The Anime ‘Gangsta’ Is Far More Character Driven Than You May Expect

The Anime 'Gangsta' Is Far More Character Driven Than You May Expect | gangsta

Anime: Gangsta (Complete Series – Limited Edition)

Released By: Funimation

Release Date: May 16, 2017

Retail Price: $84.98

When an anime series titles itself Gangsta, you may have an inclination that violence will be a recurring theme (especially when you view the teaser trailer from funimation) but what you might not guess is that it’s primarily a character-centric tale with two characters that are spectacular protagonists. The series focuses in on Nicholas Brown and Worick Arcangelo, two men known as “Handymen” or mercenaries who take the jobs that are passed on by even the deadliest of individuals. These Handymen are enlisted by the most dangerous mob bosses or law enforcement to accomplish whatever dirty deed needs to get done – usually involving death in one way or another.

Nicolas and Worick live in the city of Ergastalum, a bustling location that was at one point a supposed “safe haven” for Twilights (essentially a super-human born from the product of a unique drug.) When you determine that someone important to the series is a Twilight and is now being hunted down by an elite underground faction, it seems like being a Handyman might not be enough to survive what’s coming. As the series promises, a struggle for power commences that can be felt through various parties with many different motivations, but more than anything it is the overwhelming sense of concern you feel resonate for Nicolas and Worick in the midst of a chaotic city erupting with trouble.

When evaluating Nicholas as a character, he has a majority of the interest in his corner – instantly becoming a different take on a character that could have been crafted generically. Nicholas is deaf (I think that may be a first for any anime series or anime film I’ve seen) that adds some authenticity to how it affects his life in intense scenarios – all while filling the role of lead protagonist. Once scratching the surface, fragments of his life growing up begin to come to light and you see the compassion, power and examples of a complex character find a balance in Nicholas (arguably the best attribute of Gangsta the series.) During the exploration of who Nicholas is, his childhood ties are prevalent to the series ongoing narrative making the series one that evolves wonderfully through each episode.

Though Nicholas may sound as if he holds the entire weight of the series on his shoulders, there is some especially surprising depth that comes from his counterpart Worick. Worick would be written off as the aid to the series lead in other animes, but Gangsta gives Worick the chance to recall both who Nicholas is/was but how he contributed to things that helped Nicholas. Worick definitely has unsung hero qualities, but for the most part he’s celebrated by fans through the expression of his role that viewers solely witness. It’s rare for a series to have two central characters that work so well together but it’s those opposite traits and through thick and thin partnership that the pair proves to have complete chemistry. If anything, the bond between Nick and Worick is electric and will 100% be the reason you are enticed to continue with Gangsta. The twists of childhood traumas, abuse and much more may add turns to the series but the grounded stance it takes with these two men and their partnership is a dazzling attribute to watch.

One person I seemed to have left out (who is in the series often) is Alex, the ex-prostitute with a bounty on her head and a blooming crush for Handymen. It’s not to say she wasn’t enjoyable in some capacity, but she felt underused and more one-dimensional than the men of the series which is more of a semi-fault in the creation of her role. (Jessica Chastain needs to give her ‘do better’ speech to anime creators from time to time.) The animation of Gangsta feels lively despite evoking those darker or neutral tones – creating a unique approach given today’s anime standards and a strong final product from the animation company. The english voice cast of the series feels like a straightforward delivery which is how the world of Gangsta would feel, often avoiding getting too over the top. There are a few little hiccups in Gangsta, but when everything is taken into account – Gangsta is a series that introduces two instantly memorable characters in a gritty world, and I loved my experience throughout it.

Overall Score: 7.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– Nick and Worick for president / vice president

– The bond of friendship (maybe more) between Nick and Worick was the ace up Gangsta’s sleeve.

– I would say I want season two but Manglobe Studios filed for bankruptcy and things seem much bleaker for any follow up.

