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To protect is to never betray.
A series of "stylish action/shooters" in the vein of Devil May Cry, released for the PlayStation 2, minus the platforming and puzzle-solving.
Gungrave (2002): The original game revolves around a former hitman named "Brandon Heat", who had been been betrayed and murdered by his former best friend, Harry MacDowel, about fifteen years ago. However, Brandon's body was brought back to "life" through the Necrolization Project--an advanced technology that can reanimate the dead. Brandon was reborn as "Beyond the Grave", a techno-engineered gunslinging revenant. He receives his necessary sidearms from a young girl named Mika (who just so happens to be the daughter of the former head of the Syndicate). Seeking his protection, Mika returns to Grave his pair of massively-sized handguns, the "Left Head and Right Head" (or "Cerberus" for short). Grave's caretaker and creator, Dr. T., also provides him with a secondary weapon, the "Coffin", a large device stocked with multiple heavy weapons.
Now armed, Grave can set out for his mission--to destroy the Millenion Syndicate, the very organization he used to work for, in this darkly twisted tale of love, loss, betrayal, and revenge.
Gungrave: Overdose (2004): Three years has passed since the first game, while Grave has been placed into hibernation. Unfortunately, the deadly drug called "Seed" has resurfaced and Mika Asagi, now Grave's young ward, knows all too well of the chaos that will ensue if the drug spreads worldwide. Thus she awakens Grave for his protection and help once again. The game introduces two new playable characters--Juji Kabane (a swordsman skilled with flaming sword techniques and fellow deadman), and Rocketbilly Redcadillac (a rockabilly ghost haunting an electric guitar and a friend of Juji's). A supporting character is also introduced--a young amnesiac boy genius who calls himself Spike Hubie, whom Mika met on her travels.
Each playable character learns various types of Demolition Shots and have different normal skills than others. Juji excels with close-range combat but his guns are much weaker than the other two players. Rocketbilly Redcadillac has poor melee ability but possesses the best long-range abilities of the three, while Grave himself is fairly balanced.
Gungrave (anime, 2003): The 26-episode anime is an alternate retelling of the original video game. It follows Brandon's life from his start as a "street punk", to his rise as a Millenion sweeper, to his "fall" and rebirth as Grave. Despite having the same cast, the anime comes at the same basic plot from a more character-driven angle, and is best considered an Alternate Continuity. It definitely holds its own, and is recommended to anyone who's fond of mafia drama in the vein of The Godfather.
Created and designed by Yasuhiro Nightow, the creator of Trigun and Kekkai Sensen.
Kick Their Ass! (with examples!)
Tropes That Apply To Both Series
- A Boy and His X: A Girl And Her Undead Gunslinging Bodyguard. They Fight Crime.
- A God Am I / Big Bad: Harry in the original video game and the anime, Garino in Overdose.
- Affably Evil: Most of Millenion's members (and therefore most of the main cast) when you think about it. This series is sort of built on this trope.
- Anyone Can Die
- Arc Words: "To protect is to never betray."/"You have to survive, Mika." (or some variant on "Mika must live").
- Avenging the Villain: In Overdose, Sherry, the wife of Harry MacDowell returns as a necrolizer to exact revenge against Grave, who had killed Harry. Grave also killed Sherry's father, Bear Walken, so Sherry's none too pleased about that. And then there's Balladbird, who doesn't take Bob's death well.
- Ax Crazy / Knife Nut: Balladbird Lee after becoming a Superior and later on, finding out that his closest friend Bob was defeated by Grave.
- Badass: Billy, Juji, all of the Big Four, and of course, the main character himself.
- Badass and Child Duo
- Badass Longcoat: Grave's badass tailcoat, which he replaces in O.D. with a...badass jacket? Juji has also has one.
- Badass Normal: Zell Condorbrave in Overdose. Though only human, he and his squadron have fought many a deadman, even killing four of them. In the anime, Brandon before becoming Grave definitely, definitely counts. Brandon can throw a mean right hook that hits almost as hard as a Falcon Punch...
- BFG: The coffin and the Center Head.
- Back From the Dead: The key element in Beyond the Grave's origin/creation story.
- Big Bad: Harry in the first game and anime; Garino in Overdose.
