First Impressions – Gangsta.


They are not nice people

 Geez, am I really the headliner for this round of First Impressions?  If so, I couldn’t have asked for a better, or more Samura appropriate show to cover.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again: there is no shortage of sex and violence in anime, but Gangsta is doing its darnedest to make sure there will never be a drought.
 I am totally gangsta, dawg! I am down with the hip kids and the rapping music! Ye homeboy. For real…? Okay, so maybe I don’t know anything about being gangsta or the criminal underworld, but that’s why I watch shows like this to be a voyeur into this seedy little secret community.
“Ooooh, Summer Loving Having a blast.  In the ghetto we gonna go and kick some ass.  I met a boy, crazy as can be.  I met a girl, she’s kinda stalking me?”  (Lyrics sung by Samsura)

Cartoons Violence: Comical, Crazy, and Cruel


A telltale sign you are living in a rough neighborhood

Samsura: So yeah, this seems to be a rough neighborhood.  This show clearly has similar DNA to other great shows like Black Lagoon or Dogs; there being out in the open criminals and crime groups who clearly have more power than the cops.  Its kinda like how everyone knows Libra is the only group that can take care of psycho aliens, but Hellsalem’s Lot still has its own police anyway.  I love the sun drenched look of everything.  I imagine this show is set in a South American Favilla, as opposed to the South East Asian setting in Black Lagoon or Eastern European one in Dogs.  But in all of these shows you have your group of independent punks who are totally awesome and complete badasses.  This time around we have a sword and gun.  Sword is Nicholas, a deaf super soldier and man who goes from feral to adorable!


He’s a lover and a fighter! 

The brain is Worick, a gun and someone who is clearly well connected.  I imagine he is the guy who actually goes around dealing with the mafia and other big powers of the city.  Both of these guys are operating the Benriya group, part enforcer part clean up operation.  I loved the part when Nicholas, in his impressively bad Japanese (gotta give props to his VA Kenjiro Tsuda for a great if garbled performance) basically tells the cop to fuck off, if he wants to take the girl than he will.  And he kicks the car.  I love it when muscle beats machine.


THIS IS IMPORTANT!  Note the lack of birth date as well

The first real job we see them doing is wiping out a bunch of shitty pimps and pushers.  Well, they also help out a little old lady by beating up some punks.  The action was definitely brutal, though it was less a fight scene and more just a one sided killing.  I imagine this scene was more about showing ruthlessness and how rough things will be going forward than martial prowess.  Either way, this will be far from the last death we see, and I do believe that this show won’t flinch from showing rough things.


Hang in there, things won’t get better, but they will change.

Speaking of having it rough, Alex sure has had it bad.  Her pimp Barry is a complete asshole, and it is clear she isn’t exactly happy to be a prostitute.  At least she doesn’t seem to be on whatever Barry is pushing like those other girls we saw with him.  It is clear that Nicholas has taken a shine to her, giving her a handkerchief and saving her by claiming her as a prize.  And in return she is drawn to the Benriya boys, learning a bit of sign language and gladly helping out when requested.  It is no coincidence that she hangs out side their window.  I can only imagine how horrible she must have felt when she saw Barry.  I doubt she had any affection for her pimp, but she sure as hell doesn’t want to be abandoned in this shit-hole of a city.  Here’s hoping her and Benriya have a nice partnership going forward.

Gentle Gangstas

Overcooled: When I picture a gangster, I picture a guy like Barry: a cold-hearted, violent, selfish asshole who treats everyone like garfbage. Our main duo are certainly violent and rough around the edges, but it’s also mixed with a deep tenderness. They’re the kind of guys you’d want to catch dinner with or chat up in line at the grocery store. Barry is the kind of guy I’d kick in the shins before dislocating his spine. So although they’re mercenaries who will gladly mess just about anyone up for cash and they have the power to knock over a car with one well-placed kick…I wouldn’t call them cold-hearted.


Thank goodness he was brutally murdered, then his corpse was filled with bullet holes.  Am I right?

