they’re in real danger when they don’t even bother dodging or taking cover.
The one thing in Gungrave that really works is the relationship between the two main characters, Brandon and Harry. And since that relationship is the backbone of the story, it goes a long way making it watchable. Their friendship, the eventual betrayal, and their reunion are all well written, especially when you consider Brandon barely talks. The good episodes I mentioned are all focused on Brandon and Harry, and one of them is the finale. It’s mostly due to those episodes that I wanted to like Gungrave more than I did. There’s definitely something there, but there’s a lot of mediocrity to wade through.