Dai-Guard Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Friday, July 18, 2003
Release Date: Monday, July 21, 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. Vinyl gave way to digital. Pen and ink gave way to computers. So it is that Dai-guard gives way to…. Not so fast. You can’t teach an old robot new tricks, but it will learn them on its own if it has to. The invaders hoped to catch us by surprise. What they failed to remember was that it isn’t 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!

The Review!
Four episodes of big robot action, presented for you delectation.

Audio:
I watched two episodes in Japanese and two in English. I found both tracks to be clear, rich and without error.

Opening theme “Back Alley Spaceboy” and closing theme “Run, Run” were very catchy after a couple of re-plays.

Video:
I can’t find fault with the DVD, it’s a perfect transfer from the original.

Packaging:
The front of the box shows the six characters from the series looking pensive, with Dai-Guard standing protectively in the background. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and a full yet prevaricating forward of things to come, yup, why use 50 words when 100 words will do.

The insert is a single sheet with a picture of Dai-Guard and two of the male characters. The flip side contains a basic episode guide, with some rather nice production sketches.

The disc itself is very nicely printed, with a very distinctive black and yellow border, Dai-Guard and it’s pilot. - I really do like printed discs J

Menu:
A simple, but functional menu, made to look like a construction sign (perhaps), with the episode selection down the left side and options along the bottom. All hotspots worked and did so quickly.

Extras:
The behind the scenes footage should have been the jewel in the crown, but all we got was a promo of the production team out on the town. I learned nothing new except how many flavors of ice cream you can fit on one cone- disappointing.

Sketches are plentiful and cover most aspects of the characters and scenery. And if you like clean open\ closing songs then you’re in luck.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
OK, I’ll ‘fess-up and say I’ve never watched an episode of DG before, so I’m reviewing this knowing the background story, but viewing the disc in isolation to the previous volumes.

Episode 10 concerns itself with the military’s unveiling of the all new Dai-Guard replacement, the “Kokubogar”. In a fit of pride Akagi challenges Shirota and the Kokubogar to a duel. The outcome of which sees Dai-Guard thoroughly defeated. During the duel, the Heterodyne attack and once again Akagi and crew leap to earth’s defense only to be publicly humiliated in their failure. It is left to Kokubogar to save the day.

Episode 10 contains a surprising amount of character depth, with all the major protagonists showing remarkable individuality. The Dai-Guard crew (Akagi, Ibuki and Aoyama) show themselves to be dysfunctional due to their unhappy personal circumstances, but it all makes logical sense. Certainly no one-dimensional characters in this series!

Episode 11 is really a two part story. We see the army try to capture a Heterodyne for study, but it all goes horribly wrong. In the ensuing calamity “Kokubogar” is assimilated by the Heterodyne. Then a second Heterodyne appears and so Dai-Guard is left to fight two enemies, but without it’s pilot Akagi! Who can save the day?

Yup, this is an excellent episode and you are left on a cliff hanger ending. Special mention to the incidental music which does a great job in building the tension.

Episode 12 continues the story of Dai-Guard fighting two Heterodynes, with the added problem of trying to save Professor Ishizuka who is trapped. The focus is split between Military\ 21st Century strategy against the Heterodyne, and the assembled characters dealing with the quiet before the battle. There are some tender and funny moments to be seen here, and we learn something new about most of the characters, but especially Shirota. All-in-all plenty of “feel good” to go around.

Episode 13 has a Heterodyne attack whilst a Christmas party is underway, but this is very much secondary to the political machinations within 21st Century, and the continuing failure of the military to defeat the enemy without Dai-Guard’s help. The ultimate outcome within both organizations is very difficult to predict, and indicates that new plot twists will be forthcoming. Not a very exciting episode, but intriguing non-the-less.

Throughout this volume I couldn’t help but notice the same recurring theme of duty and conformity, it crops up in each episode. These being the two keystones to Japanese Military or Corporate lifestyle. So it should comes as no surprise to see the Military and 21st Century constantly at logger heads over who should save the planet- both believe it should be them, and pride is topping them working effectively.

Apart from the robot designs (so old fashioned) the film presentation is clear and well defined. Colors are bold (primarily on the characters) and the animation itself is very good. There is a slight air of EVA about the series (Heterodynes being the omnipotent Angel force), but then it’s hard not to make a giant robot series that doesn’t… but Akagi is nothing like Shinji (hurray).

In summary- if you already bought the first two volume I can see no reason not to buy the third.

Features
English Language in Dolby stereo,English with Song Subtitles Dolby stereo,Japanese with English Subtitles Dolby stereo,Clean Opening,Clean Close,Production Sketches,Behind the scenes (in Japan)

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21” Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & headphones.




Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dai Guard