Striking The Right Note: Gangsta

Back in the 80’s, the ideal way of life was full of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

The sex part didn’t work out so well, what with STD’s and such. The whole drugs angle ended up being bad, too, M’Kay. Then rock & roll got replaced by alternative and auto-tuned pop, so I guess that dream just didn’t go to well no matter how you look at it.

At least it lived fast, died young, and left a good looking corpse.

We really need better ethos for our various eras, don’t we?

This weeks OP is Gangsta, and it’s all about the sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

For those that have never seen it, Gangsta is set in a city called Ergastulum, where everybody is either a criminal, or wants to be. Even the cops are so dirty, the various mob families vying for power kind of envy how corrupt they are.

Walking this city of vice and crime are Nic and Worick, two Handymen who do whatever they are paid to do, by whoever they are paid to do it for. The series follows their escapades in the most crime ridden city on Earth as they get into and out of trouble.

The interesting thing about Gangsta is that there are no good guys or bad guys, just a whole lot of bad guys. While there are varying shades of bad, even Nic and Worick aren’t on the upper end of it. They are a couple of nasty dudes who’ll do whatever it takes to survive.

That said, they are an interesting pair. Nic’s deaf, and Worick only has one good eye. They’ve got a past together, and it obviously wasn’t a pretty one. However they ended up here, they are just trying to get by in a city where everything is dirty, and for that, they do make an interesting pair of protagonists.

Gangsta was the finale series to be made by Manglobe, the studio behind such works as Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy, Deadman Wonderland, and The World Only God Knows, before it went bankrupt and left us with nothing but an impressive list of anime titles.

The OP features the song “Renegade” by Stereo Dive Foundation, and it is the most sex, drugs and rock & roll song I’ve heard since the early 90’s, not counting AC/DC’s Black Ice album, which I own of course, because I’m an AC/DC fan.

The boys would be right at home doing the intro to this show. Thunderstuck would work especially well.

Even the imagery used evokes the idea of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Literally. It’s got hookers, drugs, and rock and roll playing over both. It’s the most 80’s thing I’ve seen in a while.

The more interesting elements of the OP however are the use of color. Nic and Worick only appear in black and white, with selective use of color that turns the mind to Frank Miller’s Sin City. The backgrounds move between simplistic and complex, telling of the way of the city they live in, while bright color spatters decorate everything, making one think of graffiti.

The whole thing sets such a perfect tone for the gritty life the two Handymen lead in the most dangerous and corrupt city there is, it makes for another of Manglobe’s traditional brilliant openings.

Check it out, and rock on.


12 thoughts on “Striking The Right Note: Gangsta

  1. Manglobe, how I’ll miss you. They did some really great work, and openings like this are just a small sign of their sense of style.

    Having heard one other thing from Stereo Dive Foundation (One of my latest favorites: Kyokai no Kanata’s ED, “Daisy”), this is really quite different. I completely get the reckless vibe vibe you talked about, and the song feels perfect for a show exploring that lifestyle. I can only guess that deliberate shot of Worick’s one green eye is telling as I haven’t seen this.

    The tone and presentation of this reminds me of another opening actually: “Out of Control” by Nothing’s Carved in Stone, used for the second OP in Psycho Pass. They similarly use contrasting depictions of characters against backgrounds, but alternate where the color is placed.

    By the way, if you’re taking requests for this please do Psycho Pass 1st OP, “Abnormalize” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When it came to Op’s, Manglobe really knew how to get to the heart of the story they were telling. This, and others, like Ergo Proxy, are just such great examples of how to make an OP that both sells the show, and also stands on its own as a piece of art.

      Also, yes, I do take requests. Actively. Especially for shows I’ve not seen, or haven’t heard of.

      Speaking of which, Psycho Pass has been on my to watch list forever. This seems a good reason to finally check it out. It’s easier to talk about an OP when I’ve seen the show.

      It’ll probably be next month some time, but consider your request accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

        Psycho Pass is pretty much mainstream now considering how popular it’s been since its release, but I think it’s the kind of show you will appreciate a lot. The characters that get the most focus are really great examples of the different mindsets that the series explores, and challenges you to examine who is really “right.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, I’m about half way through season one now, and I gotta admit, this really is one hell of a good show.

          In general, I tend to avoid shows that get a lot of hype, as they rarely end up living up to it. Once that hype dies down, I’ll usually check it out. Really, it’s just a way for me to avoid being disappointed in something that is good, but not as good as it’s made out to be.

          So far, Psycho Pass definitely lives up to the hype it got, which is nice.

          That first OP, though. Wow. They really did nail the themes of not just the show, but the two main characters, and their relationship, didn’t they?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, I think so. Their positioning throughout the sequence is really interesting, like when he’s framed as if he’s sinking and Tsunemori is swimming down to help, only to point the dominator at him instead.