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Friday The 13th: The Game Is An Instant Horror Cult Classic (Review)

Friday The 13th: The Game Is An Instant Horror Cult Classic (Review) | Friday The 13th: The Game

Game: Friday The 13th: The Game

Released By: Illfonic / Gun Media

Release Date: May 26. 2017

Retail Price: $39.99

The horror genre is a niche genre with perhaps not the biggest fan base – but one of the most dedicated. When it comes to horror video games, there are a few staple franchises (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Outlast, etc) that are toted as the current and former go-to horror games, but it’s a fan-funded game that brings a famous franchise to life in the virtual world that has changed the genre games as a whole. When Gun Media and Illfonic announced they would be creating a game around Friday the 13th, fans were ecstatic. After decades, one of the horror genres most iconic slasher villains would come to us in a new and exciting platform – but could it live up to the massive hype?

For starters, the game was purely fan-funded through Kickstarter and BackerKit really giving fans the ability to see this title come to life – offering various perks that ranged from multiple maps, a variety of skins and more importantly a diverse amount of kills. While the game earned more than one million dollars for the production of a title (which includes licensing features as well) the game became a reality and the excitement levels only continued to rise. When Friday the 13th: The Game was released in late May after a few small delays, the game had server issues that initially frustrated console gamers, but as someone who didn’t experience the issues (too much at least) it was a game that from the moment you jump into, you feel the ambiance of a true slasher title.

The gameplay for Friday the 13th is comprised of an online multiplayer setup, with seven camp counselors to one Jason. For first impressions, you might assume that Jason would have a hard time finding and killing seven other players, but the balance is enough to have different results. Sometimes all counselors might die, in others there could be multiple avenues for escape. Other horror games don’t seem to offer much in the multiplayer capacity – at least not usually more than a couple characters or partnership. The online function makes it the most realistic in terms of creating a horror vibe, with each person having their own idea. Some may want to group together, some may want to go through the match alone, but it’s that choice that makes Friday the 13th unique to other games – the setup is the same but each match promises different results.

What I love most about the franchise, is the methods used to make things as authentically horror as possible. You have the option of being in the dark woods, cabins, barns, and houses to hide out in – something that the recent console release Dead By Daylight could take a note from. You could find yourself leaping through windows to avoid the masked killer, barricading doors, or even hiding out as he passes by in pursuit of someone else (been there multiple times.) To make things even more enjoyable, you have a few ways to survive the mayhem: repairing the phone to call police, working on a car to escape, driving a boat or even surviving the duration of the match (20 minutes per match.) This aids my statement about the creativity behind the game as in a real slasher movie all would be plausible escapes to attempt. As if that isn’t enough to intrigue you, weapons and first aid sprays are scattered throughout a each map (flare gun, bat, machete, etc) to better your survival chances.

Playing as Jason is an exhilarating feeling (even though surviving the match as a counselor is more adrenaline inducing) with abilities that feel like horror tropes. For example, you can teleport anywhere on the map which wasn’t something Jason did, but was something that felt like the case as a slasher villain could be anywhere. Killing him is ridiculously hard to pull off (rightfully so) but he can be stunned and injured to keep the extensive chase scenes going. As he approaches, the infamous music plays to cue his presence, which is needed for the counselors to have a fighting chance but also amps up the horror energy as if you were in a movie.

When the game came out, there were glitches and bugs that have been (and continue to be tweaked) where connection was slowed or people find loopholes to hide out (that lake glitch really irked a few Jasons) but for being a game without a major video game company backing it, I would say that they are truly minor surface issues in the active development of what I would consider to be my favorite horror video game since Left 4 Dead – and that’s from a self proclaimed horror aficionado. Friday the 13th provides us with a third person perspective for Jason and the counsellors (another major plus in my book) and three ever constantly changing maps that keeps your from figuring everything out too quickly and countless chances for success or failure. Overall, the game has plenty of perks and I would love to see the company use the formula to bring other fan-favorite slashers to life in the gaming world – anyone else begging for an open world Scream game with Ghostface? Check out the all around entertaining game available now on Xbox One and the PS4, you surely won’t regret the virtual horror it offers!

Overall Grade: 8/10

For the horror-based atmosphere, jump scares and massive range of gameplay possibilities, Friday the 13th earns itself a solid score with successes that other horror games and production companies should take cues from in the future. Keep in mind that it is probably most enjoyable for those die-hard horror fans and conversely, those who scare easily because not many games have gone the slasher route all that well.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– The game surpassed my hopeful expectations and feels like I could play it for years to come.

