A screencap from the opening credits of “Black Lagoon”
The term “gratituous violence” is nowadays almost interchangeable with “explicit violence” when talking about media; both are used to describe intensely violent works such as horror films and crime fiction. However, there is a distinction between them that is highly subtle and which quite clearly places them as opposites as critical viewpoints. Gratituous violence is that which is unnecessary in narrative terms – it is there to titillate or elicit a basic response of excitement or revulsion. There is a quite specific sense of intent in the word “gratituous” that implies the content is unneeded.
“Explicit” violence has no such intent or quality distinction; it is simply violence which is graphically depicted.
Some time ago I entered into an ill-advised dare with other bloggers who write on anime; to watch a single episode of a series I knew nothing about, from the middle of its run, and write something about it. The series in question was Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, and I watched the eleventh episode of it with no contextual knowledge.