Kenjiro TsudaKoji YusaShiori IzawaTsuyoshi Koyama
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2015: G
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Director: Koichi Hatsumi, Shukou Murase
Original creator: Kohske
Actor: Junichi Suwabe, Kenjiro Tsuda, Mamiko Noto, Ami Koshimizu, Aoi Yuki, Atsumi Tanezaki, Hideyuki Umezu, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Junji Majima, Kaito Ishikawa, Kana Ueda, Katsuhisa, Koji Yusa, Mari Yokoo, Masako Isobe, Mikako Komatsu, Satoshi Mikami, Sayaka Ohara, Shintarou Oohata, Shiori Izawa, Takahiro Sakurai, Takuya Kirimoto, Tetsu Inada, Tetsuo Kanao, Tomoaki Maeno, Tomohisa Hashizume, Tomokazu Seki, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Yu Shimamura, Yuuta Kasuya
Keywords: gangster, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes, plus a 13th recap episode
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 24 November 2016
It's pretty good. I'm not the biggest fan of hit man stories, but I enjoyed this. It's violent, it's horrible and it has people having other people killed while you're on the phone to them.
The show's set in the town of Ergastulum, which is ruled by the mafia. There are four families, each with a "father" (half of whom are female). The gangsters run things fairly smoothly for the most part and mostly avoid gang wars, but they still seem to be killing a whole lot of people every time you see them. The cops don't care. They hire hit men just like anyone else and might get phoned up by mob bosses. The government doesn't care either. It sends watchdogs to monitor things, but doesn't seem interested in trying to change the status quo.
The show's protagonists are Worick Arcangelo and Nicolas Brown, two "Handymen" who'll do anything for anyone who'll pay them. This might involve fixing broken windows, delivering mysterious packages or murdering lots of people. In ep.1, Worick tortures one of his victims a bit before shooting him.
As for Nicolas, he's a Twilight. These are low-level superhumans roughly on a par with Spider-Man, but you wouldn't want to be one. Downsides of being a Twilight:
(a) shortened life expectancy. If you're lucky, you might reach your thirties, which is why they're called Twilights.
(b) "compensation" for being so strong, which is usually some kind of handicap. Nicolas is deaf and usually talks with sign language. Another one will never develop beyond an apparent age of twelve.
(c) slavery of them was legal until recently.
(d) they have to wear tags.
(e) bigotry against them, including hunter-killer vigilante squads. Some of those appear to be government-sponsored.
(f) there's a power-boosting drug they take to avoid all kinds of horrible physical effects, called celebrer. This drug shortens their lives, but they still take it. However celebrer is illegal and only available through one of the four mob families. Furthermore only one doctor in the city is willing to sell it at affordable prices.
You wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy, but it's hard to feel too sorry for them since they're all drug-crazed mad dog killers. Yes, that includes Nicolas. Mind you, Worick's history is nearly as horrible. He's missing an eye, for instance, thanks to Dad getting busy with a cigarette. Worick's also a male prostitute, although his clients all seem to be beautiful women with huge boobs. Their best friend (from ep.1 onwards) is another prostitute. There's a lot of it about.
Why should you care about these people? Well, to a certain extent you don't. The season ends on a jarring "did I miss an episode?" cliffhanger, for instance, but I'm not bothered about whether or not the show returns, because I don't really mind who dies. That said, though, not everyone is equally vile. Female characters tend to be more sympathetic. Two of them are more or less innocent and a third (Loretta Cristiano Amodio) ends up being almost heroic, despite being one of the Four Fathers. (She's fourteen.) Worick and Nicolas are also reasonably sort of okay, if you squint hard, since they're nice to prostitutes and generally tend to be killing people far more loathsome than they are. This show has some prize bastards.
Great theme tune over the opening title sequence, incidentally.
There was a production hiccup, unfortunately. The studio (Manglobe) went bankrupt. The Blu-ray releases aren't complete even in Japan, so we're unlikely to see a second season unless another studio picks up the show.
It's a fun show. Dark, obviously, but cool in its bloody, evil way. It also has a big female fanbase, thanks to its sexy male characters, strong female characters and equal-opportunity fanservice. Apparently the manga goes even darker, to the point of putting off fans who prefer the more lighthearted early instalments. (Given the body count right from the beginning, that must be pretty damn dark.) A grandmother's angry plea in ep.12 isn't for her (innocent) granddaughter to survive the gang war, but merely for someone to recover her head or an eyeball instead of having her disappearing without trace like the rest of their family. This is a kind of hit man story I can enjoy.