OP Sequence



Grimy Setting, Smooth Pacing:

As with any good first episode, this one was all about introductions: the city, the characters, and their lives in this twisted setting. Ergastulum is an interesting place, which to me feels very Southern-European. I don’t know if there’s a confirmed location for this fictional city, but it stands out when compared to all the current anime set in Japanese high schools. If you’re looking for something that’s different, then look no further than GANGSTA. – from the architecture to the character designs, this as a unique offering when compared to most of what’s coming out this season.

Before I dive into the characters and events that unfolded in this first episode, I’d like to point out how easy-going the pacing was. For something that promised to be dirty and brutal, I was expecting an episode jam-packed with action sequences and characters screaming at each other in a flurry of rage. But instead, GANGSTA. was distinctively quiet and smooth in its approach. Most of the episode was simple conversations, whilst managing to highlight the disturbing aspects of this harsh world. However, when the action did come, it delivered. But I did appreciate that this episode took it’s time and didn’t feel the need to lure us in with guts and gore from the get-go. Sometimes, just getting to know the characters is enough for a successful introduction.

Nicholas & Worick:

Our main duo were at the forefront for most of the episode, giving us glimpses of their personalities as we follow just another day in Ergastulum. Nicolas Brown (Tsuda Kenjirou) and Worick Arcangelo (Suwabe Junichi) make up ‘Benriya’, a business where they take on the dangerous jobs that no one else is willing to tackle. It’s a solid premise, especially with two characters that seem like complete opposites of one another. Nicolas is the most interesting of the two (for me at least), because he’s actually deaf. There’s not many main characters with disabilities in anime, and deafness is rarely touched upon. Obviously, in this case, Nicolas isn’t hindered much by his loss of hearing – apart from being not knowing when the phone is ringing, or know when someone is firing a gun behind him. He relies on his keen eyesight and can lipread to some degree, so as long as he’s got his eyes on someone, he’s not left out of the loop.

Worick is much more extroverted and outgoing, who comes across much less serious than his partner. Of course, when things get dirty, he’s quick to respond with brutal means. I’m sure we’ll get some backstory as to how he lost his left eye, but it’s certainly not dampened his cheery mannerism or flirtatious nature. Alone, he’s not the most original character, but when paired with Nicolas, their contrasts make their interactions much more interesting. We also see a young Nicolas in the ED (which I really enjoyed, more than the OP), so I wouldn’t be surprised if these two have some deep-rooted history that explains their closeness. That would be something worth seeing.

Ergastulum’s Factions:

I covered the synopsis in the season preview, but with this first episode we’re already seeing hints of the different factions that make up Ergastulum. On one side there’s the police officers, namely the high-ranking official, Chad Adkins (Kanao Tetsuo), and his younger subordinate, Cody Balfour (Ishikawa Kaito), who request Nicolas and Worick to take on the jobs that they can’t. On the other end we have the four gangs that effectively control the city. Daniel Monroe (Houki Hatsuhisa) is the only confirmed leader so far, but I suspect the meeting he was having was with the other higher ups. Clearly, these top-dogs are going to play a big part in the story to come, so I’ll be waiting to see their proper introductions.

Alex’s Hardships:

But for now, everything comes down to a lone prostitute. Alex Benedetto (Noto Mamiko) isn’t in a position of power, like many of the characters this episode. She’s used and abused by the members of Barry Abbott’s gang, who are making a bad name for themselves. The scenes with Alex were hard to watch, even though I knew they were coming. I’ve heard a lot about her character and how sympathetic and likeable she is; And I can see that from this first episode. Still, sexual violence is something that is often inserted into stories just for shock value, and because the creators don’t think much of its implications.

I’m not saying GANGSTA. is necessarily one of those series, but I’ll be keeping an eye on Alex’s character from here on out to see how the story treats her. She deserves to be more than a prop for the violent men of the series, and hopefully that comes to an end after this episode. At least Nicolas and Worick got the job done without second thoughts; these two much be so used to killing by this point that it doesn’t even make them flinch. But still, it’s Alex’s final gunshots that stood out to me. She’s finally free from captivity, and I’m happy for her. As much as Nicolas and Worick intrigue me, it’s Alex who I feel sorry for, and want to grow because of this. It seems I have an early favourite already.

