Anime Review: Gunsmith Cats

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In addition to my movie-watching project, I think several of you have noticed that I’m filling out that review index that I’ve had for a while, but never made much use of it. Yeah, I thought it was time to get back to doing one of my main goals I had when starting this blog: reviewing some of the more obscure side of anime. The old OVAs. The overlooked movies. The hentai that nobody will ever watch because quite frankly reading my experiences whilst laughing at the fact that I watch such tripe is much shorter and not nearly as repetitive and lazy in the writing.

I might do the more popular stuff or the anime that have stood the test of time sometime down the road, but don’t count on it, because I prefer not to do things if I can’t provide some sort of unique view on them, and frankly I just find them to be too easy a target. And what’s the fun in that?

Now that the introduction is out of the way, what’s the subject for today? Oh right, Gunsmith Cats.

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Based on a longer-running manga that I’m quite interested in reading now, Gunsmith Cats is a three-episode OVA that follows the lives of a half-Indian/half-English gun shop owner named Rally Vincent and her bomb-specialist friend named May Hopkins. The two sell firearms to people by trade, but when the business is slow, they go bounty-hunting. Because what’s wrong with using your own products to earn a little extra cash on the side? The plot of this anime-original story focuses on the two being hired by Chicago investigators to assist in uncovering an illegal gun-running operation and in doing so they uncover corrupt politicians and incur the wrath of a Russian assassin who takes blows to pride more personally than Montresor from The Cask of Amontillado.

Now Gunsmith Cats isn’t exactly revolutionary with the whole Chicago crime formula or anything. You can pretty much predict how everything will go down without much fanfare and aside from the fact that it’s in anime, there’s not too much that stands out about it. As such, the thing relies on its individual elements more than the big picture in order to sell the product to you. And I can’t say I have too many complaints regarding that.

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First off, if you’re a resident of Chicago, then you’ll probably love how much love and craft the creators put into recreating the setting for their anime. I’ve never been to the place myself, but Gunsmith Cats has a bit of a reputation for being one of the most well-researched Japanese cartoons to ever be created from the feel of the city to the actual Illinois police station. The team behind this apparently visited the place multiple times in order to make sure they knew what they were doing the same way the Durarara guys copied the feel of Ikebukuro, except with plane tickets. Knowing that sort of lends an atmospheric feeling to people who are interested in that sort of thing. Not that I wasn’t sucked into the whole setting before I found that out. That jazzy soundtrack playing in the background does a good job of that.

But what I really dug about this thing are the characters. They all range from lovable cops to cartoon-y corrupt politicians, but the main charm lies in the female duo. Specifically when listening to them in that corny, yet sincere, English dub. A pity that Amanda Winn Lee isn’t doing much these days, because I really like her voice.

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Rally is pretty much your standard fun, but tough, female character who mostly only stands out because these days, anime try too hard with their female characters in regards to fanservice, snarkiness, and just being flat-out-stupid. With that said, there’s a lot of genuine charm to her character that puts her above the other competent females of her type. She’s strong and competent and only has to rely on other people’s help because the opponent is just that hard to beat, and is mostly fighter-first/woman-second. Or funny business person-first, fighter-second, etc., etc. It’s pretty cool to see an underage gun-shop owner in anime, let alone fiction, without it coming across as forced, and for that she’s got my respect even when talking to higher-ups whilst not covering up her underwear.

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May is a fun character too. She’s hyper, yet competent, and acts as a good foil for Rally’s trigger finger through the use of creative explosions and traps as well as balancing out Rally’s more serious personality. It’s the kind of comedic sidekick that doesn’t make you want to tear you ears out because they say “meesa in trouble” with an irritating voice and contribute as much help as Youhei Sunohara with a pickaxe lodged in his head. My favorite scene involving her was the final confrontation when the Russian assassin had Rally down for the count and May used her wits and traps to blow her to kingdom come. It was like watching the finale of Higurashi, except it was actually cool rather than stupidly boring because it actually looked professional in all its simplicity.

Not really sure why female duos like those two aren’t done much in anime, let alone all that well. Maybe it has something to do with the evil that we humans like to call “shipping”. I notice that you can’t have many male duos these days without going “oh look, they’re gay! They’re so gay!”. And people wonder why I’m harsh against Sunrise.

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Gunsmith Cats isn’t going to change your world or anything of the sort, but it’s a really well-executed example of its genre that gets things done in its limited runtime without overstaying its welcome. The only reason I can see for not recommending it to you is if you hate guns, explosions, fun action heroes, accuracy, good music, and entertainment in general. In other words, if you’re a fan of that anime. You guys know what I’m talking about. That anime that was basically Lord of War except much longer and it removed Nicholas Cage, the one good thing about the movie, from it.

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