No Guns Life
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 17 of
No Guns Life ?
With that whole Victor mess temporarily out of the way, No Guns Life decides to kick back, take it easy, and follow the exploits of some weird old pervert. This is a deeply strange episode, and probably not the detour I would have advised taking for a change of pace, but here we are.
I actually don't mind how this story begins. With Olivier and Juzo alone together doing their half-flirting half-negotiating thing, the noir tropes were already pouring out of every crevice. The POV switch to Podpie, an old man in a trenchcoat with an even more hardboiled internal monologue than Juzo's, thus signaled to me that we were going the parodic route with this installment. And that's fine! No Guns Life has not been shy about exaggerating its noir aesthetic for comedy, and it indicates an awareness of the shortcomings of the genre.
The big problem, therefore, is that the central joke of the episode is neither funny nor in good taste. Podpie's interest in the many secretive goings-on around Juzo's office initially appears to be that of another private eye trying to squeeze out more information about the Mega-Armed recording. His behavior, however, quickly reveals—long before the narrative decides it's time to do so—that he's abusing his eye Extensions to peep under women's clothing. That's right, it's X-ray vision. If you can imagine every juvenile, sniggering joke you've ever seen/heard about using X-ray specs to look at women's underwear, then you already have a pretty complete picture of what this episode is like. For example, in one scene, Podpie's nose sprays a grotesque amount of blood at the sight of Scarlet's giant bazongas. When Mary comes over to investigate, he yells at her because of her comparatively flat chest. You know, comedy!
It's one thing for an intentionally comedic departure to not be funny, but this one is further worsened by how uninteresting a character Podpie is. The writing is at least savvy enough to know it has to punish him for being a creep and a harasser, but the ultimate thrust of the episode is rehabilitory. Podpie did unequivocally bad things with his eye Extensions, but the show uses this as yet another example of the dual ways this technology can help and hurt people. That, in theory, is fine, but Podpie gets painted as a victim of circumstance, when in actuality, he was infringing on people's privacy long before he went rogue. His whole job was looking for hidden evidence, and he only gave into his baser desires because that job, by design, means he ended up looking at the nude bodies of a lot of innocent people. If No Guns Life wanted this departure to work within the context of its established themes, it should've explored how technology developed for the purpose of “security” will inevitably be used to uphold the status quo at the expense of the marginalized.
Instead, Podpie gets away with a slap on the wrist and a chance to turn his life around. This is okay with Juzo, who vocalizes a parallel between Podpie's circumstances and his own—emphasizing the need to use their power for what is right, rather than succumbing to it and becoming a tool. Again, this is fine in the abstract, but in no way did we need to devote an entire episode to a huge pervert in order to reach this point. Hell, last week we already had Juzo lamenting the naïveté that led him to become a Gun Slave Unit. The only development we get on that in this episode is the name Noble Rot, which expresses both the idealism and the debasement inherent to his role in the war. While this leads to a nice little moment between him and Mary, it's really not worth the preceding shenanigans.
I didn't like this episode at all, which I hope doesn't come as a surprise at this point. Thankfully, however, it's not at all representative of No Guns Life's usual standard. Its humor is hit-or-miss, sure, but it's never before devoted a full episode to such a big whiff, so I'll chalk this one up as a fluke. And with both Tetsuro and Christina released from Spitzbergen's custody, it looks like we'll be back on the plot train next week. Is Tetsuro a Spitzbergen double-agent now? Does he even know where his allegiances lie at the moment? And will Mary teach Lefty any cool tricks? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know I'll be glad to leave this episode behind.
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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