「ODDS AND ENDS」
Nic & Worick’s Return to the Plot:
Last week our main duo were absent from all the action, and although a lot of people were disappointed by what went down, I was quite satisfied with the focus on the minor characters and how their plot threads all tied together. However, I knew we had to get some of Nic and Worick in this final episode, and thankfully, we did. Enough? That’s debatable, but one of the strongest scenes in the episode is the early interaction between Alex and Nic back at the apartment. It’s haunting, quiet, and shows that neither has to say that much to each other to understand what the other is thinking (and also that Alex’s sign language is improving!).
The visions of Alex’s past were pretty disturbing, especially seeing her POV of being raped by a Tag (and then saved by Nic?). She saw Barry as a savior – an opportunity to make it in the city and help her brother find a better life. Obviously, things did not turn that way, which makes this all the more brutal. I’ve always said that I have immense sympathy for Alex and everything she’s been through; the fact that she can stand strong after all of this is testament to her strength. Although her following Nic down the steps after their conversation wasn’t packed with action, it felt like an important moment between the two. Nic obviously wants to protect her, but Alex needed that second push before she listened. Of course, I would love for her to have a more active role in the story, but perhaps it was for the best that she didn’t get embroiled in the events of this rather confusing and disappointing finale.
As for Worick, his fight scene in the mansion was well-directed, despite the art being merely ‘fine’. That’s the thing with GANGSTA: even though the animation and quality of the drawings isn’t anything worth praising, the actual framing and direction is incredibly solid, showcasing a tone that is fitting with whatever dark event is being shown. Of course, Worick is just an ordinary human (as was brought up a few times this episode) but he made up for his lack in physical prowess with smart tactics. If this were a shonen anime, then he would likely have won there and then, but it wasn’t that simple… which leads to the majors problems with this episode.
An End that isn’t an End:
Let me remind everyone: this is the final episode. If this was just another episode, I’d be thoroughly entertained with what was set up and what went down with Worick, but as a finale, this fails (Is he dead or not? Will we ever know for sure?) Other anime have ended with cliffhangers or unresolved storylines, but usually there is already a second cour announced or you can easily discern that a popular series is likely to get a follow-up at some point. The problem is, GANGSTA is not that type of show. Manglobe sequels are a rarity, especially when they’re a commercial failure – as GANGSTA appears to be, based off preorders and general buzz.
We barely saw any of the Hunters this episode, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I thought we’d get a conclusion with the final villains in the final episode. It only makes sense, right? Instead we got a set-up episode composed of several little character moments, with a shock ending to keep us drawn to the screen. In the end, people are just going to irritated with what wasn’t delivered, and that they didn’t get any answers whatsoever.
Overview – Final Impressions:
GANGSTA started off as one of the best of the season, and stayed that way for a solid seven/eight weeks. Unfortunately, once the Hunters made their appearance, things took a turn for the worst. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt a shift once these overpowered shonen-esque supervillains got involved in the action. It felt out-of-place, and a little disappointing after the carefully crafted exposition and well-paced character drama that we got for the first half. More of that would have resulted in this finishing just as strong as it started, but I suspect this is the direction the manga goes as well.
We dedicated a part of our last podcast to talking about GANGSTA, and how we all felt it was one of the best shows airing at the time. If you take a listen to what we had to say, you’ll understand just how much we all loved what we were getting. I can only speak for myself, but sadly in the end I’m slightly disappointed with GANGSTA. This final episode was the chance to tie up the loose ends and finish strongly, even if the Hunters themselves weren’t that exciting to watch. However, we got nothing. This was not an ending – it was just another episode, adapting another chapter, and clearly the staff didn’t care to create something anime-original or re-shift the source material in a way that would at least feel like an ending. Perhaps I should give Murase Shukou and Manglobe credit for sticking to the script up till the very end, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth when the credits started rolling and I knew there likely wouldn’t ever be another episode to follow this one.
If by some Christmas miracle we do get a sequel, then perhaps my complaints will be unwarranted, but from what I know about the studio and what I’ve gathered from GANGSTA’s popularity in Japan, it seems this will forever be remembered as unfinished rough gem that never hit the mainstream. It’s just a shame it had to end on a bum note, as well as the last few episodes being a downgrade from what we’d come to expect. Perhaps I’ll pick up the manga in search for some answers; I know that GANGSTA is a great story, and the writing is tremendous when it focuses on the characters that matter – those rooted in the murky shadows of Ergastulum, affected by its previous wars and current crimes. If we forget about all the Hunters and the non-ending, then it’s not too difficult to see how it could have been not just one of the best anime of this season, but of the year over all.