Gunsmith Cats

November 16, 2012

Girls with guns. Don’t mess with them. And if they have a partner who specializes in bombs, you better not get on the wrong side of their books. You’ll get more holes than a Swiss cheese if you push the wrong buttons. Folks, meet the female combo team duo in Gunsmith Cats. Irene “Rally” Vincent is more than just a gunslinger with a pretty face with extensive knowledge with anything to do with guns and is equally skilled in using them while Minnie “May” Hopkins may look like a petite kid but don’t underestimate her highly self styled bombs that she makes. On the surface they may seem to run a gun shop but underneath it all, they are bounty hunters. Hey, if the police can’t take down the rampant outlaw gangs, you might as well want to use these babes to get the job done.

Based on the manga of the same name, this series has been adapted into 3 OVA episodes in 1995 and from what I read, the OVAs are not directly adapted from the manga and are considered more of an original animation story. That’s because from what I read it leaves out lots of major characters from the comic and inserts anime-only supporting characters and the plot that isn’t based on any of the manga’s chapters. So it’s like using the main characters but in a whole new different story. That’s not a bad thing, right? Well, that depends. Because it didn’t follow the events in the manga, some would classify this as a filler. After all, I didn’t really read the manga. As long as we can see them busting around with guns and bombs then I’m okay with that.

Episode 1
Jonathan Washington thought he got a wrong call from a girl when he realizes the sh*t he is in. He quickly gets up and tries to arm himself but a smoke bomb is dropped at his feet. He is arrested by bounty hunter Rally and her partner May. Back at her shop, Rally learns from Becky that even though Washington was arrested for drug charges, they have not found any drugs. Rally wants her to investigate more. Sure. If she pays. A customer comes into her store as recommended by Roy to order a gun. After he leaves, William “Bill” Collins from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) comes in. He wants them to help out with a sting. Seems that Washington guy was handling guns and not drugs so he was trying to sell them to pay for his bail. Rally caught him before he could do that. So he wants them to contact him and ‘do business’ with him so they can catch him in the act of selling firearms. Since he can’t pay, the girls aren’t interested in the conversation anymore. However Bill resorts to blackmail tactic and has researched the illegal firearms and explosives they possess. No choice but to cooperate. If they’re successful, he’ll get them the licence to sell those stuffs and also tax deductions. Bill makes his way out and the girls show him the middle finger. The girls leave for home and discuss about Bill’s offer. And badmouth him. Unknown to them, Bill and his team are staking outside their house. They heard everything… Late that night, a group of thugs break into their house to steal weapons. Little do they know, they have sounded the silent alarm. Rally gets excited because it’s been ages since something like this happened but isn’t thrilled when May wants to get in with the action as well. As the burglars rummage through the secret room filled with firearms, Rally hits the light switch off and nails them with a couple of shots. Even if the baddie was holding a submachine gun, he missed! The last thief runs away but he ran the wrong direction. He ran upstairs and triggers May’s bombs. Boom! Thank goodness they’re just smoke screen. Soon all the thugs get arrested but their collection has also been confiscated. Rally thinks Bill had it all planned but he insists he did. Rally has no choice but to agree with his deal but with one condition. She will do it her way and doesn’t want him following her. Isn’t that two?

Rally goes to see Washington in jail and wants to buy all his ‘toys’. He agrees to do it but needs her to pay the ‘deposit’. How much? She’ll have to ask the court. Oh, it’s his bail. Rally reports to Bill and she feels she can’t trust him. He assures her he isn’t following and the good job she is doing. Bill gets called by his boss, George Black that 3 infiltrators have been killed. Bill thinks someone from ATF is leaking information especially from the Illinois branch. He can’t say because he has no evidence yet. Worse come to worse, he’ll go undercover. Meanwhile Rally gets an earful from Becky Farrah for accepting such a dangerous assignment. She promises to make it up by treating her to dinner. As long it isn’t Chinese or pizza. Really? That simple? I thought it was only through the stomach that you need to convince men. Rally then brings Becky along. Why? To watch May so she won’t go crazy. Rally arrives at the warehouse and goes in alone. After that thorough body check for weapons (that guy doing the body search must be real lucky), she is brought to Washington upstairs. He needs her to pass a test first before they conduct their deal. Inside a room, Rally is shown Bill tied up. He says they spotted a suspicious guy lingering outside and their boss recognized him and ringed him in, they discovered he is a government official. At first Rally feigns he didn’t recognize him and when she does, she blows his cover by revealing he is the weasel that tries to convince her to sell him out. Washington hands him Bill’s gun. So the test is to shoot him? Rally can tell there are no bullets in it so Washington gives her one. After confirming where the goods are, Rally prepares to shoot Bill. But in that single bullet breaks his ropes and wounded the lackey’s knee. Then in swift action, Rally and Vincent pull off stunning manoeuvres to turn the tables on their captors. The others get a feeling what has happened inside the room and move to surround the place.

