Review: Gangsta vol. 7

I have a bit of a strange relationship with Gangsta. Upon hearing about the anime in the works, I bought the first volume. I had heard a lot of praise for the series ranging from the story to the artwork. Unfortunately, due to just how much I have to read for review, I never got around to reading the first volume until after watching the anime. It ended up that I only moderately cared for the anime, but when I went to read the manga… I disliked it. I questioned whether or not I should even read this volume. The reason I did is that the anime ended abruptly. I don’t know if it was the ratings, money, laziness, or some combination of all three. Frankly, I wasn’t a big enough fan to find out. I was curious, though, and figured the seventh volume would probably pick up just after the tenth episode of the show or overlap it slightly.

It’s does. Perfectly.

Gangsta vol 7That was a bit of a relief because I didn’t have any desire to read something I had already struggled through watching. The crazy thing… I liked this volume. I liked it a lot actually, and I don’t know why.

My problem with Gangsta is that it has this excellent idea that it continues to fuck up over and over. The idea of the handymen being this neutral party made them interesting and unique to follow. The “Dog Tags” were this aspect of the story that could represent many things; race, national origin, pretty much anything that people could be afraid of because they were different. And they had extra abilities which made them more impressive.

The ranking system for the Dog Tags ended up being the double edge sword that began the descent of the series for me because I loved the idea of these higher ups fighting each other and having video game rankings. Then there were low-level Dog Tags introduced that were just people mainly. At that point… I didn’t understand why they would even be considered a Dog Tag which left me wondering what the fuck was the point of the Dog Tags. To be frank, I’m still not entirely sure. If I remember the anime’s details correctly, they were created by the government for a war that is always brought up in the story, but then the same government wanted them all killed… or something. That’s the part that I don’t get. I don’t understand how these people with Dog Tags are created and given tags, but then also hunted and killed by the same individuals?

This volume introduces us to Hunters, or I should say continues the introduction of the Hunters. They’re ordinary people with the speed and skills to kill Dog Tags… which is just fucking confusing as well. How the fuck am I to believe that? Why would they even hate Dog Tags considering they’re just the next generation? And I wouldn’t even bother thinking of this shit if it wasn’t brought up so much in the story.

Nevertheless, the Hunters have a former Hunter’s wife, who’s not his wife because that would make shit too easy. If they were both on social media, they would list their relationship status as “complicated.” That’s pretty much it. We learn about Marco; we see his not-wife wife get her arm chopped off, and he has a tearful goodbye with a girl he raised like a daughter for fifteen years. His friend and co-worker join him in his fight, and I have to admit for a volume that removes its two main characters, this was a hell of a story. Enough so that I got excited about the spinoff starring the character Marco aka Spas.

The art and art style have always been the draw for me on this title. Kohske’s artwork stands out for a variety of reasons. It’s uncharacteristic of the genre; it’s gore and violence is teetering into the “ultra” category and above all else, it’s just really detailed and gorgeous to look view. Along with that is the panels and layouts; Kohske breaks a lot of the norms in manga. That’s my opinion, but having a bulk of manga in the last year, this one stands out because of the use of the gutters. Even though I didn’t care for the first volume, I enjoyed the art and layouts.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is a part of Viz’s Signature imprint, meaning the print is worth the money. The cover has a great feel to it. It’s coarse, smooth, and has almost a plastic feel to it. It’s also a bit bigger than most manga trades, but that’s my preference as it’s easier to hold and read without breaking the spine.

If you too wondered what the hell happened at the end of the anime, then this seventh volume is the start of the answer to that question. The main characters aren’t developed and have a slight role in the story, but the secondary characters’ shine. For as much action and violence that this story has, this particular volume has a lot of heart and character development.

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Gangsta vol. 7 Creator: Kohske Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature Price: $12.99 Format: TPB; Print/Digital