- Blessed with Suck: As a deadman/necrolizer, Grave is gifted with regeneration, immense physical strength, heightened agility and Nigh Invulnerability. The price he pays for his "necrolized" body is that he has lost almost all of his memories, and he's mostly incapable of feeling emotion. The blood in his body (as in, all the blood in his whole body) must also be replaced periodically. Otherwise he won't last longer than a week or so, as he'll steadily "decompose" and revert back to true death.
- Rocketbilly, being a ghost, can only physically interact with his guitar. However, bullets and such go right through him without harm. Juji is half-deadman and half-seed/orgman. He is constantly using a meditation technique to keep both sides in balance. Doing so allows him to override the typical deadman weakness of needing blood transfusions. However, if he ever stops his meditation, it seems that he will either die or lose his free will to his seed half.
- Big Eater: Bob Poundmax, in the anime he's a jovial fellow, but in the game he's portrayed as a boorish prick.
- Bittersweet Ending
- In the anime: Grave and Harry reconcile and realize that they share the blame for their mutual downfall, deciding to commit suicide together instead of being killed by the Millenion splinter-faction. Everyone they ever cared about (save Mika) is dead as a direct result of their actions, and everything they worked for has been destroyed. Mika is free to live her life, but everyone that mattered to her is gone, leaving her alone.
- In the game(s): Grave and Mika are both at peace, but with Dr. Tokioka gone, Mika had to seal Grave away and learn the mechanics of taking care of him, leaving the city behind. In O.D. the world is made safe again from the scourge of seed... but Spike is lost in the process, and Billy and Juji can't be a permanent part of Mika's life due to their nature as drifters. Grave, being what he is and what it takes to sustain him, can't be with Mika all the time; his time with her will always be brief and he must be sealed away again, leaving Mika alone once more.
- Black and Grey Morality: With the exception of Mika and Maria, most characters in the series are either Affably Evil or examples of Even Evil Has Standards. Some, however, are just brutal, ruthless, and unquestionably evil.
- Bottomless Magazines: Grave and company all have infinite ammo. Partially subverted in the anime because ammo does run out... from time to time.
- Career Killers
- Chained by Fashion: Grave, who carries the coffin chained to his upper arms in the game, whereas in the anime he totes it around on his shoulder like a bag.
- Cool Shades: Bunji and Bear. Grave has a nifty pair of Cool Glasses.
- Concept Art Gallery: Two for the games, one for the anime.
- Crapsack World: Early on, Harry and Brandon leave a dangerous life of street crime for a more secure but equally immoral and violent life in the Millenion Organization. There doesn't appear to be many other options. Crime runs rampant, law enforcement seems almost non-existent, and in the game's storyline alien parasites attempt to invade the world, and their only reason to live is to reproduce by corrupting other lifeforms.
- Creepy Cool Crosses: A central element of Grave's original battle outfit.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Virtually everyone.
- Death By Origin Story: Grave.
- Disconnected by Death: A Millenion Mook named Jude.
- Equal Opportunity Evil: The organization's members include a Chinese guy, a Japanese guy, a guy with an Irish last name, and an ambiguously black guy.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While Millenion is a murderous criminal organization they're still bound to a code of honor.
- Bunji Kugashira is an expy of Nicholas D. Wolfwood of Trigun.
- Fangoram wields the massive gun Center Head, the last of the Cerberus series, and it closely resembles Wolfwood's Cross Punisher.
- Grave in the anime has a striking resemblance to Legato Bluesummers and Dante; in the video game, he looks more like a cross between Wolfwood and Antonio Banderas (?).
- Mika resembles a younger, white-haired Meryl Stryfe.
- Eyes Always Shut: Balladbird Lee... except when he opens them.
- Eyes of Gold: Brandon/Grave, post-transformation.
- Eyepatch of Power: Grave.
- Eye Scream / Moe Greene Special: How Brandon loses his left eye and killed. Won't go into the horrible things done to poor Juji.
- Gangsta Style: Grave/Brandon does this sometimes, and it actually works.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: The one over where Grave's left eye used to be, along with his body being full of scars he suffered during his brutal murder.
