Mobile Fighter G-Gundam Vol. #05 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, March 16, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2003



What They Say
A shocked Domon engages Master Asia in battle, hoping to find some way to bring back the man he once knew. But Domon, emotionally and physically drained is no match for him! Only the timely arrival of the mysterious Schwarz Bruder and his amazing Gundam helps tip the balance of power!

Realizing that he needs further training, Domon decides to return to the Guyana highlands where he once trained with Master Asia. Can he discover a way to defeat the evil that has now claimed both his brother and his beloved teacher?

The Review!
I’m almost ashamed to say it, but I’m becoming rather fanboyish about this series.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though originally released in 1994, the track for this appears to be a pro-logic mix, though I don’t really hear anything coming through the rear speakers unless my ears are playing tricks on me. The Japanese track feels a small bit lower than the English track, with dialogue feeling a slight bit muffled at times. There’s not a whole lot of directionality going on, since when things happen, they’re loud all-encompassing moments of destruction that fill up the entire forward soundstage.

Video:
The transfer for this release looks decent, but in general feels like it’s not up to snuff when compared to other Gundam series. The shows look and feel continues to be of a more drab and lifeless feel, even when you do have the bright outdoor exteriors. It may be a bit simply animated, but the only real problems we noticed with this transfer is some occasional cross coloration and aliasing as well as some light color banding during a few areas of solid colors.

Packaging:
The front cover for this round goes with an all Gundam feel as we pretty much have all the members of the Shuffle Alliance here, complete with spinning roses, putting on their action poses and filling up the entire cover. It really looks sweet with this style of artwork too. The back cover provides a few shots of the show itself and a few paragraphs of show summary. The discs volume numbering, done in rounds, shows up on both the spine and the front cover, earning good kudos from us. The back cover lists the episode numbers and the basic features of the disc. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens to reveal a bio on Argo Gulskii and a bio on the Bolt Gundam. The back of the insert provides the production and cast information for the show.

Menu:
The menus are nicely done though a bit simple. The main static image is of a circuit board while to the right there are some visuals from the episodes playing. Selections are mixed into the circuit board area and access times are nice and fast. There’s little to the disc outside of the basics, so moving about is pretty easy and the layout is fairly standard for Bandai releases. One of the best spots is the episode selection area in how that’s laid out. Very neat.

Extras:
The G-Files continues with several more pages of commentary from series director Imagawa. This time he goes over some bits about the character name origins, the relationship between Asia and Domon (as well as how he hid it from everyone) and the revelations about location choices, which is amusing in itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Following up nicely from the huge battles in the previous episodes, things settle down here in the last episode of the Shinjuku arc. With the new Shuffle Alliance standing together, things are actually looking up to see some teamwork going on and the action changing direction.

Of course, that’s what you’d expect, but with as diverse the personalities of this group, that’s not going to happen. Most of them don’t even want to be a part of the Alliance, so they all end up going their separate ways. Domon himself is still filled and fueled by finding his Master and either knocking sense into him and freeing him of the Devil Gundam’s grip or doing the unthinkable. So he heads off as well into the sunset to find Asia and deal with him.

Domon’s problems are easily realized though, as we shift to the Devil Gundam lair and find out just what kind of powers are at work here. Asia sums it up nicely in that since his best student is now hunting him, he essentially knows exactly what Domon will do and the reasoning behind it. This begins to show very quickly as Asia messes with Domon’s head by having his Gundam show up and lead Domon into a trap. The only thing that ends up saving him is the interference by the Neo German Fighter, the mysterious Schwarz Bruder.

What he ends up imparting on Domon is critical, and that is that Domon is not ready to face his master, both physically and mentally. When Bruder manages to actually impress this on him through a special sword trick, Domon resigns himself to this fact and heads off to where he and Master Asia originally trained years ago, to Guyana in South America. You can almost hear the background artists sigh in relief.

In Guyana, we get three tales that help start to change the way things work. As Domon spends his time retraining himself and trying to figure out why he can’t replicate what Bruder did, those of the Alliance find themselves caving in under the stress of being freed from the Devil Gundam. Chibodee finds himself seeing nothing but his body being consumed by the Gundam virus again and ends up bloodying his opponents into a pulp, while Sai Saici can’t bring himself to properly fight. George de Sand has ended up becoming trapped in the past as he only sees a particular fight that led to real tragedy haunting him.

Each episode ends up focusing on one of these people and they (or their crew) realize that they need someone like Domon to push and challenge them out of their problems. These are the typical character building episodes that bring everyone together in a loose way while also building up their powers and abilities. There’s lots of well done moments with Bruder watching from the shadows and egging them on in learning their skills. But while this is all pretty standard fare, I find myself really getting into the moments as there is just so much visual and aural, well, yelling and screaming that it gets primal at times. The rage of Domon as he struggles to master the Super Mode is fun to watch and it draws you in as he deals with it.

With each volume, I’m finding myself enjoying this more and more, eagerly awaiting the next volume. I had written this show off completely quite a long time before seeing it based on some of the pictures and the general amount of jokes that it had garnered by fans. But I can’t help it, this is a lot of fun and I’m definitely enjoying it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,G-Files

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 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: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mobile Fighter G-Gundam