Gravion Zwei Vol. #1 (also w/box) (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 28, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 08, 2005
What They Say
Effeminate Heroes! Giant Fighting Robots! Gravity-defying Breasts! Sandman and his ragtag crew of misfits and loners are back at it again, saving the earth from the deadly Zeravire invasion... only this time, they won't be the only ones on duty! Enter the elite G-Soldier Squadron, the first unit of the government's attempt to mass-produce Gravion technology. Led by ace pilot Faye, will the G-Soldiers push the Earthgertz gang out of a job?
Launching into a second season, Gravion Zwei manages to shoehorn in a few minutes of plot among all the fanservice.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a lot of things going on during it as well as some in-series specific music, so the stereo mix gets used pretty heavily here. Dialogue is generally center channel based but does spread out a bit throughout the show, but it's the music that really fills things up. There are a lot of action scenes throughout here as well so those tend to use the stereo channels a lot to emphasize their location on the screen. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems with it during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for the four episodes of Gravion Zwei here looks really good. The show has resolved the blending issues of the previous series and the foreground characters feel much more natural against the backgrounds and they look far less like they're on top of things instead of in a setting. The colors are rich and solid without any noticeable breakup. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal throughout and there weren't any real playback issues at all.
Though not used for the Japanese retail release, the cover artwork here definitely speaks volumes about this particular release as it has a couple of the lead female pilots thrown into maid outfits and put to work in showing off their goods, complete with Lolotte getting into the picture. It simply screams fanservice to the high end with the panty and ass shots here and I can't really tell whether I like it or not. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a cute image of Leele along one side while the other has a few paragraphs of summary and just how much fanservice you can find inside. The discs features and episodes are listed in a small block but no episode numbers are included – at least the spine has the volume number. The rest of the cover is made up of the usual production credits and a decent block of technical information in the grid. No insert was included with this release.
Going with the futuristic layout by using the mystical symbol associated with the Gravion, the main menu is nicely in theme with bits of animation playing around it. The layout is easy to use with instant episode access and a fairly intuitive navigation style. With no transitional animations to the menu, access times are nice and fast and everything loads quickly. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
There is a fair bit of extras included on this opening volume. A lot of it is in the form of art galleries as there are separate ones provided for the characters, general art and episode art. A selection of the Japanese commercials is included as are the clean opening and closing sequences. A lengthy extra included here is Inside the Actors Head piece which runs nearly twenty minutes and talks with most of the main cast members and the ADR director about the show and what they've taken from their characters in the first series and applied here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To say that we were under whelmed by the first season of this series would be a pretty accurate summary of it, though there were a few bright spots throughout it that were enjoyable. As we've learned over the years, we're typically just not fans of Masami Obari's works unless he's doing outright adult releases. Gravion's attempts to put so many different genres together just didn't work well for us as well as not caring for a couple of the cast members.
With Gravion Zwei, with zwei being the German word for two, we're brought back into the swing of things with the group but it's been fairly quiet in the interim. The Zeravire haven't attacked since we last saw them and things are getting a bit lax around the castle. Things are so out of control in fact that after Eiji completely blows a bet with some of the maids, he ends up promising that he and all the other Gran Knights will be maids for a day in exchange for another shot at winning. Naturally his streak continues and the next thing we know we've got all of them in maid outfits and doing duties for a day. They do go over the top here with putting both Eiji and Toga into the same kind of maid outfits and wigs, something that completely freaks Raven out when he comes across them. With Sandman out of the castle on business elsewhere in the world for so long, things have simply broken down here.
One of the big issues in the first season of the series was the EFA's distaste for relying on a mysterious group like the Gran Knights and Gravion for the planet's defense against the Zeravire. That appears to be shifting in this season as they're close to building their own equipment to deal with things as we see the President viewing a simulation session with five pilots who are set to take on the job. Though we don't see much of the gear itself since it's all simulation, it's a mostly hardcore crew but they have their own quirks from what little we see of them but they've also got busty women in slick uniforms much like the Gran Knights. This is given a few minutes in the first episode and is essentially all of the real plot we get for this entire volume.
What we do get through most of the volume is lots of fanservice but still a Gravion fight in each episode. An episode is given over to a picnic event where half the cast gets completely drunk when a few of Eiji's friends show up at the castle and Sandman decides to give them the grand tour. It's a way of familiarizing new viewers to the set up of everything and a way to get regular views to have some fun with the cast as there are some comical moments during it as things are explained away. The real fun is at the picnic when certain participants get drunk and start showing off their assets but all of that goes downhill in a completely inane sequence where the G-Driller is activated and some of the guests are trapped in it, resulting in some screwy moments about craft security as well as horse riding from Sandman. It's just bad.
Another episode goes heavy for the fanservice as well with a trip to the hot springs for everyone on Sandman's dime as part of a company retreat. The pilots behind the EFA program are there at the same time but they're given a very short shrift other than one of the men being seduced by Mizuki as she uses his skills to try and win the ping pong game that has a special VIP session as a prize. A lot of time is spent between the contest and the baths which means plenty of partially dressed women and a few nipples here and there as well. A Zeravire attack is thrown into the mix, again, at the end in the final minutes so as to give things a more cohesive feel, but it's so tacked on at this point that it's practically comical.
The last episode goes back to having a Zeravire threat from the get go and has the EFA calling in for help from the Gran Knights but no mention is given to the EFA team here which is sort of strange. The episode is fairly decent but after the last three plotless episodes anything would seem good at this point.
Gravion Zwei reminded me fairly quickly why I had lost interest in the first season early on as it does much the same as we see here. While there is a plot to it, it's much more intent on just pulling out the fanservice card – be it skin fanservice or giant robot fanservice – instead of advancing the plot itself. With only a few minutes of real plot here in the first four episodes between what we see with the EFA starting up its own group and a few brief moments with what's likely the real Zeravire enemy, you can get all you really need to know from this volume in about five minutes time as bookends and not miss anything in the middle.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Art Gallery,Episode Art Gallery,Japanese Commercials,Clean Opening,clean Closing,Inside the Actors Heads
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: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2