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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior version of a great series, 7 Jun 2007
J. Q. W. Bayes "YourMessageHere" (Newcastle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 1 (Paperback)
It might at first glance seem odd to compare Gunsmith Cats, a monochrome japanese comic strip, to the colour and motion of Hollywood action films. However, Kenichi Sonoda's Gunsmith Cats is the manga world's best answer to US and HK action cinema. The fact is, Gunsmith Cats ought to be a manual for action cinema. No film quite manages to live up to the exacting standards this series sets; there simply do not exist more thrilling yet masterfully crafted gunfights anywhere. That is the unique and crucial point of Gunsmith Cats.

Rally Vincent, our heroine, is a gunsmith by profession and a bounty hunter by calling. She's a peerless shot and expert driver. Together with her diminutive business partner Minnie-May, who has a grenade for all occasions, and their various allies, this first volume pits them against a bloodthirsty rival pair of bounty hunters with big ambitions, crooked lawyers, a master bombmaker and the psychotic mobster pulling his strings.

Sonoda's artwork is exemplary. His self-professed obsessions are guns and sports cars, and examples of both are drawn with amazing accuracy to the real equivalents. The Chicago setting is also drawn with what, to this British reader, seems a remarkable degree of familiarity; clearly this series is the product of exacting research. But his characters are equally well-created, both in artistic terms, with his easily recognisable perky, streamlined and energetic style, and in terms of character complexity, giving the story's premise, one which would be very easy to make ridiculous, a full-bodied sense of universe that makes the whole thing work smoothly.

Sonoda's storylines are also complex, mature (as in grown-up, not as in full of sex and gore - strongly suggested occasionally, but some nudity is approximately as egregious as it gets, and Rally's dead aim is used to brilliantly minimal effect to disable and hamper, rather than kill) and satisfying, in a way that Hollywood would also be wise to try to comprehend. He also manages to make remarkably complex set-pieces deceptively easy to comprehend and never confusing; compare this to the climax of any given volume of, say, Trigun Maximum to see what I mean.

This volume collects the first 16 chapters of the story, previously published across the first two and a half books. Although the book is of course thicker, it is a bit smaller in the height and width dimentions; however, it is no longer "flipped" and is published with the spine on the right. This means all the lushly-detailed guns and cars are depicted the right way round for the first time! For me this nice fact outweighs the regrettable but slight size reduction, although I am somewhat confused as to the reasoning behind the decision to stop this volume half-way through the third volume, cutting out right before the climax of the early story. So: if you already love Gunsmith Cats you'll be needing this, and if you're new to it, this is the definitive version.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 70s action personified., 16 Mar 2008
P. Vine "Prestwick" (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 1 (Paperback)
For those old enough, do you remember rushing to the living room with your dinner to sit down and watch "Scarsky & Hutch"? Or maybe even "Miami Vice" or the "A-Team"? My generation sadly only had "Due South" but even this has a link in a way to this superb portrayal of fast cars, loud guns, nice women and intense action.

Gunsmith Cats is based in Chicago with tough bounty hunters, even tougher criminals and the people who live within the grey lines of the criminal underworld. Rally Vincent is the main star but is backed up by a cast of superb bit players like Minne May Hopkins, Becky Farrah and Bean Bandit. Despite having such a high number of characters who are for the most part in the same scenes as Rally, Sonada manages to somehow bless them with distinct personalities which really do make the storylines what they are, especially when you go searching to see the reaction of the characters to whatever challenge has hit them next.

Another thing which makes Gunsmith Cats such an epic portrayal of a 70s action drama is the artwork. The cars and guns are drawn with so much care & attention that you usually stop for a while to stare at the same page, as if at an Art Museum looking at the latest installation. The way the scenes are drawn, the objects within it (cars, guns, scenery) could almost be considered pop-art and that makes for spectacular eye candy.

While the storylines are well written, they do suffer from a typical sense of stop and start. One section is dedicated to non-stop action, while another is firmly for taking a breather, reflection and more plot. This means that you usually whip from action to static dialogue and plot to action again which can put off the odd reader but if one perseveres you can uncover the real beauty of Sonada's work.

This is how the action scenes are planned and paced. You can almost imagine the funky 70s action music or the hard edged electric guitar and drum machines of the 80s car chase as Rally battles foes or chases others in her Shelby Cobra. Reading these scenes should really be required reading for many in Hollywood as ithese scenes just pure action eye candy.

At the end of the day, if you want a change of pace from the usual Girls manga or the highly gory or highly emotional manga which swamps the market these days, take a ticket back to the late 1990s, courtesy of Kenichi Sonada and see just how awesome action 70s/80s style used to be!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High octane manga Cats, 31 July 2009
This review is from: Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 1 (Paperback)
Skipped bail? Wanted? Well, you're out of luck if you find yourself in Rally Vincent's neighbourhood. Don't be fooled by her youth, she's a relentless Bounty Hunter and an expert marksman to boot. You can run, but not for long, cos boy can she drive! You can't hide either cos she has contacts and friends on both sides of the law. But she has enemies too, ruthless, possessive and definitely unhinged. You might just get caught in the crossfire. Think you can take the heat?

Kenichi Sonoda likes his girls, guns and cars. He likes fast paced action and suspense and the series oozes with all. Somehow his love of these things is never overbearing and certainly the players take the limelight at all times. You come out of the manga having learned some stuff but mainly having been taken on a sublimely satisfying ride.

The main protagonist is Rally Vincent. She's young and gutsy, her knowledge of guns having been passed down from her now absent father. She runs a gunshop called Gunsmith Cats, which seconds as her base of operations for her Bounty Hunting. Her closest friend is Minni-May who is established as the plural in the Cats clique. She plays with bombs and stuff.

There are others too, backing her up, but all play second to Rally's nitro injected fiddle.

They're all very grounded and individual characters and it's really them that progress the stories rather than the plot, which is inevitably a gripping showdown with some badguy(s). Rally's enemies have depth aswell and the most dangerous of them persist through the series, looming like the ominous shadow of storm clouds when it's not actually thunder and lightening.

The manga comes with an adult content warning, cos there's blood and nudity and such, but this really is a satisfying story with subtlty and depth. It's well drawn and unlike some action manga where it's tricky to tell what's going on (except that someone's fighting, maybe) you can easily tell what's going on. Sonoda gives detail where needed and is no slacker when it comes to portraying cars and vehicles realistically. The action can definitely be larger than life, but that's what makes it a great read.

Can you catch an RPG in your hand at point blank range?
Can you shoot the hammer off a gun at thirty paces?
Can you get shot in the head and still wake up alive?

Oh, you can?

NB: this is just the first in a series of four collected volumes, themselves followed by the 'Burst' series of 5 volumes. all good.
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Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 1
Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Vol. 1 by Kenichi Sonoda (Paperback - 14 Mar 2007)
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