No Guns Life – Deep AND Dumb

No Guns Life – Deep AND Dumb

Like ogres and onions, and parfaits too, many
of the best anime have layers. Beneath neat high concepts, strong characters,
and fun action scenes lie hidden depths, themes and messages, that hardcore fans can uncover
and understand upon multiple rewatches, through careful consideration of how the show’s
constituent parts work in concert. That might sound intimidating, boring, or
pretentious, depending on your tastes; but therein lies the brilliant trick that makes
these layered shows so good. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Neon Genesis
Evangelion, One Punch Man; these anime are all eminently accessible. They speak to a primal part of our brain that
wants to see cool people do cool things and make cool explosions in the process; that
wants to imagine and escape to worlds of possibility beyond our own. They make a sincere effort to be fun, first
and foremost; but beyond that, if you care to look, you’ll find each is about something
more. Fullmetal Alchemist is a cool shounen action
thing about a steampunk cyborg wizard kicking the shit out of other wizards and monsters;
it’s an exploration of how wallowing in grief and refusing to accept loss can cost
us everything we still have; it’s a pointed, cautionary tale about how those in power maintain
it by consuming the lives of those beneath them until nothing is left. Some shows make their intent more obvious
than others; Evangelion is famously an exploration of how Hideaki Anno’s otaku obsessions both
fight and feed his depression. The last two episodes of the anime practically
shout this message at you as the cool robot shit fades away, but there’s still deeper
layers to be found; pay attention to the movie and you’ll see Anno’s whole mental landscape
laid bare through animated symbolism. But you’ll also see some of the coolest
big fuckin robot fights ever put to film. Layered narratives allow these shows to entertain
laymen, anime analysts, and everyone in between; and No Gun’s Life is a beautiful example
of that approach in action. Glorious, high octane, balls to the wall action. As I said in my fall anime rundown, No Guns
Life is an anime about about a MAN WITH A GUN FOR A HEAD, explode-punching trains with
his revolver fists to save kidnapped children from evil business robots and sexy cyborg
assassin nuns. Zany as it sounds, the show presents that
story with utmost sincerity and not event a hint of irony. Gun Head detective man Inui Juzo is a fully
realized character, with goals, values, anxieties, and flaws; a hero, who uses his strength to
protect the weak from the powerful. No Guns Life is an anime about a MAN WITH
A GUN FOR A HEAD… a former soldier, or… living weapon might be a better word. A man whose whole life was conflict and combat,
until one day it wasn’t, and he had to figure out, on his own, how to live for himself. A man who tries to do good by his neighbours,
using his power to keep the criminals who might hurt them in line. A man whose gruff demeanour and literal cold
metal exterior, belies a (metaphorically) beating heart yearning for real human connection. A man who sees a bit of himself in a young
boy who’s been chopped up, experimented on, mechanically augmented, and left immobile…
but still ardently refuses to just be a tool. A man who thinks that maybe, with his kindness,
guidance and help, that boy can find freedom in a brighter tomorrow. The world that gave Juzo his 40 caliber cranium
is likewise fully realized: a dystopian future where cybernetic enhancement is commonplace,
and where the transhumanist potential of the technology has given way to a dehumanizing
reality. Common people fear the extended, while elites
exploit them; some as slave labour, others as a captive marketplace, pressed into brand
loyalty by a need for continuous maintenance, medicine, and replacement parts… with potentially
incompatible black market yakuza parts being the only alternative. Don’t like apple and google owning your
whole music library? Well, what if they owned your arms? Your eyes? Your heart? What if by taking your phone to a third party
repair shop, you risked incurring a fatal seizure as punishment? Now… what if you needed it to LIVE, and
couldn’t afford the real deal? By exploring these questions, No Guns Life
makes its cyberpunk world feel chillingly REAL. This is the second layer; a world you can
believe in, full of characters you want to learn more about; a story with a hero you
really want to ROOT FOR, no matter how ridiculous the odds stacked against him may be. None of this makes the show any less RIDICULOUSLY
FUN AND AWESOME than its premise promises it will be; but it’s there for you if you
want to become a HARDCORE No Guns Life fan. And if you want to dig deeper still, there
is a third layer. A greater point that the series is driving
towards, with both its nakedly awesome, silly concept and the surprisingly delicate worldbuilding
that supports it. No Guns Life is an anime about a MAN WITH
A GUN FOR A HEAD… a “Gun Slave Unit” whose entire identity has been supplanted
by a singular fucntion – trapped in a capitalist nightmare world, where people like him are
literally THINGS for the rich and powerful to own and use. Be that in the form of a government-owned
