Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #05 (of 9) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2004
What They Say
Still trapped in the barren world of Lacroa, the Gundam Force must find a way back to Neotopia. Before they can do that though, they will come face to face with the vicious Knight Tallgeese, who has acquired the power of the legendary Griffin! With new members being added to the Gundam Force, the Dark Axis launches an aerial invasion! The team must call upon its newest member, the fabulous, highflying Gun Eagle!
Bringing the three part arc to a close and then kicking off some standalone fun, Super Defender Gundam continue to mix plot and comedy together.
With this being an English designed production, the only language here is English in a solid sounding stereo mix. There isn't a ton of directionality across the forward soundstage, but there are a number of notable areas throughout the show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2003, SD Gundam comes across rather well on our setup. The transfer here is a very good looking one with a very smooth feel with the vibrant cel shaded animation. The colors throughout here are vibrant and fully saturated without much in the way of noticeable cross coloration. There's some aliasing visible during various panning sequences, but it isn't too distracting in general. Regular anime shows would probably not work well in this format, but a show like this really takes advantage of the tools provided to it and churns out a great looking piece of work.
Taking center stage on this cover is Shute again along with the Captain in what's your basic action pose. The duo is set against a backdrop of an explosion or something very bright and fiery but without much distinction. The back cover loses its Neotopia look and now goes for a basic grid look with artwork of the Gundam's in varying forms as well as a few shots from the show. The shows premise and episode summaries are listed here alongside the episode numbers and titles. The usual array of production and technical information is easy to read and laid out as expected. Unlike previous volumes, no insert was included in this release and it really has no need for one anyway.
The main menu is a simple static piece with the image of the Captain set against a cloudscape backdrop alongside the episode selections. With nothing here beyond the show, this is one of those very simple menus that works effectively but has no bells or whistles attached to it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout quick to use.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Another volume of Super Defender Gundam and three more episodes of one of the stranger shows that I end up seeing. As said in past reviews, this isn't exactly high art but rather your basic Saturday morning style cartoon with some sense of continuity and story to it that isn't really expected. With it's cel shaded animation, it doesn't look like any other Gundam show but it's got a strange appeal to it. A lot of that appeal comes from the mixture of the animation style and the comedy, particularly of the Zako's and the others from the Dark Dimension.
This volume provides some storyline and then offers up a bit of recap and finally decides to offer you more toys to buy. Really, the show is pretty up front about things like this and at least I can respect that aspect of it.
The opening episode brings us to the final installment of the three part storyline where the team is looking for the spirit egg that Wing Zero needs to free Lacroa. This story arc has actually been pretty decent, partially due to the introduction of the Tallgeese and the way he kicks their asses in general while having that really superior attitude about everything. There's some emotional moments intended here as the spirit egg becomes central to finishing things up and the triplets that we've had to deal with get really involved with bringing everything to a conclusion. There aren't any surprises as this plays out and as it gets closer to the end the more drawn out it feels. The Tallgeese scenes are the ones that are worth it though as he starts calling in the four mystical beasts to be under his control, which had me starting to compare the various leads in the show to characters from Fushigi Yugi.
Gundam series seem to have an affinity for recaps at episode fourteen, having just seen one in Gundam SEED at the same point, so I wasn't too surprised to see one here for this series. As much as I hate recaps, I can understand their need a bit more for the younger kids in a show like this. They at least do the recap creatively here by having a pair of Zako's arrive in Neotopia and then dressing them up as a female news reporter and a male cameraman who are there to interview them for their "deepest secrets". The female looking Zako is just priceless as she plays up her part with her outfit and hair. There is some good kiddie comedy with how this all interacts and while the recap stuff is boring, it was at least amusing in the way they presented it.
The last episode really feels like a tossaway thing though since the plot is pretty much non-existent other than something happening in Neotopia that's in a location where our usual Gundam's can't get to. So the SD Gundam Force has just the thing for the situation with the GunEagle, a new toy, er, I mean a new Gundam that will help deal with the situation. This is actually a really nicely animated episode in a lot of places since the aerial fight sequences are pretty detailed and have some great fluidity to it, but it's just such a blatant toy placement in a series built around toy placement. We even get a cute new fluffy mascot. If only it would replace Shute, cause I'm sure it's smarter than him.
If you haven't been buying it, you likely aren't going to by now. If you are, this volume moves things forward a bit and gives a few more hints towards the larger storyline but that's barely a third of the volume. There's some fun to be had but it's pretty similar to how the previous volumes have played out. My kids continue to enjoy watching it and there's enough humor that I don't fall asleep watching it.
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Superior Defender Gundam Force