GUNGRAVE Vol.1 Story and art: Yasuhiro Nightow Publisher: Dark Horse; 160 pages (ISBN: 1-593-07378-X) For teens 13+
WHEN his best friend killed him, Brandon Heat did the impossible for the sake of revenge: he came back from the grave. Called Beyond the Grave and armed with two powerful handguns and a coffin loaded with weapons, Brandon makes it his mission to wipe out the man who killed him: “Bloody” Harry MacDowell.
However, during his quest for vengeance, he has to protect two people who are closely involved with him: Asagi Mika, the daughter of an old friend, and Dr T, an old doctor who maintains Brandon’s bodily functions.
That’s the basic plot for Gungrave, yet the story contains so much more depth. Chapter One introduces the good and bad guys. The rest of the manga relates to the time when Brandon and Harry were younger and still friends.
The initial dangerous, dark and grave atmosphere in Chapter One abruptly gives way to a more laid-back, easy-going but just as dangerous setting. Buddies Brandon and Harry live off the streets with a bunch of friends. Harry is a playboy while Brandon is quiet but loyal to Harry and his girlfriend, Maria.
All this changes when they cross “Mad Dog” Ladd Carabel, a rogue mafia hitman. Their carefree lives now gone, they try to leave town.
Lucky for them, they are saved by another mafia organisation, Millennion. Quick-witted Harry promises to tie up their loose ends in town to prove themselves so that they can join Millennion.
Thus begin their new lives as they work to climb up the ladder to the top of Millennion’s ranks.
The flashback of Brandon and Harry’s past lives provides an insight into their characters and is a good way to give the story characters that many can easily relate to.
Art-wise, nothing much can be said since this manga is an anime-manga, meaning the whole book is filled with screen captures taken from the anime. On the plus side, these screen captures are printed in colour.
However, Gungrave is wordy for a manga as the entire dialogue used in the anime is carried over. Fans of the Gungrave game and anime will enjoy this manga.