During the Great War, the military utilized technology invented by Berühren to replace body parts with weapons. The resulting super beings are known as Extended. Over-zealous engineers also created Over-Extended, beings who have most of their bodies replaced by technology. Now, the war is over, society lies in tatters, but Berühren is still creating new technologies. Juzo Inui is a Resolver—he settles arguments between humans and Extendeds. Juzo himself is an Over-Extended, with a revolving gun for a head; and several high powered weapons all over his body, but no memory of how he was made.
One day, another Over-Extended comes to him for help in saving a young boy, Tetsuro, from the clutches of Berühren’s engineers, but they won’t give up one of their most valuable tools that easily. Tetsuro possesses a device called Harmony, a sort of master key that lets him take over bodies of any Extended by connecting with their sub-brains, the mechanism that helps control the extensions. Tetsuro hires Juzo to help him save other test subjects within Berühren, and Juzo’s strict personal code of honor binds him to Tetsuro until the job is done.
In Volume Two, the Extended Management Squad is after Juzo for having the gun on his head fired—which is not allowed because the use of over-extensions is forbidden. EMS Chief Olivia takes Juzo and his friends into custody. Tetsuro, Juzo’s engineer friend Mary, and several of Juzo’s associates are put into protective custody, away from the pursuing Berühren agents. In exchange, Juzo has to bring in an escaped Over-Extended mass-murderer named Gondry, who escaped custody and has gone on a fresh killing spree. Juzo also has to team up with Kronen, another EMS agent. Juzo’s search leads him to the heroic icon, Mega-Arm, who has technology that preceded the models in Juzo. But as Juzo gets deeper involved in the workings of Berühren, he starts uncovering sinister plots that go back to before the Great War to the formation of Extended technology.
In Volume Three, Juzo and Kronen have to work together to figure out who is trustworthy, and no one is as they seem. After Juzo’s latest mission, Mary and Tetsuro get settled in, and Mary moves in next door to Juzo. An old client of Mary’s, Colt, passes out on the street outside their building. An Extended, he’s out of medicine to help his sub-brain handle all his mechanical parts. Mary helps to revive him, and Colt repays her by stealing medicine and involving Tetsuro in his next job. It’s a dangerous mission that pays handsomely, but the plan goes awry and Tetsuro has to decide whether Colt can be trusted with the knowledge of the Harmony device.
Juzo is an interesting, dark-and-twisty protagonist, very similar to Batman. Several characters ask the important questions, like where are his eyes within his gun head, but we never really get a straight answer. For some of these technologies to work, Karasuma is asking the readers to suspend disbelief and just go with it. After the initial shock within Volume One and the realization that some of these technologies will never be explained, I found myself following Karasuma and not asking how things work.
The world-building for this series is intense and grim. There are only a few characters who are altruistic and don’t have ulterior motives. This dystopian civilization is reminiscent of Blade Runner and Mad Max in its scarcity of resources, violence, and emphasis on technology “bettering” the citizenry. The art style is similarly very grim. It can be a little rough at times, especially with non-extended humans, due to over-exaggerated facial features like pursed lips or rough noses. This makes the Extended look more beautiful and smooth than the humans, and draws the reader’s attention and affections towards those imbued with technology, rather than normal humans.
There is a lot of violence and some gore during the fight scenes. The use of cigarettes is a constant as they are medicated and Juzo needs them to prevent his technology system from overloading. There is also experimentation on humans, particularly children, that contribute to the grisly themes. There are some suggestive themes between many women and Juzo, who has his own odd sex appeal. There is also mention human trafficking and prostitution. VIZ rates this as Older Teen, and it’s part of their VIZ signature line that has more mature story lines.
An anime based on the manga was broadcast in the United States from October to December 2019.
No Guns Life, Vol umes 1-3
By Tasuku Karasuma
Art by Tasuku Karasuma
VIZ Media, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Series Reading Order: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Guns_Life (Wikipedia or Goodreads)
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)