Here we have a nice little OAV series that is for once not based in Japan.
Rally Vincent, owner of the shop 'Gun Smith Cats', and May 'Minnie' Hopkins, and explosives enthusiast, are bounty hunters in seventies Chicago. They have just caught their most recent criminal, a gun runner who was trying to skip town. However, they have got him arrested on the wrong charges, so Bill Collins of the ATF (dealing with alcohol, tobacco and firearms) calls them in to help. This however is just scratching the surface of the problem, as they soon find out.
This is a very nice crime action story with an incredible amount of detail put into the setting. The atmosphere is certainly spot on and great pains were taken by the crew to make sure the cars, guns and city settings were authentic. It certainly paid off. The intro sequence is also perfect for the show, and really makes a good show of emulating the cop shows of the seventies. People used to the manga will find some of the cast missing or taking bit parts, but considering this is only a three episode show it can't be faulted, as it would otherwise have felt crowded. It is also a totally new story, rather than one taken from the manga, so fans can come to it fresh while newcomers won't be confused because you don't need any prior exposure to the printed stories.
In terms of who the show is suitable for I would say that teens and up would be okay, since plenty of people do get shot, and May is liberal with her use of explosives, even if they are just flash bangs and smoke grenades. The often cute designs for the two leads however could fool parents into believing this were a children's show though.
As mentioned above the detail in this show is fantastic. All the guns are authentically represented in full detail and Rally's car looks great outside and in and is given full time to show itself during a great car chase in episode two. The animation as a whole for Gunsmith Cats in pleasing, although for some reason the first episode is mostly bloodless, despite the amount of people who get shot. The character designs are also very nice, being cute when it wants to but deadly serious when it counts. The music is also in keeping with the theme of the show with a great opening piece for the seventies style intro.
As to the English dub, this is quite a respectable effort. There are creditable performances from the entire cast and the writing is pretty good, though it never manages to reach the original in either area. May in particular has a very difficult voice to emulate being very high pitched, and the Japanese actress has a few line deliveries that really are difficult to make in English. None of the voices however seem out of place with their characters, although bit parts are, as usual in anime, not white to the level of the main cast. I have to say I do rather like the casual voice Bill Collins has been given.
There is really very little to compare this to in anime since it is set outside Japan and with a very distinctive theme. If there are any other shows of this type then I for one have not seen them, or at least not yet. I can however recommend this for the fact that as a three part OAV it is fairly cheap and that it is a well made show that is very easy to get into and enjoy. It is only a shame that only the three episodes were made.