Girls Bravo Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, April 27, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2006



What They Say
Miharu is kidnapped and confined inside the Space Management Bureau. Yukinari and the others frantically search for her. Exasperated, Fukuyama decides to use his family's spy satellite to find her. The satellite captures a distinct shadow of a mysterious figure following Miharu into Yukinari's house. Using the power of the star mark, Koyomi sends Yukinari and the others to Seiren. Will they save Miharu and discover who is behind her kidnapping?


The Review!
Girls Bravo comes to a close with a few minor revelations before the background storyline of the series kicks into action.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is fairly standard for shows of this nature where it's mostly dialogue driven that's center channel based while the music and the chaotic noises that surround what happens to the lead flesh out the stereo channels. The forward soundstage has more of a full feel to it than a lot of directionality but it's well done and serves the shows material well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series has an interesting look to it that alternates purposely between some very sharp and vivid scenes to a number that are soft and hazy, which can mess with how you're trying to take in the visuals. The transfer otherwise is that of a nice clean and clear show that is just filled with lots of vibrant colors that are solid all the way through as well as some very fluid animation that is free of aliasing and cross coloration. While the earlier volumes had some minor issues with the pinks in the logo and eye catches, it's all problem free here.

Packaging:
We've had some interesting themes so far for the covers but this one ends it perfectly as a pajama party as all the girls in short thin little two piece outfits with dots all over them. It's a bit soft in the illustration but it works so well and accents the dreamy nature of it that it's one of the best ones in the series. The back cover provides a bunch of small shots from the show underneath the minimal premise summary. The discs episodes and features are clearly listed as is the production information. There are a lot of chunks of empty space around the cover due to the way things are laid out and I continue to pine for a real technical grid. The insert for this release replicates the front cover artwork while the reverse side lists the episodes and the volume breakdown for the show.

Menu:
The main menu layout is a cute piece that has Tomoka along the left side with an up close face shot where she blinks a few times as bubbles float up all around her, some of them with animation from the show playing in them, all of it set to a brief clip of the upbeat opening song playing along. It does unfortunately fade out just as it really gets going so it's kind of awkward. The layout itself is straightforward with easy navigation and quick access to the episodes. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras included in the last volume is the same as we've seen before with the US trailer and a new line art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Looking at Girls Bravo as a whole now that it's over, it's definitely easier to see some of the minor nods and winks that were made along the way that push forward the overall plot. A lot of it is more relevant to some of the characters who came over, such as Koyomi and Tomoka, but the small tangents and ties become more obvious. Things get a bit more serious with this volume but it also shows off some of the best animation of the series yet.

The final volume has a lot of things that work towards dealing with the ending, though it takes a bit of time until it really gets moving with things. A lot of what goes on here is working towards setting the stage for the final couple of episodes which means we have something that seems out of place or unimportant in the long run, such as Koyomi finally finding her father in a most accidental manner, but it has a reason for being included since it has an impact on how the final crisis is played out. Koyomi's episode is also useful as it starts to explore the marks that are on her and Miharu's foreheads. It's actually something that's really interesting as it deals with star crossed lovers in a different manner.

The bulk of the disc revolves around the events that have been happening on Seiren with the Space Management Bureau. We've seen people in the shadows watching things and there've been a couple of people who've jumped sides since the series started so it's not surprising that the person they were originally after is still wanted on some level. For Miharu, she's unaware of all of this as her star mark on her forehead is something that draws them to her. She's unlucky in that when the time comes that they arrive to get her, she's already horribly despondent over a misunderstanding with Yukinari about how he'd finally been cured of his rashes. Before anyone knows what happens, Miharu's kidnapped and taken back to Seiren where she's going to be dealt with by those from behind the shadows.

The last few episodes of the show are more serious in its nature about dealing with the kidnapping and trying to get to Seiren so they can figure it all out. It's fairly well balanced against some of the humor in the earlier episodes and all the grabby grabby that goes on between the girls and Yukinari and Fukuyama. It's more serious in general since it's deal with the relationships that have been built and the strength of the bonds we've seen grown during that time. Yukinari is key to a lot of it since he's got the strongest tie to Miharu but there are plenty of obstacles to get through before then. Some of it's dealt with creatively, typically anything that Fukuyama does, but a lot of it is straightforward action. What's really interesting is that the last episode looks like it had a bigger budget to it as it's so fluid and filled with some great fight sequences and battles. It doesn't quite reach an epic level in how it plays out because it's such a personal story for the characters but it's very well done both in story and animation.

In Summary:
I've long lost the taste for a lot of harem shows but somehow Girls Bravo managed to become a guilty pleasure, especially in the second season where it was bumped up in age and the raunch factor kicked in. It had a level of honesty at times that was refreshing. For example, Fukuyama lands in the pool where a ton of Seiren women are bathing and they see a man. Yukinari and most anime males would flee in horror. Fukuyama revels in it and acts like a lot of men would and takes on the challenge. Add in the copious amounts of nudity, gorgeous character designs and several women who weren't after the lead and it managed to break out of the mold pretty well to be something that's trying to be a bit different. This final volume retains a lot of what made the past episodes such a great guilty pleasure while also ensuring it has a decent storyline to close things up with. At the end of most harem shows, I'm glad they're over. With Girls Bravo, I'm wishing there were still more seasons to come.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Line Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and 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: C+
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Girls Bravo