Gungrave Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Release Date: Monday, July 10, 2006
What They Say
It's certainly been a long time since one of my all time favourite series dropped onto my mat, so let's pick up the baton and try to run with this again, as we look at the penultimate (3x episode) volume of this top-notch series.
I listened, cycling between Japanese 5.1\ 2.0 and English 5.1 audio as each episode changed. All tracks were excellent, although the DTS was very quiet (needed the volume turning up). All tracks provided clear sound with some light use of directional sound effects. Although it has to be said that the English track has the best gun sound effects. Though the English VA did a good job, I'd recommend going with either of the Japanese tracks..... I think it's just the way the Japanese VA's manage to get more feeling into the words, especially Brandon's VA, Seki Tomokazu. The narration from Seki Tomokazu for each episode's prologue and epilogue is spell binding at times, you really feel the depression and bleakness of their lives.
Opening song is called Family and is a really good (sombre) track, very reminiscent of the lounge music you might find a modern Jazz combo playing. The closing song is called When The Sunset Turns Red and although it's sung in Japanese (with a blue grass fiddle and Jazz funk guitar), you easily get the impression that it's full of hope, with Brandon and Harry chasing their dreams in animation.
Quality of the transfer was top notch, with no artefacts or bleeding problems detected. The TV playback was perfect, and no problems detected on the PC.
I still find some parts of the episodes a little light on the animation detail, and a tad ruff in places. There are plenty of visual elements and artistic touches to enjoy along the way. Sometimes the background are pure, other times they are grainy, still, nothing too intusive.
This is a promo only disc with no box or packaging.
The menus are static with a background image of Brandon. The menu links themselves were placed in the centre of the screen. All the links worked quickly and no dead-ends or slow responses were encountered.
We get a 14 Production art stills of the characters from this volume, plus trailers for Kiddy Grade and Ikki Tosen.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Episode 21 finds Bob Poundmax dead and Ballabird Lee fixated on finding and killing the man who killed him- Brandon Heat. In an effort to flush Brandon out, Millennion cover the city in search teams, but without the help of Bob's extensive spy network the mob are having difficulty finding them.
Mika and Brandon take refuge at an old friends house (Gary & Boss) and after catching up on past events they learn that Big Daddy was killed by Millennion. After a discussion, in which Brandon is reminded about "Family values", Brandon leaves Mika and goes in search of Harry, for some payback.
Unfortunately Brandon has made a tactical mistake, and this allows Millennion to capture Mika, and Lee has every intention of exploiting this to his aim of extracting maximum revenge against Brandon.
In the next episode Brandon "tools up", with a little help from the good Doctor Tokioka, for a showdown with Millennions biggest and meanest inhuman hit men. And boy is the shoot-out a doozy, with hot lead and Orgmen flying left and right as Brandon fights his way down to where Mika is being held captive by a psychotic Lee.
After fighting his way through a tide of Orgmen Brandon finally confronts the Superior enhanced monstrosity that is Ballabird Lee. Lee has mutated into the grotesque shape that shows his true nature- a giant spider creature. In this situation Brandon finds himself powerless, as his bullets have little or no effect on Lee's armoured body, and only when things look their darkest does salvation finally come in the form of some Dr Tokioka technology.
In episode 23 Brandon goes after the 3rd Executive of Millenion, Bear Walken. Of all the people within Millennion only Bear Walken understands why Brandon is doing what he is doing, after all, if Harry hadn't had married his daughter (Sherry) he would most likely have been fighting by his side.
Meanwhile Harry is having to quell boardroom revolt, which he does with understanding, tact and an automatic weapons. What this does accurately forebode is Bear's fear that as Millennion's Senior Execs are killed by Brandon, so dissention is the ranks will rise.
Brandon is angry, very angry, that Bear never did what he should have done and revenged Big Daddy's death, after all, this was the man he modelled himself after. And so he agrees to Bear Walken's challenge of a mano e mano battle at Bear's house.
When Brandon arrives at the mansion he finds Bear also Superiorized and manifested in a form that best shows his personality- the right hand of Millennion. In an epic battle Brandon finally gains the advantage and Bear Walken is released from his earthly obligations...... I may have got a little grit in my eye at this point.
So few series make it this far without some serious plot or character degradation, but Gungrave continues to deliver quality storytelling in every scene. Even during the fight we still learn more about the characters i.e. Bear's decision to support Harry was never made so poignant as when he lies dying and we see his family life in flashback- we now fully understand why he stood by and did nothing when Harry killed Big Daddy..... and who could blame him?
Only 3 episode, but each one hits it's target in the bulls-eye. Roll on the final volume, as Brandon is now clear to go after Harry and settle matters once and for all.
Japanese Language DTS 5.1,English Language DD 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Subtitles,Production Art
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 696 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 19" Samsung 930BF TFT, ATI X850 & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & HS-400 headphones and a duck.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2