Gaogaigar Vol. #03 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, March 26, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2007



What They Say
Professor Shishio and the GGG team are working around the clock to discover the secrets behind the Zonder Metal. This strange substance is turning the people of earth into bio-mechanical monsters. As the enemy steps up, GaoGaiGar receives backup in the form of Volfogg, the resourceful ninja AI robot developed by GGG's own computer genius, Entoji. But then Entoji's old rival, Inubouzaki, infiltrates HQ as a Zonder virus.

Mamoru and Volfogg are sent on a desperate race against HQ's own self-destruct! When the Zonder Robo attacks, the Gao Machines can't boot. Gai leads the GGG team on the first ever manual docking to finally form GaoGaiGar!

Contains episodes 11-15.

The Review!
Little new really happens over the course of another five episodes but the giant robot action is fun and the characters amusing to watch.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series mix is surprisingly good considering it's a stereo channel mix as there is a decent amount of forward soundstage directionality to it in the action sequences. Dialogue also gets a decent amount of placement throughout as there are some busy sequences with lots of characters running about. While it doesn't stand out with a lot of sharpness that you'd get in a 5.1 mix, it serves the material very well. In checking out both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 1997, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. GaoGaiGar reminds me a lot of Gundam Wing, another Sunrise production from near this time frame, in that there is a fairly grainy feel to the show that gives it a bit more of aged feel. Being done with only a minimal amount of real computer animation mixed into it, rather seamlessly in several scenes I might add, this is the kind of show that simply will never look gorgeous but the transfer here looks to be spot on for the source materials. The grain aspect is what will have the most effect as well as the fact that most of the colors are fairly drab and lifeless, lacking the kind of vibrancy we're used to in more recent shows. This is a solid transfer of the materials and it scores well on that but I can see opinion easily swaying to saying that it looks bad. With a lack of cross coloration and aliasing as well as the generally solid feeling colors, I have little to complain about here.

Packaging:
Filled with lots of characters and some generally soft looking artwork, the cover here looks good but it's starting to show its age a bit more. The foreground has lots of the younger characters with amusing expressions on their face while the background lets the shiny pink and green giant robots duke it out. The back cover is the standard layout for the series with a few shots in hex form along the top and some robot action along the right side. The summary covers the basics of some of the episodes in this volume while below it they list the extras and episode count. The technical information is solid and very easy to read. Unlike most other releases these days, there is an insert included. The front is a copy of the front cover artwork while the inside breaks down both some of the Brave designs and the various known characters and their relations.

Menu:
Keeping very much in theme with one of the computer screen designs from within the show, the menu here looks kind of basic and almost cheesy but it sets the mood as it has the selections lined along one side and the cursor moving down the other as the opening music plays along. It's a very basic menu but it does work within the context of the piece in that it's not terribly flash or trying to use the cover art in a new way. Access times are nice and fast but I was disappointed that the disc didn't pick up our language presets, particularly since full English subtitles are the second English labeled track.

Extras:
The extras are similar to the previous volume in that we get the new clean opening as well as a design gallery. This being an older show and some Sunrise shows being notorious for having precious few extras to begin with, I'm not holding out hope for much more than this over the course of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gaogaigar leaps forward with another set of five episodes and plays out much like the second volume. There's a good deal of content here, and Gaogaigar junkies will be quite pleased by it, but the shows episodic nature and lack of real depth is something that makes mini marathon sessions hard to watch. The show has a formula, and it is one that works for what it is, but it's all much more apparent in a format like this.

The set of episodes here is mostly more of the same as we get various Zonder attacks and the GGG team works to respond to them. Some of them are more interesting than others, such as the military oriented one where a soldier ends up becoming something more when he's changed, but most of them are fairly unmemorable. One that stands out among the rest is when someone infiltrates the GGG HQ who has been infected by the virus and unleashes its effects into the network there. Visually it reminded me of some of the Evangelion episodes that revolved around the NERV headquarters. The show doesn't make much hay of it afterwards though and it seems like the event didn't do much to change how the GGG works.

Mamoru starts to get a bit more time in these episodes as he's doing a bit more than just showing up and turning transformed Zonders back into humans. More time is spent with his friends, particularly the girl he likes, as they go about on trips and the like only to end up getting into trouble similar to the first volume. Mamoru's origins aren't exactly explored in any of these episodes but the Gaolion's presence strikes a chord with his parents and starts the potential of exploring who he really is. Mamoru hasn't quite been an annoying character in the show as most kids tend to turn out to be, but he's really straddling the line. I don't think we'll get any real depth with him but he needs to change a bit more in order to become something more interesting overall.

A new robot, or AI, gets introduced in this volume with Volfogg taking the stage as the intelligence machine. Of course, he's more than meets the eye and his presence provides a bit more of a seeming maturity to what's going on as he's a cool and collected type. The giant robots in general continue to be a really amusing part of the show as they try to mix the fantastic with the realistic. The maintenance aspects of it where they treat it as if the real world issues are affecting the various components is hard to work with when you see trains being used as arms. It's also admittedly hard to watch, even with its intended effects, without thinking about the Transformers toys and show. The designs aren't even trying to hide what they're going after, particularly when doing shadowed shots, but it's still a bit distracting and takes you out of the premise of this show.

In Summary:
Gaogaigar does continue to be a fun show but it's one that really requires small doses of if you're not a hardcore junkie about. The English language adaptation is fun and maintains a good balance between seriousness and camp to make it effective and enjoyable. The shows animation is appealing as I do have a fondness for the traditional method but its age and source materials just show more of the flaws. Gaogaigar has a pretty straightforward audience and those people are likely to have already found this show and are in love with it. But it's not one that I can see really making a widespread mainstream move in this day and age. Which is why I give Media Blasters all the more credit for taking the chance on it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BBD10 Blu-ray 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: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gaogaigar