Gasaraki Vol. #4 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.6
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 4
After watching and digesting all of disc three of Gasaraki, I took another break to review some other shows. But I had to come back and take a look at the next installment of this series. I will say this about Gasaraki it's keeping up with its pace and style but I left wanting more. Hmmmm...
In the technical side of the review, you guys know how it goes. The picture and sound on this disc are top notch. The menu has been and is very cool. The presentation is missing the number of channels of sound utilized and the number of episodes on the disc. This disc is packed with goodies including a glossary, production sketches, an interview with the visual effects supervisor, and a walk through of the production sketches for the three episodes on this disc (in Japanese). It reminds you how much work must have gone into this series to bring about the realism it attempts to capture. The insert includes sketches and information on the TA command vehicle in the series. All in all it's another well-done disc from ADV.
Gasaraki has been an interesting series so far. I loved its gritty detail, the in media res series opening, the way that realism creeps into almost everything in this show. But for some reason, with each passing disc it seems to stretch on longer and longer. Certain moments are well done and pull me in, but other times I'm left wondering why I should really care about any of the characters at all. Now that we've reached the half way point... I'm really wondering.
The disc starts just where we left off at the end of the last disc. The new team of TAs are being tested and of course they go berserk. As we saw last time, the berserk TA pilots don't seem to survive the testing, except for the pilot of Unit 4. Yushiro's team (without Yushiro) is told to go after the rogue TA and find out that something wrong has been going on at this base. Tests have been conducted on the human pilots. They seem to push them to their mental and physical limits and then continue beyond that point, just to make sure these TAs can be utilized (or is that the only reason). Unfortunately our TA team can't stop the rogue. Luckily for them Yushiro, Miharu, Misuzu (Yushiro's sister) and Captain Ataka (pilot with the long hair) are all captured by a special forces unit along the path of the Kai. Yushiro is rushed over to the rogue TA. It's now up to him to stop it. The final episode contains your basic recap episode as well as more plot forwarding material. Miharu, now in the hands of Gowa is subjected to tests. Meanwhile the TA team discloses what they know to Yushiro, and Ataka tells of her little run in with the Kugai. The episode's finale revolves around a changing of the guard at the head of Gowa and Yushiro and Miharu's break into freedom ... again. It's the path of the Kai for them. And some hints into more mysteries in the next disc.
We're half way through and the world of Gasaraki is as realistic as ever. This series has such a great gritty look to it. I'm always impressed with the way everything looks, and fits together in both the animation and sound design. The scenes in which the TAs take on the rogue TA are very well done. I especially like the way the TAs move. The mecha maneuver just as you expect they might. The sound and the speed of the animation allow you to feel the weight of these machines. Also the freezing scene not only utilized visuals and sound, but the music was also perfect for this sequence. The only thing that seems a bit off is the character animation. There are times when all the characters get funky looking especially when they are in unique lighting or shown from different angles.
The plot becomes a little less dense in this disc. The main objective becomes to stop the rogue TA, but many secrets are revealed in that plot strand and hint at the larger objectives of Gowa. We also get a bit more information on Symbol and Miharu. But still you end up with so many different plot strands and characters that a definitive connection to any one of them becomes very difficult. I don't know or like any of the characters, and even when suspense is built in certain scenes (the Rogue TA battle) it is mostly because of the outstanding visuals and music. This series seems to be rushing too quickly to its end goal and leaving behind some critical elements. The most important of which is the characterization necessary to pull a viewer into the character's shoes. The plotting and maneuvering are all well and good, but it's the characters who will make this an effective story. Now that we've reached the halfway point we have all the wheels set in motion, we can go heavy on characters, go heavy on plot, or do a nice balance of both. Personally I'm hoping for the balance. This plot needs to keep its forward momentum, but we need to care about our heroes.
The dub for this disc maintains the quality of the previous. Almost everyone does a good job. A few incidental characters here and there pull you out of the show for a second but almost everyone does a good job.
I really noticed the way the music was used in this series. There are several key scenes where the music heightens the suspense and the drama very effectively. I admire the show's creators and their careful and deliberate use of music in key scenes and knowing how well they will work with the visuals and sounds on the screen.
And now the entertainment rating. Well, I was very conscious of time while watching this disc. I think the first episode moved the best in pacing terms. But overall I wasn't as pulled in as I have been with the first couple discs. I'm not sure if the lag time between viewings hurt my enjoyment or if it was the lack of depth to most of the characters. I will say that Gasaraki does have some very refreshing elements to it. I am eager to see just where it all ends up, but I'm also hoping that we get some more meat to the characters before the final episode wraps it all up.
Roman J. Martel
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General Electric Performance Plus (25 Inch), Sony Playstation 2
Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2