No one wants a main character who is an asshole gangster, hardened by the life of crime so much they don’t value other human beings. That’s why I think this first episode of Gangsta does so much to show us that Worick and Nicholas are actually nice people. They help an old lady, feed a cat, deliver homemade stew to a girl, give a handkerchief to a suicidal prostitute, and then rescue her from her crazy pimp. They might as well have helped an old lady cross the street and donated blood in between as well. It’s great to have mercenaries with a hint of kindness to them, because it makes things much more interesting. Think about how dull the episode would be if they just killed Alex and didn’t go around doing odd errands for little old ladies. Yeah, okay, so Nicholas grins like a lunatic while shoving a sword into Barry’s hand. But come on…he’s adorable! (This is probably how I’m going to get killed in the future: calling a gangster cute)


A Smile only an Overcooled (or a Samsura) could love

Another thing I like about Gangsta is how it subtly builds up some mysteries in the first episode. It gives us snippets of things, but never fully realizes them. If they did, we’d have no reason to keep watching with all the answers spoonfed to us so soon. For example, the dogtags on Nicholas are constantly brought up. As Samsura has said…these are important! If he was a soldier, why does he use a sword instead of a gun? What war was this? Based on the fact Nicholas can speak (although poorly), that usually is a sign of losing hearing later in life. Did he lose his hearing in the war? I’m also eager to see how the other characters will be involved. The old lady better be a secret mafia boss they have to kill in the finale!


Notice the empty chair?  That’s the old lady’s chair!  They’re called the big four for a reason!

What do you know, crime DOES pay!

Irene: I came into this series only based on the plot summary, visuals, animation, and title. That’s pretty much how I like to go into all my anime if at all possible, without the burden or the original material or any other sort of baggage, and then judge the series based on its merits. So, I knew little when beginning this, and I have to say that while it started off a little bumpy at first glance, it quickly became an interesting ride that I think that I’m going to enjoy. The land they show here, I’m sure has a name, but that’s not what’s important. This is clearly a plot and character driven piece, and I think the focus is going to be spent more there than on the world itself.

Not that the world isn’t interesting either, it just didn’t really catch my eye I guess. I come from a city known for both gangsters and gangstas and while this is a fictional location and seems more European than American in feel, it’s not that unfamiliar to me either. It’s the characters that first interested me. We have “Benriya”, a team of two mercenaries that are paid to take care of the filth of the city’s underbelly. I honestly thought when first seeing the promo art that it would be Worick that would have caught my interest of the two mains. However, to my utter surprise, it ended up being the more Japanese-infused Nicolas, that stole the entire show for me. His presence gave the show a shot of uniqueness and life that I haven’t felt since back in the days of Baccano.



We have three main characters in this series so far: Worick Arcangelo, Nicolas Brown, and  Alex Benedetto. Worick and Nicolas, our Benriya handymen, already have that working relationship that you pretty much see in any buddy cop movie. They are far from cops (though they do do work for them), but it’s that teamwork and partnership that’s on display here. Just from this one episode, we can see they’ve been friends for a long time, know each other’s
habits, personalities, and secrets, and are pretty much an unbreakable duo.  Worick, while I’m pretty sure there’s some depths hidden under that exterior, is pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. He’s lax, funny, has had a hard life but doesn’t let it get to him. You can see from the look in his eyes that he’s seen quite a bit, but he still always sports an easy smile and seems to have a moral center to him that he’s never turned his back

He’s a pretty average archetype to spot in anime, and so far, I like what I see with him. With Nicolas on the other hand, compared to his open-book partner, he might as well be a sealed oyster. Silent and deadly, but also with a moral center was my first impression of him upon first sight. We can see that most of the time he’s a silent lone wolf type, that stays to himself. And yet, when he’s out in field making excellent use of the business end of his katana blade (interestingly Eastern contrast in a series that is pretty much completely anchored in the West), we can see a gleeful, almost manic side of him that suggests that he might not be all together in the head. He’s an okay character, but again, one I’ve seen in anime quite a bit. And then about halfway through, I realized he was deaf, the series doing an excellent job playing up the silent swordsman stereotypes that I never realized he was hearing impaired until it was actually spelled out for me.

Action main characters with disabilities of this nature are pretty rare in anime today, and deafness in particular, is even rarer. It dramatically decreases many of the avenues of communication and the writers have to get creative to make sure their MC doesn’t fall into the background because of lack of communication with the audience. You have to rely almost completely on body language or another character to bring forth the character’s thoughts, motivations, and dialogue. It’s not easy for a series to do, and even harder to get right. And yet, this trait made the character of Nic skyrocket in my opinion. Suddenly I have this man that I have to work to dig out his secrets, that I have to pry apart myself in order to find out how he ticks. We do have Worick as a translator for us, but even then, it really feels that it’s even more up to us to decipher what kind of person Nic is and what type of relationship he will have with the other characters. I’m really interested in the one between Nic and Alex. Despite the fact that there was not a single word of spoken dialogue between the two, a silent chemical connection can be sensed between them . I’ll be watching those two to see how that progresses.

