Gungrave, last three episode of. Recommended times infinity.

Now that Harry’s henchmen have been all but vanquished, Millenion’s stranglehold on the city has crumbled into nothing but dust. Looking to avenge his old friends and settle old scores, the scarred and tired Brandon is left searching deserted streets for his arch enemy, while Harry scrambles from place to place, trying to regain control of his “family”; no doubt, it’s a futile effort from a desperate man.

Between all these movements, Millenion’s old guard are planning to oust Harry and wrestle the organisation (a.k.a. mafia/yakuza) from his control; they’ve found a way to fight his supernatural org-men — and so Harry’s last pillar of power begins to shake.

Ultimately, he’s finished. All that’s left is Brandon; his greatest enemy and his best friend.

It’s taken me nearly 7 months to write this review. I love Gungrave, but it’s an emotionally draining and hard boiled series. I first watched it back in 2003 and certain scenes remained with me; namely the horribly fractured, life long bond shared by Harry and Brandon. After what happens in the first episode, you know that at some point in the future, Harry is going to kill Brandon, and yet still, when it finally happens, it’s an utterly gripping and shocking tribute to Harry’s developing inhumanity.

The rest of the series, despite occasionally over-indulging in some comic book silliness with the whole necrolyzation theme, steadily builds up to these last three episodes; essentially the reunion of Harry and Brandon. In a series that’s all about family and life-long friendship, I suppose it’s a little too easy to expect a simple revenge. Brandon comes face to face with Harry, the man that ‘killed him’, and despite all that’s happened, despite knowing Harry is a murderer, Brandon still can’t pull the trigger on his friend. The beauty of this scene is best emphasized by Brandon’s own touching confession; realising that Harry would destroy it all, he still chose him over Millenion.

At this moment, Harry is suddenly overcome with grief and regret; realising that he killed his best friend for nothing at all. And so the two men who once held the world in their palms find themselves back where they started, completely alone and on the verge of death – yet friends again, smiling together; they pull their guns and point at each other, trigger fingers strong. This time they are going to do it.

And then that’s it, the end of Gungrave. One of the best anime conclusions of all time; we never see how Harry and Brandon finished, and indeed, one could argue that they somehow survived, but the truth in my mind is that they finally died — with their grudge lifted, they are finally able to pass away.

What more is there to say about Gungrave; I adore it. It’s a tragic, moving and life affirming story. I’m glad Harry didn’t become a necrolyzed monster, that he remains a man, consumed by ambition and dragged to brink of madness allows his character to retain a strong resonance with the viewer. He isn’t a "villain", just a man who lost control and by the end, has paid the price with his increasingly detached and violent life.

Tsuneo Imahori’s musical score holds up wonderfully, echoing the tragic drama unfolding on screen, while Madhouse contribute animation that is as consistent as ever. Nothing wrong with these three episodes at all; they verge on perfection.

In Summary

The story of Gungrave unfolds over an entire life time; we see Harry and Brandon rise to the top of the world, only to descend into the flames of hell. Being character-driven and intensely focused on meaning of true friendship, Gungrave’s strongest appeal isn’t so much its over-the-top zombie aesthetic, instead it shines as a heart fluttering drama that is all at once tragic and uplifting. Recommended times infinity; buy this now.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

15 thoughts on “Gungrave, last three episode of. Recommended times infinity.”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you: Gungrave is definitely one of my favourite shows, and the ending is the best I have ever seen.

    I recommend it as much as you, plus one, which in the end is the same.

  2. this anime is a masterpiece. i dont understand why this is soooo underrated, atleast animenfo places it in the top 20. the ending is probably the most powerful ever, and the characters…. wow, the characters… are simply phenomenal.

    i love this anime.

  3. @kauldron26: Well, my guess as to why its fairly unappreciated by the anime community (as a whole) is simply because the lead characters aren’t moe school girls. Sadly, I do believe the majority of fans are that superficial.

