Gungrave (2003) Review
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
no detailed plot spoilers, but a general discussion of the progression of the series.
gungrave works best when it is a moody crime drama, somewhat along the the lines of michael mann's 80s series crime story. the speculative fiction aspect--- the org men--- seems like an idea shoved into this crime world to make it conform to the video game and more like something for kids who like bleach. the "science fiction" element never fits comfortably with these characters and unfortunately distorts them into laughing evil cliché, injuring the dramatic integrity of the world.
overall, gungrave is somewhat like a mix of berserk (which also begins obliquely) and hellsing, but not nearly as well written and psychologically compelling as the earlier and nowhere near as fun as the latter.
bear walkin is a cool supporting character and the friendship of brandon and harry is enough to keep me engaged for most of the earlier episodes, but the action is badly directed and sloppy, which is unusual for a madhouse anime, since they are the most consistently excellent anime studio ever (eg. shigurui, x (tv series), death note, etc.).
another negative observation is that the violence seems very toned down from what it should have been-- like the pg version of something that should have been a rough hard R (see berserk and shigurui).
i'm surprised at the high rating--- this show succeeds somewhat as a moody crime drama, but really loses its way with poorly handled action (with three exceptions) and laughing "evil."