No Guns Life
Episode 16

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 16 of
No Guns Life ?

Victor, a man divided in both the physical and philosophical senses, continues to wrestle with his beliefs in this week's episode of No Guns Life. With the original Victor's brain tucked far away in whatever cyberhole is currently hiding his body, Mary steps in to argue on her brother's behalf against his split serial killer personality. Can the redeeming value of Extended augmentations counteract the abuses delivered through them by way of the Berühren corporation, or is the other Victor correct to dismantle first and ask questions later?

Before I get further into that line of thought, however, I'm reminded that a small but consistent frustration I have with No Guns Life is its ability to introduce interesting ideas without exploring them as much as I'd like. Admittedly, some of this is impatience stemming from the slow-burn nature of No Guns Life's storytelling, and we may revisit such ideas at some point down the road. We don't appear to be in any kind of hurry, and I do actually appreciate that. On the other hand, I really wanted to dig into Avi's exasperation about law enforcement for people with Extensions, particularly in regards to the difficulty of confirming their identities. If you're able to have fully-articulated robot bodies that you can even control remotely, the certainty of one's own self falls into a well-trodden yet perpetually murky philosophical swamp. Lots of sci-fi stories deal with such themes. But the police's relationship with technology is an issue that grows more troubling with each passing year, and I'd really like to explore the levels of technofascism desired by cops in this setting. The whole matter of policing people in world of interchangeable bodies also reminds of something Kaiba would have explored, and that's always a good show to be reminded of.

Juzo, thankfully, shuts down Avi's aspirations before he can hurt Mary or find Original Victor. In doing so, though, Juzo also provides a convenient example of how Extensions can both hurt and help people. His body is a weapon manufactured by Berühren, and in his desperation to save Mary, he deliberately eschews his moral code and lets the base programming take over at great risk to both himself and everyone around him. Other Victor later remarks that he could very well have gone berserk and leveled the city, which is a salient if slightly hypocritical point coming from a dude called “The Dismantler.” Nevertheless, thanks to Victor's help, Juzo doesn't go postal and instead gets a shiny new pair of arms to punch Avi with. We non-Extended fleshbags cannot store spare limbs in a secret spring-loaded dorsal cartridge, and that sucks. While it's one of the more ridiculously elaborate cyborg augmentations we've seen so far, that doesn't change the fact that it would be nice if spare human parts were so readily available.

This conflict between Extensions as care and Extensions as corruption makes up the core of the argument between Other Victor and Mary. Other Victor, calmed and humbled by his new frailer body, reveals through his dialogue's subtext that his personal vendetta against the Extended grew out of the same egotism that led him to pursue military research in the first place. Once convinced that his talent was the key to advancing Extended technology, he now believes that he alone can put a stop to it. Other Victor, in this respect, is basically a personification of the hubris that led to Original Victor's downfall. Consequently, his perfect foil is Mary, who instead chose to model herself after her brother's life and aspirations before he left for the military. Mary holds neither herself nor Extensions on a pedestal, and instead puts her stock into the people who use them. Unsurprisingly, this is also No Guns Life's stance on the issue, and the writing has been pretty unambiguous about it as recently as last week's episode. However, grounding this argument in an emotional confrontation between Mary and her pseudo-brother aids the effectiveness of its delivery.

This won't be the last we see of these themes either, with the introduction of yet another instrumental figure in Extended history who has since turned into a terrorist with a creepy face. Professor Wachowski's motivations are still murky, but so too are Tetsuro's. Not unlike Victor, Tetsuro currently finds himself straddling two identities: the fugitive test subject on the run, and the Berühren CEO's rebellious teen terrorist-aligned son. There's no mystery why he's currently fighting back against Berühren, but it's interesting to consider what could've spurred him to betray the family business before he got turned into a lab experiment. In fact, it's very likely those two things are related. His amnesia may be plot-convenient, but it also allows No Guns Life to continue gleefully pitting its characters' past selves against their current selves. In that light, I've actually come around to find his character arc at least potentially interesting, depending on what decisions he makes and why he makes them. And he has some big ones to make in the near future.

Last week, I pondered what Juzo's motivations might have been for becoming a Gun Slave Unit, and postulated that he might not have done so with full autonomy. I'm pleased, therefore, that he broaches the subject himself this week, albeit in a fittingly wry manner deriding the “grand ideals” that he possessed at the time. Juzo is outrunning his past as a weapon, but he's also apparently outrunning his past as the kind of person willing to sacrifice his body and liberty for his country. I wonder which one of those bothers him more.

Anyway, Tetsuro might still be stuck with Spitzbergen, but at least Juzo has arms again. And while Mary's brother complex might not be completely alieved yet, it's good that she was able to articulate her philosophy and measured optimism in a way that seemed to reach Other Victor. Plus, she managed to declaw him, so hopefully he'll be murdering less often. Hopefully. It's nice to see Olivier and her unimpeachable lipstick game back in action as well. Overall, this episode pushes the characters and themes forward in a satisfying manner, closing the book on Victor for now, but opening the door for plenty of noir-tinged cyber-conspiracy on the horizon.

Rating:

No Guns Life is currently streaming on FUNimation.

When he's not writing about sentient gun detectives, Steve can be found on Twitter probably talking about vtubers or something.


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