The Summer 2020 Preview Guide
No Guns Life 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
No Guns Life (TV 2) ?
What is this?
Juzo Inui is no stranger to danger and mystery, but he may finally have come face-to-muzzle with a case even he can't handle. After taking a bit of classified evidence as “payment” from a client, he's painted a target on his back, with the hired guns of Berühren and the enforcers of the Anti-Extended movement Spitzbergen looking to claim that valuable data for themselves. But this maelstrom can only get more complicated as a shadow from Juzo and Mary's past reveals itself, dredging up past pain and questions alike. The fate of Juzo, his companions, and all Extendeds now lies in his hands, and if he can't get locked & loaded he might not get the chance to pull the trigger at all.
How was the first episode?
After an unexpected extended wait, No Guns Life is back and picks up like it never left, literally. Save for a short recap to remind the audience of the basic premise and setting, the closing joke from Season 1's finale is exactly where this episode starts, before leading into a new case and threat for our muzzle-faced PI to take care of. Building off of the episode 12's initially standalone ghost story, we quickly find Juzo entangled in a 3-way war for the precious data capsule he took possession of during it. The bulk of this premiere is shuffling around pieces and characters to establish the stakes and lay seeds for future mysteries.
First, while Juzo is decoding the data (read: scrounging around a thrift shop for a cyberpunk tape deck to play it) Tetsuro and Chris are abducted by powersuit wearing agents of Spitzbergen, the Anti-Extended movement that seeks to topple Berühren and eliminate Extensions from the world. The data capsule, it turns out, is a recording of last season's villain Mega-Armed Tokisada admitting to his war crimes before he was assassinated. If that evidence gets into the right hands it could break the foundation of Extended society to its bedrock, which means Berühren's own goons aren't far behind in searching for it. To make matters worse, a faction within the security forces seems to be working independently from Olivier to get the evidence out of Juzo and Mary's hands, on top of pressing them on Spitzbergen's new assailant: Victor Steinberg, Mary's brother and Juzo's old partner in the war. It's a lot of details that could get confusing, but thankfully the show doles out enough info to keep everything straight without showing its hand for later mysteries. All told it's an effective raising of stakes from the initial season's political conspiracies, and there's a lot of potential for where the story can go from here.
Outside of the plotting and twists, NGL is still delivering just as much moody neo-noir energy as before, though the first season's shift towards more humor remains to balance out all the neon-splashed brooding. The promise of finally exploring Spitzbergen in more detail is perhaps the most interesting new element at play, as that part of NGL's world was the least explored but perhaps the most rife for the political commentary season 1 consistently delved into. I'd also be remiss not to mention the new OP and ED, with the former being a thumping mood setter from Hiroyuki Sawano and MAN WITH A MISSION vocalist Jean-Ken Johnny, and the latter featuring a raucously choreographed CG street fight rendered in Unreal Engine of all things. All in all it's easy to imagine watching this episode as if the 6 month wait never happened, and anyone who enjoyed No Guns Life's first round should be plenty happy to take another shot.
No Guns Life has only been off for two seasons, but boy, it feels like it has been longer. Perhaps in recognition of how COVID-19 caused it to take a longer-than-intended hiatus, the first couple of minutes provide a very brief recap of the first season. Despite that, you will probably still want to go back and review the last episode or two of the first season just to make sure you're up-to-speed with why current circumstances are the way they are.
This season picks up where the last season left off, with Juzo having obtained mysterious data. Here we discover why it was so carefully protected and why it is in such high demand: it could rock the establishment to the core by indicating that extensions are not inherently safe. Just about every title involving cyborgs being common has a plot gimmick like this as some point, so the twist here is no surprise. In fact, nothing which transpires in this episode is at all surprising, but I don't necessarily mean that only as a criticism; that also means that things are following logically from what has been established before. And yes, that still means that Tetsuro lacks even a shred of common sense and accordingly gets himself into trouble for it. Or has he finally wised up and got himself caught deliberately?
Mary's brother Victor has been mentioned before, but I believe that this is the first time that he has actually appeared. Either way, his appearance suggests that dealing with him is going to be a major plot point for the season. Another mysterious figure also looms in the scene near the end where Juzo and the landlord are getting led off, because what would a new season be without mysterious new figures being introduced? Also, the disembodied hand is really growing on me as a character. The technical effort by Madhouse is at least as sharp as it was in the first season; in fact, this may be one of the best-looking episodes of the series to date. The new opener is not an improvement, but I cannot go without commenting on new closer “Game Over.” The song is pretty good, too, but the visual production on this – where Juzo fights the other gun-headed guy as if they are in a fighting game – is stunning, so much so that I took the extremely rare step of choosing my screen shot from it. Even if you decide not to check the rest of the episode out, I recommend giving that a look.
In all, nothing here convinces me to make this one of my top-priority titles of the season, but nothing here convinces me to stop watching it, either.
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