Becky sees the lights go off and thinks something bad has happened. I’m not sure how May got free from her binds but she scoots off into the building thinking it’s her time for debut. While Bill and Rally round up Washington, the wall and door are greeted with a hail of bullets. Thankfully they have foreseen this and were hiding. Otherwise those goons who couldn’t care less about Washington could have put holes in him too. Bill and Rally soon bust out to do some slick gun shooting moves that put those thugs to shame. They only got a pistol and make each bullet count while the baddies armed with machine guns sprayed the entire area and couldn’t hit their target. Rally is trapped on the walkway above so one of the baddies tries to use a crane to wreck everything and bring her down. Her clothes get stuck so she tries to improvise by stripping but her gun fell down. Now she’s unarmed. And semi-naked. Bill is also having problems with the shotgun guy. May busts in looking for Rally and this distracts the baddies. In precision timing, Bill jumps out endangering himself so he could throw Rally’s gun to her. Rally jumps down to fire her at the shotgun guy while Bill takes out the crane operator. Nice teamwork. But the shotgun guy isn’t out yet and has a hidden pistol in his sleeves. That’s when May barges back in to drop all her bombs on him! As for Becky, she’s feigning she didn’t see or know anything. In the aftermath as the bad guys are arrested, amazingly after all that gun fight, there were no casualties! I thought some died! Rally and May argue and blame each other for being reckless but ultimately put the blame on Bill. But he pretends he couldn’t hear that and since he has no shame, he requests the girls for another favour. Oh no. That doesn’t sound like a joke. Run away!

Episode 2
Russian freelance mercenary, Natasha Radinov (I thought she was a guy!) just killed the security guard and completed some other shady activities that includes receiving a suitcase of heroine. Those Japanese guys thought they could mock her by speaking in Japanese but she just kept quiet and ignore them. They get a call from their boss requesting her for another job. Of course there’ll be additional fees for the job. Radinov is happy that this might involve killing somebody. Meanwhile Washington is being interrogated by Rally and May in a room in ATF’s safe house (supposedly the safest place in Washington. Washington as in the place lah). Washington is in a panic and pleads them to get him out of here and have information regarding the organization. They assure this place is safe but he tells them the ATF can’t be trusted. Rally doesn’t seem convinced so he gives her his Rolex watch so that she can deliver it to his daughter at this address but she’s reluctant to do it. The ATF guys come into the room and the conversation ends. The ladies walk out but Washington slips it into the back of May’s pocket. Then he tells them what he said is true and they’ll soon witness it. By that time, he won’t be alive. Seems May have taken up this delivery job and Rally isn’t happy she took that assignment that doesn’t profit them a single cent. Well, she’s the one to say. Suddenly Rally has to swerve her car to the side or else she would have crashed into that crazy Radinov b*tch coming from the other direction. On the TV news, mayoral electorate hopeful, Senator Edward Haints is boosting his image working with ATF and pledge for a safer America with the extermination of illegal firearms. Radinov enters the safe house and coolly kills all the ATF guards with ease! She’s like a walking arsenal because underneath her trench coat are weapons and bullets! Washington is hiding in the toilet and fears for his life. He pleads he has information on the organization but she doesn’t listen and kills him. The area is soon cordoned off and Black isn’t happy how things are going and takes Bill off the case. It’s not that he suspects him and knows someone is trying to pull a con on him but he says this isn’t a battlefield and won’t get any medal for impressing.

