The Best Anime Series of 2015: ‘Gangsta.’

Whether you’re an anime fan who considers themselves the most hardcore Otaku or your only anime experience, comes from growing up on Toonami and Dragon Ball Z, it doesn’t matter. If you aren’t watching Gangsta. already, then you need to start now.

Generally, some of the biggest turn offs for those who can’t get into anime or even fans of the genre, come from what they view as too linear story lines, focusing on one dimensional characters and filled with overtly long exposes on powers and plot, as well as blatant fan service and pandering. These issues for some, deter them away from getting into anime or annoy longtime fans, in the same way comic clichés annoy longtime comic readers. Luckily, none of the above complaints that give anime the stigma it does as an entertainment genre, are even remotely applicable in Gangsta. and it’s what makes it one of the reasons, it’s the best new series of 2015.

Only 9 episodes released so far and 37 manga chapters deep, Gangsta. focuses on two “Handymen,” Nic and Worick, who engage in essentially a variety of mercenary like jobs, that are either too dirty or too politically involved, for the other inhabitants of  the city of Ergastulum, to engage in. These Handymen are the only neutral force in Ergastulum, controlled by three ruling mafia families and one mercenary guild. This city is rife with tension between normal people and the “Twilights”, who are physically enhanced superhumans, originally created as military weapons but, are no longer needed in the current world. It is from this conflict between humans and Twilights, that runs as the main overarching plot point of the series.

 

Simply put, this is a series you need to be watching.

 

Most of what makes Gangsta. so original or even enjoyable for that matter, is that it doesn’t feel like an anime, outside of the animation element and some slightly over the top comedic scenes. The two main protagonists are not teens, but men in their 30s who are extremely flawed in their character. Nic is bordering mentally unstable and consistently overdosing on medications, to help him defeat stronger opponents. While Worick, is a gigolo who suffered severe child abuse at the hands of his father, leaving him physically scarred. This “physical scarring”, leads to one of the biggest plot pieces of Gangsta., between himself and Nic, who aren’t exactly as friendly with one another as the early episodes would led you to believe. Then there is Alex, the main female character who is a former prostitute, recovering from mind altering drugs used by her former pimp to essentially control her, with her own dark past which is slowly being revealed in the series.

The biggest things that people hate about anime, just aren’t an issue or even evident. The characters have depth and some real baggage to them. They don’t win because of friendship or some magical new transformation, but rather from pure luck or just grinding their way to a passable victory. The plot lines themselves have multiple layers and conflicts, as well as a history behind them that reflect more grounded storytelling, in how characters are motivated. Then there is the violence, which is gritty to the core but, nothing completely over the top, even if some of the abilities are exaggerated. Gangsta. is an interesting story, with phenomenal characters that hold more than one dimension, in what makes them tick and act. Everything about Gangsta. pushes it outside of the typical anime and really, just boils down to being a great story. Simply put, this is a series you need to be watching.

Chris Massari
Chris Massari
Hailing from the slums of Shaolin, but not really, Chris is a New Jersey native and Rowan University alumni in Journalism, Philosophy and Religion. He is an aspiring writer, always looking to expand his resume of stories and become better in the craft. Not only is Chris a writer but he also raps, working with Grammy winning song writer William Hart and his son Khalid, out of Philadelphia. In his free time, he practices punching people and choking them out, training in various martial arts and gyms along the east coast, throughout his lifetime. Also check him out at Ain't It Cool and ComicsVerse, as well as all things social media.

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