– The gameplay and mapping are wonderful additions to the concept and designs.

– I can’t wait to see what additional DLC is in the works… and I’m entirely serious about hoping this can be a gateway game for more slasher franchises.

Grimgar, Ashes And Illusions Series Review

Anime: Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions

Released By: Funimation

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Retail Price: $84.98

When it comes to anime series that fall under the fantasy genre, they can be either a major hit or massive miss depending on the direction of the genre title, but one series strays some the simplicity of your traditional fantasy series by the name of Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions. The initial premise of Grimgar is set following a young Haruhiro, a young man who (along with the rest of the population) doesn’t remember anything about where he came from or who he was in the past. Our hero next is thrown into the fantasy driven world by being drafted into the “Volunteer Soldiers” that pits him against a slew of creatures and problems that nobody could truly be prepared to enter blindly.

On a positive note for Haruhiro, he finds out he won’t be alone on this crusade against creatures, joining a team of misfits that all play their own role in an ensemble setting. The positions on the volunteer soldiers squad try to add a diverse skill-set to even out the strengths ranging from squadron leader who deals with the tactical strategies to the healer who aids the other warriors before during and after battle with their enhanced abilities. The team dynamic alone makes it feel like nearly every character serves a purpose in the world of Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions even if you have to invest the time to discover it. In the anime series, just as you think you begin to understand the dynamics and relationships amongst the crew, the series throws a few twists and turns to keep viewers on their toes.

One of the most absolute thrilling and impressive traits Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions has to offer is the incredible growth that its characters go through from the first moments of the series all the way to the final few scenes of the first season (seriously hoping there will be another follow up.) You essentially stumble across these outcasts who aren’t valued for much, but form a tight knit bond that seems improbable at first – in essence becoming a genuine connection that blossoms over the duration of Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions. One episode in particular (episode 7, “They Were Called Goblin Slayers”) best summarized that progression of the group, offering not only one of their best episodes, but a superb standout episode of anime series in general that is a powerful contribution to the medium by solely focusing on those changes.

Though the character development offers many strengths to the series, the characters themselves could spark a variety of reaction to viewers. The group consists of men and women (a nice change given the male driven anime casts) that partake in an equal opportunity for battle. Some of the female characters are prone to the overt fanservice and inappropriate portrayal which is my only true frustration from Grimgar, Ashes and Illusion. With that being said, the female characters actually provide a necessary role to the group aside from the generalizations of anime – often proving to be rather useful. Our lead hero Haruhiro becomes one remarkable young man who gives his all to be the best leader, comrade and friend to his companions, enjoyably exploring his inner self from beginning to end. A character by the name of Manato, the healer, leader and morale boost for the group who plays a major role in the anime despite a lack of physical presence that leaves a heavy impact on others (myself included). Others like Mary (a girl with a dark past and grim outlook) or Moguzo (the heavier set tank of the group with a heart of gold) flesh out Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions the way a properly structured anime series should aspire to achieve. If you have found that you enjoy an assortment of people who make the story worth watching, Grimgar is a series that is wholeheartedly worth the effort and time.

The animation quality for Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions brings watercolors to life in this vibrant series with dazzling artistic creations to be in awe over. The night sky is recurring throughout the anime and provides pure beauty in those moments that never grow old. The design of the characters and backdrops are unique enough to feel like it avoids the usual anime tendencies, with the only flaw being the art that depicts the creatures they fight – however that surprisingly isn’t a major concern granted all of the series exceptional traits alongside the production. The English voice cast fits each role with ease and precision to create the proper atmosphere their characters embody, showing us that all signs point to Funimation taking time and caution with what is undoubtedly one of their best new series to have under their renowned name.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– I can’t believe how attached I became to these characters with such surprising depth.
– Loss is felt during this anime, but it’s the way they deal with this loss that left me impressed and grieving simultaneously.
– As much as I want to view a second season, I am worried that it will get darker for the lovely group of warriors.