Back from the grave? back for murder.For Brandon Heat, death doesn't matter. Driven by his need for revenge, he returns from beyond the grave to cripple Milleneon, the huge mafia organization that uses undead monsters as ... more »its enforcers. His ultimate goal will be to destroy Harry MacDowel, the leader of Milleneon and, at one time, Brandon's best friend...« less
Vengeance is a Dish Best Served as a Complete Collection
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 07/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The thing with Geneon's untimely demise is that it offered companies like Funimation a great library of unique titles to re-release as the market demands them. Case in point: Gungrave. A stylish and moody piece of animation that had, until now, existed in a complete boxed set briefly back in 2005. Funimation has gathered together all of the episodes and is once more offering a Complete Set for fans and prospects alike.
Coming in at a total runtime of 650 minutes, Gungrave the Complete Set spans 7 discs and comes packaged in seven thin packs within a richly decorated cardboard outer case. Language options are standard sub and dub fair which means original Japanese dialog (Dolby Digital 2.0) and an English Dub (Dolby Digital 5.1) with English subtitle options in either language.
The show wears an appropriate 16 & Up rating due to its frequent use of violence and strong language. However, and like most anime titles of this genre, the presence of sexuality and/or nudity is surprisingly sparse.
Features are a pretty solid bag and include 16:9 Anamorphic widescreen presentation, conceptual art stills, textless opening and closing themes, and a host of trailers.
The story, or what passes for one in this case, follows a guy named Brandon Heat, who has been resurrected from the dead and is now known as Grave (which is short for Beyond the Grave).
Under the supervision of a mad scientist and young girl, Grave wanders around his deserted hometown recollecting his memories and preparing for a mission of revenge against the friend who betrayed him (resulting in his trip six feet under).
The first few episodes take their time assembling Grave's back-story through a succession of flashback sequences that depict a slightly disturbed Brandon Heat's involvement in street gangs. Once the gangster "Mad Dog" Ladd enters the fold, gun shots ring out, are fired, blood is spilled, and soon it's just Brandon and his best friend Harry MacDowel fending for themselves on the city streets.
For the most part, the pacing works. How so you wonder? Well the core of the viewer's interest is derived from the natural curiosity as to what led up to Grave's bizarre situation.
You realize that Brandon and Harry are thick as thieves in their underworld exploits in life but logic tells you that this relationship must have soured. How, when and why? How does Brandon meet his untimely demise? More importantly still, how does he return to the land of the living?
You'll wonder these things just a bit quicker than the backtracking is able to reveal them but this is no big deal because a riveting story never was Gungrave's strong suit and shame on you for thinking otherwise.
In truth the story is serviceable here which is to say it represents just enough to keep the wickedly cool visuals flowing from scene to scene, episode to episode. You may have heard it mentioned in other reviews and there is definite truth to the fact that Grave is perhaps the most unlovable protagonist of all time. He's distant, cold, and drab- and that's before he becomes a zombie!
Although it should be dually noted that affection for the lead character isn't a requisite for making the most of the Gungrave experience. The key word here is mood and boy does Gungrave paint a pretty picture through its lighting, ambiance, and just plain grit. It isn't hard to liken the prose to the literary classic Gunslinger series by Stephen King. In fact that's really one of the best comparisons I can come up with (just so long as you don't expect the mind-twisting elements that riddled the later entries of the book series). Gungrave is definitely shallower, more violent, and linear in its pacing and prose.
The English dub works better than it has any right to and perhaps that can be credited to the simple fact that the roles clearly didn't require a whole lot of emotion (particularly that of Grave himself). The secondary characters simply had to be gruff, rough or tough and American actors, if I may generalize, rarely have trouble nailing that assignment. The Japanese dialog brings a bit more emotion to the script but don't expect miracles from Grave, he is what is regardless of which continent the actor portraying him hails from.
In all this is definitely not a title for the masses but rather is an acquired taste; kind of like black coffee or German beer. If you're looking for a shoot-em-up with a simplistic plot saturated with vengeance (ala Kill Bill) and cool visuals (come on the guy blows his enemies away with his guns crossed and his hat dipped below his eyes for crying out loud), this is a must-own collection. If, on the other hand, you find yourself in the camp seeking emotional attachment, rich storytelling or ultra-believability, perhaps you would be wiser to let this one drift past like the cloud of dust kicked up from Grave's cold stiff boot."
Protect and Never Betray
DC_Fan_52 | Texas | 02/26/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gungrave tells the tale of two best friends put on the path of their own destruction. Brandon and Harry are two street hoods who join the mafia and begin the climb the ladder, and their ascension makes a mark on everyone around them.
