Gangsta Series Review


Gangsta Overview:

Much like the title suggests, Gangsta deals with the events of a mafia run city called Ergastulum. Mostly we follow Worick and Nicholas, two ‘handymen’ as they take on pretty much any job for a price.

Gantsta Review:

It would be easy to make the case that Gangsta goes for style over substance and without any kind of conclusion to the anime (and pretty much no chance ever of a conclusion) that this is a title to put in the watch if you’re bored list or just move on. Despite one of my pet hates about anime being lack of resolution to so many series, I still found Gangsta a blast to watch and even knowing it doesn’t end it has become one of my go-to rewatch titles when I’m feeling a little bit down.


That doesn’t mean this series is in anyway uplifting. In point of fact, it’s more the kind of thing you watch to remind yourself that maybe you don’t have it that bad. Then again, the series isn’t depressing either because while horrible things happen to the characters at times, none of them seem to really take it too much to heart. And that’s where the argument of style over substance comes in.


There’s a lot of really good ideas in Gangsta and some really interesting characters. The Tags/Twilights/whatever you want to call them are a great concept and as we get to know some of them and see their way of dealing with the cards life dealt them you really get drawn into the struggle that probably would have become a central theme if the show had continued.

Gangsta touches on so many ideas and gets into some really serious issues but none of these have the chance to really be developed. It’s almost as though you are standing on clear ice and you can below that there is depth and something really compelling in the lake below but you can’t touch it.

So really, your enjoyment of Gangsta will come entirely from whether you are happy to simply consider the ideas as they are presented and then contemplate them further on your own.


Worick and Nicholas are really entertaining as our main characters. It is nice that we meet these two from an outsiders perspective though (Alex, the prostitute they rescue early on) because their relationship is so established before the time period we’re viewing and without that perspective even the audience would be quite locked out of the nuances that govern their ‘friendship’. It’s difficult to actual say if these two are friends or not given their history and positions.

At times it feels like a genuine friendship, at others a partnership of convenience, and others still you feel that there is a massive power imbalance. It’s the back and forth between these states that keeps you watching and wanting to know whether or not they really have found a way beyond the discrimination so inherent in the world they live in. It helps too that both characters are deeply flawed in their own ways and yet equally talented in others.

They both bring baggage to the table but they also bring strengths that are necessary for the other to survive. I also like that they don’t try to make these two out to be the knights in shining armour. Sure, comparatively to other characters these two aren’t scum but they certainly don’t mind getting their hands dirty.


Alex is a necessary plot device in the story but as a character she is probably the weakest element in the Gangsta universe. They make some attempts at fleshing her out beyond damsel in distress, hard done by girl who got rolled by the big-bad world, etc. These attempts are okay but mostly she is still just a vehicle for the audience to enter a fairly closed world.

Alex wasn’t born in the city and hasn’t been there long so she asks the questions the audience needs answered and gives the other characters a reason to launch into an info-dump. It’s not the most sophisticated way to world build but with limited run-time and a fairly full agenda with the plot it was probably the quickest and least intrusive way to go about it.


Beyond the characters we have the story itself which looks very much at the power balances within the city and plays old mafia families off against new comers, mercenary units against whoever they choose, the police trying to keep up appearances of order, and independents such as the handymen moving through the whole lot and stirring the pot as they pass. While there isn’t a singe, central issue being dealt with in this series and there is no closure, I never really had a problem with that while watching. There was always something happening, some job the characters were dealing with, or some threat that they were gathering information on.


Then we have the action sequences. The fights in this are amazing. The tags being significantly stronger than normal humans (and yet not being supernaturally overpowered) gave us some fantastic clashes. Their individual quirks and disabilities add a unique feel to these fights and the speed and power they bring to bear (not to mention some of the weapons) are just entertaining.

Equally entertaining is the opening theme. It energizes you for each episode and really sets the tone of the world we’re entering. All and all, it is an opening I rarely skip when rewatching the show.

Also, the English dub is really good. I don’t say that very often as normally I either haven’t watched the English dub or I preferred the Japanese, but in this case I’ve watched both and I’d happily watch either one.

