Maturity & Quality:
GANGSTA really is something else. Back when the summer season started, I knew it would be a complete breath of fresh – or rather, dirty – air to wash away what we’ve come to expect from the majority of anime of this era. GANGSTA is gritty and disturbing and really shines a light on the brutal side of living in a horrid, crime-filled city like Ergastulum; yet it never feels like its relishing in the devastation.
If there was one thing I was skeptical about going in (especially after the first episode), it was that the violence, gore, blood, and sexual abuse would be used to ‘titillate’ the audience and provide them with mindless, cruel entertainment. But there is nothing mindless about GANGSTA; everything is carefully planned, especially with the touchy subject of abuse – whether it be past, present, sexual, physical, mental. Clearly, Kohske cares a lot for her characters and her story; she hasn’t resorted to violence just for the sake of it, like far too many series do, and I respect that.
Twilights Are Still Dying:
Continuing from the end of last week’s episode, we see that more Twilights are being murdered. It’s being pinned as gang violence, but clearly they two at the very end are playing a massive part here. I’m excited to see more of this mysterious duo, learn who they are, and what they’re really up to. Why are they killing the Tags? It could be simple hatred for them, but I’m sure there’s many layers to this upcoming war.
We do learn some pretty useful information about the four father of Ergastulum, and what each gang/family does to maintain the balance. The Corsica Family manages the supplying/smuggling of weapons as well as controlling the sex industry of the city; Paulklee Guild provides Tagged mercenaries to various clients, including the other three major families; the Monroe Family deals with commerce within the city as well as supporting Twilights unaffiliated with the Paulklee Guild; and there there’s the Cristiano Family, led by the spunky Loretta Cristiano Amodio (Ueda Kano) who distribute Celebrer to the twilights. However, we learn that they cannot get directly involved with the Twilights, and so hire Nic, Worick, and other high-level combatants to keep their clients safe. Or – as we saw in this episode – they hold a high-profile party intended to provide a safe haven for the Tags as the death count rises.
Alex’s Struggles – Forgotten Memories:
The balance of the city through the four major families is interesting stuff that I’m very grateful to learn more about. However, that wasn’t the big part of the episode for me. More than ever perhaps, this was Alex’s episode. She’s had focus in nearly every episode with her passive watching and analysis of Ergastulum, coinciding with a gradual and powerful character arc that didn’t truly reveal itself until episode 6. There’s something special about Alex – and it’s not just her voice. She’s fragile, yet composed, and her story is one to tug the heartstrings. She’s my favourite character of the series, which comes down to my bias for sympathetic, yet powerful female characters – and Alex is just that.
I suspected there would be more side-effects to her getting the TBs out of her system, but the fact that it also suppressed memories was something different from what I imaged. Though it makes sense, given what we know about the drug. Seeing her remember her brother for the first time in what presumes to quite a while was certainly moving. Alex continues to suffer one set-back after another, but she’s anything but weak. She may shed a tear from time to time, but anyone who has to go through what she’s been forced to do would feel the same, or much worse.
I like that we’re learning about her brother at the same time as her, with the flashback become clearer as the episode goes on. When the scenes of them as children are finally revealed, my heart swelled. Accompanied by her soothing voice, and sights of Nic and Worick slamming some Tag murderers to the ground, the last few minutes were especially fantastic. The fact that her brother recognised her voice as he passed by the club was the sour cherry on top.
Another standout moment this episode was when Nic gripped Alex’s shaking hands as she reached for her pills, adding more layers to the interactions between these handymen. Just like Worick sympathises with Alex due to her work in the sex industry, Nic must see something of himself in her problems with drugs. And the more we see of these three together, the more enthralled I become with their dynamics.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Going by next week’s title, I presume we’ll be focusing more on Alex and her brother, and possibly the duo wreaking havoc in Ergastulum. Overall, this was another brilliant episode, especially because it focused on my personal favourite character. Alex is so much more than a girl with (naturally) big breasts who looks gorgeous in a dress; her story of abuse and survival is a powerful one, and seeing her every step of the way is an unsightly, yet rewarding experience.
Full-length images: 31.