Gunsmith Cats: Burst, Vols. 1 – 2
After nearly seven years Kenichi Sonoda’s Gunsmith Cats return to the printed page! The first two volumes of Gunsmith Cats: Burst see the return of all the familiar faces from the original series and promises a return to the same high octane action that made the first series such a hit! But after such a long time off can it possibly live up to the hype?
Yes and no. Gunsmith Cats: Burst starts off incredibly slowly, opening with several short stories that aren’t terribly memorable and in at least one case is just downright boring as it involves Rally spending about ten pages explaining the ins and outs of gun modifications to her partner in crime, Minnie May. While this might be fascinating for some people who are really interested in guns and gun modification, my interest in them begins and ends with how well they’re used in action sequences and the whole thing just about put me to sleep. Thankfully afterwards things begin to pick up and return to form as Rally finds herself involved in a convoluted mod plot to manipulate stock prices via terrorist attacks. While the villains aren’t quite as memorable as those of the original series, at least not yet, they manage to give the ladies of Gunsmith Cats enough trouble that we’re able to get some fun action scenes and stand off’s out of it. Still, it feels like it falls a little short of the insanity of the original series. In the second volume things continue their upward trend thanks to a lengthy tale focusing on Bean Bandit and a crazy looking cop obsessed with taking him down. While I do love seeing Bean in action and he’s ridiculously bad ass in the story it’s a little disappointing to see the most exciting and interesting tale of the first two volumes given over to Bean rather than Rally and company.
Sonoda’s art is a little shaky at times. There are a few times were the characters look a little stiff and awkward with their limbs looking a little off, stiff or bizarrely skinny here and there. His action sequences are still solid and entertaining but none quite live up to the reputation of the original series. Sonoda continue to do a great job at conveying motion and controlling the flow of time across the page, allowing him to churn some incredibly complex and speedy action scenes that are clear and easy to follow regardless of the number of people involved. And of course it wouldn’t be Gunsmith Cats without some fan service and elaborately detailed guns and cars and those are here in abundance as well!
If there’s anything wrong with Gunsmith Cats: Burst it’s that it feels like more of the same old, same old. None of the characters seem to have grown or developed a whole lot and the stories feel a bit rote and predictable at times. Still, the American manga market tends to be dominated by Shonen heroes, fantasy tales and more so despite it’s flaws and familiarity Gunsmith Cats: Burst manages to feel like a breath of fresh air and scratches that itch for contemporary action stories. And honestly? Sometimes more of the same can be like hanging out with an old friend and that’s definitely the case with this series.
Gunsmith Cats: Burst, Vols. 1 + 2 are published by Darkhorse and are available now.