And speaking of Alex, just like last summer, we have two partners in crime whose lives change when they meet a girl. Practically all the scenes with her were extremely hard to watch. It’s difficult for me to stomach sexual violence, and if not for the second half of this episode, I would have probably have had to drop this eventually. However, I think that it served its purpose with setting up Alex’s background and where she comes from. It will help us to understand where her character goes from here on out. I’m just hoping that they pretty much scale back from now on.  We don’t know much about Alex as a person yet, and to be honest, she’s really just used in this episode to show the dark nature of the world and tone of the series, as well as to know what kind of men our main leads are at their heart. I’m hoping that they end up doing more with her though now that she has joined Benriya. Maybe they can teach her how to defend herself, and perhaps even be out there in the field if necessary? I’d love to see her take a break from her secretary job and help them out on the streets now and again.

Final Thoughts


What a fun first episode! Well, ok, maybe not everyone finds 2 guys murdering an entire gang to be “fun” but you’re in the company of 2 violence-lovers here. I thought it was a good mix of action with sweet interludes of the guys being pretty decent to the locals. My only worry is that it will try to be too edgy and end up backfiring. Like, they had a bar named Bastards for no reason and it made me laugh that out of all the possible names, that’s what they chose. As long as things stay as they are now, I can see Gangsta doing quite well. Mercenaries taking out criminals is nothing new, but having a deaf guy do it to a hella snazzy OST makes everything seem fresh.


So now that our main characters have been set up and the world introduced? What shall be the plot going forward? Well, we know that there is a group of mob bosses called the Big Four that are probably going to factor in, and there will probably be more background on our blond gunman and deaf soldier. And once the plot gets going, where shall it carry our violent anti-heroes? I’m interested in seeing where the series unfolds from here.


I think Gangsta wins the award for “Most Samsura Show” of the season so far (it helps that this is literally the first thing I saw of the summer).  All I know for sure is that I like the Benriya Boys, I want to know more about them and their shitty town, and I want to see them carve their own place out of this shithole.  Oh yeah, and a bunch of mooks are gonna be messed up!  Barry, you truly are a giant dick.  Good characters, great sound design (like how things go silent when you get Nicholas’ point of view), and wonderful violence.  I feel full already.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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29 Responses to “First Impressions – Gangsta.”

  1. JPNIgor says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said but Samsura, that’s definitely not a south american favilla. I live in Brazil and the architecture doesn’t match with it. They usually have colorful houses whenever they are made with concrete. If not, they are either made out of exposed bricks or wood in the worst cases. I’m not sure if I’m right as well, but I kept thinking about Italy for some reason.

    • skylion says:

      …I kinda find this subject, “where does the show take place?”, to be more interesting than the actual show…

    • IreneSharda says:

      I’ve actually heard a few people connect it with Southern Europe. And it does remind me a little of that with the alleyways, small streets, and up and down staircases.

      • skylion says:

        We often thing of that part of the world as being a bastion of wealth and influence. But any large wealthy center does have it’s fair share of “us too, no matter what” orbiting it.

  2. skylion says:

    I don’t typically shy away from sex and violence in any program; it’s only if it gets gratuitous, or done for it’s own sake that I get turned off. So with that in mind I went in expecting Manglobe to rear it’s reputation.

    So I’m surprised that these themes were used in small amounts to achieve what needed to be to advance story and or characters. Much like Irenesharda I cannot stomach sexual violence either. Like I said earlier, many creators use it to over-excessive vicarious thrills, which makes me call soooo much into question about people sometimes.

    But here it was short, sharp, shock. It was used as an element, and nothing more or less. The subject matter is something I find hard to congratulate, but I do give kudos to the studio for not indulging in outright garbage.

    The same can be said for the level of violence. Also, short, sharp, shock. There wasn’t a moment of “look at the cool stuff we can animate…look at all the gore and blood!” indulgence. Instead it was a tool they used to advance the story and characters. It was brutal yes, but not lingeringly so…

    Now looking at how things might play out. I’m hoping they don’t explain much of anything about Dog Tags. Ultimately it will be something of the same old story. Highly trained cadre of killers. While that is not a bad thing, it’s been done to death in just about any story medium. Nope. I’d much rather have it come from innuendo, rumor, urban legend, and fear. A cadre of killers is a dime a dozen, a good mystery is much better spending cash.

    This was a good batch of impressions, sir and ladies, thanks for bringing to us.

    • Highway says:

      I was pretty worried about where the show was going to go after the imagery in the OP. Thankfully the show didn’t really follow up on that (yet).

  3. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Godfather: The Animation.

  4. Hoshi says:

    ~For those of you worrying about the sexual violence on this first episode, don’t worry. It’s only used to introduce Alex and her ‘relationship’ with Barry in this first episode. From here on out it’ll be good ol’ bloody regular violence with the guys.

