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For a long time while reading it, I wasn’t quite sure if I liked Gunsmith Cats Burst. Sure, it had the “explicit content” sticker that promised some nudity at some point, but halfway through the second volume I realized that probably wasn’t worth holding out for. Still, I kept reading despite not being entirely taken by the characters, story, or really much else within the work itself. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it.

I don’t care about guns, or American cars, or most movies; I’m pretty clearly not supposed to be the audience for this manga. See, Gunsmith Cats (I assume; getting volume one of the series in English is kinda tough) and Gunsmith Cats Burst are primarily about guns and American cars, with movie references thrown in. Hell, it got to the point where, for a while, I was wondering if this was actually created by an American author who just liked manga and thought it would be the best style for his story. It’s not – Kenichi Sododa is pretty damn Japanese – but it wouldn’t have surprised me. Then again, and American author might have known that Chicago is not the best city to set a series about gun shop owners.

Anyway, I eventually realized that what I liked about GSC:B was effectively the same thing I liked about GitS; how it reflects the eccentricities and unique style of its author. Sododa is gun otaku, car otaku, and lover of mechanical engineering. Case in point; he was the character designer for Bubble Gum Crisis, and mapped out the particular internal structure of the series’ famous Hard Suits, at a time when (producers thought) nobody gave a shit. He also likes to make things realistic, which really lends to his aesthetic both in futuristic and contemporary settings.

GSC:B comes off as a neurotic love letter to cars and guns. To the point that, I’m pretty sure, it spends more pages in the auto shop talking about, comparing, and explaining cars, than it does on the car chases that lead to that auto shop in the first place. It has more scenes detailing the mechanical workings, parts, and history of guns, than it has scenes of shootouts.

It’s not the most interesting stuff to me, but Sododa’s knowledge and fascination is itself fun to see. I enjoy reading about rifling, and differences in barrel weight, and material strength, largely because I’m convinced Sododa enjoyed writing about it. It wouldn’t be enough to get me through something I didn’t like. But it is enough for me to enjoy something that really isn’t for me.

Don’t Lose Your Way

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