    I don’t think we have much to worry about though; the quality of Gungrave is such that it loses none of its power over time, the narrative will always be just as strong and as result, new fans is keep discovering its quality.

  4. batezi im curious as to what your top 10 looks like. is it similar to mine? i highly recommend you check these out man

    (1). Cowboy Bebop & Wolf’s Rain -tie-
    (2). Planet ES
    (3). Berserk
    (4). RahXephon
    (5). Eureka SEVEN
    (6). Gankutsuou
    (7). Vision of Escaflowne
    (8). Twelve Kingdoms
    (9). Samurai Champloo
    (10). Black Lagoon I/II

  5. @kauldron26: I’ve seen everything on your list and loved them all. In fact, my taste is extremely similar! In no particular order, my top 10 is made up of:

    – Berserk
    – Cowboy Bebop
    – Wolf’s Rain
    – Vision of Escaflowne
    – One Piece
    – FLCL
    – Planetes
    – Mushishi
    – Monster
    – Gungrave

    Other favorites include: RahXephon, Gankutsuou, Samurai Champloo, Black Lagoon, Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal, Fullmetal Alchemist, Mononoke-hime and Nausicaa.

    It’s pretty amazing how much we have in common! You have good taste!

  6. yooooo, that is uncanny… ive been reading your blog since last summer, and i remember back then u were going through a phase of anime burnout. all, and i mean all the anime that we have in common focus on 2 things heavily… catharsis and character development. I also hate all those otaku concepts like moe, and all that shit. i watch anime for the amazing stories. lol, it would be so funny if u hate haruhi as much as i do or believe it is the most overrated anime ever… thankfully anidb is beginning to notice that and the votes just keep falling. i tried to get into one piece but 300 eps seems intimidating as hell. u wont believe how hard it was to remove gungrave from my top 10. i recently watched 12 kingdoms again, and i felt like it was a different anime than when i saw it sophomore year of college back in 2005. i dont count samurai x and monoke hime as anime series tho since they are movies and ova. and both are pretty phenomenal. i only review movies that i give 10/10 to so i’ll post some on your site. And i will start with #1 Cowboy Bebop and Wolf’s Rain.

  7. My Review of Wolf’s Rain, posted it on animenfo in 2005. Isnt it amazing how misunderstood this anime is??? I discovered anime thanks to this and cowboy bebop airing on adult swim.

    First off, i am going to say that no movie, no tv show, no book, no form of entertainment in this world, has touched me as this anime has. Wolf’s Rain is plain and simple the greatest anime i have ever seen.

    It all started my spring semester of my freshman year of college when i got back from the library. I was sooo tired yet i could not sleep. My room mate was knocked out and i figured i would watch some television till i fell asleep. Lo and Behold, i was watching Adult swim and then something caught my eye. I saw a white wolf that suddenly became a man within conversation. And then i was hooked.

    After i watched one episode i was entranced by the mystery and the story. I did not know what episode i watched, i didnt even know what the name of the show was, yet i was hooked. I didnt really understand about Anime then. All i knew was that Dragon Ball Z was the shit. But then i did some research and i found out the show was called wolf’s Rain, and i started on the second episode.

    I would look forward to this anime every saturday unaware that it had been around for a while and that i could have gotten it through other means. But every week, i looked forward to each and every episode. Remember the show is 30 episodes and every week i looked forward to an episode since my freshman year spring. I was done by my sophomore year.

    So why does this anime mean so much to me?? Because this anime touched me in ways i could not explain. I learnt so much about life, blossoming love, courage, beauty, tragedy and so much more. The story is supremely original on every level and the characters truly become ur friends. People you love and when they laugh u laugh and when they hurt… you weep. Because they mean so much to you.

    The story is about wolves trying to find paradise. What is paradise?? what is it like?? how did man fall from grace? These are the questions u as urself when watching this masterpiece.

    The animation is perfect. just perfect.

