GANGSTA. . . . You Haven’t Lived


Spoiler Warning: I tried not to spoil, but I slipped up here and there. So be warned.

If you have not watched GANGSTA., you seriously have . . . not . . . lived.

GANGSTA. is by far one of the best anime I’ve watched. And I watch a lot of anime. It’s one of those shows I’d watch over and over.

If you like anime with intriguing storylines, fantastic art, superb animation, and an amazing soundtrack, GANGSTA. is the series for you. A little disclaimer: I watched the dubbed version as it streamed on Funimation. The dub cast is outstanding. I tip my hat and curtsy to them all.

This anime is based on an ongoing manga series written and illustrated by Kohske, which I’ve just started reading. So far the manga is great. But for now, I’ll focus on the anime.  By the way, Kohske is a woman. Why did I need to point that out? Just because. We gals love anime and manga just as much as guys. In the male dominated industry, it’s really satisfying to know one of your favorites is written by a woman. Anyhoo, back to business.

Where do I begin?

The Music. You can always find good music in anime. GANGSTA., (like Blood Blockade Battlefront, Samurai Champloo, and Cowboy Bebop) knocked it out of the park with the soundtrack. The opening song, the ending, and everything in between are fantastic. Renegade, the opening by Stereo Dive Foundation is quite literally my jam. I don’t know about anyone else, but it makes me want to dance. Yori no Kuni by Annabel is the perfect ending for the show. There’s also With You, a beautiful song performed by the voice actress for Alex Benedetto, Mamiko Noto. This song alone is worth watching episode 8 . . . scratch that, it’s worth it to watch the entire series. Anyway, bravo to the person in charge of choosing the music.

The Storyline

Who doesn’t love a good story about gangsters, bad cops, pimps, prostitutes, and a slew of seedy characters? I’m not alone, right? I mean in the first episode, the cops hire the main characters to kill a pimp/drug dealer and his entire gang. That’s got to be the start of something great. Am I right? Of course I am.

The story is about Nic and Worick, two Handymen living in Ergastulam. When the police need a job done, but they don’t want to get their hands dirty, they call the Handymen. A mafia family needs to handle a delicate situation that they want to keep mum from the other mafia families, they call the Handymen. Nic and Worick live in the gray area and cross blurred lines for a living. Are they good guys or bad guys? Heroes or anti-heroes? Are they hitmen or cleaners? I would say all of the above, but I personally don’t see them as bad guys. Yes, they mercilessly kill without any qualms or regrets. But, it’s a job. Plus they are killing people that would kill them and are threats to society, people they care about, and their way of life. So, no . . . they are not bad guys.

From the first episode, GANGSTA. gives you great action and drama. You know, that edge of your seat kinda stuff. And it maintains that throughout the entire series.


The main characters are Worick Arcangelo, Nicolas Brown, and Alex Benedetto. As I mentioned before, Nic and Worick are the Handymen; they do “jobs” for the police and the four mafia families. Alex is a recently, former prostitute that works for the Handymen answering phones and running the occasional errand.

Side note: I ship Nic and Alex. I know I probably shouldn’t because I don’t know what the future holds for Nic; but I can’t help myself. Manga readers, please don’t spoil it for me.

Anyway, Alex and the Handymen live in Ergastulum. This place must be the underbelly of society; people seem to get killed on a daily basis, there are four mafia families in residence, crooked cops, prostitutes, pimps, hired killers, and other criminals. On top of that everyone keeps warning Alex to get out while she can. Clearly the residents of Ergastulum think they live on the outskirts of hell, or pretty close.

Nicolas Brown

Nic is a Twilight and former mercenary. Twilights are children and descendants of users of the drug Celebrer. As a Twilight, Nick has some superior abilities that make him stronger and a better fighter than most. Those abilities come with serious drawbacks. One being, Twilights have to take Celebrer, which basically keeps them alive. Another drawback is they have a short lifespan. Twilights don’t usually live past their early 30’s. This may not apply to Nic because, although his mother was a Twilight his father wasn’t. So his lifespan may be a little longer. (I snuck a peak at the wikia without spoiling it for myself). I stress Nic’s life may be longer; it may not. Nic typically overdoses on Celebrer during fights. One of the side effects of overdosing is a shortened lifespan. Hence, the fear my ship is doomed before it sets sail.

Twilights are also known as Tags. They wear dog tags similar to those in the military. These dog tags are imprinted with pertinent information about each individual. Tags are ranked based on there strength and skill level. Nic is an A/0, the highest rant. Of course he is.

The sight of Nic’s tags scared the hell out of Barry.

Nic is a sweetheart. He insisted on saving Alex from her loser pimp, Barry, and he helped her when she struggled with her medication. He is always good with Nina, the 12 year old that helps in the local clinic. And he was there when Worick needed him most. Aside from being the lovable half of my OTP, Nic is a true badass in a fight. Start a fight with him if you dare, but write your will first, because Nic takes no prisoners and he enjoys a good brawl.

Guns blazing everywhere, bullets flying in the air, here comes Nic with his katana. Yes, I said katana. Move over Michonne, Nicolas Brown is in the house. Did I mention he is deaf? Nic is kicking asses and taking names but he doesn’t hear them coming. He doesn’t have to. That’s how hardcore he is. Now according to Galahad, another Twilight, overdosing on Celebrer gives Nic an upper hand on his opponents. I’m good with that except for the fact that he’s probably killing himself. –Tears- I don’t want him to die.

