Gungrave by Orax

Genre: Action/Drama
Format: 26 Episodes
Allegiance: Studio MadHouse
Director: Toshiyuki Tsuru
Vintage: 2003 – 2004
Intelligence Agency Report by: Orax
Brandon Heat and Harry McDowell have always been the best of friends. Although they and their gang cause nothing but trouble, that’s their lifestyle and they couldn’t be happier. However, one of their gang wars eventually attracted the attention of the large mafia syndicate Millenion. Wanting the ability to protect his family, friends, and loved ones, Brandon decides to accompany Harry and join Millenion. As they rise in rank and become esteemed members of the syndicate, they witness the meaning of “trust.”

Field Agent Report by: Orax 
Overall 9.25

Perhaps one of the most compelling game to anime conversions, Gungrave enwraps you in its tale of trust and betrayal and delivers some of the best character development I’ve seen in recent days.

Gungrave starts off on the wrong foot with the first episode. In fact, unless you don’t mind spoilers, I seriously suggest skipping the first episode entirely as it only spoils what’s to come, not to mention that the episode will be shown later on in the series. However, after this episode, the real story about some street punks wanting to pursue bigger dreams is introduced. Brandon and Harry remind me of Berserk, where one is all ambition and the other acts as his unwavering sword. This bond of friendship continues to strengthen as Brandon and Harry slowly progress to the upper echelons of Millenion’s hierarchy. These two soon meet other characters who become their friends, lovers, and comrades who all make impacting impressions on the viewer as you will feel for many of them. As Brandon and Harry continue to take part in Millenion they soon realize the rule “never betray” has become the rule they must forever abide by and never break. Ever.

Remarkably, Gungrave is able to incorporate both fantastic storytelling and beautiful art. It is able to keep movement fluid and maintain a high level of detail throughout the most demanding of action scenes. To describe the music in Gungrave, it would be most appropriate to say that it’s “unique.” It has its own feel and is able to pull you into its world without trouble, but there are no pieces that really stand out. It just really fits Gungrave well.

As you reach about two-thirds point of the series, the story takes a whole different direction where creatures called orcmen are abound and the series becomes borderline insane. However, it is nothing they don’t prepare you for. The change is actually gradual and can be predicted. I really had more of a problem with Mika than with the orcmen. Every time she was on screen she would either be yelling, crying or a mixture of both. It got really tiring to the point I was sick of her.

Despite this transition, the heart of the series: character development, never forsakes the viewer. The fruition of Brandon and Harry’s relationship will be seen in the dramatic conclusion. Friendships will break and hearts will be shattered all for the sake of carrying out two different ideals of what Millenion should be.