New Getter Robo Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 09, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2005
What They Say
The Getter Robo chases the enemy into a mysterious dark cloud in the sky. As the Getter One breaks through the whirlwind, Ryoma finds himself alone in an alternative Heian-era Japan where modern technology has been applied to the ancient weapons. Then Ryoma meets the mighty Shogun Raiko Minamoto and they face off against a powerful enemy, Seimei Abe, the Ying-Yang Master who uses a mysterious and powerful sorcery!
As the core characters try to understand the secrets of the Getter machines, the series takes an amazing twist in its nature.
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.
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.
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a translated logo, the the cover artwork here makes you wonder if it's the same show as you have Ryoma in his pilot uniform wielding a sword and a mixture of the past and present behind him with the machines and characters. 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 replicates the front cover on one side while the reverse side has the chapter listings for each episode.
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.
The extras on this volume are roughly the same as the first as we get a textless version of the ending sequence. In addition to that, there's the music clip for the "Roar!" piece that's like the first volume if I recall correctly.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
New Getter Robo really managed to surprise me with its first four episodes both in its style and in its content. With it being a reboot or some alternate timeline from whatever the previous various incarnations were, this version was up front with its changes. It's bloodier, it's more violent and it has such a sense of style about it that at times it looks like it was a manga that was lifted onto the screen and just colored and animated. It's got such an old school style to it combined with the freshness of digital animation that it's just gorgeous to watch.
This set of episodes keeps all of that very much in place and doesn't really drop at all but it does take such a wild turn at one point that I'm still laughing about it since it was just not something you'd see coming. The three pilots of the Getter machines are all still dealing with the new world that they're involved with now and each of them have their own curiosities that have been piqued. Ryoma's fascinated by the portal that these Oni come through and wants to force the battle to the other side by going through and seeing what they find there. For Hayato, he's begun his own investigation into what Professor Saotome has been up to in the past in the underground layers of the base. When they had to dig underground before to defeat the previous Oni, there was a huge surge in Getter Rays that he's convinced there's a secret hidden down there to be found out.
When the Oni do strike again, the battle isn't terribly pitched but it provides Ryoma with the opportunity he wants and he forces the Getter One combination through it and to find out what's on the other side. When it turns out to be a trap as it sends them to the bottom of Lake Biwa, they end up in a pitched battle then even though all three machines can handle fighting underwater. The weirdness is cranked up a bit though as during the battle the floor of the lake is broken to reveal a massive cavern below where the remains of an ancient Japanese city is located. This is just surreal as it's surrounded by the darkness and flooded with light from the Getter machines as it descends down to it.
The portals continue to appear down there and Ryoma pushes them through once more and then things just get completely messed up for the trio. We end up following Ryoma for this as he awakens in a field in what looks like feudal Japan. He's finding himself caught up in a strange fight between old samurai warriors in strangely futuristic machines fighting against hordes of humanoid oni that are rampaging across the lands. Even more startling is that the human warriors are led by Raikou, a noteworthy figure from the past. Ryoma and the others have ended up in some twisted alternate version of the past that was never recorded and each of them, including the Getter Robo, have arrived at different times. An old scroll shows the Getter Robo's arrival as it fought against the oni, Benkei's been here for two years and lives as a simple peasant now while Hayato arrived a month prior and has been searching for the Getter machines. This is the last place I would have expected the trio and the story to end up but it's fascinating.
Even more fascinating, the enemy that seemingly controls the oni in this period and is the main villain that Raikou has to deal with turns out to be Seimei Abe, the legendary omnyoji that we've seen in numerous other series in recent years. With the story shifting to the Heian period, the big names from then become key to this series. Ryoma and the others end up basically playing to their own side but taking up arms that put them in the same camp as Raikou. Ryoma fits well in the past though with the weird nature of things such as gun powder and other future weapons being available now, it has a disjointed but exciting feel to it. The violence is only furthered more here as they're all given such wide numbers of stock enemies to slay, often with skulls being split as we'd seen in the future excavation around Lake Biwa, which helps to tie things together in a most amusing way.
New Getter Robo is such a visual treat that I was plenty happy enjoying the story of a giant robot banging the crap out of bizarre looking giant oni. This twist in the story and its location as well as expanding the scope of the story is a welcome change from previous incarnations that had the enemy being space borne and seeking to conquer the world from that direction. The characters are still pretty much you basic archetypes but they fit well into this kind of show where they're simply the next set of pilots in Saotome's mad schemes. This is a darkly fun show with great action sequences and a lot of surprises. It's certainly not what I expected the series to be from the first episode and it's still surprising me here.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Closing,Music Clip
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.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: New Getter Robo