    The soundtrack of this anime is probably the one cd i have had on repeat the most. The music is simply astonishing. I have made love with 3 girls to this soundtrack. Not only is the music powerful, but when u hear it, u cant help but remember what the characters were feeling and experiencing at that moment.

    This anime stays with you. It touches you at the very core of ur being, if u are willing to search for paradise with them. If u r an anime critic and ur are looking for flaws or u r paying too much attention, u cannot enjoy this anime because wolfs rain is not something you watch. It is something you experiece. it is not entertainment. It is a world to travel to where you meet Kiba, Hige, Tsume, Toboe and Blue. You’ll get to know them, love them, laugh and cry with them. And i cried very hard. And though you will say good bye, their howls will stay with you for a long time.

  8. And ofcourse Bebop, i sincerely believe that this anime probably has the greatest soundtrack of all time across any medium.

    So why is Cowboy Bebop the greatest anime of all time?? Why did Cowboy Bebop reinvent the genre of anime?? Why did Cowboy Bebop blow everyone away?? There are Four reasons. The deep characters, The phenomenal music, The animation and amazing Director. From the very first episode, amidst all the action and excitement, you can tell that this is a story of melancholy.

    No one is a good innocent guy. Everyone is emotionally scarred, and have pasts that are questionalble. And their only haven is the Bebop. On the Bebop, they get to make a living and forget about those horrible memories which have changed them into who they are now. And there’s no going back.

    The animation if flawless, full of energy and you can literally touch and feel the emotions and experiences of the screen. The animation is so great that it emerses you right into their world of starving bounty hunters.

    The sound… The sound… Words cannot describe the greatness of the soundtrack. Not only is this the greatest anime soundtrack, i believe it is arguably the greatest soundtrack in any medium. I cannot think of words to express the masterpiece of this soundtrack.

    The chracters make up this anime. Jet, Faye, Ed, and Spike. Each of these guys represent different personalties that all of us feel at a certain point. Anger, rage, innocence, and regret. People say that the weakness of Cowboy Bebop is that it has not over-arching story line. This is not so. It is not a weakness, because the story is told in a way that gives us different perspectives about the characters and their pasts and how it is going to affect their futures.

    Value and Enjoyment. This is the anime i have seen the most. Not only do i have the DVD but i also watch it whenever it comes on. And everytime it is over, i miss my friends Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed. Words cannot describe the greatness of this anime. This is the greatest anime ever made, and even if u dont agree with me, you will still call this anime a masterpiece. Hop on the Bebop!

  9. I read both of your reviews and they are very emotional. I was especially interested in the Wolf’s Rain one since it was obviously the moment you realized there was more anime than simply DBZ. It also seems to suggest your a big fan of Yoko Kanno too! I love her music and would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. Her work on Macross Plus is especially good but somewhat underrated.

    You hit the nail on the head with this comment too – "catharsis and character development". That’s definitely something I look for, along with a kind of sentimental value of friendship and relationships between the characters. The reason why I love anime like Berserk or Gungrave is because of the character interaction, the way their friendships are reforced or torn apart.

    Of course, I’m not into the moe thing at all, mainly because they are typically shallow and aesthetically driven series that as designed from the first frame to pander to otaku. I don’t especially care about any of that, I just want a good story with good characters.

    I haven’t seen all the way through Twelve Kingdoms, but what I saw (the first 20 or so episodes) it was a great slice of escapism.

    When it comes to One Piece, I don’t blame you for feeling intimidated. It’s a show that requires commitment, but since your taste it so similar to mine, it would be worth your time when you have a spare few days. The first 10 or 15 episodes will give you a nice taster, but it doesn’t really get going until the mid-20s (Nami’s "Arlong Park" backstory). I’ve been catching up with it since late 2005 and I’m nearly alongside the current fan-subs!

    Two shows that I recommend that perhaps don’t seem my kind of typical fodder are "Honey & Clover" and "Fruits Basket". Both because they feature some wonderful characters, great humor and moving drama!

