No Guns Life – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Humans that have been physically altered and turned into dangerous weapons are known as the Extended. Juuzou Inui awakens as one of these weapons—with amnesia. But his job as an agent investigating the Extended leads to a mysterious child with Extended ties showing up at his office. Now Inui must keep the child away from street gangs and the megacorporation Berühren, and it won’t be easy. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: No Guns Life started out like it was going to follow around hardened private detective/hired muscle Juuzou Inui as he unraveled some big conspiracy revolving around the abuse of Extended by the big corporation, Beruhren. However once past the first episode, we spend more and more time with the teenager he encounters, Tetsurou, a young man hunted by Beruhren after he escapes their clutches. The story goes so far as to have Tetsurou take over Juuzou’s body, using an illegal extention that Beruhren implanted in him that allows him to remotely control other extended, and scamper off on his own adventures. So the bad news is if you were sucked in by Juuzou in the first episode, you may find yourself frustrated as the show switches over completely to Tetsurou for several episodes at a go. While Tetsurou does have his own shocking and tragic plot line, he gives off a very different vibe compared to the adult Juuzou. Juuzo is usually calm and collected, save for a few flustered moments brought about by quick comedic relief, whereas Tetsurou is dripping with drama and emotions. Given that the show started off focused on Juuzo’s rough and tough life, the change in tone feels hampering and even a bit frustrating as the audience is then immediately forced to follow around a temperamental teenager for quite some time.
Tom: That shift in focus from Juuzou to the kid really damages No Guns Life’s initial appeal. The truth is Tetsurou simply isn’t nearly as compelling and bad ass a hero as Juuzou. In fact the more the show focuses on Tetsurou the more the show declines in quality, gradually moving from what seemed like it would be a hard-boiled action, cyberpunkish detective story, to a much more shonen feel, where things can get grim, but never too upsetting, often offering up audiences the contrived, happy ending that’ll satisfy viewers who want everything wrapped up neatly, but disappoint anyone that enjoyed the show’s initial, much darker dystopian, appeal.
Linny: The show definitely holds back its fangs when we follow Tetsurou around and becomes a more standard Shonen type tale. The drama is a bit predictable; like having villainous young teens who have been forced into evil tasks under a promise to be given back their regular human bodies. When the promise is revealed to be false (again, predictable) and the girls have to then face some horrific and tragic futures, the show quickly churns out a ‘sorta’ happy ending. What makes this sorta happy ending particularly frustrating is that someone survives an attack that literally looks impossible for an entire building to survive, let alone anyone one human to survive. Yes, the show makes sure to have Juuzou point out beforehand that there’s a chance of survival but the visual representation of the attack does not align with that declaration, making the happy ending feel cheap, unearned, and a tad contrived.
Tom: No Guns Life also disappoints in a few other ways. As we hit the mid season the show’s visual performance hasn’t been great. Art is often lacking detail, making fights feel muddy, loosing the dynamic visual quality that would make them feel exciting. Also, No Guns Life can’t help but cave in and offer up the same, offensive anti-LGBT gag (where these LGBT individuals can’t help but commit sexual assault) another show is so found of this season, marking for disappointing, if albeit brief, sequence.
Linny: No Guns Life is likely to suck audiences in thanks to its really unique setting and cast where humans are hybridized with machines to form all kinds of interesting looking characters. The seedy, war ravaged society offers up all sorts of mysteries and conspiracies, making for a world brimming with potential intrigue. This also means the audience gets treated to all sorts of unique fight scenes and action thanks to the unusual abilities of the Extended, which further helps No Guns Life make a mark of its own. However, it does require that you either find Tetsurou’s arc and drama appealing or bearable in the first four episode and aren’t extremely critical of the art and animation which does take a dip ever so often. The show doesn’t do the best job of fleshing out and giving side characters the most convincing introductions or stories and so a large part of its appeal lies heavily on the shoulder of Juuzou who himself remains under explored but can still charm audiences with his popular hardened but caring lead personality. It doesn’t help either that the show has already employed somewhat predictable shonen story tropes, so what started as promising in my opinion has now simmered down to a lukewarm recommendable series. Yes, it is still definitely worth a try for those intrigued so long as you prepare for possible cliches, underwhelming characters and art. Don’t go in expecting deep characters or story and you should still be able to find No Guns Life a mostly entertaining watch.
Tom: I will say as we’ve entered a new arc for the Mid Season I’ve become cautiously optimistic. Tetsurou is sidelined in favor of a heavier focus on Juuzou and an assignment that sits close to his origins. It’s the kind of plot I was hoping for, where Juuzou is sent to track down a homicidal maniac. It’s still got the markings of “Baby’s first cyberpunk detective” in the way each scene is written, often lacking nuance to the characters and events that would make it feel more authentic, but for now it’s a big step back in the right direction. Hopefully by series end I can find myself recommending No Guns Life again.
No Guns Life is available for streaming via Funimation.