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“Gungrave” is a 26 episode TV series from 2003-2004. The Anime is a more in-depth re-imagining of the characters and scenario created by Yasuhiro Nightow (creator of "Trigun") for two Playstation 2 videogames.

Through “Necrolyzation”, Brandon Heat has been brought back-- not just from, but as “Beyond The Grave” -- to protect Mika (the daughter of his past love, Maria, and the crime boss, “Big Daddy”) from the vengeance of his closest friend, Harry.

Several years earlier …
In Desolation Alley, a rundown slum in an un-named rotten city, a band of punk hoods led by the charismatic Harry MacDowell exist by taking what they need and pummeling other penny ante gangs that get in their way. One of the members of Harry’s gang is his best bud from the orphanage where he grew up, Brandon, a stoic, simple-minded man of few words (or almost no words). Despite being virtually catatonic as the strong, silent member of this group, Brandon actually has a girlfriend, Maria. However this picturesque vision of the “perfect” life doesn’t last. After a couple of encounters with a low level member of the all controlling mafia, Millenion, Harry’s gang is massacred, leaving only him and Brandon. From this the insightful Harry learns that power and control are what one needs in order to survive, and Brandon vows to protect his remaining two loved ones, Harry and Maria.

In order to continue on and rise above their situation, Harry and Brandon join Millenion and are put onto two very different tracks. Millenion is led by Big Daddy, an aging mobster who runs his “family” under the motto “Never Betray.” As a favor owed to Maria’s adoptive uncle, “Jester”, a well liked retired sweeper/hit man killed in conjunction with Harry’s gang, Big Daddy takes Maria into his home. Using his keen wits, Harry quickly rises in the organization; seeks out Brandon, who has been relegated to working as muscle in a small-time bookmaking office; and learns of Maria’s whereabouts. Harry reunites Brandon and Maria, and Brandon meets and becomes close to Big Daddy. After five years of Harry’s bold plotting and Brandon’s unwavering loyalty to Big Daddy, they are both inducted into the Inner Circle.

Harry becomes Millenion’s obvious heir apparent, but when Big Daddy does finally step down, instead of giving the mob over to Harry, he promotes a puppet leader as his successor. Using a kindly father-to-son approach with Brandon, the conniving old man also talks Brandon into giving up Maria, who Big Daddy then woos, beds and marries. Harry decides to seize the organization by using mad scientist Dr. Tokioka’s Necrolyzation project (discovered when rubbing out a rival syndicate) to create an army of undead zombie killers called Ogremen. Expecting Brandon to follow him, Harry tells Brandon of his plans. But guileless Brandon, conflicted by loyalties to Big Daddy and Harry, as well as his vow to “Never Betray,” pulls his gun on Harry in response. Enraged by what he views as Brandon’s betrayal of him, Harry kills Brandon, takes over Millenion and kills Big Daddy… then orders the deaths of Maria and her and Big Daddy’s daughter to remove these reminders of Brandon, and the man he feels Brandon chose over him, from his world.

“Brandon --”
“Harry --”

A tragic, badass, macho tale of love, betrayal, and vengeance, “Gungrave” overcomes stilted animation and repetitive videogame like battle sequences (especially in the second half of the series) with nice character designs, and cinematic style camera angles and scenes; but most of all through deft handling of the powerful personal relationship at the story’s core, and its very moving ending.

 Gungrave 01

 Gungrave 02

 Gungrave 03

 Gungrave 04
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Curator: guyvariii
Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

Presentation 8.65/10   Collection 9.12/10   Overall 8.70/10   Votes 65 votes
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