Get Backers Season 1 Box Set (Thinpak) (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Mike Dungan
Review Date: Friday, October 26, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 10, 2006



What They Say
Everyone knows the feeling. You come home and find your home broken into. Your possessions thrown around. Dresser drawers are ransacked. Everything you own has the unmistakable feel of a stranger‚€™s fingers on them. The only thing worse than that is what isn‚€™t there: the things that once belonged to you that have been taken by creeps. But now is not the time to despair. There‚€™s no time for anger. There‚€™s only time to call Ban and Ginji, the Get Backers! No one will be refused. (At least not until that huge bar tab they‚€™ve run up gets paid off!) Prepare to meet your new heroes. The guys who will restore order where there is only chaos and justice where crime has run free. The dudes who will bring that cute stuffed animal back to its rightful owner. They‚€™re the Get Backers. They‚€™re one phone call away and they‚€™re ready to take your case!


The Review!
Ginji and Ban are a couple of former street thugs turned good guys who will get anything back for a fee. Now if only they weren’t so unlucky with money.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to this show in English. The 5.1 mix gives the show some nice power in the action scenes as well as some nice clarity in the dialogue. The English dub is nicely blended into the original music and effects track making it sound quite natural.

Video:
The video transfer is very good, with strong colors and an almost total absence of cross-coloration. I didn’t notice any problems with macro-blocking or other video artifacts. For someone with a modern television, the anamorphic widescreen is a useful bonus.

Packaging:
The 25 episodes are spread out on 5 thinkpak DVDs. The wraparound cover features Ginji and Hevn on one side, and Ban and Himiko on the other. Each of the five covers features a pair of characters: Ban and Ginji, Akabane and Himiko, Kazuki and Shido, Makubex and Sakura, and Juubei and Kagami. The DVDs themselves have black silhouettes of the characters against a solid color background. In the end, it’s good, but the only thing eye-popping about it is the amount of Hevn’s cleavage on the front of the box.

Menus:
Menus are very basic. The main menu has Ginji and Ban to either side of the screen with the episode numbers and language menu between them. The language menu is even simpler with English and Japanese choices to one side against some simple artwork. There are no transition animations and it all loads very quickly.

Extras:
As with the majority of ADV’s thinpak sets, all of the extras from the singles release have been removed. All that’s left are some previews on the first disc.

Content: (Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ginji is a blonde-headed former gang leader with a unique ability to manipulate lighting. Now retired from his hoodlum ways, he’s become something of a goofball with a soft heart. Ban is the even more spiky-haired half of the Get Backers duo with exceptional strength and a psychic ability known as the Jagan. If he makes eye contact with you, he can induce a waking dream or nightmare that will last for sixty seconds. When the show begins, they’re down on their luck, with no takers for their recovery services. A young high school girl, Natsumi, looses a small stuffed animal that is very precious to her. It was grabbed by a crooked cop who is now trying to track her down and kill her for seeing him with the Yakuza. Natsumi becomes a regular member of the cast when she hires on as a waitress at Honky Tonk, a cafť Ban and Ginji use as their base of operations. The Honky Tonk is run by Paul, a young man who seems to know much more about what’s going on in Japan’s underworld than he should. Another regular cast member is Hevn, a buxom blonde beauty who works as a liaison for the boys, getting them work (for a small fee of course.)

Although there are a few stand-alone episodes, the first season is really made up of three story arcs. The first arc introduces two very important characters. Himiko, AKA Lady Poison, works as a transportation specialist. She uses special vials of poisons to help her in her duties. She has a long history with Ban. She, her brother and Ban all worked together in the past, but she holds Ban responsible for her brother’s death and vows revenge against him. Akabane AKA Dr. Jackal is a very thin, effete but frighteningly scary fighter who dresses all in black and is in the transportation service more for the joy of fighting that for any payment. He takes a sadistic joy in slaughtering his opponents to the point that even his colleagues are disgusted. Their transportation service is pitted against Ban and Ginji’s recovery service when a powerful politician hires them to retrieve a box that’s been stolen from him.

Later, Madoka, a young blind woman who is a violin prodigy hires the boys to get back her Stradivarius violin which has been stolen from her by a rival concert-level virtuoso with ties to the Mafia. We are also introduced to Shido, the Beast Master, and Thread Master Kazuki, two old friends of Ginji’s from his gang days. Ginji grew up in the Limitless Fortress, the name of a massive high-rise building that was abandoned when it was nearing completion. The empty building became home to thousands of homeless, as well as many criminals. Ginji, known as the Lightning Emperor, united most of the fighters under his gang, the Volts. Shido and Kazuki were two of his four lieutenants. When Ginji left the Limitless Fortress, the Volts disbanded, and the Fortress fell into anarchy. While Kazuki continues to believe in Ginji, Shido harbors a grudge against Ban for taking Ginji away from him. Madoka becomes a semi-regular character, giving a home to one of the other characters. Both this arc and the following short story about art thieves shows that Ban has a surprisingly deep knowledge about art.

The final story arc is huge, more than 10 episodes long, and concerns Ginji returning to the Limitless Fortress to retrieve something called the IL for a client. The job is so large and so dangerous, Hevn has contracted with Himiko, Shido, Kazuki and most surprisingly Akabane to round out the team. Since Ginji left the Limitless Fortress, one of his four lieutenants, a genius boy named Makubex has taken over. He has the IL, and it’s up to them to get it back from him. Unfortunately, they don’t know what it is, only that it’s very dangerous and they have to get it away from Makubex. From the very moment they enter the fortress, they’re attacked, and the attacks continue through the rest of the show. Everything happens exactly to Makubex’s calculations, which only gives his people more confidence as the battles continue. The protagonists get split into pairs, then they’re forced to face off against the greatest warriors in the Limitless Fortress, before the final battle against Makubex himself. In the end, the secrets of the Limitless Fortress are laid bare as well as the real reason Ginji needed to leave.

In Summary:
This is a surprisingly big, sprawling show with many characters. The action is good and the characters are fun. The soundtrack by Taku Isawaki borrows quite heavily from the work he did for Read Or Die and R.O.D. the TV and it’s not nearly as prominent in the mix as it was in the earlier shows, but it is quite good nonetheless. The English dub from ADV’s defunct Monster Island Studio was directed by Lowell Bartholomee, and is very enjoyable. J. Shannon Weaver plays Ginji with great enthusiasm, while Ban is played by Jason Liebrecht from episode 6 on, replacing Rick McDonald. The change in VA isn’t noticeable, and Jason is very enjoyable as Ban, playing him with the right sort of smooth charm tempered with plenty of humor. Yes, this is a rather predictable shonen fighting anime, but even by that standard, it’s still a fun show.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 59.98
Running time: 625
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Get Backers