Gad Guard Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2005
What They Say
Hajiki finally gets his chance to complete what his father was attempting; to fly into space. But Katana arrives to spoil things. However, this trip to the heavens holds more than just completing his father's work. The secret of the gads; this very mysterious stone. Revelations are made to each of our young heroes.
Gad Guard comes to a close and pulls so much out of thin air that it's almost an amazing experience.
For our primary viewing session, we opted to listen to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a pretty decent stereo mix that mostly shows its flair of directionality across the forward soundstage during the action sequences. Dialogue is generally center channel driven and sounds good. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.
Originally airing in 2003, Gad Guard is another in a line of very slick looking clean transfers that Gonzo seems to be perfecting and Geneon has little problem working with. Presented in its original full frame format, I feel practically guilty by mentioning that there are a few minor instances where some aliasing crops up because they're so minimal that most people probably won't even notice. And that's the only real flaw I could find in this during a normal viewing. Colors look good with very solid dark colors and some really vibrant pieces here and there throughout.
For the last cover it was pretty much a given that Hajiki and Shinozuka would be here and the tw of them look good with the background of a skyward view of some close buildings in their home Unit. The characters do look a bit out of place on top of the background but overall it's good looking. The back cover has a few animation shots along the right and a brief summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features and extras. The release does have the volume numbering on the spine but also provides the episode numbers and titles on the back. The insert has another shot of the front cover and opens up to a cute two panel spread of Aiko and Shinozuki in bathing suits at the beach. The back just has some background artwork and a listing of the episode numbers and titles again.
The main menu is nicely done with animated headshots of a few of the characters appearing on either side of the screen while shots from the varied city appear behind it along with other animated venues, all set to some of the grooving music from the opening song. The menu layout is fairly standard and easy to move about with good access times. The disc unfortunately did not read our players language presets and went with English language and song/sign subtitles.
The extras are the same as the last volume, which is just a full color art gallery. The gallery has some nice pieces in it that show off the cover art for this volume and its individual pieces before going into stills from the episodes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the last volume of Gad Guard, the show manages to focus on one particular series of events across the final three episodes but it all feels like it was whipped up at the last minute and stretched out just enough so that they wouldn't have to do too much more beyond some minor epilogue material. With what we get from these last three episodes, based on watching it on a roughly bi-monthly basis for the previous six volumes, you wonder just how much you missed in those episodes for it to all come to this. Maybe this works better in a marathon form.
The volume opens with the rushed journey of the Techode that looks like Hajiki's father to the place where rocket launches occurred on the island some time ago. They're able to bind his wounds but he's somewhat lost to them now as all he goes on about when he can talk is going back to space. Hajiki, Shinozuki and Bob aren't sure what to do about all of this, but when Sayuri shows up and mentions something about Katana being dead and her wanting to return to space herself, things start to progress towards the idea of doing one final launch and sending the two out there.
Naturally, Katana isn't dead and we see him making his way across the world in search of Sayuri so he can have her back. He's leaving a rather nasty trail of death and bloodshed behind him but it's kept brief so we can focus on the bigger picture. The island, as it turns out, was part of a business idea from some time back that involved sending the dead out into space so their ashes could be spread to the stars. The service was designed to launch bodies out there and the rockets would deteriorate and spread everything around. Unfortunately, it was done so shoddily after time that plotting courses and other technical things got thrown to the wind and a massive graveyard of rockets coalesced up there and became stable.
And wouldn't you know it, that's where the Gads drop from.
So Hajiki, who it turns out always wanted to fly, begins to do what he can to get one last launch out of the place to send his Techode version father and Sayuri out there as well as hitching a ride himself with Lightning. There's something that's drawing him out to this graveyard in space and he's intent on getting there. But it wouldn't be a really good finale unless there's some serious action to go through and that comes in the form of Katana arriving and doing whatever he can to keep Sayuri from heading up in the rocket. Their fighting cause a lot of problems on the flight deck and Shinozuka has to do her best to help out, but the fight between Katana and Hajiki goes beyond normal fights and with Sayuri as the prize of sorts, Katana's even more wild than before.
What's discovered out in space feels much like the rest of the episodes on this volume in that it just came out of nowhere. And even as it does seem to explain things about the Gads and the Techodes and what's caused a lot of the motivation that's brought Hajiki where he is, it just doesn't feel satisfying. It's all brought to a conclusion and we're even provided several epilogue scenes of the various cast members and there's even a full on explanation of the growth and change that Hajiki has gone through since we first met him at the beginning of the series, but it has a "so what" kind of feel to it. So much of the show in the second half, which you could arguably call a road trip of sorts, just seemed to be so unfocused that when they did refocus it didn't bring back anything that felt connected to the first half of the series and with so much of it coming out of nowhere apparently, it didn't help in that regard either.
When Gad Guard started out, it was something that looked rather different and quite stylized but was basically an interesting interpretation of super heroes and giant robots under their control. That became less and less the story as it went on and as it progressed into the individual character stories, each of them became less and less interesting as a whole even though individual episodes could be fun to watch. With the end of the series, it does have some really creative and interesting moments but it feels so completely disconnected from the previous twenty-three episodes. The series started with a lot of promise but in the end is rather unsatisfying.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gad Guard