- Gonk: Bob
- The Gunslinger
- Guns Akimbo: The Left Head and Right Head of Cerberus, Grave's beloved pair of guns. Bunji has his own set of dual-guns as well.
- Hand Cannon: Cerberus.
- In the anime, when human Brandon has to fight the first Necrolyzed Zombie-people and learns that you have to physically tear them apart to take them down, he obtains a huge revolver whose recoil throws him back several feet and physically hurts him after a few shots.
- This gun is supposed to be a Wildey, the one used by Charles Bronson in Death Wish 3.
- Healing Factor: Grave's regenerative abilities, and one of the reasons why he requires the transfusion of whole blood periodically.
- Heterosexual Life Partners (Harry and Brandon)
- Hey, It's That Voice!
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Grave towers over his young ward Mika.
- Improbable Aiming Skills
- Immune to Bullets: Grave isn't completely immune to bullets, but because of his regeneration ability he has a high resistance to them, as long as they're not modified to specifically weaken him.
- I Will Protect Her: Grave --> Mika
- Leitmotif: A few characters have one, Grave included.
- Keigo: Balladbird Lee and Randy both speak in a very polite way even to their underlings.
- Meaningful Name: Guess how much a guy named Bob Poundmax weighs?
- Not to mention his One-Winged Angel form.
- Morality Pet: Mika is very much one for Grave in both series; in the anime, Bunji gets a cat, and Harry has Bear Walken's daughter, Sherry.
- More Dakka: Going up against things like the Orgmen and gangsters hopped up on a super-drug, Grave understands the need for it.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Beyond the Grave".
- Nice Hat: Grave.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: And how!
- Offhand Backhand
- One-Man Army: Grave.
- One-Winged Angel
- Our Zombies Are Different: Grave is a techno-zombie created by mad science, but he's in no way mindless or evil, doesn't need to eat and his need for blood to function is his one "real" weakness.
- Papa Wolf: Grave is highly protective of Mika. Threaten her life and you're in for a world of hurt. In the anime, Bear in regards to his daughter Sherry.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: Grave and Juji?
- Playing with Syringes: The Necrolyzation Project.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Bear, Bunji in O.D. and the Orgmen.
- Rule of Cool: The series as a whole runs on it.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge
- Sealed Badass in a Can: Grave.
- Serial Escalation: Just how over-the-top can those demolition shots get? How ridiculously large can the guns get? How much more we can break everyone in the anime? What kind of ridiculously awesome weapon will Grave pull out of his coffin this time? How twisted and mutatey can the bosses get? ...You get the idea. Of course, this is part of the fun of the series.
- Smoking Is Cool: Bunji.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the anime, Bear Walken's elite sweeper unit, the Overkills. In the games, this is pretty much the point of Demolition Shots.
- The Syndicate: Millenion.
- Troperrific: Given that it's an obscure, absurd and over-the-top zombie shoot-em-up that combines both mafia and sci-fi/zombie fantasy elements...
- Villain with Good Publicity: The Millenion organization keeps up a fairly polished public front.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Mik
- Zettai Ryouiki: Mika, in the anime and original game. Fluctuates between Rank A and B, except for one erroneous frame where her stockings disappear entirely.
Tropes That Apply To The Video Games
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The first half of Stage 5 in the first game takes place in one.
- Action Game
- Alien Invasion: The drug "seed" is actually derived from a parasitic alien lifeform that takes over its hosts and turns them into a Hive Mind.
- Alliterative Name: Rocketbilly Redcadillac.
- All There in the Manual: A sizable portion of the Backstory is only explained in the anime and the artbooks.
- Awesomeness Meter
- Battle Aura: Juji has his fiery aura as default, whereas Grave and Billy get one during the final boss battle of O.D.
- The Big Guy: Grave is enormous in the games, much more so than in the image at the top of the page. Though it's mostly from his clothing being about 30% more over the top in the games.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Rocketbilly Redcadillac.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Garino.
- Body Horror: Low-quality seed is sold as an enhancement/designer drug, which makes the user stronger than normal and resilient, but also usually makes the user insane. The pure form of seed? You explode into a giant, malformed monster.
- Bullet Time: The "slow" feature in the original game, but was only a cosmetic thing. In O.D. it takes the form a Demolition Shot: Time slows and enemy attacks can be evaded more easily.
