Past Trauma – Wallace meets Nicolas:
This was a seamless episode if I’ve ever seen one – perfectly interlaced with hints of the past that coincide with the brutal drama of the current timeline, all whilst balancing the trauma of our unfortunate trio. After much teasing, we’re diving into the past, getting a taste of what went down all those years ago. We’ve still got a fair bit to see, but having a young Worick (aka Wallace) meet his new bodyguard, Nicolas, was all we needed for now.
As we witness their first interactions, the contrast between now and then is apparent. Worick was the privileged son of what appear to be a very important a wealthy family, a smart smoker with plenty of playboy rumours following wherever her goes. In contrast, teenage Nicolas seems the exact opposite in every way. They’re an odd match from the get-go, but somehow when we cut back to what’s going on right now, they feel like the perfect duo. I’m definitely interested to see what happened to them. I imagine there’s some sort of attempted murder, followed by Nic taking bloody action, and cementing their bond as partners. We saw the beginnings of their friendship when Worick found out about his bodyguard’s deafness, before sharing that tender scene with him in his room.
Not only that, but we learned that Worick has eidetic memory, with some elements of fantasy added to it (his eye did change colour after all). The transition between him using his gift in the present, to using it for his studies in the past was the perfect way to start the flashback. Clearly, as real and gritty as GANGSTA. aims to be, there’s bound to be the occasional element of fantasy that will require some leeway. The mere existence of the Twilights was a hint of this a few episodes back, and since Worick’s family seemed to have something to do with training (or recruiting them), there may be some deeper connection between Worick and Nick that ties to their beyond-human abilities.
Present Drama – Seamless Exposition:
I was highly anticipating the flashback, but thankfully enough the present storyline is just as exciting – if not more so. We only saw a glimpse of Alex this week, but what a moment it was. She’s not left Ergastulum yet, and it doesn’t look like she will – she’s envisioning those who have used and abused her in the past, chaining herself to the place she so desperately needs to get away from. It was a such a powerful scene, as short as it may have been, and the instant switch back to normality dealt a heavy blow. I feel for this girl; she’s trapped between a rock a hard place, and her own demons are preventing her from freeing herself.
Not only was Worick and Nick’s new job enjoyable to watch unfold, but the seamless exposition and flashback cuts made the episode feel that much more packed. It was well-paced – slow enough to show the little hints, like Alex with a sign language book, or seeing Nick’s bruises from his physical abuse without actually seeing it happen to him. GANGSTA. isn’t shoving the facts in our faces, instead it’s proving a much more natural approach that can sometimes feel missing from anime: we’re being shown the exposition, not told it. It can be a hard thing to pull off, especially when we’re still left in mystery after four episodes. We know bits and pieces of the full puzzle, but finding out the little details is so much more rewarding than a lengthy info-dump to keep the audience up to date.
A/0 vs A/0:
The Monroe family are certainly a cruel, interesting bunch. I can’t quite make out how close Nick and Worick are< to them, but from this episode it seems like they’re allies against a common foe. Delico (Hashizume Tomohisa) is only a D/0 ranked twilight, but still shows some prowess and defensive abilities when it came to protecting his boss. However, it was Doug (Yoshino Hiroyuki – all I can hear is Meow from Space Dandy!), who stood out the most. Sharing the same A/0 as Nick, their matchup made for a strong cliffhanger. Straight away, I want to see more, but this episode already delivered more than enough to keep me happy.
Overview – What’s Next?:
The transitions between past and present were seamless, and all the information we got was expertly delivered. Many series would just tell us upfront what’s going on, because it’s the easier thing to do. But with GANGSTA., it’s clear that the underbelly of the plot is well-composed and planned ahead. Seeing fragmented details and piecing them together is the perfect approach. That, and the fights were pretty well choreographed, and the animation was surprisingly on-point this week. I don’t know if Manglobe can deliver that consistently, but overall they’re doing a superb job with this adaptation.