12 CommentsOVA Splurge / By Scamp /

The second great OVAs splurge part 2: Appleseed and Gunsmith Cats

cor.ova.gunsmith.cats.01.[EE1CCCAA].mkv_snapshot_00.15_[2014.02.25_21.30.13]The first shot in Gunsmith Cats. As we can see from this interracial family, Gunsmith Cats was clearly ahead of its time.

Yes I’m still doing this OVA splurge, even if this is a very slow splurge. But sometimes a slow splurge is more satisfying and does splurge sound like a sexual word to you? Is it getting hot in here? I should just move on…


vlcsnap-2014-03-21-21h19m35s192Appleseed is an adaptation of a manga by Mr Ghost in the Shell Masamune Shirow. In my time as an anime fan I’ve been slowly but surely watching every adaptation of his works, and they have a few things in common. Those things being cyberpunk, cyberpunk, hot chicks kicking ass, and cyberpunk. His work is the cyberpunkiest of cyberpunk to cyberpunk round the cyberpunk anime scene. They are very representative of what made up a lot of the 90s OVA scene. Futuristic mega cities with slightly dreary atmospheres and dingy alleyways with a focus on robotics and humanity, with the story centring on a police force. I like Shirow’s work more than most of those other cyberpunk OVAs because they have depth. They understand what makes cyberpunk interesting is not the aesthetic but the moral quandaries that futuristic settings force you to face. It’s why I hold even something as silly as Dominion Tank Police, a fucking great Shirow OVA, much higher than something like Cyber City Oedo because the latter has some surprising amount of depth behind the silly while the latter is shallow and forgettable once you leave the aesthetics behind.

This all said, Appleseed isn’t that great. It’s about a police force (surprise number 1) in a cyberpunk future (surprise number 2) with a hot girl kicking ass with her cyborg buddy (surprises everywhere). The story is about a terrorist, who may or may not have a just cause, trying to fight the cyberpunk system as it controls our lives and our futures. It’s pretty similar to the plot of Psycho Pass in that regard, another cyberpunky cyberpunk, but Appleseed doesn’t really have the time to properly explore everything. Roll your eyes as you may at the lengthy dialogue sessions in Stand Alone Complex or Psycho Pass, but it’s through those lengthy conversations that the most interesting parts of the background were laid out which would in turn make the action sequences feel more exciting. You understand more what drives this strange world and why certain events are significant on many different levels.

Appleseed doesn’t have that. Nor does it have the writing sharp enough to convey these complex issues in a short few lines. The writing is ultimately why it doesn’t succeed as my favourite cyberpunk anime do. The back and forth between the buddy cop duo isn’t that engaging and its depth is fully explored. There is depth there and it is mildly interesting, but perhaps I’ve just been ruined by what came after it. Applesed isn’t great, but what would eventually come from Shirow’s manga started with Appleseed. Maybe the manga does it all better. I should try giving that a read.

Gunsmith Cats


Gunsmith Cats is Japan making an anime about MURICA! Specifically the buddy cop type TV shows where two cops go in and fuck them baddies up with their obscenely large collection of firearms. It’s actually quite amusing how much MURICA is put into Gunsmith Cats. The villain is an evil politician trying to take away everyone’s guns but it turns out this is just so the baddies can have all the guns. Heck even the villain is an absurdly evil, seemingly indestructible, giant Russian. The story follows two cops (some things never change about 90s OVAs I guess) as they get roped into tracking down a gun trafficking ring because they have massive stockpiles of guns of their own so clearly they are the people to bring in.

There is some quite witty and neat pieces of writing and storyboarding in Gunsmith Cats. One part I liked was when the Russian lady hung up her coat, it was so loaded down with weaponry that it ripped the coat hook off the wall. There’s lots of little tricks and scenes that elevate Gunsmith Cats above its station to make it a little more memorable than your average 90s OVA. That, and the incredibly stylish OP which was supposedly the inspiration for the Cowboy Bebop OP. With all these things coming together, Gunsmith Cats does come off as feeling quite western. If I was feeling cynical, I would say that if you think there should be more anime like Gunsmith Cats then maybe you’re not watching the right medium, but I’m a lovely fluffy bunny of a man and would never be that cynical.

