Dai Guard Vol. #1 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, August 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2002

What They Say

The Review!
The end is here. Giant Robot anime has gone to the accountants. And the press people.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a solid stereo mix with some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. There’s nothing going to the rear channels at all here, but the mix is very well done and pretty immersive for a stereo mix. The English track is pretty similar, though it sounds a slight bit lower than the Japanese track.

Originally airing back in late 1999, they pulled out all the stops to make a very vibrant and well animated show. The transfer here reflects that with gorgeous colors throughout and a complete lack of cross coloration. There were only a few very minor instances of aliasing going on, but otherwise this looks like a very solid and very enjoyable to watch transfer.

Utilizing the same artwork as the Japanese release, we get a good image of the three leads in their near-angst mode while the Dai-Guard robot is getting down to business in the background. The colors look good though it’s a bit busy and a little more serious than the show generally is. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and a solid summary o what to expect from the opening couple of episodes. Unlike other recent ADV releases, there’s no technical listing box here, and it’s even unclear if this is a bilingual release, never mind aspect ratio and other bits of information. The insert uses the artwork from the 2nd Japanese DVD release while the reverse side is a breakdown of chapter stops for each of the discs five episodes.

Done up in a sort of construction way, the menus are designed with a lot of metal imagery in mind. Episode selections are along the left while a clean version of the opening plays along on the right. Setup and other features along the bottom. Overall the menu is nice and logically setup with no noticeable slowdowns in accessing various areas.

The opening volume here has a couple of nice extras. Standard inclusion extras in the form of a clean opening sequence and a clean ending sequence. There’s also three segments of thirteen for the production sketches, resulting in thirty nine pieces overall. Unlike other recent releases from ADV, there’s no translation of the text in the sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taking place in 2030, it’s been twelve years since the world was plunged into war with a truly strange enemy called the Heterodynes. These creatures would appear from nowhere, and simply begin attacking. We see pieces of the war early on, and the massive amounts of damage caused by it. But then it’s back to 2030, where the world is a very different place. The Heterodynes haven’t attacked in twelve years now and people for the most part have forgotten about it. One of the pieces of equipment used back then was Dai-Guard, a rather tall three-person combat robot.

In the time since the end of the fighting, the army has essentially sold off Dai-Guard to the 21st Century Security Company, a private civilian operation that has since used the giant robot as a promotional tool and a general attraction. The lead pilot, Akagi, grumbles about this early on and talks about getting the big guy out there into the action instead of being such a cheap stunt. But his coworkers remind him that simply turning him on would cost Akagi an entire months salary. Suffice to say, this security company is run by the accountants.

The situation does indeed change though, as the Heterodynes have once again begun to rise out of the ocean and the land, and their unknown mission starts anew. As the first beast rises out of the bay and begins to move towards the land where the company was holding an event, the board of directors begins to squabble and try to figure out the best course of evacuation for everyone. If there’s one thing that isn’t happening, it’s Dai-Guard going into motion. They of course did not count on Akagi to disobey them, as well as the two other required pilots, the attractive woman Ibuki and the fair haired Aoyama.

Their initial goal is just to help evacuate the people who’ve gotten caught in the carnage, but the situation turns into one of combat as the Heterodyne ends up attacking them. This leads to a rather chaotic fight sequence since these people are not professionals at this, and there appears to have been little training. Suffice to say that they do defeat the villain, and the entire game for the company has changed dramatically. Especially when you add in that the military is mighty upset as they already had plans in motion to defeat the attacker.

The series then progresses into some amusing corporate moments as the upper management, led by what I’m assuming is a survivor of the original attacks, tries to deal with having the Dai-Guard being used and costing a ton of money. The pilots and their liason with the military provides quite a bit of conflict and the flow of the story plays up all of the aspects. There’s a sizeable cast here, but they all click well and play off of each other well. The show bears some resemblances to Martian Successor Nadesico in that the craft is expensive and company owned, there’s quite a bit of humor spliced in throughout and that there’s a larger theme playing in the background.

The animation for the show is great. One of the things I like about a Xebec production is that there’s so few of them over here, that each one brings in new creative staff I haven’t been exposed to before, resulting in a somewhat less than predictable show. The designs for the show are very stylish without being anywhere over the top. The Dai-Guard design is definitely retro, but done with respect rather than for jokes. There’s a good amount of CG in here as well, but it’s among some of the best integrated yet.

At the end of the fifth episodes, I was amused by the similarities to Nadesico and some of the blatant homages to Evangelion in the form of the various Heterodynes that appear. There’s a good amount of humor to the series, some solid writing and in general a slick feel to it. I’m not sure this is a show that will change how you view giant robots, but it’s one that’s done with some nods to reality and to the business side off said beasts.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dai Guard