Gravitation Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2004
What They Say
Bad Luck is breaking up?! Things are crumbling left and right. Shuichi, still recovering from his run-in with Taki Aizawa, is beginning to have second thoughts about his future with Bad Luck. His soaring popularity and fierce rivalry with ASK are threatening to really hurt Yuki... Will he quit Bad Luck just to keep Yuki safe? Meanwhile, Shuichi's love for Yuki may be unshakable, but their relationship is falling apart. Yuki is becoming increasingly more reclusive and Shuichi will do anything to discover why.
Then, just when things look like they can't get any worse, Touma shocks the world by announcing during a press conference that the legendary Nittle Grasper is reforming! Now Shuichi has yet another problem to deal with: competing against his lifelong pop idol Ryuichi Sakuma!
Gravitation continues to move to the beat of its own drummer so to speak and the show barrels forward with its little plot twists and romantic curveballs.
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.
Originally airing back in the fall of 2000, Gravitation is presented here in its full frame aspect ratio. Halfway through the series, we shifted gears in our setup and the change is very noticeable with this show. 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 problems that we had in the first volume had dropped off some in the second but was still plainly visible. In this volume under the new player and connections, that's almost practically gone. You can tell that it's really still there as along the edges of the hair there's some faint movement, but our hardware change went a long way in reducing a visible problem to a minor one. While some of the backgrounds aren't quite as solid as they could be, they still look very good. 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.
Continuing the great looking covers, we get another shot of Yuki and Shuichi together in some of their normal clothes while Seguchi stands off to the side in contemplation watching them. The style and colors used here still looks solid and maintains a great continuity with the previous covers. 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.
Giving Nittle Grasper a chance at the menu, 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.
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 Nittle Grasper 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)
Between reading the manga and watching this, I know my worlds of Gravitation continue to be confused but each of them just has me laughing out loud often enough that I simply don't mind anymore. With four more episodes, the anime series rushes forward in its own special way by getting the relationship between Yuki and Shindo firmed up a bit more by giving them some extra trials to go through.
A lot of the show, and the manga as well, deals with the ups and downs of their relationship. If it had been Yuki and anyone else, I suspect it would be a roller coaster of a ride as well but the valleys and hills would be much further apart from each other. With Shindo, it feels like the ups and downs are so fast and frequent that it's reminiscent of the old Looney Toon shows with their comical roller coasters. Shindo's ability to fly off the handle into despair and make decisions is almost legendary at this point so with the way Yuki continues to be abrupt with him he's always close to leaving him. When Yuki simply ups and moves without telling him, it sends Shindo into a spiral that shifts between him giving up on Yuki forever and then wanting to be with him forever.
A good amount of focus on this volume is given to pushing the band forward to their first release and getting the group out there so that the publicity factor is high when the single does get released. Through some amusing behind the scenes maneuvering by K, a master indeed, he's able to ensure that Yuki is providing the right kind of incentive to Shindo for him to actually do the work that's required. It also works out to Yuki's advantage as well as the two of them continue to really get closer and closer. The revelations that Yuki has made so far are actually fairly minimal, though important, and have helped reshape his view of Shindo and how he views not just the world but people around him.
The return of Nittle Grasper to the stage is another nice addition to the plot since it brings Sakuma into play more and provides something tangible for Shindo to try and strive towards while also giving him a reason to be depressed about his abilities. There's some good growth related to it here for Shindo that makes a lot of sense and isn't something that you think of initially. There's also a lot of really amusing comedy to these episodes. K continues to be a very humorous character though usually deadpan. The moments when he starts shooting into the apartment are priceless and the characters facial reactions had us almost falling out of the chair. Shindo himself provides plenty of comedy as he goes super deformed and all bubbly at times. He's already a comical character to begin with but when he goes into this mode or does his insane stuff like wearing a schoolgirl uniform or the banana outfit, it just pushes it even more.
The animation quality in the show takes an interesting turn. While the first episode here isn't bad by any stretch and seems to be the standard for the series, there's a noticeable shift in the second episode where the colors seem bright, the designs a bit fuller and the animation a bit more fluid. It's almost like it got infused with a bit more cash and life and it shows in the quality of the animation.
Even with its flaws and loose style, Gravitation continues to be a series that keeps us riding the same as its lead character. When a show is very enjoyable it always goes by too fast. When it's awful it seems like it drags on forever. Gravitation flies by for us. The fun of pretty boys in love combined with the music industry, idol material and the general insanity of Shindo make this a very fun show to watch and it complements the manga very well. While not for everyone, those who take the Gravitation crack and love it will find a show that they'll be watching repeatedly for years to come.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Episode Liner Notes,Art Gallery,Nittle Grasper Support Profiles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player upconverted to 720p, 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
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2