            I’m glad you’re enjoying watching it so far, as its one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve seen.

            It sounds like you’re powering right through it too. I’ve not seen the second season, but season one is a more or less complete story on its own. Some bad reviews keep me away from season 2 and I want to keep Psycho Pass “pure” in my mind.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. There was that, and also the juxtaposition between biology and technology they used, as well as the frequent use of black and white. All around, it’s just a fascinating OP that says so much.

              That aside, finished season one, and yes, it is a very good show. Plenty of action, but a lot of philosophy, as well. Minakawa (I think I spelled his name right) made for a compelling antagonist. I could see his line of reasoning, and it made sense, which kept him from just being an anarchists for the good guys to beat. Really, his point of view made the protagonists the villains of the story, so I really enjoyed that part.

              I also went ahead and watched season two, instead of finishing my final drafts for the next Petalwynd and Warsong chapters.Cause I’m not a very responsible adult.

              While I don’t know the main criticisms against it, I’ll admit that the shorter format, 11 episodes compared to 22 for the first season, didn’t leave them as much room to work, and forced more than a few narrative shortcuts on the story. The antagonist’s background only makes sense if you squint just right, as well.

              Regardless, I found it to still hold the same philosophical quality, as it explored a question I’d been asking since the big reveal of the true nature of Sybil.

              What would happen if you could judge the Psycho Pass of the Sybil System?

              On that front, it told a really good story, as well building more heavily on Akane’s ability to keep her Hue unclouded, why she can do that, and what it really means not just to the people around her, but to the Sybil System itself.

              So, some weak points, but also some strong ones. It was, at the very least, still interesting, and made me think about the ramifications of such a system, both for the good, and the bad, ideas the series never shied away exploring from in either season.

              Just my two cents on it all, however.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Y-you finished Season 2? Whats that.. 33 episodes in 2-3 days? That is not a binge, sir. That is gluttony.

              Being responsible is good an all, but that’s the one good thing about being an adult. In terms of time, it’s all up to you (no one lives forever).

              You were close on the guy’s name (not really), it’s Makishima. He definitely was one of the only people interested in uncovering the truth about Sybil, but his extreme sociopathy warps any altruistic quality you can associate with him. He’s a fascinating character to contemplate.

              What you had to say about season 2 makes me want to watch it now too though… damn it, I have enough on my plate!

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Well, I had a couple days off from work, so instead of actually writing, I just kept watching one episode after another. Suddenly, I was done.

              Probably should have worked some writing in there, too, though. All the stuff in my head won’t get out unless I make it.

              Makishima. Yeah, I missed badly. I’m crap at remembering names anyway, so it isn’t really a surprise.

              That aside, you are right. There is nothing altruistic about his actions. However, in a society like Sybil has created, an argument could be made that being a sociopath in and of itself is an altruistic thing, as his very existence proves Sybil doesn’t really work. Which it doesn’t.

              I am, of course, referring to the scene late in the show, where one of the helmet wearers beats someone to death, while a police drone advises the victim to seek therapy for her high stress. The simple fact that happened proves the failing in Sybil.

              Of course, that was Makishima’s point. Sybil doesn’t actually work. Everyone has just accepted it, so they have convinced themselves it does. That he exists proves otherwise, but he alone cannot prove anything, so he sets out to make everyone see.

              This is the most interesting thing about him, to me. He doesn’t want to destroy Sybil. He wants people to reject Sybil, and for society to refuse it to continue. That’s a pretty lofty and intellectual goal, but then again, even as a sociopath, he’s a pretty lofty and intellectual guy.

              Just a great character, all the way around.

              As for season two, that’s up to you. I thought it had some things worth saying, it just didn’t leave itself enough room to say them as effectively as season one did. It didn’t ruin anything about the show, for me, however, and I still think it was great, and well worth not getting any work done to lose myself in.


  2. Another video I am unfortunately not allowed to watch (Aaaaargh I hate Holland). But ofcourse despite not being able to watch the video, the show itself sounds cool. Reading the above comments, I highly recommend Psycho Pass as well. It’s a fantastic series and one that I have enjoyed immensely. I have yet to see the 2nd season for it (but I heard that one is supposedly very bad), but the first season is incredible, and is now ranked for me at least, on my personal favorites list 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, global information sharing. When did we loose that?

      I watched the second season of Psycho Pass, and while the antagonist is a bit shaky in terms of backstory, mostly due to the season only having 11 episodes instead of 22, it was hardly a bad second season.

      No, Komori wasn’t there, and no the new antagonist doesn’t really live up to the first seasons. However, the second season asks some really big and important questions for the world setting, and spends a lot of time showing how much Akane has grown into a force to be reckoned with.

      Just me, but what the second season does right far outweighs what it does wrong.


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