human weapon, a corporate mercenary, or for the truly unfortunate, mechanical office equipment. A world where employees and their families
– from salarymen all the way up to CEOs – are property. Resources to be extracted and exploited at
the corporation’s sole discretion, for the corporation’s sole profit. While the common man outside the company lives
in illusory freedom; dependant on consumable goods that their millionaire masters can cut
off in an instant, should they step out of line. A world that, for all its fancy doodads and
cool metal bits and bobs, feels uncomfortably familiar. Because in many ways it’s a logical, if
greatly exaggerated extension of the one we live in now. On that note, the robots that get to decide
whether I have a stable career or not currently aren’t showing my videos to as many people,
because I got two copyright strikes right before going on vacation and putting up a
bunch of guest videos, so I would greatly appreciate it if those of you who ARE watching
could leave lots of comments and – if you’re enjoying the video so far – hit the like
button as well. Just get my channel back in people’s feeds. Like that moment of shameless begging and…
basically everything else in No Guns Life, this anticapitalist messaging isn’t particularly
subtle. The second episode trots out Hugh Cunningham,
a pudgy, gleefully cruel corporate crony – with a fully human body that he’s all too proud
to own – who lords his control of the medicinal cigarette supply over Juzo. Threatening him with agonizing disfunction
and a slow, painful death should he fail to comply with the beruhren company’s demands,
but presenting those threats under the guise of a peaceful, equitable negotiation. A fair trade on paper. A shakedown in practice. Facilitated by police officers who seem at
first to be stopping Juzo’s vandalism for the public good… but who are in fact merely
enforcers of the corporate status quo. Like I said, it’s not particularly subtle
It’s only thanks to Juzo and his back alley mechanic Mary’s forward-thinking and class
consciousness – their awareness of the true leverage the corporations hold over them – that
this plan is foiled. As we learn at the episode’s end, Mary has
already replicated the medicinal blend of the cigarettes for our hero (though without
their alluring flavour); likely running afoul of a few patents in the process, but giving
Juzo a bitter taste of freedom by saving him from a deadly consumer dependency. If they’d followed the law, they would have
been fucked. Tetsuro would be in Hugh’s hands. It’s a philosophically fascinating and prescient
plot point, but presented with all the gusto and bombast we demand of our anime. Juzo demonstrates that he will not; cannot
be owned by obliterating the corporate jackboots pressed into his back in a glorious laser
light show, before staring down his would-be oppressor with cool-headed, utterly badass
conviction. Whether you agree with or even recognize its
philosophical underpinnings, you can’t deny that this moment – and the entire show that
contains it – is, first and foremost, cool as all hell. Contrary to what you might expect, the philosophical
elements of the show don’t take away from its ability to deliver those fun, visceral
thrills; nor do its goofy design sensibilities and over-the-top premise “Dumb down” its
greater message. Pure entertainment and thoughtful allegory
are often framed as being at odds with each other in media – that’s the crux of the
“turn your brain of and have fun” mentality. But those two sides of No Guns Life SUPPORT
each other, amplifying their respective effects. No Guns Life is an anime – a manga – with
something to say. In order to say that effectively, it needs
to dig into the meat of its individual characters; put a great deal of effort into its world
building. These requirements also having the effect
of making its goofy premise feel believable and serious; which only makes that surface-level
goofiness more entertaining for new viewers. And as you get invested in those elements,
they only give you more reason to care about the outcomes of its already cool action scenes. Conversely the… just inherently fucking
rad concept of a MAN MADE OF GUNS serves as a surprisingly ingenious symbol of the dehumanizing
effects of capitalism. The way that, as wealth accumulates and wealth
extraction strategies are optimized, everything – and eventually everyONE – becomes a
product. A commodity. I say on a platform that lets me sell my opinions
about anime to you, while simultaneously collecting data on your tastes and viewing habits so
that advertisers can more easily sell you other things. And unlike this video format, where just making
that statement probably made a lot of you uncomfortable and a few viewers, I’d wager,
pretty angry… by packaging those ideas up in cool, fun action scenes and an interesting
sci-fi world, No Guns Life is able to prompt viewers to consider them from a comfortable
distance, and without feeling like they’re being lectured to. Like its High-Caliber hero, an efficient marriage
of narrative form and function. Substance within style, and vice versa. An anime about what it REALLY MEANS to be
a man with a gun for a head.

