Anime Review | Gangsta (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 16.01.2016 2

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Recent news has sadly cast a whole new light on this review. The studio responsible not only for Gangsta but also some considerable hits from the past like the superb Samurai Champloo, Deadman Wonderland and, more recently, Samurai Flamenco, has filed for bankruptcy. This means that this one season of Gangsta may very well be the swansong of the studio and it may mean it will not be receiving a second season. If this is indeed the case, then at least the studio will be going out on a high note.

Gangsta is a Seinen show, aimed towards older audiences. The opening credits alone make that very clear, hitting all the major checkboxes of sex, drugs, and violence, with catchy club beat pulses.  It follows the lives of two "Handymen," independent problem solvers in a city that is controlled by a system of organised crime families. These two Handymen are Worick and Nicholas, a pair with significant history, which is delved into and explored through the duration of the show. The double act bounce off each other well: Worick is an ex-gigolo and real ladies man, filled with charm and equipped with a disarming smile; Nicholas is a "Twilight" and the strong, silent type, quite literally, as he is deaf and communicates mostly in sign language. The two take on various jobs, assisting the police and the organised crime families along with the denizens of their besieged city.

Image for Anime Review | Gangsta (Lights, Camera, Action!)

The series does a fantastic job in crafting a dark and depressing world - corruption, crime covered streets, the mob families, and the discrimination towards the underclass of ex-slaves who face a short life of drug addiction and pain. Exposition to the story and the world building is well paced, establishing the history that has resulted in the current situation in the world. A worldwide war, known as the East-West Unification War, took place, within which genetically modified soldiers were utilised. These soldiers were given a drug known as Celebrer, which drew out their maximum potential but brought with it a shortened lifespan and some terrible side effects.

When the war was over, the offspring and descendants of the soldiers were treated as outcasts and slaves, seen as less than human. Since the drug still inhabits their system, the offspring of the soldiers were gifted with superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes, but these abilities come with the same cost their parents had to endure. Dubbed by regular people as "Twilights," due to their much-reduced lifespan, they are registered at birth and implanted with a tag. These tags are also used to rank the strength of the Twilight, although every perk comes with a disability to its user, for example, Nicholas being deaf.

After a period of civil unrest where Twilights and humans fought constantly, three laws were put into place for them that would grant them the same rights and privileges as everyone else, as long as they obeyed the laws. These laws are they same as the famous AI governing rules from Isaac Asimov's "The Three Laws of Robotics" - "Do not harm normals," "Obey orders from normals, unless this contradicts the first law," and "Defend yourself unless this contradicts the first or second law."

Image for Anime Review | Gangsta (Lights, Camera, Action!)

With the stage set, the tale itself is one of repentance and loss. Early in the series, the pair takes in a streetwalker named Alex who is being violently mistreated by her pimp. Alex acts as the audience, living with the two hired guns and finding out about their history and the world of Twilights, while she deals with the trauma of her past and her journey to rebuilding her life. Alex's journey serves as the backdrop to explore the power struggle between the gangs and the Twilights in their employ.

Rated 6 out of 10


It's always good to see a Seinen show included on the new season's menu, as there tends to be less and less Seinen being produced as weekly shows. While definitely worth a watch - Gangsta has a fantastic premise and some superb world building - the overall story that has reached the anime is not the best that the source material has to offer. It's a real shame that a second season is unlikely, with the manga still running and some special storylines still developing, it could make for an even better second season.

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I hope a non-defunct company pick this up for a second series! I quite enjoyed the story.

Once you join the Yakuza there is no way Bakuza

What are some other good seinens?  I like Elfen Lied and berserk

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