Get Backers Vol. #09 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
What They Say
The place looked fine when they left it. Makubex had founded the new Volts and was well on his way to cleaning up the Limitless Fortress and making it safe for everyone. The future looked as bright as Ginji is…not bright. So what went wrong? Try everything. Masaki Kurusu, the last of the Four Kings who served under the Lightning Emperor, has come back to the Limitless Fortress. Only this time it’s not a friendly visit. He’s formed a new squad of killers out of some of Ginji’s old allies. What’s worse, he’s kidnapped Makubex and locked him away where no one can find him. Looks like the Get Backers have to go back to the place they hate the most. But can they rescue Makubex in time?
As the series gets closer to its completion, we get a few fun standalone episodes and then the start of the next and presumably final arc.
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.
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 again 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.
Using the Japanese release artwork, it's given over to the last arc characters as it has Makubex in the background with a mean looking shot of Masaki in the foreground. 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.
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.
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)
Get Backers moves through the first half of the forties in terms of episode numbers and gets us all the closer to the end of the series. As such, it's time to take a couple of secondary characters and fill in some of their background and have a little fun before going into the next big arc that will also probably be the final one for the series.
The standalone stories are pretty fun but entirely predictable pieces. The opening episode takes a look at Hevn as she brings a new job for the guys to take on but when she sees one of them wearing the symbol of something she knows very well, she takes them off the case and takes it on herself. Her personal ties to it are strong as we see in the past when she was much younger and doing scientific work on a special new metallic alloy that would revolutionize things and worked alongside a man named Eiji. The two were obviously in love up until some mafia group came along and tore into the building and tried to swipe the secrets. Eiji ended up dying by Hevn got pulled out before she could get taken out. So now it appears that the material is near complete or actually complete and she's been assigned to retrieve it. Can you see the obvious plot twists already? Eiji's alive and on the other side? Ban and Ginji come to help but are secondary while Hevn has to grapple with doing the dirty deed herself on her former lover? All very predictable ideas and easily called within the first three minutes of the show.
Another character that gets some decent if predictable material is Paul. Though Natsumi is kept out of the picture this time for the most part, Paul takes a bit more of the center stage as an old friend of his that he presumed was dead or lost ten years prior wanders into his restaurant and informs him that their former friend has had a face change and is now a politician. This friend has something in his possession that they once had together and we start to see through flashbacks how the trio used to be a top notch group of thieves that never failed at a job until their friend betrayed them at the end. Of course, his betrayal didn't work as well as he wanted since he became owned by the mafia but he's accepted that and moved on into politics. Paul, along with Ban and Ginji, end up taking on the job of retrieving the vase from their last theft from their friend and it brings you to the expected confrontation of men who are older now but can't let go of the past. Similar to the first episode, so much of it is predictable from the first few minutes and the ending is pretty apparent. That doesn't exactly degrade the episode any but if you've been around the block a few times with similar shows you know exactly what you're getting here.
Get Backers does get back to dealing with the main duo themselves in a more forthright fashion during the last half of the disc as it moves into the next story arc. This one has more of the past coming up to the present with the arrival of Masaki inside the Limitless Fortress. Up until now, Makubex and the others working with him have taken on the approved name of the New VOLTS and have been working to bring things to a better place within their level of the Limitless Fortress and have achieved a lot. But Makubex being who he is has grander plans in mind and is looking to deal with more of the real power structure behind the place and that's caught the eyes of others.
With Masaki's return, he's kidnapped Makubex and brought in his own group of friends who were former VOLTS members that we didn't know about during the last Fortress arc. They're a bit more mean spirited about things in general and have some serious chips on their shoulders about the phrase VOLTS even being used, not realizing Ginji was behind it. With Makubex out of the picture they start taking down the other members, which leads to Sakura being attacked but able to get away with a bit of help that gets her to the Honky Tonk. The place serves as the usual gathering place as everyone senses something is going on and with the news that Masaki is back and not like his old self, the trip inside the Fortress begins once again.
While a return trip to the Fortress isn't unwelcome or unexpected as the series comes to an end in the next volume, the story feels like it's really going to be compressed as the new characters that we get introduced to are done in such a fast and almost haphazard fashion that you don't get the same kind of connection to them like you did in the first Fortress go around. They're introduced so fast and without any real connection to the past other than a few glib lines for the most part that it just doesn't run as strongly. In terms of action though, this arc is likely to shape up nicely as it brings in some fun new powers and plays with a few of the known things in the Fortress like the virtual reality section.
Get Backers continues to be a fun show due to its characters so that it can even do some very tired and predictable episodes like we get here. The first half of the disc with its standalone stories don't offer anything new but they are fun even if you know exactly how it will play out. The return to the Fortress in the second half feels rushed but at the same time it has the potential to finish answering a few questions that are left about the Fortress and the old VOLTS team. While not the best volume of the series it's still good fun.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
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
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Get Backers