Radinov is back home when she receives a call from her employer. Seems her next target is Rally and May and she has done her research on them. However she has no information on the fourth person and that this man will never imagine his own partner will kill him. Meanwhile Rally and May have arrived at the address to deliver the Rolex. But Washington’s daughter… A big burly man?! WTF?! Back home, Becky thinks it is a fake Rolex and a fake address. Rally fools around with May till the latter falls down on the floor. She then notices a bugging device. Bill and his team are still eavesdropping on the girls when suddenly Becky knocks on their door to deliver pizza. Busted. Rally tells him off if he has time to snoop around, he should be getting his ass to do her licence. No choice, they leave. But all that talk was just to buy May enough time to plant a bomb underneath their van. At a distance, it goes boom! Don’t worry, nobody died. Just lots of equipment damaged. Oh, Radinov is around the corner watching. Becky is trying to figure out the connection of the watch and address. Rally thinks hard and remembers Washington was at his computer when she met him at the warehouse. They think the address is some sort of code to a website. May also sees a number on the watch and Becky thinks this is some secret access code. Putting them together brings them to an adult website. But neatly hidden beneath it is data for all the transactions for the illegal firearms before ATF seized them. This data could fetch a high price but they only need evidence now. Rally and May quickly leave to get things done before Becky could finish printing them out. On the other hand, happy Bill has just finished printing those data after yet another round of spying.

While Becky continues to stay safe in the car as usual, Rally and May infiltrate the suspicious yacht club. I mean, it’s a little heavily guarded, don’t you think? They manage to get inside the warehouse that houses the firearms but it was a setup. The baddies corner them because their boss told them they would pull such a stunt. However the girls have tricks up their sleeve. May releases a flash grenade to blind them and Rally uses her slick moves to shoot them all out. However she could’ve been Radinov’s next victim if not for Bill who is conveniently at the scene. Radinov makes her escape but bumps into May crawling around. She intends to kill her but because of the police sirens, she kidnaps her instead. Rally isn’t thrilled Bill is here and thinks he is the one who staged all this but he says he doesn’t trust the ATF more than she does. Suddenly they realize May is kidnapped so Rally gets into her car to start the high speed pursuit. I’m not sure how long Rally has been horning but it was enough to wake May up from her unconsciousness and signal the start of some synchronized attack thingy of theirs. I can’t believe Radinov didn’t tie May up properly and this allowed her to interrupt her driving. May is thrown to the back seat and during the high speed chase, May sets up her bombs. On the freeway, the ladies are breaking every rule there is to safety driving. Keep both hands on the steering (they were driving with one hand and firing with the other)! Keep both eyes on the road ahead! Don’t tailgate! Don’t swerve in and out and in between lanes! People, please don’t imitate them. Radinov shoots the wheel of a truck to send it crashing into Rally behind but her slick precision driving means she avoids the big bang. When Rally manages to fire at Radinov, shooting off her ear stud (bloodied ear?), she becomes enraged and is going to kill May. The petite girl has already finished setting her bombs and presses the detonate button. The back window shatters and the blasts send May hurtling outside towards Rally’s car behind. If not for Becky’s terrific catch, May could’ve been splat! People, another reminder not to imitate such dangerous stunt! But it was awesome! Radinov trying to regain her composure realizes she has just gone off the bridge and in mid-air another explosion turns the car into a fiery fireball. Dead for good? Rally and May are happy their tactic paid off but Rally knows this isn’t over yet by a long shot.

Episode 3
Though the police has cordoned off the area for investigations, they found the car but no body. I guess you know what this means. As for Rally, May and Becky, they’re being ‘scolded’ by their boss, Roy Coleman for the mess they’ve gotten into. He shows them a file on Radinov about the ruthless killing machine she is. She was once from the KGB but now is a freelance. Nicknamed Bloody Pierce because of her lethal skills, she is a murder machine that has been doing some illegal business for a long time and recently entered the country illegally via Canada. He wants them to leave the case to them. When the trio leave, they are surprised to see a knife sticking out from their car’s bonnet. Rally knows it is her sign for revenge. Back at their base, Rally gets a call from Haints. Seems he wants to give them an award and spearhead his campaign for anti-illegal firearms since the weapons case is finished. But Becky notes Radinov is still alive and they haven’t found out who is pulling the strings in ATF. Rally thinks it’ll be their chance to appeal directly to the government but Becky wishes to decline because it’ll be bad for her business if she shows her face and will leave it to them. Back home, May suggests Rally to try out high heels she bought for her for the event. Let’s say Rally doesn’t suit walking in them. Heck, she can’t walk well. May quips in that case the men will just come over to her. Speaking of which, there is one at the door now. It’s Bill. See, what did May say about men coming to her? Anyway Bill wants Rally’s cooperation again or else the case will be cancelled. She’s not interested and has already made arrangements to deal directly with a certain VIP tomorrow. Bill is ushered away by a policeman who has orders not to let anyone near them. Not even the President of USA. Gee, I’m glad he is dedicated to his job. Bill is back at his office when his colleague Cathy shows him suspicious telephone usage record from the safe house which is supposed to be closed off. And the user is Black. Conveniently, he is on sudden vacation now. I guess he’s the one pulling all the strings, eh? Don’t guys like him know how to cover his tracks? Bill lauds her for a good job and hopes she could keep this a secret.