  10. Honey and Clover was pretty incredible i saw that last summer and part 2 was very very fufilling. I love how it can be so funny yet so potent at the same time. And then i saw Nana. Wow…. Nana is on a totally different level. My biggest issue with H&C dont get me wrong, its a great anime, but the characters have realistic emotions but dont act realistically. does that make sense?? like take Yamada was soo inlove with mayama even when he rejected her, yet she rejected every single one of those guys that confessed to her and they got over it so easily: it was poetic and heartfelt but c’mon real life doesnt work that way,

    or how takemoto never thinks about sex, or never and i mean never looks at another girl?? c’mon man… i dont know how old u r or if ur in college, but when i was in college (just graduated last week) no guy could have tunnel vision like that and never want to get leid. Im not saying that honey and clover should deal with sex, but im saying the anime is very idealistic when concerning its perception of love.

    However Nana (which is sooo close to being a masterpiece) approaches life so realistically, like how we can believe we love someone today, and then we break up which leads to infidelity or promiscuity, which leads to emotional depression which leads to losing your job, life’s goals and getting knocked up. Nana is so raw in its emotional presentations that it is trully mesmerizing. So i would say H&C is poetic and idealistic about love, while Nana is realistic about life and how fucked up it is.

    I dont know what it is, but i truly only watch anime for catharsis, and the characters. Like the ending of Planet ES is the complete opposite of Gungrave yet, it is just as powerful. Like when Hachimaki finally proposes to Ai in the ending… wow… especially when you think about everything thay have been through…

    If you notice the top 7 anime in my top 10 deal with the meaning of love alot and how it affects people. That has always intrigued me and i wrote my senior thesis on that subject. Look at
    Spike and Julia,
    Hige and Blue,
    Gats and Caska,
    Hachi and Ai,
    Ayato and Haruka,
    Renton and Eureka,
    Van and Hitomi,
    Albert and Eugine
    Experiencing external emotions that are the same yet composed differently is truly phenomenal. How the love manifests btw these characters and how it impacts the stories is why i watch anime.

    What makes me angry is how most otaku fans cant see past the superficial, like look at KemonoZume from last year, that anime was so layered and had so much going on beneath the "messy art" and "monster concept" but people tuned it out because "the art wasnt good" same thing happened with Noein. Or how so many people consider Black Lagoon to be only an action anime, how do people miss all the social commentary (how does race, poverty and social-economia affect the psyche) and the insight on the evil of humanity: what makes people bad, what makes people stay bad, and what does it mean to be good or bad? yet people just see revy with guns… lol… amazing isnt it?

  11. I know how frustrating it can be when the regular watchers snub something just because it looks a little different. Shallow is the word really. But then again, I’ll be hard pressed to watch something that looks like Kanon, so I guess it works both ways. The girls in Kanon look like cats… Honestly, look at their designs, the "cute" anime girl is becoming a domestic pet. It’s quite amusing really :)

    Kemonozume was a good example of an anime produced by genuinely creative staff that just got ignored because the female characters are over 16, the men aren’t bishonen (i.e. they don’t look like women) and the animation style is completely unconventional. It’s kind of amusing how anime fans like to think they are into something edgy by watching Haruhi or Kanon when really they are simply conforming all the same. But whatever, I’m starting to rant now and I don’t want to come off as elitist or anything. I may seem strong with these opinions but I try to remain as open minded as possible; after all, I watch anime like Naruto which is obviously far from perfection itself. It just breaks my brain when a so-called anime fan has never heard of Satoshi Kon. WTF?

    You nailed it with your comment about Planetes, it has one of the most sentimental and beautiful endings ever. It’s a perfect series, to be honest.

    I think you and me are like long long twin brothers or something.

