The first half of the series focuses on the Brandon and Harry’s ascend to power in the organization and establish their relationship and characters. Brandon is an old fashioned good guy; quiet, honest, loyal and extremely skillful. He joins the crime syndicate because of Harry and he wants to be closed to his lover, Maria, even though she is clearly beyond his reach. He became the boss’s favorite because of his loyalty and skill. Harry, on the other hand, is very sharp and ambitious. He is the kind of person who would do anything to achieve his goal. He rises in the organization because of his intelligence and his unmatched ability to manipulate people and money. He eventually becomes the most powerful member of Millennion and then the power consumes him.
The tragedy begins when Harry decides to overthrow Big Daddy, the syndicate’s boss, but Brandon choose to side with Big Daddy. Brandon is murdered by his own best friend. Later, he returns from the grave using Necrolyzation technology and the anime enters the second half; the retribution part.
Ultimately, Gungrave is about how nothing lasts. Things change all the time whether you like it or not; friends turning to enemies, families falling apart, the powerful becoming the powerless, people die and never come back. It is heartbreaking. To represent this theme, the anime moves rapidly forward. Between each episode, several years has passed and the characters look older. Harry’s character is the best example that represents this idea. We see him rises to the top and eventually loses everything. There is one scene around the final part of the series in which Harry, in his youth, stands in front of a mirror contemplating about his past, his foolish ambition and the length he has gone to fulfill it then he sees his own reflection in the mirror as an old man and reality hits him hard. This is one of the best moments in Gungrave. Other examples include the orgman which are once regarded as invincible but during the end, they are easily defeated by newly developed ammo.
The characters in this anime are very well established. Harry is the most interesting character but my favorite one is Brandon. I do not usually like typical or conventional characters but Brandon is an exception because he is admirably and incredibly good and quiet and unpredictable. He never says why he spares Harry and even helps Harry after what Harry has done. When he finally explains that it is because he just cannot shoot his friend, I was utterly stunned. He is such a fool, an admirable fool. Gungrave’s story is very compelling and there are plenty of cool and exciting action scenes to please most viewers. The animation and music are great for its time.
Nevertheless, some viewers may complain about the sci-fi element of the story. The theme about necrolyzed human and zombie-like monster may look out of place for some people. But I had no problem with this since it didn’t interfere with the main storyline and I think it makes Gungrave stands out from other gangster anime. Conclusion: Gungrave is one of the best animes I’ve seen so far. I regret waiting so long before start watching this series. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
Genre: action, crime drama, sci-fi
Released date: October 6, 2003 – March 29, 2004
Director: Toshiyuki Tsuru
Animated by: Madhouse Studio