No Guns Life
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 11 of
No Guns Life ?
In the spirit of the season, it's a wonderful life—unless, however, you have a comically oversized revolver where your head normally goes, and you currently happen to be minus one functioning arm. Our smoking gun of a detective Juzo gets battered and bruised pretty badly this week in No Guns Life, but unfortunately that doesn't translate into a very compelling installment of this cybernoir thriller. While it leads with a valiant attempt at a moody, action-heavy spectacle, it can't help but feel like a major swerve in tone after last week's more thoughtful treatment of Colt's plight. There's a time and a place for schlock, and I don't think this was it.
The prime suspect in this Case of the Lackluster Episode is Berühren's company resolver, the melodramatic and loosely-clothed Pepper. While she shares a job title with Juzo, the two of them couldn't be any more different, and in theory, I'm all for a flamboyant foil to Juzo's deliberately stone-like presence. The problem with Pepper is that she's distractingly over-sexualized, and not even in a fun way. First of all, any potential tension in the scene is undercut by the nagging thought in the back of my head that her boobs are about one second away from sliding out of her top. It's difficult to say that without sounding lecherous, but just look at this. There is NO undercarriage support happening here. This is a disaster waiting to happen. On a more serious note, however, her flagrant hypersexualization takes a turn for the gross when she starts talking about “owning” Juzo and gives his metal jawline a good licking. The femme fatale is certainly a familiar archetype to the noir genre, but Pepper's appearance and behavior are just too incongruous with the parts of No Guns Life that I like. Ironically, if this were a worse show, I wouldn't be as harsh on this.
What further exacerbates Pepper's presence in this scene is that it ultimately doesn't really go anywhere. The most important idea emphasized in their battle together is the further clarification of a Gun Slave Unit's original “purpose,” which is to literally be a tool of someone possessing a specific extension called a “Hands.” Pepper uses her sidekick, the soft-spoken Seven, to deal some major damage to Juzo (and, to Christina's chagrin, her building) thanks to her ability to unlock some of that scary automated weaponry we saw Juzo sport a few episodes back. Of course, this ties back into one of the key thematic thrusts of the show, which is Juzo's staunch refusal to allow either himself or his friends to become mere tools. A surprise flashback further clarifies where this impulse came from, as we see a short scene with the person who used to function as Juzo's “owner” (hence the name of the episode) during the war.
I'm sure we'll be seeing more of those memories in the future, and I'm frankly eager to see Juzo's character fleshed out more. He can be fun in doses—I love, for instance, how he makes a point of continuing to smoke his cigarette even as Seven blows his entire body clear out of the building and down into the alleyway. However, his aggressively hardboiled demeanor can only go so far and only be so appealing. There's a subdued theatricality to it, and I want to dig into the vulnerabilities he's trying to hide with his very conscious performance. His unflappable gun face belies some of that soft, squishy humanity we've all got inside of us.
Tetsuro and Mary very weirdly show up out of nowhere and Tetsuro does what he always does: recklessly uses Harmony in front of a Berühren lackey, shorts out his sub-brain, yet saves the day in spite of himself. Nevertheless, he continues to languish as he always does in his perceived inability to do anything for anyone. As with my thoughts about Juzo, I'm eager for Tetsuro's character development to break out of its so-far stagnant pattern, but here I like how his retreat into hiding functions both as a necessary means to escape detection, and as a manifestation of his own depression. He doesn't want to do anything or see anyone. He does, however, have a nice, quiet little scene with Juzo, and the two continue to grow closer in their imperceptibly machismo-poisoned way. Kronen also tells Juzo that Berühren has called off their search for Tetsuro, which despite appearances, cannot be good news.
I was honestly expecting us to gear up for a confrontation with Mary's brother for the season finale, but No Guns Life swerves completely away from that this episode. I guess we're saving that stuff for the second cour. However, we now have the best substitute plotline possible: a haunted house with a robot ghost. Or something to that effect, at least. This is arguably an even wilder swerve in tone than the one I complained about at the start of this review, but I'm actually very excited to see what goes down next week. I genuinely love it when shows decide to focus on a random ghost story apropos of exactly nothing else in the narrative. Think back to how good the “Toys in the Attic” episode of Cowboy Bebop was. While this installment of No Guns Life might have felt lacking, it still knows how to reel me back into its particular flavor of cyberpunk ridiculousness.
No Guns Life is currently streaming on FUNimation.
Steve loves two things: writing about anime and retweeting good Fate GO fanart on his Twitter.
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