No Guns Life is the type of manga I would have absolutely adored about ten years ago, when I was obsessed with cyberpunk storylines and dystopian futures. Now that I’m actually living in a dystopian world coming closer to augmented hell every day, I find my interest in the subject to have waned quite substantially. That said, No Guns Life is a perfect cyberpunk hellscape and a unique standout of a manga.
The general premise of No Guns Life is that human society augmented a large number of soldiers during an unspecified war, creating the “Extended.” Enhanced with cybernetic limbs, outfitted with additional computers and processors embedded into their flesh, these war machines have since been retired from the frontlines and live under the shadow of the mysterious corporation who created them.
Juzo Inui is one such Extended, modified to have prodigious strength and, strikingly, had his entire head replaced with an oversized revolver. He lives out his days smoking and fighting, taking on difficult cases involving renegade Extended for whomever will pay his bills. Then he gets involved with a young kid named Tetsuro, and his life is turned upside down as he’s dragged into a war against a corporation set on producing a new era of Extended.
All things told, No Guns Life is the distillation of the gritty cyberpunk future of the 1980’s — think Robocop and Blade Runner, mixed with the Japanese edge of Battle Angel Alita. The whole thing swaggers with a cocky arrogance, almost insufferably so, but the sheer energy of the volume manages to overpower any potential for cringe.
Juzo is the typical cyberpunk hero – he swears, smokes, kicks ass, and has a heart of gold. There’s nothing unique about his character if you’ve consumed any other piece of cyberpunk-style media before. But if you are somehow knew to this genre of fiction, you’ll find a type of rough-edged action seinen very rarely seen on the shelves.
In a modern era of Isekai harem protagonists, super-powered fantasies, and sugary-sweet rom-coms, No Guns Life stands out dramatically. It’s gritty and real, taking command of every page with the type of confidence I last saw in something like Tokyo Ghoul.
Depending on your knowledge and interest in cyberpunk culture as a whole, your mileage will definitely vary in No Guns Life, but one thing’s for sure — I hope we never live to see this type of future come to life.