Get Backers Vol. #03 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
What They Say
Ban and Ginji teamed up with Shido when the going got tough. They got help from Himiko when she was in a good mood. But what on earth could possibly force them to make nice with…Doctor Jackal?! Only the most dangerous mission the GetBackers have faced to date. And it's gonna take them straight into the heart of the most dangerous location in town: the Limitless Fortress. A mysterious client wants them to recover an object so classified, it can only be called by its initials: IL. Can the GetBackers survive this strange alliance to get back the IL?
Moving into the next arc that spans this entire volume and into the next one, Get Backers gets into a really good rhythm here as it tackles the Limitless Fortress.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is a solid piece of work with plenty of directionality across the forward soundstage that brings you fully into the action during the big sequences but also hits up the dialogue pieces just as well. The English mix is done in a 5.1 upgrade and that expands well upon the original mix by giving it some greater clarity as well as more oomph during some of the big chase scenes. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2002, Get Backers is presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. For the most part, this is a great looking release that really shows a lot of detail to the image and is generally problem free. Colors are rich with a mix of vibrant pieces and solid real world style backgrounds. Cross coloration is virtually nil while there's a touch of aliasing during some of the panning sequences. We did note some very light blocking going on in a few scenes where some of the solid color sections didn't maintain their feel too well at 720p upconverted). For the bulk of people checking this out, it's going to be a near flawless looking transfer.
Using the Japanese release artwork, Shido and Kazuki get a chance to show off in striking a pose or two while set against an outdoors setting where the blue shading is well used. The original logo, complete with the small Japanese text at the top right end of it, is used and the volume numbering is there as well. The artwork itself is nicely detailed and gives you a good idea of what to expect in terms of character designs and the general feel of things. The back cover has a few shots from the show wrapped around a summary of the shows premise and the discs extras. Most of the important information for the technical side is listed in the information grid along the bottom just below the Japanese production information. The insert uses a variant of the front cover skewed a bit while the reverse side of it lists the episode titles and the discs extras. Essentially, this is a release that didn't need an insert.
The menus for this release are simple and straightforward with just static images for the backgrounds with music playing along. The main menu features the lead duo on opposite sides of the screen while the series title and selections are between them. It's a decent looking menu but as a number of menus for ADV seem to be lately, they're becoming somewhat stale with all the static imagery. Access times are nice and fast and the submenus load quickly. The disc also properly read our players' language presets which continues to be a huge plus.
Much like the previous volumes, for English language fans, the extras on this release are solid. There's a lengthy behind the scenes interview session with a number of the characters relevant to this volume and they talk about their experiences with anime itself, acting and the show as well. The commentaries drop down a bit here and there's only one new one this time, with Samantha Inoue-Hart leading the track with Hector Martinez jr. in the discussion. Samantha mentions she's not in this show and I haven't caught Hector's name in the credits yet but I'll assume he's in the series somewhere. Suffice to say, I didn't find much interesting in the track but others may find something here. Instead of commentaries like this, I think ADV would be better off in starting their own original series of "Inside the Voice Actors Studio" and just do real interviews, clips and promotion for their shows instead of doing a commentary that really doesn't have much to it for the show it's attached to. Use the creative side for something original instead, there are plenty of people who would be interested in something like that, myself included. In addition to all of this, there's the standard clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While there are a number of series that come out that I think you can overdose on when it comes to five episodes on a volume, Get Backers is a series where the more the better. Though they tend to do fairly lengthy episode arcs, they don't feel like they're being stretched out just for the sake of adding more episodes to the story. This volume kicks off the next storyline and spans all five episodes here and even then the tale isn't complete as it looks to fill the next volume as well.
And a fun little tale it is, though it does keep to its roots of being an action/comedy series. It all kicks off with the usual gags about the duo having no money, no gigs and no prospects so they sit all day long at the Honky Tonk Bar where they get grief from the owner and loving handouts from the beautiful young woman there. As it goes, one by one various familiar faces show up along with Hevn who tells them that she's got a big job from a big client and needs a sizeable professional team. All is well and good until Doctor Jackal, aka Akabane, shows up as part of the team. There's plenty of distrust and outright anger over it, but as Hevn points out, this is how these kinds of groups work and he is one of the best transporters out there, which is a requirement for this job.
Though the introduction to the client is a bit shady and happens at the outskirts of the Limitless Fortress, the impression of importance is definitely given as they tell the group about an item that was stolen from them by someone inside the Fortress. Providing them with a map and a promise of a huge sum of money per person, they're sent on their way and the meeting place is demolished behind them. The impression of importance as well as not being tracked down definitely strikes strongly here. Forming their own weird version of the Magnificent Seven, the group is ready to head into the Fortress proper and search out this strange item known only as IL and no description of what it is available to them.
Naturally, there's some trepidation about going there among some of them. For Ginji, Shido and Kazuki, all of them have left that place behind them and aren't exactly welcome back there. Ginji in particular since a lot of people that are still in there claim that he's responsible for what's happened since he abruptly left it. His force of will, once removed, left everything up in the air and the power grab got even worse when two of the Four Kings left there as well. Ban sort of doesn't have any issue in doing it but realizes how difficult the job is and Himiko isn't even sure what the Fortress really is. The only one genuinely excited is Akabane since his pleasure in a project comes from just how much fun he has on the journey itself and not the pay in terms of money. With a potentially violence filled mini city at his disposal, he's subtly excited.
Of course, their arrival into the Fortress doesn't go unnoticed or seemingly unexpected as various groups of thugs start making their moves once they get into things. This sets up a predictable moment where things go bad quickly and the group is separated up into pairs of two's as Hevn opted not to go into the city proper but just to deliver them there. The charm that works for the episodes here is in the pairing and what they discover along the way in their journey to find the IL object. The best pairing is Ginji and Akabane as the two of them are just such interesting in how they deal with each other. Even though Ginji's managed to beat him before, he's fearful of him to the extreme. Akabane is eager to fight Ginji again but is professional enough to put this job at the forefront of things. But he sticks to Ginji like glue since Ginji is his guide in all of this and he's unfamiliar with the place. Ginji's morphing into tiny/super-deformed mode throughout this is positively hilarious as he tries to escape and Akabane's ease in keeping up and basically freaking Ginji out is just as priceless. This is a really good combination that the other pairings don't even come close to achieving.
As each of the groups move forward and encounter more people coming after them, the mystery starts to get clearer about who is pulling the strings and what the real objective may be. There's some good time spent on some of the characters that needed it, particular Kazuki as we get to see more of his past and his skills, and the look and feel of the Limitless Fortress as a character itself gets expanded nicely. Though the setting itself doesn't seem consistent at times as they get deeper inside it, the concept of such a city within a city is always fascinating and the way it's been manipulated since Ginji left shows some interesting ideas with it.
As much as I've enjoyed the first two volumes of the series, this extended storyline has only managed to up my appreciation and enjoyment of the show. Bringing the characters together that have spent the past ten episodes fighting with each other isn't original but it's just very well done here and it works in a proper way since they're all supposedly professionals. The Fortress itself is something that's been screaming for more depth to be given to it so we're getting lots of interesting new material here plus a wide variety of amusing and interesting villains. The shows pacing is spot on and it's not trying to be anything more than it is, a rough and tumble action/comedy series that has fun characters, a smart sense of humor and a real playfulness to it. I can't believe I'm enjoying it as much as I am.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation, Production sketches,Behind the scenes,English Cast Commentary
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: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Get Backers