Gungrave is a noir, mafia story with an anime twist. It deals with the internal politics of the mob at first, before it becomes something personal for our main characters. Despite being in the business of killing, the Millenion syndicate has an unbreakable law, "Protect, and never betray the family." The "Code of Iron" drives the entire anime.
Gungrave is not a shounen. It's closer to Cowboy Bebop and Trigun at certain points. There are no bombastic characters in the mafia. These are hired killers that disassociate themselves from their dirty business. The first half of the series focuses on Bradon's, the main character, memories of the time before he died. The anime twist are the horrors that unchecked ambition created, that Brandon must fight in the second half of the series. Despite being centered around organized crime, the violence doesn't feel gratuitous, there is no drug use, and matters of love (of any kind) are relatively tame.
I definitely think Gungrave is worth a second look. If you liked Trigun and Cowboy Bebop, give this a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I gaze at that gray haired hulk and think, "Beyong the Grave" was once a man. A man named Brandon Heat.
I want to mention that you might want to skip the first episode of the series. It's supposed to entice you to watch more, but most might consider it misleading and confusing. Episode 2 is a much better place to start, IMO."
Never Betray The Family
Athrun Aznable | 07/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent anime, which there are far too few of. Brandon Heat (Beyond the Grave) is the main character. He is mostly calm and cool, which seems to be a contradiction between the way he behaves and his name. He is basically raised on the streets with his friends, but finds love...to bad she becomes adopted by Big Daddy after her adopted uncle passes away. Big Daddy is the head of an organization comparable to the mafia, hence the title of this review. He is a very likable character, not the villian. He eventually allows Brandon to see his love, Maria, but only on supervised visits, since he now works for the organization. The anime follows along with death, love, betrayal, and revenge. The story becomes over the top around halfway through the show, with people being brought back to life for the purpose of powerful soldiers, which the new leader of the oraganization quickly seizes upon and sells them on the black market to conflict zones. This anime shows the possiblities of science, as well as humanity in its mafia style setup. This is an exceptional anime that should not be missed. I rate it #1, followed by Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Gundam 0083, and many many others. This will always be my favorite."
A Nice Series Of Revenge and Betrayal But Also Of Forgivenes
Rich | CA | 09/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If You already have anime series like Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, or Wolfs rain here's another fantastic series for your collection. The series gives a nice backdrop of the two main characters and their differing points of view on life and while they disagree on some views they are the best of friends, though the main story-plot does have on betray the other for his own rise to power within a powerful organization. The dead apparently don't stay dead though in this series and through science the betrayed friend is brought back to life to protect a very important person from the organization that is now run by the very friend that betrayed and murdered him. What you'll truly appreciate and grow to like is how throughout the years the betrayer has hidden regrets for his choices and a wish to redeem his sins that he's made in his life. That is probably the most heartfelt parts of the series as you see the bygone years of these two friends as they rise from street hoodlums to great power and money in their careers, but you also see the cost for theses choices as their friends are killed, personal sacrifices are made for their positions or remaining living friends, and finally the one choice that ends with one friend dead and another to gain ultimate power but at the cost of his remaining happiness. The ending fits the storyline greatly and while may annoy some viewers with how it ends it's still a nice climax for the two friends to find salvation and peace within themselves and each other. The video is clear and sharp with no blurriness or distortions to worry about and the audio was great as well the voice cast for the Japanese and English actors/actresses were great for their roles, the extras sadly aren't much just the usual trailers and textless intro/ending songs but that's about it. The box sets has seven dvds put into an individual slim cases and put into a paper sleeve. So if you like the dark drama animes with a lot of action, gunfights, and drama with a entertaining storyline with it here's a great choice to try out and for this price well worth it..."
A fantastic series!
kaya j | U.K. | 12/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gungrave is the story of Brandon and Harry, two young friends that join a mafia group called Milleneon. The series begins with Brandon and Harry as ordinary young men and continues with their activity within Milleneon. This includes their movement within the group, as well as how they change as time passes.
This is a really powerful anime. The story is brilliant- it sucks you in very quickly and keeps you gripped throughout. My description doesn't really do justice to the plot, which is very complex, moving and intriguing. Brandon, who really is the main character, is very well developed, as is Harry and the various supporting characters.
The art-work is really beautiful, as is the music, which helps create a heavy, haunting and tragic atmosphere. I really can't recommend this anime enough, it's without a doubt one of my favourites. You won't regret giving it a chance!!!! "