By Roxy Simons.
In the ruthless city of Ergastulum chaos reigns, violence and money are the only languages that its inhabitants speak, and an underlying tension between “Normals” and enhanced beings known as “Twilights” bubbles under the surface. Alex Benedetto, a prostitute who’s being abused by her pimp, is our eyes and ears in this metropolis of debauchery. When her and her abuser are targeted by a gang, in walks Worick Archangelo and Nicolas Brown, two “handymen” who take on jobs that the police and the mob refuse to touch. After realising Alex’s unfortunate situation, the pair help free her from her tormenter – not forgetting to let her get her revenge on him – and soon she starts to help with their operation.
As the name suggests, Gangsta is an ultra-violent anime that is not for the faint-hearted. Set against a gritty European backdrop, it sees its characters partake in questionable acts as they try their best to survive. Everyone commits crimes, regardless of whether they’re meant to be on the ‘good’ side or not, and this is likely to spell the city’s demise if the series’ developments are anything to go by. But there’s a lot to love about the lead characters.
Worick is a smooth-talking gigolo who has been “kidnapped” for the past 22 years after Nicholas felt killing his family was part of his job as a bodyguard (the question of whether Worick put him up to the task isn’t quite made clear). The quiet killing machine is the least charismatic of the series’ leads, since his character isn’t given much of a backstory other than his link to Worick and his deadly abilities. Alex, meanwhile, is not very trusting of the pair and this means that she spends a lot of time hiding away and quietly observing. The pain that she goes through because of her pimp’s abuse is dealt with quite well, and does make her more compelling as a character. The series does approach their circumstances well, Worick’s guilt over his family’s death weighs heavy on his mind while Alex’s PTSD is something that will take time for her to come to terms with.
Based on Kohske’s manga of the same name, the series follows its source material for only thirty chapters and by the end of the show there is a lot left wanting when it comes to the story. At times, it feels more like an advertisement for the manga, especially when the latter half of the series deals with characters that we have barely got to know. With the characters left in difficult situations it seems like there were plans for the series to pick up and continue it in a second season, but with the manga on hiatus and Manglobe, the animation studio behind the series, filing for bankruptcy it’s unclear if we’ll ever know what happens to the loveable trio with this new threat around.
Gangsta is certainly not a perfect series; it feels uncompleted and the decision to focus the latter half of the story on different characters to the lead characters seems like a poor decision. But, the series does have potential and its decent execution of Worick, Nic and Alex’s storylines does make it an interesting watch.
Gangsta, coming soon to UK Blu-ray from Anime Limited.