Dai Guard Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, November 22, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 07, 2003
What They Say
In desperate times, the people of Earth search for a new hero-hopefully one that comes fully loaded with a lifetime guarantee! What they have is Dai-guard!
The Heterodyne invaders think they have the advantage, but they don't understand that it's not the age of the steel, but the spirit of the pilots that counts. Our daring trio is about to show their enemies that a good heart and a can-do attitude are stronger than the latest technology. Let's just hope they don't get laid off before the final battle!
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. Dialogue is nice and clear while ambient effects and the music make good use of the stereo channels.
Pretty much flawless. One of the best looking TV series transfers I’ve seen.
A sizeable number of the cast from the “good guys” side is here set against the sun going behind a mountain as well as Dai-guard. It’s a bit busy with all the characters there, but it still looks pretty good. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and a solid summary of 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. To make it even more confusing, it lists 4 episodes on the top half but the running time is for five episodes. The insert uses the artwork from another Japanese DVD release while the reverse side is a breakdown of chapter stops for each of the discs four 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 extras here are pretty much the same as the previous volume, as we get another twenty nine piece of production sketches and the clean opening and ending sequence. What is new here is a 3 minute “Behind the scenes” piece which seems to have the animators traveling around Japan taking pictures to use as reference during their designs, set to music. It’s not a really deep piece, but for someone like me who likes seeing every nook and cranny of Japan that I can, it’s a good little treat.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this series, I continue to really have no idea how it’s all going to turn out in the end. I know so little about it and it seems to be a quiet series in general, that each episode in turn becomes a treat, as there’s no preconceptions to it or someone somewhere always complaining about how it sucks. For that alone, Dai-Guard continues to be a favorite every time a new volume arrives. This third volume, moving us to the halfway point in the series, starts moving things in a direction where we’re starting to see the secrets… and lies(?) in the world we’re shown.
After the “theft” of the new weapon by the military, it doesn’t take long for them to unveil their own version of Dai-Guard so they can excise the civilian aspect of the Heterodyne conflict. The military’s introduction is a large and almost ugly variant named Kokubogar. Like Dai-Guard, it’s piloted by three people but these folks are military, listen to orders and simply do what they’re told. As we hear, they’re not reckless like Akagi and his team are, nor are they profit driven as they believe the parent company of Dai-Guard is about it.
Akagi manages to sneak into the press gallery for the unveiling and ends up directly challenging Shirota and his new mech against Dai-Guard in a formal challenge. The press loves it, since they’re mostly in favor of Dai-Guard as it’s been doing so well and is very well received by the population in general. The military higher-ups agree to it, and the competition begins. For Akagi, it’s not the kind of competition he expected, as they do things like having them hold eggs and do various menial and very hard to do things, things that Dai-Guard easily fails at. Add in that Akagi himself is feeling ill and almost passing out, their performance is horrible.
After a horrible defeat, and one that really chaffs at Akagi as the leader of the Kokubogar team is a former professor of his, he ends up in the hospital for an extended period. Ibuki and Aoyama end up getting close to visiting, though both are there for other reasons unknown to each other. Aoyama is there to see his recently admitted mother, who he doesn’t want anyone at all to meet, and Ibuki is there as her parents run the place. Both are having serious parental issues which end up clouding their judgment about a variety of things as their lives become more complicated.
The bulk of the episodes focus on this volume goes towards the rivalry going on in the upper levels of the Dai-Guard parent company and the military. After the military manages to keep the Heterodyne threat to themselves, they end up learning that while they have the more powerful machine, they don’t have quite what it takes to do the job. This shows up in different ways, from how the higher up mysterious folks seem to have other plans for the Heterodynes, such as using them for weapons development, to the inability of being able to rebuild their mech quickly.
There’s a lot of good stuff throughout these episodes, especially considering Akagi is essentially out of two of them due to his hospital time. Shirota manages to get some rather good screen time again, especially when there’s the entire dealing with the office Christmas Party. This cast has really gelled well together and the way things play off of each other is great. Some of it’s a bit forced, notably the thing with Aoyama trying to keep his mother from meeting anyone, but overall it’s a lot of fun to see where things are going with this show. Add all of that to a visual presentation that’s as flawless as I can see, it’s really easy to immerse and lose yourself into this fun show.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Production sketches,"Behind the Scenes" with Japanese voice actors
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: A
Packaging Rating: D+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dai Guard