At the start of this year, I reviewed the first season of No Guns Life, an hard boiled cyberpunk detective anime that brings the more noir elements of the cyberpunk genre to the fore, while still retaining some shonen action. The first season put a lot of focus on Juzo, the protagonist, working on a variety of cases that built out the world of the setting, but not necessarily the backstory. Season 2 instead shifts the focus back to Juzo, along with some of the supporting cast and their connections to him.
No Guns Life Season 2 doesn’t get into the super big question – why did Juzo Inui become a Gun Slave Unit? However, it does get into a bunch of other useful ones – what happened to Juzo’s Hands (the person who could pull the trigger on Juzo’s gun). What’s the background between Mary and Juzo? Why did Tetsuro have the Harmony unit installed? And perhaps the biggest one of this season – what is Behruren up to?
This leads to a lot more exploration of Juzo’s backstory. We don’t quite go on a Golden Age Arc level extended flashback, but we do get a lot more information, and a lot more flashbacks to after Juzo became a Gun Slave unit, and what he was doing in the Army. It gives the character a lot of character growth – and it also does a really good job keeping with some of the concepts of the Noir protagonist.
By way of explanation, part of what lead to the growth of the hard-boiled detective story is the sense of social malaise coming out of World War I. You had a lot of people who had served in the war in the trenches and had seen some truly horrific shit. Then, after the war was over, they were sent out into a society that they no longer felt they fit into, due to their own trauma. It’s like all the problems with reintegration Vietnam vets encountered, but even more so. All of that is then aggravated by issues in the US like veterans not getting promised bonuses, marching on Washington to get what they were owed, and then getting attacked by the US Army, lead by people who would later be touted as heroes in World War II – Douglas MacArthur and George Patton.
I bring that up here, because one of the flashbacks, very late in the series, involves the other Gun Slave Units doing something of a more militant take on the Bonus Army action, with Juzo being sent to fight them – and at the time choosing to do so due to feeling like he has no free will, with this being the moment that forced him to confront his actions and decide that he needs to change.
It all makes for a much stronger season that the first, which is good. This also makes the lack of announcement for a third season, as yet, a little disappointing. It’s entirely possible that they’re caught up with the manga for now, and it may be another year or more until we get No Guns Live Season 3. I like what we’ve gotten.
The show still has a few issues. While the OP by Hiroyuki Sawano is an absolute banger, with some gorgeous animation, the ED is musically alright, but animation-wise is kind of a mess. It’s aggravated by some of the kind of gross fanservice the show fits in – like Juzo having to fight a big bruiser who turns out to be a woman when she suffers a spectacular wardrobe malfunction causing Juzo to freak out because her tig-ol-bitties are hanging out. Or Mary spending a big chunk of one of the cases being damseld. It wasn’t enough of a problem for me to not watch the show, and I generally enjoyed the show in spite of it, but it’s enough of an issue that it annoyed me whenever it came up, and eventually, I ended up just fast-forwarding through the ED.
As with season 1, No Guns Life Season 2 is available for streaming on Funimation.
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