Godannar Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, June 22, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, July 11, 2006



What They Say
As the Insania contagion rips through their ranks, the staggered Dannar team struggles to recover. With more pilots grounded, and the Mimetic Beasts attacking in ever greater numbers, simply keeping the robots flying becomes a Herculean task... except that Hercules never had curves like this! Meanwhile Lou finds herself grappling with Ken's true plans for her. Is this her mission of revenge... or his? The biggest surprises yet are about to be unveiled in the sixth shocking volume of Godannar!


The Review!
As the reality of the virus strikes home even harder, the team finds themselves dealing with losing one of their key members.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix for this track is really well done with a lot of directionality across the forward soundstage in just about each area. Be it incidental music, the large sweeping moments or just the dialogue itself, the stereo channels are well used throughout the episodes and certainly helps the show flow and move along considering the general fast pace of it. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback and overall found that track to be quite solid.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the color palette used for this series and the high frenetic energy and action of most of the scenes, the transfer here comes across practically sparkling. The colors are bright and vibrant throughout and maintain a really great solid level. The blues in particular are gorgeous in a lot of sequences when there is both water and sky in the same shot. The print looks to be free of problems as there wasn't any visible cross coloration or serious aliasing going on. This in the end was just a lot of fun to watch and admire.

Packaging:
The sex appeal is again strong with this volume as it gives us the young Lou in her tight outfit but also Anna showing off a lot of backside with the skimpy tight outfit of hers. Of course, they do try to balance it with Ken looking away and his robot in the background, but the colors are all fairly drab outside of the two women so your eyes are continually drawn to them, not that that is a bad thing. The back cover is much nicer and cleanly laid out with a mix of whites and greens that showcases the fanservice and attractive designs of the show along with a one paragraph summary of the premise. There's a good selection of several small pictures to check out in-show images while the discs extras and technical information is all clear and easy to read as it surrounds the production information. Unlike a lot of other recent releases, there's an insert in this one that starts off with a sexy shot of Anna, her mom and Lou together. The booklet is made up of interviews with the Japanese voice actors and their thoughts on the first season of the series and more.

Menu:
The main menu continues the mechanical look from the back cover with the white and green rotating along the left while the main portion of the menu itself, a design of various angles and sections that are just "SF" in feel, are done up in a black and blue filter and have the instant episode access and other basic navigation features. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very easy to navigate. Like practically every other release from ADV Films, our players' language presets worked perfectly and without issue. Why does it seem like nobody else is capable of this?

Extras:
Similar to previous volumes, there's a lengthy list of extras here but it's a bit deceptive. The clean opening and closing segments from the first season are right at the top of the list and they're followed by three sections of profiles. It's split up between character material, mechanical material and the top secret section which is filled with bits about the creatures that they're fighting. A new collection of TV commercials makes it onto this volume and a new round of production sketches is included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Inching ever closer to the ending, the three episodes on this volume of the series brings the final stage of the setup into play and positions the characters into where they need to be to bring the series to a finale. There's a lot of action mixed into these episodes which makes them go by very fast while the character growth moments help to make sure that everyone is mentally in the right " or wrong " place.

A lot of the focus since the previous volume has been on the Rabid virus and its effects, which we saw with dangerous results in how it affected the Chinese pilot who was also a good friend of Goh's. The visuals from that have pushed Goh into a heavy mental state of just working to get the Dannar up to speed in the best way possible so he's taking the route of throwing himself into his work. The neglect of Anna isn't a strong point but it's an obvious one and one that's affecting a number of people. With more of the testing and knowledge gained about the virus, the decision is made to take Goh off of the pilots list since if he went out of control in the Dannar the result would be catastrophic since they consider him the strongest pilot of them all. He disagrees but he's also a loyal soldier and won't go against the orders.

There's a telling point in the story that is said early on here and it really hits home to part of why I'm enjoying this show so much. In their understanding of the virus, it turns out that the Mimetic Beasts in reality won the war five years ago. Their method took more time and it seemed like they lost the war but they only retreated from a particular battle instead. With the majority of the population affected by the virus, it's the best way to eliminate the competition that they'd face in trying to win. Combined with their seeming ability to commander the Boy series models around the globe as their attacks gain strength, the Beasts certainly have the upper hand when the pilots are now in their weakest state.

In between all of this setup and the various battles that the women have to fight and face without any men piloting alongside them, there's a really good storyline that takes us into Ken's past as he and Lou come across a massive Mimetic Beast that's different than the others in how it's built. We've had some glimpses of Ken's past but in his pairing with Lou we've ended up focusing more on her and then on how the two of them mesh together. They've been an interesting pairing since they are effectively the only known or shown independent pair out there with the giant robots and doing whatever they feel like to forward their cause. Getting deeper into what motivates Ken isn't a surprising move nor that it's as emotional as they portray it but it opens up to some very interesting moments, especially in how the Mimetic Beasts can be designed.

The tender moments are made throughout all of this as well and as much as I hate to say it, a lot of it does get to me. This series is really a guilty pleasure on so many levels. The simple discussion that Mira and Kiriko have about the lost years of Goh's life after Mira's death are poignant, especially since Mira is still trying to figure out exactly how she lost Goh since very little time has passed in her view. Goh's descent into despair isn't a surprise though it would have been better to see him actually hold onto Anna for a bit of sanity considering all they've been through. Even the simple moment where Shinobu tries to get himself taken seriously as a pilot in order to help out is enjoyable, particularly in how Shizuru ever so softly works him over with just her voice.

In Summary:
If there's anything that's frustrating with this series at this point since I've fully come to grips with it being a guilty pleasure, it's that the final sets of episodes are just taking so long to get to with only three per volume. The show is very fast paced with everything that's going on and it's building beautifully to a crescendo with the impending attacks and the way the characters are all struggling to stay above water. While the cliffhanger here is rough by itself, knowing that the last volume is still to come and that they have to wrap it all up in three more episodes makes it all the worse. Similar to previous volumes, I really didn't expect to like this series at all but each volume is just a lot of fun and I adore its blatant sexuality. Even at its darkest, this is still just really fun anime.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Season 1 on-air open and close,Collection of all the original Japanese Godannar television commercials,Production sketches,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Progressive Scan 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: B
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Godannar