- Charged Attack
- (Collect-type) The Demolition Shot Gauge, which is filled by "keeping the beat"--shooting enemies and objects in rapid succession to raise the Beat Counter. When enough beat is absorbed, a Demolition Shot can be used.
- (Hold-type) In O.D. holding down the shot button will cause the character's projectile weapon to glow (Juji is unable to do this but he able to charge up his melee weapon). Let go of the button and the character does a strong shot combo.
- Cloning Blues: Spike, who only saw Mika as a tool, because she's the only one who can summon Grave--he wanted Grave to kill his (Spike's) creator, Garino.
- Combined Energy Attack: Grave, Billy, and Juji combining their powers for a Triple Final Demolition Shot to finally finish off Garino in O.D..
- Die, Chair, Die! / Rewarding Vandalism: Destroying inanimate objects is crucial for getting a high beat count.
- Disability Superpower: Juji Kabane.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: In the original game Grave couldn't shoot while running, and could only melee attack with the Coffin while standing still. In the second game all three playable characters are set to Run as default, and all three characters can run full tilt while dishing out the pain.
- Dual-Wielding: Juji wields a pair of red gunblades!
- Elevator Action Sequence: In both games.
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: The final battle of O.D., in which your character gains unlimited demolition.
- Everything Fades
- Evolving Attack: Collecting enough skull points usually upgrades the character's demolition shot (Death Blow to Hellhound Roar, any of the Slow Time shots, etc)
- Fantastic Drug: Seed, a designer drug sold on the black market with mysterious origins. Used for its potent euphoric effects, but eventually leads to death. And then there's its real purpose...
- Finishing Move / Coup De Grace Cutscene: In the original game, the Graveyard Special, only can be done starting with Bob in stage three. When a boss' health is low, the Demolition Gauge blinks, and if Grave has at least one stock of energy, pressing triangle breaks the fight away to a scene of a graveyard, where Grave stylishly finishes the boss off with a more elaborate version of his Demolition Shots. In O.D., the fatality shots are done after the boss' life meter is zero.
- At the end of the original game, Grave holds his gun to Harry's head, and doesn't fire unless the player presses the shoot button.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: In the original game, the Alien Head.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Spike. One pair of goggles on his helmet, another pair hanging from his neck, and to top it off he's wearing glasses so large he'd have a hard time wearing either pair.
- Gun Twirling: Grave.
- Harder Than Hard: Kick-Ass mode.
- Heroic Build: Game Grave takes this to almost Rob Liefeld levels; the way he's proportioned would allow him to grasp his entire head in one hand.
- Heroic Mime: Grave, who's so quiet he doesn't even grunt or yell when taking damage.
- Hub Level: Dr. T.'s safehouse in the first game, Mika's truck in the second game.
- Idle Animation
- In the original game, Grave cycles through 3 animations: Gun Twirling, cracking his neck and shoulders, or being annoyed by a bug buzzing around him, which he shoots without looking.
- In O.D. Grave still does gun twirling, Billy tweaks his guitar and runs a hand across his hair and Juji looks skyward (or possibly is silently laughing or just stretching).
- The Kid with the Remote Control: Mika is the only one who can call upon and control Grave.
- Life Meter: And a shield meter, too.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Grave's Lv. 2 area shot, "Doom's rain".
- Mirror Boss: Bunji Kugashira
- Mission Control: Dr. T. in the original game, Mika and Spike in O.D.
- Musical Assassin: Rocketbilly Redcadillac.
- Playing with Fire: Juji and his cursed flaming aura.
- Psycho Serum / Applied Phlebotinum: The weird blue-white chemical that forms the mysterious and dangerous drug called "seed".
- Rank Inflation
- Recurring Riff: Gunlock Overdrive, the Main Theme of both of the games.
- Score Screen: Tallies up Grave's (or Billy's or Juji's) performance at the end of the stage or act and if they racked up enough skulls, a reward of a new demolition shot or new option to fiddle with is given.
- Something About a Rose: Rocketbilly's "Roses from Heaven" demolition shot. Multiple roses of explodey doom!
- Sphere of Destruction: "Cerberus O.D."