Final view: I really enjoy Gangsta but wish it could have been more. If they’d finished the story, explored some of the issues they raised, maybe introduced a few more female characters that didn’t feel like they were tokenistic… But that isn’t what the show is. It’s a great ride for what they give you and a lot of fun while skating across the surface of a lot of the darker sides of human nature. I’d love to know your opinion if you’ve watched Gangsta.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Feature: On Bad Romance in Anime

wolf girl

Last week I looked at some of the common elements of anime romances from the positive point of view. This post I want to look at some of the more problematic aspects of anime romance that seem to crop up again and again from personalities to full on stalking and imprisonment. Yep, these are definitely the marks of a bad romance. As always I’d love to hear your point of view in the comments below.

What features commonly appear in bad romance?

01. The guy doesn’t just come off as being a bit of a jerk, he is actually a jerk. Maybe there’s a reason for his damaged and warped personality but what he does is emotionally destructive to his love interest. Yet somehow, we’re supposed to be convinced that the girl will put up with this and should actually pursue this character despite the emotional trauma she’s dealing with, and that this is romantic.

While I know that there are many, many people trapped in emotionally abusive relationships it would be nice if so many romance stories didn’t glorify this. For a non-anime example we could most definitely point straight at Twilight. Edward is a controlling bully and his leaving Bella caused her to become nearly catatonic. This is not healthy. However, let’s go back anime and look at Wolf Girl and Black Prince. Whatever redeeming qualities Kyoya Sata may have or may develop later in the series he is a bully and the argument that Erika got herself into the mess with her lying doesn’t make it any better.

Of course there are plenty of other candidates out there for girls putting up with guys who manipulate them. Then again, we could easily turn that around and look at some of the truly horrendous girlfriends anime has given us over time.

02. Following on from number 1, we have the guy who wants a more physical relationship than the girl and is willing to push for it even when she clearly isn’t comfortable. While in comedies the guy in question will usually get slapped and dropped to the floor or beaten with a broom (hilarious, really) in serious romances what usually happens is the girl allows herself to be convinced. Generally speaking I avoid anime that goes down this road.

One I did watch was Say I Love You. While it isn’t too far over the line, Say I Love You definitely hovers on that borderline during the earlier episodes before the relationship starts to balance out a bit. For the most part Yamato is a generally nice guy (with a couple of rough edges) who helps Mei out and seems to like her but he is definitely more experienced in relationship and at times he is clearly pushing for more than she is willing to give.


Though mostly this is nothing compared to what happens to some guys in a lot of BL so maybe we should just be thankful for that and move on to the next point.

03. Anime romances tend to normalise stalkerish behaviour. Secret photo taking, finding out someone’s entire schedule, likes and dislikes of food, their home address and phone number, it seems nothing is off the table for some determined would-be partners in romantic anime. It would be an adorable display of affection if not for the creepy real world consequences of actual stalking.

However this particular behaviour has been normalised to the point where it is now parodied in comedies and played for laughs. Momokuri last year with Kurihara took this to extremes and while in the show it was played cute and for laughs with Kurihara having no ill intentions, one has to wonder what would happen if Momotsuki had ever tried to break up with her.

Of course, we see the far darker side of this behaviour in Mirai Nikki through the notorious Yuno Gasai who will genuinely do anything to keep Amano ‘safe’ including tying him to a chair and holding him in captivity.

This is probably my least favourite trope in anime romances.

04. The characters know nothing about each other but declare they are in love. How many times do we see the scene where the girl confesses to the guy having never actually spoken to him before? Why are you in love with someone you don’t know? There are so many assumptions being made here and it really makes me wonder how they expect a relationship to last when they can’t even speak to the guy properly.

Of course, there are just as many male characters confessing to girls they’ve only ever admired from afar so this isn’t exclusively a problem of the heroine of the story. I love it when they follow this up with an internal monologue that says they’ve always been watching that person. Yeah, because that will tell you everything about them, or you are journeying into the stalker territory from number 3.

05. The girl starts changing herself entirely based on the guy’s preference. She asks his opinion on everything and ceases to actually make any decisions on her own. It is like being in a relationship was akin to lobotomising the character and suddenly their brain has stopped functioning independently.

I know this one isn’t fair but a character who pretty much has no identity outside of her relationship is Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess. Realistically, what little we see of her before Keiichi makes his wish doesn’t really reveal much of a personality to start with (other than sweet) and then she’s bound by his wish for most of the rest of the show. In this instance it kind of works but I still find these sorts of characters frustrating.

Belldandy - you are sweet but this is a bad romance.

That’s it from me on bad romance trends but feel free to suggest your own or provide more examples of the ones above.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James