Worick Arcangelo

Worick, Nic’s friend, partner, brother from another mother (and father) and comrade in arms is a Normal; a regular human without the abilities of the Twilights. Worick is the epitome of cool; a care-free, wise-cracking, cigarette smoking badass. I was looking for another word for badass and came up with renegade…which is the name of the opening song. Hmmm. Very interesting. Worick may be cool as the other side of the pillow but he’s nobody’s pushover. Barry can attest to that.

Worick and Nic have known each other since childhood. Nic was a mercenary assigned as Worick’s (then known as Wallace) bodyguard. He didn’t always like Nic. He had a problem with him being a quiet person. He didn’t realize Nic was hearing-impaired. But they grew on each other. Wallace taught Nic to read and Nic protected him. They were there for each other when they needed it most.

Wallace {Worick} and Nic were both victims of child abuse. Wallace bought Nic from his father to save him, and Nic killed Wallace’s father. Nice trade-off. When they got older Worick got work as a gigolo in a brothel and Nic got work with the Monroe Family, one of the four mafia families in Ergastulum. Worick still has a client he sees every now and then. Plus he can always find work at the brothel, if he wanted.

Although Worick is not a Twilight, he isn’t really your average human. He has hyperthymesia, an extraordinarily detailed autobiographical memory. This works to his advantage when helping the police identify maimed bodies of murder victims. The people are so severely brutalized, they need Worick to identify them based on minor details that only he would notice. Let’s chew on that for a moment. There are truly some wicked people in Ergastulum. Although his amazing memory works well for the police, it keeps Worick from being able to work directly for the mafia families. Apparently having a person with his ability to memorize everything is more of a threat than a somewhat violent Twilight like Nic. Hmm. Perhaps it is.

I love the relationship between Worick and Nic. They have a great dynamic. Like bickering siblings yet they always have each other’s back. It seems like every other episode Worick is yelling at Nic for wearing his shirt or the other way around. Their rapport is a great diversion from what could potentially be a pretty somber series. Feels are great but sometimes we viewers need lighthearted interactions and humor between the shock and tears. I don’t know about anyone but I can’t cry through almost every episode of the show I’m watching. Can anyone say Neon Genesis Evangelion?

Now we have our prostitute turned secretary, Alex. I like her. I have to point that out because it seems like I don’t always like the girl in the group. At least that’s what my daughter and sisters tell me. I was half expecting her to be the unnecessary T & A girl of the show. I was immediately proven wrong.

She started off with this damsel in distress vibe. Well, her pimp was beating her a lot; so she did need to be saved. However, she can really hold her own, ask Barry’s corpse. She’s a good fit with the Handymen (especially Nic). Oh . . . pardon my shipper’s heart.

Alex Benedetto

Alex is the happy medium with the Handymen. She’s not has serious as Nic but not as laidback as Worick. Maybe because she’s not 100% sure she’s in with them (she is, but she doesn’t realize it). From the moment Alex started working with the Handymen, she tried to find her place with them. She always shows concern for them and looks out for their well-being. It’s obvious that she cares for them. Not necessarily in a romantic way, which doesn’t matter. One of my favorite things about her, is she took the time to learn sign language. Nic reads lips, but she wanted to communicate with him the way he prefers to communicate. That’s a very nice gesture. Plus, it means she’s there for the long haul. She’s committed to being part of the Handymen’s crew.

Life has dealt her some pretty crappy cards. She went to Ergastulum thinking Barry the pimp was going to help her. Yeah, that didn’t work out well for her. Between pimping her out, beating her, and keeping her on drugs, Barry turned out to be a real peach of a guy. The whole point of her hooking up with Barry was so she could help her younger brother, Emilio. Now Emilio is all grown up and part of the Destroyers, a group of hunters that have been killing Twilights all over town. Her brother is a threat to Nic and people like him. How is she going to handle that? The man she raised and loves is probably go to try to kill the man that saved her.  Look! There it is! The feels moment I’ve been avoiding all season. It’s not a hard choice for me. Emilio must die. But, I’m not Alex.

There are an assortment of lovable and hate-worthy secondary and side characters, that all bring something interesting to the story. One thing I love about this series is that the women are just as strong as the men. In some cases, maybe stronger. Loretta Christiano, Gina Paulklee, and Joel Raveau bring a little more than spunk to the show. These are some hardcore ladies. People should watch this show just to experience the tidbits of badassery these ladies display here and there.

Like many anime series adapted from ongoing manga series, GANGSTA. had no defined ending. You’re left having to use your imagination or read the manga. I’ve chosen to read the manga. A great choice, I must admit.

I’ve heard that some people were disappointed with the ending. I can’t help but wonder why. Any other ending may have strayed from the manga. That would have pissed off others. There seems to be a no win situation for these types of series. Personally, I liked that the finale was open-ended. However, I won’t lie, I got misty-eyed and screamed “NOOOO!” at the TV. But hey . . . I was pleased. Under normal circumstances, this type of ending would give one hope for a second season. Unfortunately, Manglobe, the distributor of the anime, has recently filed bankruptcy. That pretty much lessens the likelihood of a season two; if one was planned at all. If there ever is another season, I will be all over it. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the manga.

So yeah, as I stated in the beginning, you have not lived if you have not watched GANGSTA.. Go! Get to Funimation and watch it. Then read the manga. Or vice versa.

You can watch GANGSTA. (subbed) on Funimation and Hulu. You need a Funimation subscription to watch the dubbed version. The manga is published by Viz Signature Manga.

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