No Guns Life
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 12 of
No Guns Life ?
This week on Ghost in the Bullet Shell, Juzo and Mary have a real spook of a time investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the orphaned daughter of a murdered detective. Okay, admittedly, this episode doesn't end up being as heavy on the haunted house shenanigans as I had been building up in my mind, but it still manages to be a nice little self-contained example of what No Guns Life does best. It has a mystery, it has a surprising degree of thoughtfulness, and it ties everything together with a beautifully dumb action spectacle.
The central case this time around is exceedingly straightforward, so I don't mind at all that it gets introduced and resolved before the midpoint commercial break. Rosa's fear of the Extended stems from the belief that her parents were murdered by one, and that feeds into the supposed haunting happening around her. Danny is her almost-immediately-suspicious caretaker and former partner to her father, so it's of no surprise when he turns out to be the culprit. Seriously, it's five minutes into the episode, and the dude is already literally trying to shake the MacGuffin out of Rosa. The show, however, expects the audience to pick up on this just as quickly, and consequently it lets Juzo have some fun when it reaches the whodunit point. It's fun to see Danny jump and squirm as Juzo deliberately messes with him.
Rosa ends up being the complicating factor, as her trauma prevents her from trusting our revolver-headed hero. Obviously the long arc of the episode is that she eventually learns it was unfair of her to place all of the blame on all people with Extensions, but I do like that she isn't depicted as unreasonably hysterical. In fact, in a show that hasn't been consistently great about its female characters, I'm glad she and Mary get a quiet scene together. Mary is particularly delightful this week, with moments that highlight both her measured bedside manner and her mechanic-related eccentricity. She's an animated counterpoint to the stoic sadsacks that Juzo and Tetsuro often end up being, and No Guns Life should utilize her even more in its second cour. Or at least it should let her drive more rad cyber-motorcycles.
Tragically, our cyber-motorcycle time is cut short this week, but it does make for a highly enjoyable climactic action scene. Leading up to it, there's some legit good tension as Rosa does come to realize that the man in the car with her is not, in fact, her friend. Danny's appeal to her hatred of Extendeds is a conniving play, and thankfully Rosa has a good enough head on her shoulders to trust her father over her prejudices. And while the show telegraphs the last-minute intervention of the disembodied cyborg hands pretty blatantly, it's still satisfying to see them come to her rescue as both an avatar of her late father's love for her and a refutation of her distrust. It's not the Extended themselves that are the problem; it's Berühren's control over everything to do with them. Juzo and Mary in hot pursuit on their motorcycle is just icing on this dumb action cake. All my love goes out to the animators for having an apparent ton of fun contorting Mary's windswept face into a bevy of exaggerated expressions.
In a rare move for No Guns Life, it ends up being a pretty happy ending for all involved. Rosa survives and learns to grow past her prejudice. Juzo does his tough guy thing and frames his obvious attempt to help Rosa as a heartless collection of his job fee, taking her memory chip MacGuffin with him and consequently removing the target from her back. Mary of course sees right through him, and although she no longer has a cyber-motorcycle to play with, she does get a new adorable pet cyborg arm to take care of (and possibly dissect).
This side story doesn't do much to further No Guns Life's overarching plot, but it does create a nice note to end the first season on. Since we're getting another cour in the spring, there really isn't much reason for there to be an air of finality in this episode. Instead, NGL takes the opportunity to remind us that it can craft a fairly complete and compelling hardboiled narrative in just 20 minutes. With so much anime being produced, and so much of that anime being limited to a single cour, it's good to see a show that appreciates its uncommon privilege to let itself languish in its setting for a little while. There are already plenty of dangling plot threads (Berühren's pursuit of Tetsuro, Juzo's wartorn past, Mary's estranged brother, etc.) that the second half will surely pick up on. For now, No Guns Life has established itself as cyberpunk noir worth watching, and I'm eager to see what this smoking gun has in store for 2020.
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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