100 thoughts on “No Guns Life – Deep AND Dumb”

  1. I've been watching No Guns Life each week, but I'm still not totally sold. I will continue to tune in each week though to see how it goes.

  2. Comments for the Basement dweller!
    I haven´t gbeen able to really get into this season´s anime debuts given all the work and searching for work that entails my daily life, but come this hokiday season where hopefully everything serttles down I am DEFINETLY going to enjoy watching this zany series, everytime you even expound on its concept it just makes me so hyped to really binge it once I can!

  3. Here is your comment mr pope. I hope you can enjoy your honey moon. really sold me on this anime which has been on my radar for a bit.

  4. Hey, good vid, I'm not your biggest fan but you make some solid content, I'm just commenting because I think it's bullshit that the YouTube gets to mess with your source of income on a whim. Have a grand day 🙂

  5. oh i didn't think about that apple comparison at all, what a great point to make at your return. you know stop skeleton's from fighting took a vacation at a unfortunate time too.

  6. Since we're talking about layers has anyone mentioned that pansy's tits serve as a symbol for how people are often not as they appear, which is a common theme in oresuki? And this symbol is, again, a character's tits? Which are used as a symbol? For complex character writing??? Which is fucking crazy???????

  7. And here is a shining example of socialism ruining everything it touches.
    Did you really just unironically use the term "class consciousness" to describe a relationship between characters? Do you REALLY think that the girl would do the same for some other guy just because he belongs to the same class? Friendship? Loyalty? What's this?
    The story is not about some grand idea. It can have a million themes, but the most important one will always be people. Their lives, their relationships, their struggles. Their individuality. That is something you decided to overlook here. And coincidentally that is what socialism as an ideology either ignores completely, or pressures it to fit into "the magic formula".
    A communist view on media is not something I have this subscription for.
    Terrible review. Thumbs down.

  8. The irony is that elite monopolists is more of a socialist concept than a capitalistic one, which is all about freedom to compete with each other.

  9. For the first half of the video you had me really confused. I felt like you were talking about a different anime.
    Well I’m not gonna go all RHEEE on you and pretend I’m more right, but I just don’t feel the deep part of this anime all that much. Maybe I’m just not looking at it from the right angle. Well, I’m not planning on dropping it either so maybe by the end I’ll be able to see the deep part.

  10. Is there anyone out there (who isn't a millionaire) still championing capitalism though? Why would anyone (again, who isn't a millionaire) get uncomfortable when capitalism is criticized? It's bad. It's a bad system. Come at me.

  11. So, I've turned my family into a casual anime family. When the dub comes out (they only watch dubs), I'm gonna have to show them this.

  12. Honesty, if should choose this degenerated capitalism and socialism I would still choose this capitalism. Why? Because in socialism your are property of government from the start and you have nowhere to run away. And this is not theory, there was multiple countries that did and do exactly this.

  13. You definitely need to watch Parasite, perhaps you could make a video. I bet you already plan on watching it. It was incredible.

  14. Corporations like YouTube can suck the shit out of my rectum! I have no opinion about this show, I've just heard about it today, I just felt like giving a comment that would hopefully both help this channel and inform people about my preferred toilet practices when it comes to YouTube.

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