  12. so i just got back from pirates 3, it was ok… but it was like they were trying way tooo hard. i really love the first one because u knew everyone was just having fun…

    o shit i just realised that u have Berserk placed as your favorite anime of all time. what is it about that anime… seriously tho i dont really understand my love for that anime because it is so true. i remember when i was first watching berserk back in 05, i had just discovered anime and i was using animenfo as a guide to find out what to watch next and it was in the top 10.

    at first i couldnt get into it at, all and i almost gave up, until this song from the soundtrack came up, "gattsu" and i swear i became mesmerized. that song is so haunting especially when you think about the theme of the whole show, the concept of being, seeking your purpose, redemption and ambition. The show really is an existential experience, and the focus on the concept of existentialism is so raw that one has to question what purpose they serve in this world.

    Seriously man, Berserk is pretty phenomenal, and it gets me soooo mad when people bitch about the ending or the animation. It came out 10 yrs ago, it was the style. But the ending Batezi, the ending is what makes this anime the masterpiece that it is.

    As much as it leaves you wanting more, in its own way it is closure. because Gats’ story is not about destination, its about the journey. Why is he angry, why does he continue to go on? And then Caska… the relationship btw both of them was so powerful how the got together, hated each other, and then discovered that they love each other.

    i remember when i first saw that ep, i think its 19 or 20 when they confess to each other and make love, i was in such awe that i spent 2 hrs or more trying to figure out how to screencap just so i could capture those moments. the catharsis in that moment alone when she stabs him and begins to cry reminds us that love is painful… it also reminds me why anime is a great medium.

    the time invested into story and characters is just splendid. Moments like those, and characters like them is why i have become a lover of the medium, and i find myself continuously searching for animes that can exhibit such emotions and qualities. not because of a voice actor, or the figures, or the art or otakudom. its all about the story and execution.

    i kept on hearing about the manga and how good it is, and how much superior it is to the show, and i gave it a shot… but i just couldnt get into it or invest in it. Because the ending after the credits when gats gets his new arm, and prepares to go save the love of his life regardless of the opposition… the fact that he loved her so much to walk through hell to bring her back, is enough closure for me. And that haunting song man… seriously get the ost listen to the song "gatsu" and u’ll actually feel like your part of the band of the hawk.

  13. @Bateszi: After reading this and other recommendations, I think I’ll give Gungrave a try – I was initially put off by the ‘comic book silliness with the whole necrolyzation theme’ as you describe it but the fact that it’s so character-driven will be the selling-point in the end I think.

    @Kauldron26: I really enjoyed reading through your comments (as well as seeing several of my own faves on your list!) – you really should think of getting a blog of your own if you don’t have one already. There aren’t enough bloggers covering older classic shows these days!

  14. @Martin: Gungrave is an odd beast. It was clearly designed to simply spotlight the video game but despite occasionally being hampered by its origins (i.e. zombies/monsters), the writers were ambitious enough to craft a beautiful drama. The first episode is fairly bad (it’s just a shoot ’em up, basically) but after that, the story kicks in and the characters begin the flourish.

    @kauldron26: I second Martin’s suggestion that you look at starting your own anime blog, you definitely have the passion to make it work!

    When it comes to Berserk, I find it hard to single out exactly what I love about it. In short, almost everything. The first episode (much like Gungrave) is a bit of a road bump, but after that I just adore every moment of it. You’re right to mention the soundtrack – it was actually Susumu Hirsawa’s first foray into anime I think, and judging by his work on Paprika, he has lost none of his magic.

    It’s definitely the characters I love in Berserk. One of the best episodes was when Guts is asked by Griffith to assassinate one of the scheming "Lords" and he ends up having to kill the bloke’s little boy too. The way Guts looks when he realises what he has done is utterly captivating. Later in the episode he goes to find Griffith at the aristocrat party and walks into him giving this big speech about friendship and ambition. This whole scene always stays with me, because it’s incredibly symbolic of the way some people dream and others follow. This is the moment Guts decides to leave the Hawks.

    To be honest there are too many high points from Berserk to mention. In terms of characterization, I’m yet to see anything that cuts me as deep.

    Thanks for your comments as always!

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