New Getter Robo Vol. #1 (also w/box) (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, January 27, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 01, 2005



What They Say
Huge monsters stalk the earth! Resembling the ancient legends of Oni, the monsters begin attacking the laboratory where Dr. Saotome developing the Getter Robo, a robot so powerful it overwhelms ordinary pilots! Dr. Saotome then locates three of the most dangerous men on the planet to draft as pilots: Ryoma the fighter, Hayato the bezerker and Benkei the giant!

The Review!
Rebooting once again, the world of Getter Robo comes alive in a high action and high violence combination.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The mix for this show is quite active with a lot of sounds moving back and forth across the forward soundstage. It's the kind of series you really do wish they had done a 5.1 mix for since between the Robo ships and the oni characters there's so much going on and the action scenes are all over the screen. The mix handles things well enough for a stereo mix though and dialogue is clean and clear throughout. During regular playback, we had no issues with either language track in terms of dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2004, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series really plays up the retro feel while combining with the digital look and the result is something that works to great effect here and the transfer allows it to shine. The show is filled with large areas of bold and bright colors as well as a lot of hyperactive action sequences and it doesn't fail to capture them all in great detail. Outside of one or two areas where some of the blacks had a bit of blocking going on, this is a great looking transfer. With the color palette chosen I was afraid to see a lot of gradient issues but was pleased that there were hardly any there at all and that the transfer is basically problem free for the most part. This is just a very slick looking production.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the first Japanese regular edition release but with a translated logo, the cover here is one that at first didn't look all that good but the more I looked at it the more I liked it. The foreground is fairly simple with just a gruff shot of Ryoma in his shiny blue outfit walking with a really mean look on his face while the background has the Getter Robo holding back the green waves of Oni. The more I looked at it the more I liked the color choices and the way it's laid out, such as the Getter seemingly pushing back the wave of oni. The back cover is a very dark piece that provides a real mix of text and images. Two strips of images run through the back cover with the episode numbers and titles in between them as well as a brief summary of each episode. The very top goes into the premise while the bottom half runs through the discs features and technical information which is mostly easy to find and clear, though as is seeming to be more common, the run time was hard to find quickly. The insert uses the oni imagery from the front cover with the chapter listings for each episode and that opens up into two panels where one of them is the artwork from the second volume with Hayato and Getter Two while the other panel is a shot of all three leads together. The back panel continue the oni imagery from the front and gives the release months for future volumes.

Menu:
The main menu is an interesting piece that takes the darker elements of the show and combines it with the bloody violence that's throughout it with some of the creepy music. It's a well animated piece from Nightjar that uses the right mix of music and additional sound effects and visual together to create a striking piece. Navigation is nicely laid out in a straight row without any quirky movements to get places and access times are nice and fast. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets properly and played as expected.

Extras:
A couple of extras are included in the first release of the series. The first is that we get a textless version of the opening sequence but unfortunately no original Japanese opening, which I would like to see since the credits specifically give mention to the calligraphy writer in the Japanese version. Also included are a couple of music clips that would basically be considered music videos if they were just a bit longer. They're just animated letterbox pieces and not videos with the actual musicians performing but they're still nicely done.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when this franchise was revived in the late 90's, it wasn't something that I got into all that easily, particularly since it had a lot of history to it and none of that was really available. Being thrust into a show isn't new though so after a few episodes and getting some backgrounds on it, things started to make sense but there was always that element of wondering if I should be enjoying it more if I just knew more of what was actually going on.

When word of a new OVA series was being kicked off in 2004 for it, the only important thing I noted about it since I figured it'd be an easy lock for getting licensed, is that it is essentially a restart of the franchise, so the back story of the original series as well as the previous 90's series no longer mattered. While there were sure to be nods in the new series for the old school fans, it was something that was starting from scratch and would be far more accessible, providing you could get into that retro material at all as well as the style that they use.

