Get Backers Vol. #08 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, August 11, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 09, 2005



What They Say
You can’t outrun the past. Whether it’s a bad memory that dogs you, a good one you’re trying to hang onto, or an old nemesis you can’t quite shake loose, the past is always right over your shoulder. Good thing the Get Backers are here, ready to turn the crud of yesterday into the cold hard cash of today! Himiko’s hot on the trail of a kidnapped child—but will her memories keep her from getting the baby back safely? Ban and Ginji hit the beach for some R&R, leaving the next recovery job up to…Natsumi?! Shido is locked in a vicious battle with an Insect Master bent on destroying him. Ginji does something really dumb and winds up in the middle of a madcap hospital farce. And a pack of monkeys harass Ban and Ginji, forcing Shido to choose who he loves more: man or beast!


The Review!
Himiko wearing an apron essentially makes this volume worth the price of admission.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 a lot of it, 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. What was most problematic in this volume is the amount of blocking going on, most notably along Ginji's back or various characters hair where there's a large area of a single color. Ginji's green jacket was the worst offender however as it was practically alive.

Packaging:
Using the Japanese release artwork, Ban and Akabane share the cover this time as the two are poised in a manner to make you think they're fighting each other, something that doesn't happen in this volume but looks neat for the cover. This is one volume too late in arriving unfortunately since it would have worked better for the last volume. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
Not surprising as we get close to the end of the series, the only extras included in this volume are the clean versions of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When you get a series like this that has numerous small arcs and a lot of standalone tales, when you get to this point in the series it can be difficult to keep up the energy or find the right kinds of tales to tell. The urge to do more original stories and move away from the still running manga becomes stronger and you run into the possibility of the characters not acting quite as you always expect. At the same time, you also tend to get a few more silly stories in an effort to break up some of the big drama and angst that's built up.

This volume plays it a bit serious for a couple of episodes but then goes a long way to prove that it has a sense of humor. The serious material is fun, such as the episode that focuses on the husband and wife who've lost their son to the husband's father who kidnapped him so he could raise him to take over the family business. The son didn't have the right personality to be the cutthroat businessman his father was and didn't want to marry into more wealth so he married for love and lived a simple life. The birth of their son though meant that the new grandfather wanted to make sure his legacy endures and has him kidnapped so he can raise him with the riht sense of values his son never got. So the parents go to Hevn to get a recovery team.

Ban and Ginji are up for the job but Himiko gets involved as the transporter for it, particularly involved since she was a stolen child herself and has strong feelings for cases involving children. Due to a tie to the past, we get to see some interesting revelations about her and her brother, from when he rescued her as an infant as one of the Last Children to the time the two of them and Ban spent together as a group. Ban's amusing to watch in these flashbacks since he's got his hair reversed and while not subservient he definitely goes by what her brother says first. The first flashback is great since it has Himiko in an apron and being all girly, but the episode is fairly dark in its nature as she tries to make sure this child doesn't suffer what she went through.

The comedy episodes are where it's at for this volume though. One episode has Ginji being injured enough that they put him in a hospital which means everyone comes to visit. While there, Ban and Shido end up competing for a new job that comes their way in the form of a couple of nurses who are furious that their letters were stolen and they want them back. Since it's for cute nurses, they're all over the job and competing madly against each other. The rest of the arrivals all end up in equally amusing situations, such as Himiko and Ginji looking like they're involved in the eyes of others and Kazuki ending up wearing a nurses uniform since they love to play up his sexuality. There's just so many little sight gags along the way that it's humorous just from that but what really makes it work is that these characters work so well together that when they have fun, they really do have fun.

Another good comedy episode has Ginji, Ban and Natsumi heading off to a weekend retreat area to see Madoka only to run into a problem at one of the local stops along the way. Apparently the monkey's in the area have taken over as part of their territory and the run wild throughout it. Things go badly when Natsumi's beautiful boxed lunch gets stolen and Ban and Ginji find themselves falling into monkey traps and being abused heavily by them. So they figure for revenge they'll bring Shido in and he'll get them to leave. This almost works as he faces down the leader, who we had seen in a previous monkey episode, but he ends up becoming the leader and finds himself addicted to the lifestyle of the big boss of a small pond. It's hilarious the way this just goes on, right up through the outdoor bath scene where Ginji gets to utter "horse" at the right time. This stuff isn't serious or trying to be in the slightest but it's exactly what's needed at this point in the series.

In Summary:
After forty episodes of the show, you know whether or not you like it. Get Backers has been a lot of fun and it continues to be at this point, a place where a number of other shows have certainly lost their appeal. The characters, though sometimes overused, are still enjoyable to watch and their interactions are what really makes it work so smoothly. This volume gives us a number of really good comedic pieces but also gives us enough of the serious material and even sneaks in some interesting flashbacks that expand the characters in much more detail. This is simply good stuff here and is easily recommended to be checked out.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
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: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Get Backers