The thing is, despite having some little neat bits in it, Gunsmith Cats feels quite staid overall. For example, a lot of people die in Gunsmith Cats quite horribly, but nobody ever seems that bothered. The main girl has someone vomit blood over her face and collapse in a miserable pile on the ground and yet the main girl just goes “lol Chicago amirite”. Everyone is so totally unfazed by bloody murder that it just makes everyone come off as psychopaths. There’s a serious disconnect between what I’m seeing and what the tone is. Not that I’m asking for it to be deadly serious, but at least be aware in a darkly humourous way the levels of bloody murder that are being committed. There are a few token fanservice scenes per episode of the girls in their underwear, but they feel distinctly un-sexy. Something to do with the 90s character designs where nothing has curves, but the un-sexiness of it, despite it seemingly trying to be, adds to the overall staid feeling. Same with the action scenes. It’s not terribly well directed and, while I enjoyed it at the start, it ultimately left me feeling cold.

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  1. DarkEnergy
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Watching/listening to opening and ending songs is one of my favorite hobbies that I would not have discovered if it weren’t for anime. What are some of your favorite things that you discovered because of anime?

    Also, no mention of the mandatory boob shots? Or was that law broken in these anime?

    • Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      That I actually adore anime. And OP/END songs can really help how much I enjoy a series.

    • FBC
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 2:02 am | Permalink

      Ahh! yes, I watch some anime openings when I feel down to cheer me up! the are some so ridiculous or great that you can’t help taking you mind off some of the bad things life throws at you. For example Overman King Gainer’s opening always brings a smile to my face! (must be the giant robots doing the monkey)

  2. Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Some western shows, like NCIS, have some of the characters come off as apathetic toward human life unless they are affiliated with them.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      That’s more intentional though. They’re supposed to come off as badass to a certain degree. In Gunsmith Cats they just seem psychotic or, more likely, didn’t think the writing through

  3. ilvanezzo
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Okay, first: I loved Cyber City. Haven’t watched Appleseed yet, it’s on my backlog (I did watch the more recent 3DCG version though).

    Second, protagonists in Gunsmith Cats aren’t cops. They’re bounty hunters. I’m pretty sure it’s stated quite explicitly. And that coat fell not because it was full of weaponry, but because it was filled with bulletproof metal plates. If anything, that OVA deserved at least some praise for the (apparently) realistic gunfights and weapon handling.

    As for the copius amounts of blood and murdering, have you SEEN action movies of the 90’s? Yeah.

    Also you should check out Riding Bean OVA. The action in it is hilarious (like the protagonist taking a shotgun blast in the gut and a bullet to the head and actually surviving because BULLETPROOF BANDANA! F*CK YEAH!).

    • Scamp
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I saw Cyber City Oedo a few years ago and thought it was all right, but I’ve really gone off it since then. It’s shallow and full of grumpy boring men leaning on doorways. It looks cool but otherwise struck a bit of a nerve with me. Don’t see why older fans hold it up so much.

      You’re right about the coat and bounty hunters things. Her coat was loaded down with weapons too though. Sure they helped add to the weight.

  4. gedata
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    ” the latter has some surprising amount of depth behind the silly while the latter is shallow and forgettable once you leave the aesthetics behind”

    Methinks you should edit this sentence. That is all.

  5. Posted March 22, 2014 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    What? No love for the chase at the end of episode 2 of GC, perhaps the best animated car scene outside of Redline?

    Haven’t seen the Appleseed OVA, but it can’t be worse than Ex Machina – can it?

    • Scamp
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      That one? The one where the villain mysteriously decides not to kill the important character for no adequately explored reason? It wasn’t even that well animated either.

  6. Houdini
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “It wasn’t even that well animated either.”
    Please tell me you’re kidding. If not, enlighten me and show me those better animated car chases which you must undoubtedly know, if you think this one was merely mediocre. I’d LOVE to see some even better animated races!

    Gotta side with Ian K here, obviously. The car chase is one of the main things I remember about Gunsmith Cats because it was so impressively well made. Barring super-rare exceptions like Redline, we probably won’t see anything like it ever again in this post-Initial D era of ours, where crappy CGI cars are all the rage. Makes me kinda sad to know.

  7. Pyro
    Posted March 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    The Appleseed manga is superb. None of the adaptations have come anywhere close to doing it justice.

    I feel that, with the exception of GITS, attempts to animate Shirow’s works have been half-arsed at best. Perhaps it’s a budget issue, but still disappointing. An Appleseed adaptation of Stand Alone Complex quality would possibly be the best thing ever.

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