Overview – What’s Next?:

Overall, this first episode met expectations. The pacing was easy-going despite the more brutal acts that we witnessed, and we got a solid introduction to our main trio. Nicolas, Worick, and Alex are an interesting combo, and I’m interested to see what dangerous jobs Benriya are involved in from here on out. I didn’t appreciate the repeated sexual violence against Alex, but she should be better off now. And hopefully she gets to do more than just answer their phone. I want to see her deal more finishing blows on those who deserve it – those who put other women like her in those horrible, unbreakable situations. That would be incredibly satisfying.

Full-length images: 38.

ED Sequence

ED: 「Yoru no Kuni」 (夜の国) by Annabel


  1. I’ve read the manga for this, and don’t worry. IMO, Alex is treated quite well, and is most certainly not a prop for violence or fanservice. She gets some development early on, and some more later. She’s awesome.

    1. What it’s said above but on the other hand she won’t be Nikita, so don’t hype too much. But she won’t be mistreated at last. I don’t know, if it counts as a spoiler but better be save than sorry:
      Show Spoiler ▼

      PS: if you want to know what place is Ergastulum, then you have to know it’s a word from Latin and it was an ancient Roman building used to hold in chains dangerous slaves, or to punish other slaves.

    2. I re-read all the translated chapters available for this manga JUST to enjoy the adaptation all the more ! I really LOVE this series !
      there’s a clever little wiki page for it as well, which really helped me follow through with their world : http://gangstamanga.wikia.com/wiki/GANGSTA._Wiki

      This is not a spoiler, just reassurance: Alex is not some foolish damsel in distress.

      overall, this Manga Reader is quite happy with episode 1 !
      I wonder how it’s going to end: the manga is still ongoing, isn’t it?

      1. “This is not a spoiler, just reassurance: Alex is not some foolish damsel in distress.”

        So basically, Alex will have a similar role in this show as Karen Page (from Netflix’s Daredevil series)? I can dig that.

        I also liked how Warwick does the translating for Nicholas’ sign language. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Nicholas and Warwick’s backstories, as well.

    1. Nah, I’m assuming he had some type of hearing before being deaf, so he picked up his language. I don’t know how the deaf operate in terms of speech, since I haven’t encountered many or communicated with any for that matter, but I have the impression since he can’t hear himself speak, his speech is a bit broken, sloppy, and/or “off key” so to speak. Like he mumbles a bit.

      That’s just my take on it though. It could be that his Japanese isn’t good as well. Anyway, he’s the most interesting to me so far.

    2. When you are deaf you can’t hear the words you’re saying, which is why the words don’t come out properly. So yeah, the subtitles were because his Japanese would have been harder to understand.

  2. The accepted term for what Nicholas and Worwick’s job is Handymen. Hey, they accept jobs that various factions for various reason that they cannot do. The police obviously cannot just murder Barry’s gang for violating the truce amongst the various mobs. They, through Chad contracted the Handymen to take care of the problem. Alex should’ve been taken cared of along with Barry’s gang, but Nicholas and Worwick claimed her as their bonus payment.

  3. Ah, Classic Manglobe is back again.
    Heard there’ll be character development, which is something good – we need more than gangland violence to make this even better.

  4. I had my reservations about this show because of the god awful name (GANGSTA.), but that was an alright first episode, nothing surprising but it was entertaining enough.

    It’s good that the actual content of the show, such as the mannerisms of the characters and the music direction is nothing like the painfully cheesy OP and ED (which are more in line with the name of the show).

  5. When I saw this in the RC season preview I thought it looked familiar, but couldn’t quite put a handle on where I’d seen it before. Now reading this with the names of its protagonists I realize that I read the manga a while ago- Yeah, I’ll give it shot why not? I remember the manga being fun enough…

  6. This kind of anime will always be welcomed. When i become bored by all the current anime set in Japanese high schools. This show really gave me attention. And boy it did delivered what i crave the most in anime “entertaining”. And boy the episode really delivered. Count me in guys, lets ride the world of Gangsta.

  7. I’m really interested in this show. It’s a nice breath of fresh air from the standard fair. I was hoping to find a more middle ground between grit and ultra kawaii moe deluxe, but I am really liking the story so far and I see several people saying the source is really good.

  8. Not so sure about this one yet. I have not read the manga — but considering there are quite some chapters, there might be more to it.

    In any way. This first episode did not really leave much of an impression on me. Therefore I have my doubts.

  9. After the large hole that Black Lagoon left, Gangsta is definitely a welcome scractch for that annoying itch.

    So far, Im impressed of what I have seen and it is without a doubt that Im already sticking with the series for the long run.