Black has packed his bags and gone to see Radinov. He is panicking that he can’t hide it from them anymore and wants her to take him along. He can pay how much she wants. However Radinov is on the phone with another person and it seems the order is to eliminate him. Without mercy, Radinov shoots him dead. One bad turn deserves another. When Bill and his partner Jody barge in the house, they see Black’s body. Bill knows he is dealing with a professional killer and takes away a bomb trap hidden in Black’s body. They could’ve been blown to bits had they moved the body carelessly. Jody then carelessly redials the telephone to see the last number Radinov made and it connected to Haints’ office. Well, well. Looks like Radinov and Haints are a team, eh? Bill sees photos of Rally and May on the wall and knows they are her next target. And I guess he also realizes the VIP they’re going to see tomorrow so he rushes out. When Jody puts down the phone, it triggers a bomb and the entire house goes boom! That’s a professional killer for you. Radinov is seen talking to Haints on the phone. Although she is supposed to leave the city but she wants to remain till she finishes off those ladies. It’s a matter of pride. The rain is delaying the event as Rally and May wait in the tent. Haints’ men need to make sure of his image and have them remove all the guns and bombs. Much to their dismay. Roy assures he will look after their weaponry. As the event is underway, Haints presents the award to Rally as Radinov edges closer to the front. As she pulls out her guns, Bill shouts to warn Rally. Conveniently that distracted Radinov for a while but not before firing all she’s got before escaping. Luckily Rally’s high heels broke so Radinov’s shots miss and destroy the award instead. Seriously I don’t think they needed the plaque either. With the place in panic, Roy and Becky spots Bill badly bruised. He needs to warn Rally because this event is a trap for her. Rally and May retrieve their weapons and chase after Radinov. Rally thinks she has got Radinov cornered at the rooftop of a remodelling museum and tells her to lifts her arms in the air and turn around. However she has already planted a bomb in the nearby water tank and sets it off. The impact blows Rally off her feet and throws May off the building. If not for the ropes, she could’ve gone straight down. Radinov sticks a knife in Rally’s shoulders and won’t kill her easily and will make her suffer. May throws a flash bomb up to temporarily blind Radinov. By the time she recovers, Rally has already escaped.

May is seen carrying bleeding Rally inside the museum. She assures Rally she has set lots of traps. But Radinov isn’t stupid. She sees through all the traps and even throws a fire extinguisher into the hallway filled with bomb traps to make them think she has taken the bait. Then she follows the bloodied trail that leads her to the duo hiding inside the woman’s toilet. Thinking she has got them cornered in the cubicle, before she could start her trigger frenzy, May presses her detonate button for the bomb set where Radinov is standing and blows her away. Meanwhile Haints thinks of getting away and will use this chance to escape while the media is preoccupied with Radinov. In his room, he is surprised to see Radinov standing at the corner and tells her off about pointing the gun at him on stage too. He wants to call their partnership off and return all the heroine he gave. He gets a little scared when he thinks Radinov is going to kill him and tries to worm his way out like a politician. Just like all bad guys, he notices the gun on the table and picks up to shoot her. Guess what? It is empty. It is revealed that this ‘Radinov’ is Roy’s assistant in disguise and Becky hiding behind the curtain has recorded his confession live to the media. Yeah, what a big scoop. Everybody has seen this dirty politician’s trick. What a way to get the media to suddenly focus on you, eh? Haints thinks he can escape but outside are Roy and his men waiting to arrest him. And Haints can still try to talk about how he is doing all the cleaning of illegal immigrants and gangs for America?! Did what?! Rally and May are safe and picked up. May thinks they were careless this time but Rally thinks Radinov too was careless. Radinov is wheeled away into the ambulance but suddenly, yes SUDDENLY she jumps out with an axe in hand (where and how did she get that?!) and is going to chop Rally to pieces. Rally can’t move because her arm is bandaged. Bill fires a shot to break the axe. Rally follows up by pumping several shots into Radinov’s body to put an end to her for good. Bill wonders if Rally thinks better of him now that he can be useful. It ends with Rally noting that this is how strong they’ve got to be if they want to live in this city.

