The “Siblings” this episode title referred to weren’t the ones I expected (mostly anyway), but Gangsta has a way of tying everything together so elegantly that you’re amazed you didn’t see it coming from the beginning. The familial theme permeates everything about the story now, both literally and symbolically, locally and globally. And families in Gangsta are no less complicated than those in real life.
It never really struck me until this week, but there’s something about this series that puts me in mind of Fullmetal Alchemist. The demographics are different of course – though Arakawa-sensei has always been a shounen mangaka who leans toward the seinen side of the spectrum – and there isn’t that much overlap in terms of plot. But there’s a common grittiness, both visual and narrative, that unites the two stories. A sense of being connected to those who do evil things, to the point where we can never forget they’re a part of us. FMA is very much about the black sheep of the human family – rogue humans who act foolishly, and the artificial races brought into existence by humans and forced to suffer for their sins.
Fullmetal Alchemist is a story about siblings too, of course, brothers who seem extraordinarily close on the surface but between whom a great gulf of unspoken guilt and accusation exists. While Nic and Worick aren’t literally siblings or the siblings referenced in this ep’s title, ultimately I think it’s the story of their effective brotherhood and of that between humans and twilights that defines Gangsta. What unites the enemies in this series is that everyone knows each other intimately, friend and foe alike – the line between love and hate is extremely thin and sometimes invisible.
The story even begins with a tale of family – Loretta telling Alex of her mother. There isn’t much time for reminiscing, though, as Bastard is going to prove no safe haven against the bloodshed gripping the city. The anti-twilight faction is making their move – first from the inside, with a twilight who was blackmailed into attacking Loretta. Then the psychotic pair we saw briefly, Erika and Mikhail, make their appearance. It’s pretty much nonstop violence after that with nary a second to breathe – it’s heady stuff, but exhausting in its sheer brutality. Mikhail is a character who especially reminds me of someone from FMA – there’s something of Pride in him, someone simultaneously very old and very young – and embodying the worst qualities of both.
Things get very bad very quickly – Loretta’s two aides Marco and Galahad get into deep trouble (especially Marco), and Loretta attempts to flee to safety with Allie. There’s perhaps one or two too many cases of the day being saved by a heroic arrival at the last second in this ep, but it is exciting stuff no doubt. Nic races to the scene, speaking of the smell of “him”, while Worick sets off a distress flare that pretty much everyone in town reacts to in a way that clues us in that this is a very big deal. Of primary importance is the Guild rushing in to help, as they’re the only ones possessed of twilights strong enough to take on Erica.
Much is revealed in the chaos that follows. Galahad refers to Nic as a “faker”, and the reason is that he can only achieve his A-rank by OD’ing on Celebrer before he fights. Erica turns out to be the sister – possibly the twin sister – of Delico, and these are the main siblings the title speaks of. But large and crucial mysteries remain, most of all the reason behind this new rise of anti-twilight violence. Mikhail, for example, has no tags (his obsession with collecting them seems to be symbolically significant) yet he clearly possesses superhuman speed and strength. Worick wonders if he might be a “Hunter”, and while there’s no explanation of exactly what this means, it’s clear from th way he says it that it’s something highly undesirable.
Just why is that ring so important to Marco – and why is he so angry that Mikhail specifically should touch it? And who are the “Esminets”, seemingly the collective of those determined to wipe twilights from the face of Ergastulum? Corsica appears to be in charge of them, and he’s recruited Alex’ brother Emilio (Majima Junji) into their ranks. Those were the siblings I expected the episode to focus on, but Emilio didn’t appear until the final moments. He must be possessed of a particular strength Corsica needs in order to pursue his plans, but we’ll have to wait a while to find out what that is – unfortunately next week appears to be a recap episode.