Note: Just like my last thing on The Idolm@ster, this is a fragment I wrote up last year that I never finished. I felt that it was close to good enough, though, that with a little polish, I could still get my thoughts from back then across. Take em in context, though.
When the Summer 2015 season started up, Gangsta. was gonna be “that show.” After watching the OP (the excellent “Renegade” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION), I expected it to be bloody and overdone and hypersexual and exploit-y, an clusterfuck of guns and tits and blood and ink set to fat electropop. And in a lot of ways, it did turn out that way – Nico and Worick slaughter plenty of bad dudes, plenty of bad dudes try to slaughter them, other bad dudes slaughter those other bad dudes. Ergastulum looks like if Detroit, some small Italian town and Vegas had a three-way and out popped a kid shaped like a city.
What I didn’t expect Gangsta. to be was one of the most introspective and gutwrenching anime I’ve seen in a long time. My friends know I praise effective use of silences in anime, how they can convey so much with literally not a word spoken. I think silence can be golden. Gangsta. uses its quietness generously, often letting a full 30 seconds go by with the only sound being the near-constant rain in the city of Ergastulum filling the background while character look on, motionless.
There’s a melancholy to the series that in another show might be insufferable without the requisite attachment to its characters and their suffering, but at least for me, Gangsta. never had that problem. Though the situations of its characters are fantastical at best, one can empathize with them because their feelings and reality are just close enough, and feel authentic enough, to be evocative of real life. Being a super-powered orphan, or a hypertalented but abused rich kid, or a back-alley cigarette dealer, isn’t something any of us can probably relate to, but isolation and abuse and a love for one’s family are things that any decent human can sympathize with. When Joel begs for something, anything, of her granddaughter Connie’s remains, the circumstances of why Connie is gone don’t really matter. What I feel is the truly awful unfairness of fate as a grandmother confronts the possibility she has outlived her son, her daughter-in-law and now even her granddaughter.
A lot of people freaked out at the ending of Gangsta. and the accompanying shut-down of Manglobe. The series quite literally just…ended. No resolution, and no hope in sight for Benrya. A once-great studio finally broke to bring this ending to us. It was depressing, crappy, and it left a bad taste in your mouth even as you cried your hearts out for the characters on screen. It was upsetting, and I want more. I wanted to know if Nico and Alex and Worick would be alright, and I know I wouldn’t. It was all uncertain.
It was perfect.