Armed and Dangerous…
So it was rather entertaining and my favourite part is of course the action bits. They were exciting enough to draw me in and glued to my seat. And sometimes the edge of my seat. The first episode’s warehouse gun shootout with the baddies is amazingly cool. The second episode’s high speed car chase with Radinov is exhilarating. The final episode’s face off with the terminator may not be as intense but it is still a good watch. Overall, it is the action that scores highly and the reason why one should watch this series but may not satisfy hardcore action junkies. I’m sure they try to throw in some fanservice too with some scenes of Rally and May fighting in their underwear (the scene whereby thugs broke into their house) but don’t get your hopes high up too much and consider them as just little extra bonuses. As for the storyline, well, it’s nothing extraordinary. Typically, the duo get involved in a conspiracy that endangers themselves and after a little digging here and there, the culprit is always the people at the top. See? So predictable. I could have guessed that when Haints made his first appearance, I had a hunch that this guy isn’t what he really seems to be on TV. True enough, he is the biggest crook and he got what he deserves like all baddies in televisions get. Smaller fries like Black get killed. And our heroines come out tops, smarter and wiser from the experience. Happy ending. End of story.

The one thing I find very odd is about the setting of this anime in Chicago, Illinois. Actually it isn’t the setting that is odd. I just find that for this very heavily American themed series, for the characters to speaking in Japanese to be just weird. I know I could have ‘neutralized’ that by watching the dubbed version but you know me, I am very anti-dubs and would rather put up with this weirdness than hearing a different voiceover. So like the senator, he is like speaking as if a Japanese instead of a true blue American. Weird, right? As I found out, despite having just only 3 episodes, there were lots of research put into this anime to make this series have this local feeling that you are in Chicago. Well, I haven’t been to that city in America so I couldn’t identify any landmarks. The production team also consulted with the actual Illinois police academy and research on the guns because as we know, Japan has a very tight control on its guns.

As mentioned, the anime leaves out lots of other characters. That means you don’t get any deep character development for even Rally and May. From what I briefly skimmed through Wikipedia, they have lots of history and ‘happenings’ in their life (the manga lasted for 9 volumes). They have the personality and past that would make worthy a discussion among enthusiasts. In the OVAs, you don’t see much of it and just get to know that they are a team of highly skilled bounty hunters, that’s all. I think they were trying to put in some romance between Rally and Bill by making them look good as a makeshift team combo but I don’t think it’ll work out. It never. Maybe they have good sync in that area but chemistry wise, they just fail to click. And May is always such a tease sometimes when it comes to Rally and men. So what happens to them all in such an ‘abrupt’ ending? Life goes on as usual for the living. Crime fighting never ends. That sort of thing.

The drawing and art despite being old school is acceptable since it is during that era but it is nothing much to shout about. Still, they manage to pull off some good designs for the cars and give details to the guns in Rally’s possession. Even the action is smooth and because of its realism (nothing that really goes overboard in defying physics), this is one of the reasons why I said that the action in this anime is quite worth the watch. This series should be a decent watch for those wanting a little action in the backdrop of an American city but not might sit well with hardcore fans of the original manga series. If you’re thinking that America is one dangerous place to live, just to assure you, this entire world is one big dangerous place. As long as there are places where humans will tread, you’re never safe. Not even from yourself. So it’s best to have some sort of self defence and alliance to keep your behind safe. You know what they say about cats having 9 lives? The way Rally and May are chalking up their enemies, they might have already extend their 1ups to over a hundred.