Watching these four episodes, it definitely brought back some memories of the 90's series but it also staked out the territory here firmly enough to be its own show. While there was certainly epic moments and violence in the previous incarnation, this one wants to make that look like pre-school shenanigans. The show opens big with an ugly looking demon style robot that's charging over an island and battling with dumbed down versions of the Getter combinations that are all white and they're getting their asses handed to them, from being torn apart to pilots that are flat out stepped on. It's a bloody fight but one where when the Getter prototype shows up, it's able to use the sacrifice of a comrade to finally destroy it. Watching from the command center, the Getter's creator, Dr. Saotome, realizes that none of these people (his son included) are the right kind of people to handle the strain of piloting the real Getter Robo and dealing with the Getter Rays. So while the rebuilding goes on, a search for the new and more capable pilots begins.

This is done in a traditional style where each episode is given to each of the three pilots, so that we get time to shine the light on them and then an episode where they all have to come together at the end in learning to work together to fight the bigger evil. Let's be up front and say that's the bulk of what this volume is, because it's true. It's how it's done that gets to be so fascinating and engaging. The opening episode starts with the recruitment of Ryoma, the twenty-something street fighting black belt martial artists whose down on his luck and out of money but is one of the baddest of the baddest on the streets. He's tested by Saotome who then takes him into custody and starts to tell him about the Getter Robo. But what really convinces Ryoma is when he sees the oni's start to appear.

This is the change in the series from the last one in that there's a history of devils in this world and they're coming back now and are after the Getter Robo. All it takes is one to get in and they can start a bloodbath and convert the dead into life-hungry followers, eliminating whatever was in their soul before and just going for the jugular. Ryoma watches this as a good part of the base gets taken over by an assault of them and the sacrifices people make to fend them off. Though this does spur him on to be sure to join in the fight, the challenge is probably what draws him the most to it. Especially in that all it takes is one oni to reach a particular area outside and it can call a giant robot demon from another dimension and that giant version will then become the real trouble. Ryoma takes to the controls of the Getter Robo with ease and the start of things really occurs here.

What really hooked me was the introduction of the Hayato character, the one destined to pilot the second Getter machine. His portrayal in this version is rather interesting in that he's seemingly something of a noble goal-oriented terrorist of a sort without any qualms about killing but it goes further. He's got a psychotic edge to him that's just below the surface and loves to come out. When he attempts to steal the Getter machines, he's stopped by Ryoma and then has some of his gang turn into oni on him. This actually freaks him out and he doesn't know what to do until Ryoma tells him the only way to stop them is to utterly destroy them. Hayato just goes completely nuts in this respect and literally claws apart a former comrades head to ensure he's dead. His being thrust into a Getter machine to help fend off the latest giant robot is very amusing since he doesn't want to do it and is frenetic in his trying to escape from it. Once he comes around, his edge is still very much present though and it's an interesting balance to the team.

The series definitely goes for that retro feel much in the way the previous one did but with the newer animation styles combined with the older designs, the bold coloring and the heavy inking style for the character artwork you get something that definitely works well like this. Much in the way I find a lot of Matsumoto's old 70's designs gain a new life in this digitally painted format, so does the Getter Robo franchise. It retains a lot of that silly feel of the 70's, particularly in how the Getter Robo looks, but combines it nicely with the slick animation and new sensibilities. In a way, this almost feels like a throwback to the 90's at the same time with its heavy violence but it fits in with a number of strongly male-dominated anime shows coming out that don't pussyfoot around things like they might have at one point.

In Summary:
While I ended up eventually enjoying parts of the previous incarnation of Getter Robo, the fact that this one reboots from the a new beginning and starts there without the heavy baggage of history that I can't know, it becomes all the more accessible. Accessibility doesn't always mean it's a good show though but New Getter Robo manages to take a well worn concept, twist things around a bit for this new incarnation and then just runs it with wild abandon. Though the characters are fairly basic and the motivations simple, this was surprisingly addictive and enjoyable with four episodes that went by fast and looked gorgeous the entire way. This show definitely falls into the category of something to check out if you're needing a big fix of testosterone from watching too much shojo. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Two music clips

Review Equipment
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: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98/39.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: New Getter Robo