- Storming the Castle
- Stuff Blowing Up
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: In the original game, the alien head in Millenion's tower. In O.D., the AI in the Starship.
- Tragic Monster: Big Daddy, Brandon's father and mentor figure, is the final boss of the first game as he was mutated into a horrific monstrosity because of Harry's vile experiments.
- The Power of Rock: Billy's way of attacking (okay its a dynamo but he is fucking killing people by rocking)
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: In the original game, the Millenion's Tower. In O.D., the alien starship.
Tropes That Apply To The Anime
- Anime Theme Song: Averted as the show kept the OP "Family" throughout its run, and it's also an instrumental.
- The Atoner: Dr. Tokioka.
- Berserk Button: If Big Daddy hadn't brought up Brandon in Harry's office, the former might still be alive. Mentioning Big Daddy around Harry isn't gonna earn any points with him, either.
- Blood Knight: Bloodwar/Brad Wong.
- Break the Cutie: Everybody.
- Bring It On: Grave has a tendency to wiggle his finger at his opponents.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Brandon had to chose between the Code of Iron and his best friend.
- As did a few other characters, including Bear and his friend.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The anti-Superior bullets.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait: Young Brandon.
- Evil vs. Evil: Lightning vs. Millenion. Though Lightning is considerably more evil.
- First-Episode Resurrection: First episode begins with post-transformation Brandon, waking up after about fifteen years of sleep.
- Go Out with a Smile: Grave and Harry die together with a smile.
- Innocuously Important Episode: Episode 1 seems like standard shoot-em-up fare, but the second episode completely changes the tone to a Mafia Drama.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason why Brandon left Maria to Big Daddy.
- Jabba Table Manners: Bob revoltingly inhaling chicken drumsticks by the bucketful.
- Kill'Em All: Mika is the only one who survives to the end of the anime.
- Lampshade Hanging: Played straight when Harry points out Bob Poundmax's ridiculous appetite.
Harry: "I see your appetite is as astounding as always, Bob."
- Laser-Guided Karma: It would be easier to list who doesn't qualify for this.
- Living on Borrowed Time
- Locked Into Strangeness: Brandon's hair turning silver post-transformation.
- Mafia Princess: Maria, Sherry.
- Mob War: The Lightning Group vs. Millenion.
- Odd Friendship: Lee and Bob are different like night and day, but they apparently really care for each other, especially Lee.
- The Other Darrin: Deliberately invoked with Harry's two voice actors, Kenji Hamada (young Harry) and Tsutomu Isobe (old Harry) who would normally sound very different, but the change from one to the other is near seamless.
- Note: This does not apply to the English dub, where the two sounded very different and laughed differently.
- Outside Man Inside Man: Harry and Brandon.
- Please Don't Leave Me
- Pyrrhic Villainy: Harry.
- Say My Name: "BRAAAAAAANNNNNNDOOOONNNN!"
- The anime loves this trope, especially in its second half.
- That Man Is Dead:
Dr. Tokioka: By the way, he's not called Brandon. That name no longer belongs to him. He is called...Grave. Call him...Beyond the Grave.
- The Quiet One: Brandon only has a few speaking lines per episode, though he still manages to narrate the "next episode" bits and such. He starts to speak a little more when he begins to fall apart due to blood deprivation.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Jolice, Kenny, and Nathan.
- Shout-Out: The Thomases in episode 5, which are the creatures used for transportation in Trigun, two of them being named "Chapel" and "Stampede".
- The black/purple cowboy outfit and the fact that he is carrying a coffin full of weapons is probably a shout-out to Django.
- Tears of Remorse: After Brandon confessed that he kept on choosing Harry over Millenion and that he had no regrets, Harry just wailed out how sorry he was that he had killed him.
- Together in Death: The anime ends with Grave and Harry committing mutually-assisted suicide, to go back to the "freedom" they once had.
- Tragic Hero: Brandon and Harry, very much so.
- Undying Loyalty: Brutally deconstructed. A lot of characters, especially Brandon, end up ruining their lives due to this.
- Villainous Breakdown: Harry, progressively, from the time he kills Brandon on.
- Whole-Episode Flashback: Pretty much the entire first half of the anime.
For doing what was right for The Family...he was murdered.