    The 3 reasons why Im gonna ignore the 3 episode rule on Gangsta

    1. Its not in a f*cking high school setting! Mind you, Im a fan of highschool harem romcom but it has been so overused that Im actually starting to hate the genre.

    2. Gangsta does not hesitate to show the evils of this world. I know Anime is fiction and all, but life is not sunshines and rainbows. The blood and violence goes hand in hand with drugs and money, this is a real world fact.

    3. ALEX! She is daym hot! We need more heroines with smexy chocolate skin! I know this is just me and my fetishes talking, but still!

  10. If the city they’re in didn’t have a name, I would have thought it was Roanapur. That’s how much this show reminded me of Black Lagoon. Just from this debut episode, Nicolas is already my favorite. Somehow he’s funny even when he doesn’t intend to be. I only read chapter 1 so far and will follow the rest in anime form.Show Spoiler ▼

    1. about your spoiler, I disagree.
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

  11. Told myself I wouldn’t bother with this since I’m already following the manga – it’s a great story, but kind of depressing so I didn’t plan on watching it animated – but decided to watch it simply because I like Manglobe’s style. To me, they’re one of the last “proper” anime studios around. First ep didn’t disappoint, as expected. Anyone know how many eps this gets in total? The manga easily has more than 12 eps of material out (hardly any filler/change-of-pace chapters) but I can’t see anyone giving Manglobe two seasons worth of budget.

    1. Manglobe who made Samurai Champloo and Michiko to Hachin ? THAAAAAAT’s why the pacing & animation seemed so familiar !
      (just realized it after reading your comment. ah, dear Google…)

      1. Probably not the exact same Manglobe that made those two series. Staff would’ve probably shanged since then, to some extent, plus they don’t have the budget – you can tell from the lack of fluidity in the animation and other corners cut. Lets not kid ourselves, Manglobe have made a lot of crap over that few years as well, probably just so they could stay in business.

        Shame, since this is one of those shows that could have benefited from some extra money and care, judging from what I’ve read in the manga. The sound direction is the biggest difference from old Manglobe (OP music is horrid). Just imagine this with some of the Nujabes (RIP) bgm tracks we got in Champloo.

  12. I haven’t seen the episode yet but it reminded me a lot of Gungrave’s first half just by looking at the trailers and thumbnails here, which was the part i liked the most about Gungrave before all the supernatural stuff took over.

    1. Oh, so warning for you!
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

  13. Superb first episode. This is the sort of vibe I thought Psycho Pass would give me, and ended up somewhat disappointed. There’s nothing like Gangsta out right now and if it lives up to the hype, which judging by Episode 1, it has a chance to, it could just be a classic series.
    I also like the fact that they’re not shying away from the reality of the setting. Not many anime are willing to have a prostitute as a main character and not sugarcoat her job at ALL.

  14. Getting some major Bebop vibes from this show and that is NEVER a bad thing for an anime. I’m looking forward to the misadventures of our broken little trio. Also, is it possible for me to be MORE attracted to Nicolas than I already am? Let’s wait and see.

  15. Hum. Funimation streaming is censored in at least one scene. Just after the commercial break, Alex was shown servicing a client in an alley. In the Funi version, the scene does not include the actual act, and you just hear about it. The original version show you the act itself.

  16. I finally watched it, and must say. This Anime is for Mature Fans. Fans with a feeling for Right and Wrong, know the Light and the Dark. because our Heroes are between them. They are the Grey Tags, that hold the Balance

    Yes, if you are tired of “Children” stuff, you should give this Adult theme a try. Yeah there is violence, but they do not celebrate it, like showing the inner organs of body’s or there is a core splatter fest (ok, our Sword Guy loves it!). But this Anime also touch the sexual slavery

    i give it a shoot. Episode 1 has impressed me, and i am not into that Core and stuff. The message both are creating, is interesting. Did you not wanted to be a “hero of Justice”? (No not Fate/Stay Night)

    First Impression: Good Adult Stuff, got hooked. Waiting for next 2 Episodes

    p.s. If Alex is not really just an Sexy Side-dish..

  17. They’re incredibly faithful to the manga counterpart, and they have two VAs for Nicolas and Warwick, meaning we’ll probably see their childhoods. And yeah, Nicolas is one hell of a character, the deaf disability is not his only barrier though he had to go through though.


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