Beyond the Grave and his young companion, Mika Asagi.
To protect is to never betray.
In each hand he wields "CERBERUS", his twin handguns and on his back he carries a coffin filled with heavy weapons. Cloaked in darkness and smelling of the grave, he is back to kick ass!
A series of "stylish action/shooters" by Seta Corporation and Red Entertainment released for the PlayStation 2, in the vein of Devil May Cry 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
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.
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.
Awesome McCoolname: BRANDON HEAT! BALLADBIRD LEE! BEAR WALKEN! Needless to say, damn near everyone in the series has one.
Only BOB POUNDMAX can have a name calling him fat yet it still sounds awesome.
What's the name of your Mad Scientist who doesn't do a lick of fighting in the entire anime? LAGUNA GLOCK!
Ax-Crazy / Knife Nut: Balladbird Lee after becoming a Superior and later on, finding out that his closest friend Bob was defeated by Grave.
Bad Ass: Billy, Juji, all of the Big Four, and of course, the main character himself.
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 FalconPunch...
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.
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 and survive the ordeal, but Dr. Tokioka still dies in this timeline, which forces Mika to seal Grave away and learn the mechanics of taking care of him, leaving the city behind (and the entire city eventually collapses in on itself). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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..
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.
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 itsrealpurpose...
Finishing Move / Coup de Grâce 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.
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.
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.
Top-Heavy Guy: Grave, obviously, but also everyone in the first game by consequence of the art style; it becomes pretty blatant when you first see Mika and Dr. Tokioka. Fortunately this is fixed in the sequel.
Adaptation Expansion: The anime greatly expands on Brandon and Harry's beginnings, from part of a small street gang to members of Millenion as they work their way up in the ranks, to Harry's betrayal of Brandon and seizing control of the organization. It isn't until the halfway point of the series that it actually gets to where the events of the game start.
Anime Theme Song: Averted as the show kept the OP "Family" throughout its run, and it's also an instrumental.
Light Is Not Good: Harry constantly sports a white suit and drives a white car. The only hint you'll get is that the color of his undershirt gets darker as the series progresses, starting off pink and eventually moving all the way to black starting in the episode where he kills Brandon.
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.
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.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Brandon, full stop. To wit, he turns down Maria, the love of his life, because he feels she deserves better than him. He then gives Big Daddy his blessing to marry her, and they have a child. Then his best friend, Harry kills him and he's reanimated as an unstoppable killing machine with Laser-Guided Amnesia; when it clears up, he's forced to recognize that his best friend is now the Big Bad, his partner has morphed into an Omnicidal Maniac, and in order to protect the child his One True Love had with another man he has to kill all of his friends, his mentor, and ultimately Harry. Who, along with Maria, was the only reason Brandon got involved with Millenion in the first place, before one has the other killed. And that's not even mentioning his and Harry's childhood in an abusive orphanage, that their previous gang was murdered, or the fact that two of said gang were gunned down as Brandon and Harry watched.
For doing what was right for The Family...he was murdered.