Gravitation Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, July 04, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2004



What They Say
Love - the one force that simply won't be denied!

Ever since he met Eiri Yuki, Shuichi's world has been turned upside down! Bad Luck now has a new manager: a gun-toting maniac by the name of K. He's managed to land them their first big break and it's even on TV! Unfortunately, it's not the kind of break any of them were expecting?

Even as Bad Luck's star begins to rise, Shuichi places his relationship with Yuki in serious trouble when he decides to move into Yuki's place without telling him. If Yuki has his way, Shuichi will be right back out on the street! If things weren't bad enough, the arrival of a mysterious young woman is about to really throw things into turmoil. It seems she's looking for Yuki because she's his fiancee! Shuichi begins to realize that he doesn't really know anything about Yuki's past. Could this mean the end for Yuki and Shuichi's relationship?


The Review!
Just like any other relationship series, Gravitations duo goes through a series of ups and downs as Yuki's past continues to keep trying to get through the front door.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a really good stereo mix that has some solid oomph to it when it comes to the music scenes and some of the action sequences where the sound effects make good use of the stereo channels. Dialogue is for the most part center channel driven but it's got a good range to it and comes across well. Combined with a solid music score, the audio for these two tracks comes off very good and free of problems during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing back in the fall of 2000, Gravitation is presented here in its full frame aspect ratio. The transfer overall is rather good but there's a mixed bag effect going on. The show features a lot of really good vibrant colors throughout, particularly when it comes to the purples it seems, but also in many other areas. Combined with the good backgrounds and the overall feel, the colors look great, solid and generally free of problems. The cross coloration issues we had with the first volume is still present here. It shifts between being annoying for a few seconds to only being lightly visible. Right Stuf also manages to score some good points here by having alternate angles for the opening and ending sequence based on language selection before starting the disc with the original Japanese credits as the default and the translated ones as the second angle. Overall, the show looks good but will vary by how your setup handles the cross coloration as well as your own eyes.

Packaging:
Similar to the first volume, we get another shot of Yuki and Shuichi together but not quite as slutty as both are fully clothed and Shuichi has a hilarious bunny floppy ear hat on while Yuki looks like he's really suffering with the thing on his back. It's a cute cover and a nice change from the first one. The back cover has a few shots from the show and uses some good images such as stage equipment as well as tickets to give it a very in-theme feel. The summary provides a good feel for what to expect and Right Stuf has adopted the technical grid along the bottom with all the basic information. Even better, the cover artwork for the reverse side is very sweetly done; it's all black and looks like a plaque so underneath the disc side there isn't anything but the other panel has a Bad Luck CD cover and a "Platinum Record" piece underneath it, just like the kind you find in the offices of managers and producers.

Menu:
Giving the trio in Bad Luck some, er, interesting stage outfits, they take up a good portion of the main menu here in their attempt to look cool while the backdrop is set with screaming fans from the concert and motion lights coming from the spotlights all set to one of the songs from the show. It's very much in theme and it looks and works great. The layout is easy to navigate and the functionality is smooth and fast. Even our usual issues with the trailers section has been removed so that it's no longer a problem.

Extras:
The extras for this volume are pretty similar to the past one and look really well done with the layout for the extras menu. The art gallery is pretty standard fare and the Meet ASK section is the usual character profile pieces. There are some good translation notes included with this release that explain away a few peculiarities and we also get a clean opening sequence (nicely listed as a music video but clear about what it is). While not a lot of material, it's well laid out and nicely done in-theme with the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After an addictive first volume, the second volume was anxiously awaited for here. So much so that my wife even went and read all the available English translated manga between releases since she enjoyed the show so much. And I haven't been able to get her to read manga in years. The power of pretty boys in love indeed.

Gravitation continues on much like it did in the first volume, which is mostly the ups and downs of the relationship between Shuichi and Yuki. Each of them has their own baggage that they're bringing to the relationship, though Shuichi's is a little less evident, and that affects how they each see each other. Shuichi's problems come from his lack of confidence about the relationship in general, even though he doesn't focus too much on the gender issue. The fact he's in love has so overwhelmed his thought processes that the differences in that alone haven't really seeped through to his brain yet. For Yuki, he's got his deep dark secrets that he hasn't shared with anyone but it's something that his family knows about as his sister keeps coming to his place to get him to come back home and at least talk with their father.

For Bad Luck, they continue their own journey of changes as they progress towards recording their debut single CD. After the request made by Seguchi in the previous episodes, Sakano moves into a producer position for the band while K takes on the position of manager. K's style, with his being from the American music business, is nothing like anything else people here have seen so his methods cause concern constantly as does his free wheeling use of his firearms. While his methods may be questionable, they do consistently produce results. And with things starting to gel with Fujisaki now in the group, Bad Luck is moving right along. But K pushes things even harder by getting them their stage debut at the place where Sakuma made his debut all those years ago but with only two days to rehearse.

While Shuichi should be riding high from all of this, he's actually getting kicked down and out. An accidental encounter with a young woman who was lost turns out to be more than he imagined. She's apparently Yuki's fiancÚ who has come from Kyoto to find Yuki and to make sure things are still going forward. The entire deal is being done without his approval or consent but the families continue to get things going on it. None of this gets told to anyone who doesn't already know, so Shuichi ends up in a depression and decides that he's better off by letting Yuki go with the woman he thinks he loves instead of him and that of course affects everything else that's going on in his life.

There's another amusing subplot that's continuing on here with Aizawa of ASK is working to discredit and humiliate Shuichi since everything he does seems to turn to gold. Bad Luck gets put on TV at the last minute as a participant in a quiz show and Shuichi uses it as a chance to make a deal where if they win the game they'll get to sing a song instead of accepting the prize. The group was brought onto the game show as comedic relief (after all, who ever heard of intelligent musicians) so they're given the go-ahead on the plan since it's believed there's no way they could possibly win. Their appearance here only pushes Aiziawa further into trying to put down Shuichi and ruin him and his group.

In Summary:
While not quite as laugh out loud funny as the first volume, we still really enjoyed this volume a lot. Between picking out differences with the manga or simply enjoying the comical plot progress, Gravitation is a show whose releases are over far too quick. When you get to the end of the disc and realize it's over and that's it and are surprised by it, that's the sign of an engaging and entertaining show here. We're not checking runtime counters or counting episodes but rather are sucked into the show and just plain enjoy it. Gravitation is good simple fun with lots of pretty boys in there so both my wife and I are quite happy with it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean "Super Drive" Opening,Episode Liner Notes,Art Gallery,ASK and Bad Luck Support Profiles,First 5000 DVDs released will include a special dual-sided hard plastic VIP Backstage Pass that comes in its own special keepsake envelope

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



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: Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gravitation