It’s pretty difficult to decide if this show was good or bad, but it’s easy to say it was cool. Very, very cool.
When it came to both writing and presentation, there’s very little Gangsta did wrong at first. The world was interesting, the characters were distinct, the pacing was leisurely in all the right ways, and the atmosphere moved seamlessly between brutal intensity and tender relief. More importantly, it knew how to integrate its characters and setting into a central theme: how people deal with power. Apart from the dirty streets and towering buildings, the city of Ergastulum is characterized as a world built upon power. Regardless of their status or innate strength, order is maintained when someone holds dominance in one or more aspect. Power between a client and hire, power between a pimp and his whore, power between a gang and its thugs, power between the government and mafia, and of course, power between super-strengthened twilights and normals. Of course no one wants to be the punching bag forever, so power shifts by choice or fate, posing a danger to anyone involved. Corpses would pile, buildings would shatter, and someone would get a hefty price.
But much like how Alex was saved with a single shot, Nic and Worick paint a much brighter picture for the pain of this world. Here we have two rejects who came from entirely different backgrounds, met when their world was crumbling, and practice a profession guaranteed to make enemies. But through years of hardship spent together, they managed to form a partnership that cover each other’s weak points while taking full advantage of their arsenal. And honestly, following these two was what sold the first half of the show. Seeing Nic unleash the beast against punks while communicating in sign language or Worick smooth talking his way into clients while occasionally emptying a bullet shell gave an element of thrill to these harsh situations. They make DANGER SEEM SEXY, and this notion reflects in who they interactwith and the overall presentation of the show. Some like Gina and Monroe try to keep them in check, some like Doug and Chad have their day rocked whenever they enter, and some like Nina and Alex take joy in healing their wounds. And despite the ominous nature of Ergastulum, the fact that it has such vibrant colors, detailed architecture, and gorgeous lighting gives off the feeling that this city is alive.
Which is why when it suddenly shifts focus to a city-wide super-powered gang war with vaguely-defined racism as the motive, it falls flat on its face. Not only does it stray away from everything I loved about the 1st half, but involves a central motive that isn’t properly explained and a pack of crazy villains who’re introduced out of the blue. It’s not like the 2nd half couldn’t have worked, since the fear of twilights was hinted from the start and naturally the chaos of shifting powers would escalate this far. But because we never got to see HOW this stigma got started, it feels completely unwarranted and underwhelming. Furthermore, the villains meant to reflect this madness seem to contradict their own motives, hunting twilights by the hundreds despite ALSO BEING TWILIGHTS THEMSELVES. Proper context and fleshed-out backstories could’ve solved all of this, but it simply didn’t have enough time to do so in between the transition. Heck the worst part about it is that it didn’t even have time to finish the conflict, or anything else for that matter. From its character motivations to its overarching story to even its freaking fight animations, it runs out of steam once it loses the grounded, personal focus of the first half. It lose itself in this limbo until it runs out of screentime and just ends, with zero sense of closure or even the promise of a sequel.
Sorry for not writing in quite a while, but shows like these are what left me at a loss for words. It’s a shame that something so captivating became a chore to watch as it went on. All the style and intrigue it had at the start became meaningless by the end of the show. It’s even more depressing once you consider Manglobe is now bankrupt after this show, so the chances of this ever getting a sequel is close to nill. I still recommend watching the first 6 episodes as they’re mostly standalone stories, and i’ll probably read the manga just so I leave on a high note. But the bitter taste it left in my mouth makes it, in my opinion, the biggest letdown of the year (not the worst, but most disappointing).