Whether they’re hero, villain, or a little of both, we love anime featuring criminal characters.
Especially when they band together working as an organization.
From inner psychological machinations of the lower grunt, to the bureaucratic processes that overhang the gang’s operations. It’s all found in anime.
Here we’re looking at some morally challenging & hype as all hell anime, all focused on yakuza members and crazy gang stories. Strap in, folks!
Mafia, Yakuza, No-Good-Nicks – They all mean one thing, gangs. Everyone loves a good gang story. It has the camaraderie and the good times of a group of people that follow no man’s rules but there own, but you also know the inevitable stabbing betrayal is coming at some point. Typically gang anime stories are an excellent mix of fast-paced gun or fist-fighting action all wrapped up in a blanket of noir-style darkness. So while you tip on the Al Capone fedora and threaten to cut off your subordinate’s finger tip off with your old tanto blade, here are a few gang-related anime recommendations to set the mood.
The first part of Gungrave is more of a classic mafia story. Two young orphans rise up the street rat ranks on the mean streets of the city, but eventually they fall on the radar of the major syndicate in town. As they both rise up through the ranks of organized crime, an eventual betrayal shatters their friendship. However, after that, things start to get a bit more sci-fi supernatural.
With a name like Gangsta, you expect a lot and it delivers to a certain extend. While the anime falls flat compared to its source material, you follow two handymen (mercenaries, basically) as they take on random jobs throughout the city and deal with the repercussions from their turbulent past.
There are a lot of different stories that go on throughout Durarara, but one of the major ones is the mystery of the mysterious colorless color gang, the Dollars. Run and recruited through a website, anyone can be a member, but no one knows who leads them. This is just one of many mysteries that get unraveled throughout the course of the series.
Although Cowboy Bebop is about space bounty hunters on the outside, the series spends the majority of its time actually telling the back story of the crew of the Bebop. Ever wonder where Spike picked up his attitude and deadly fighting skills? Well, it was from working as a hitman for the Red Dragon Syndicate. An event during that time put him at odds with the series antagonist Vicious, making his back story one of the most intriguing to unravel.
Nisekoi proves that romance/harems series can work in literally any setting. In Nisekoi, the setting is the high school and love life of the heir apparent to a yakuza family. In order for his family to not go to war with a new gang that is moving in, he is forced to date the daughter of their rivals, but Raku is just a boy and has a yearning love for someone that has the matching locket for his key.
Darker than Black
Darker than Black tells the story of empowered beings known as Contractors. While they are ruthless and ultimately self-serving, a number of organizations make use of their deadly skills, none more so than the mysterious Syndicate. While you don’t really get the same gang mentality here, it does have the same criminal element and darkness about it.
Set in the 1930’s on the ass end of Prohibition, Baccano seamlessly melds together a story about mafia warfare with just a touch of alchemical fantasy. The gangs of the series are a huge influence on the plot and your follow the overall goal of the series through turf wars and touching relationships alike.
If you can look past the artwork, Gokusen tells the story of a young female teacher that gets put in charge of a group of delinquents, most of them destined for the thug life. However, this teacher is actually the heir apparent to a yakuza group herself, so if anyone can get through to these little punks, it is her.
In the alternate modern day world that is K, there are seven Kings appointed to guide humanity. Naturally, the Kings attract their own gangs. This means that when one gang, a group that values friendship above all else, has one of their members killed in a bizarre attack, the culprit is in for an ass whooping. In this case, the culprit is suspected to be a whimsical man named Shiro.
How do you make a series about rollerblading even remotely interesting? You add an element of combat and gang warfare to it. Ikki is the toughest of the street kids and wants to be the toughest of the street kids on wheels too as he formed a rollerblading gang in order to claim the coveted title of Wind King.
In the town of Lawless, Angelo witnessed his parents and brother slaughtered by the Vanetti mafia family. After losing everything, seven years later he returns under the new name of Avilio in order to infiltrate the family and destroy them from within.
Arcana Famiglia follows the tales of a mafia-like group of protectors called the Arcana Famiglia. Each member made a contract with tarot cards in order for a unique power. However, when the leader of this gang announces his retirement, he decides that the next leader will marry his daughter and take over, but only if they win a massive free-for-all. Of course, no one ever expected that his daughter would enter as well in order to maintain her freedom.
Great Teacher Onizuka
GTO follows the humorous and inspiring trials of Eikichi Onizuka. In his youth he was the leader of a fierce biker gang, but decided to become a teacher in order to get young girls. Unfortunately, the only job he could land is teaching a bunch of delinquents who, after the betrayal of a previous teacher, have no love for adults.
Cromartie High School
Takashi is, by all respects, an average kid with an average IQ. However, why did he enroll in the infamous Cromartie High School, a school know for breeding the toughest delinquents? Well, you’ll just have to watch to find out. Not only are fist fights and hourly affair, but this school is filled with all sorts of bizarre events.
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
In an America were assassinations are a common occurrence and the Mafia rules the streets, Inferno is a company that carries out most of these hits with their invincible, inhuman weapon – Phantom. However, one day a Japanese tourists witnesses Phantom’s latest deed and discovers she is actually just a young woman. Of course, she is a young woman that brainwashes him into being an assassin alongside her.
Did we miss some more good selections for gangster-type shows? Tell us about them in the comments section below.