    Anyway, I would’ve joined in but seeing as how I’ve already read a good portion of the manga, I ended up not having much to say. I’m just glad they kept the bare-minimum introduction the same as in the first chapter. I was surprised there wasn’t more blood?? I felt like they’d really get into the violence and make it as bloody as they can, but I guess not.

    Gangsta definitely starts off a bit slow, giving us only tid-bits about the characters and the world, which is something I personally like. This is definitely one of my favorite series and I’m glad other people are enjoying it as well~

    • BlackBriar says:

      Anyway, I would’ve joined in but seeing as how I’ve already read a good portion of the manga, I ended up not having much to say.

      Ah, the curse of being a manga reader. I know it well. 😛

      • skylion says:

        I find that it helps having a block of Swiss cheese for a personal memory bank. I get to read the manga, forget everything but the general tone, and see the anime with no spoilers! It’s PERFECT!

        Now, where the heck am I?

        • BlackBriar says:

          Now, where the fuck am I?

          Yep, that the drawback right there. 😛

          There’s still latent memories. The moment you see something familiar, you’ll remember what comes next.

    • skylion says:

      Thank you for the heads up…

  5. BlackBriar says:

    A First Impression already? That was quick. I had just watched the start of this series yesterday.

    First off, pretty impressive first episode. It was entertaining from start to finish. Anything this gritty is wholly welcomed in my book and the two lead males are pretty laid back about their “profession”. Well, doing what you love is considered the best job ever. That action, violence and gore were less restricted than I imagined, considering how hyper sensitive the masses are these concerning such things.

    What’s daring about this is not beating around the bush regarding the sexual stuff. I didn’t expect to see Alex in the act of her unwilling duty to that asshole Barry. I’d say it took guts showing that. It’s good to see she’s found herself better company, though they’re not any less shady. But it’s better than nothing and much better than her prior state.

    Overall, I can say with confidence that if Gangsta continues where it’s going, I’m going to enjoy it. Now if only someone would scream out the iconic line “Say hello to my little friend!!!” since this show is mob themed.

    • skylion says:

      I’m sensitive when scenes such as that get gratuitous for the sake of it (see shows like Kite…which is garbage). But this didn’t go that way; and as far as I know that is a rarity? But yeah, lots of other folks get crazy sensitive to it in any amount.

      … this is an odd habit of mine, but without looking it up, what sort of weapons is the “little friend”? Lot’s of people I know IRL know the quote, but never the movie or the weapon…

      • BlackBriar says:

        … this is an odd habit of mine, but without looking it up, what sort of weapons is the “little friend”? Lot’s of people I know IRL know the quote, but never the movie or the weapon…

        The movie was Scarface starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. I never saw the movie myself, only clips. The “little friend” mentioned in the iconic quote was a machine gun he held in his hands.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    A telltale sign you are living in a rough neighborhood

    Ha! That’s nothing. You should watch Burst Angel. The corrupt futuristic Tokyo depicted in that series practically has everyone holding a gun. Getting one is as easy as someone going to a supermarket. There was a scene where a random teenager robbed an old lady of her purse. Instead of calling for help from the police, she pulled a gun from her side pocket and shot him without a second thought.

  7. Foshizzel says:

    Nicolas what a badass! I love that character and since hes deaf that adds an extra layer of interesting! I like characters that have some kind of defect and FINALLY were not dealing with damn High School characters and we get to follow adults doing adult things.


  8. akagami says:

    I’m oddly reminded of GetBackers. Just more gritty.

    • Samsura says:

      I can see why, the odd jobs duo is definitely a regular trope in anime. On that note, if you read the get backers manga it actually gets pretty gritty and brutal

      • akagami says:

        Just watched the anime, as that is my preferred medium. In general, I would have only read the manga if I had picked up the series before the anime was announced. Nothing against manga, but there is just too much other anime and manga that I haven’t seen or read that I would prefer to pick up something new. (And my backlog isn’t shrinking!!!)

  9. IreneSharda says:

    I’m going have to remember to rewatch some of these premieres. I forget that especially with both CR and Funi, they do such a rush job getting the episodes out when they’re behind that they make a lot of mistakes in their subtitle translations. But then they go back later and fix the mistakes if they are too numerous.

    I decided to watch the second episode again today, only to have a whole new set of subtitles that not only made the whole thing more understandable, but totally changed the meaning of some of the conversations we heard between characters. I would suggest that anyone who watched the episode the first day, find the version with new subs. It’s worth it.

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