Gasaraki Vol. #5 (Mania.com)

By:Roman Martel
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2001



The Review!
Overall Rating: 4.7
(on a scale of 1-5)

-Technical Ratings-
Sound: 5
Picture: 5
Menu: 5
Presentation: 4
Goodies: 5
Overall: 4.8

-Content Ratings-
Animation: 5
Sound: 5
Plot: 4
English Acting: 4
Music: 5
Entertainment: 4
Overall: 4.5

-Intro-

Gasaraki takes an interesting twist in this disc. Now it wasn't a totally unexpected twist, and if you've been paying attention you have been expecting it. But the twist did pull me back into the show and as a result I enjoyed this disc much more than the last couple. Gasaraki is making its way to a conclusion, but we've still got a couple of discs to go.

-Technical Review-

As I'm sure you are aware, technical changes from disc to disc are rare. Gasaraki is a good example of this. You've still got top sound and video. The menu has remained the same. The presentation gets the same score, and now we have the inclusion of the number of episodes. And once again you get a boatload of goodies. There is a text interview with the art director. A glossary with some helpful historical information. There are production stills with further description. And there is a nice behind the scenes segment with text explaining how ADR works. Wrap that up with a floor plan for the Gowa residence in the insert and you've got a great fifth disc for Gasaraki.

-Content Review-

I've been having trouble reviewing this series without giving too much away. Suffice to say if you want to get the series and are still wavering I can tell you that overall my feelings for it are the same. It's a good show but I'm not connecting with the characters too much. It makes it hard for me to be really pulled into it. The plot is complex and intricate, and that will hook some people immediately. But this is not action anime; it is more of an intrigue story with mecha in it. Anyway, I'm going to find it hard to talk about this disc without giving spoilers away. So if you want to keep some suspense in your mind don't read any further.

The first episode opens just where the last one ended. Yushiro and Miharu are on the Path of the Kai. It will lead them to Kyoto, if no one interrupts them this time. Meanwhile Yushiro's brothers are plotting and scheming. The TA team is trying to piece all the pieces together and Yushiro's sister discovers the truth about her older brother and the fate of her father. This episode clearly states many of the suspicions I've had the whole time. The next two episodes take a new twist on the story. Spoiler ahead! Yushiro and Miharu discover a small shrine on the path of the Kai. Inside is a wooden statue that houses a Kugai. As Miharu and Yushiro touch the statue, their minds are pulled into what can only be called a past life. They see themselves in the Heian period of Japanese history. In this former life they also were Kai and controlled the Kugai. One of the leaders of their clan, Watanabe (who suspiciously sounds like Yushiro's older brother Kazukiyo) decides to show the emperor the true power of his clan and the Kugai. But first he must convince the rest of the clan and get Yushiro and Miharu to fight for him. What follows is manipulation, murder, and a final attack against Kyoto. The climax of the final episode, entitled Karma comes with the summoning of the Gasaraki. More mysteries are given further clues to their unraveling but still questions remain and more of them pop up to be answered.

In the animation department we have more of the same. The realism of the series and high level of skill that is applied to it continue to flow. I will say that the opening credits take on a new look and new sound with the second episode on this disc. You also get some great new art for the end theme as well. The episodes that occur during the Heian period seem to be even more muted and toned toward grey than the rest of the series has been. It's interesting too see the change and it adds an additional element to the episodes. It becomes almost like you know you are not watching a legend of the Kugai, but that you are watching the facts play out before you. The sound design also continues to add to the world of the series. I really love the way the Kugai sound, as if bone and metal have been combined to make them, you can hear it, especially when they run.

Plot, plot, plot. That's all you've got so far in this series. It's definitely planned out and well executed. This series does not have a meandering feel to it, or any fat at all. The action moves from plot point to plot point with ruthless efficiency. The tables have turned several times now and it will be interesting to see where everything is heading. The episodes here are laying groundwork for the ending, that much is obvious. The events that occurred in the Heian period are key to the fate of the characters.

The acting is still very, very good. For some reason the English track is very quiet on my set and so I watch this series with the subs on. As a result I'm able to compare the sub and dub scripts. I really appreciate the hard work the scriptwriters have when they are trying to retain the feel and meaning of the dialog and match lip flaps. This is a good example of doing just that. The English cast has done a great job bringing this story to life. It will be interesting to see how far the characters' emotions go now that we are in the final story arc.

The music is one of my favorite parts of the series. It is utilized perfectly and remains to me to be one of the highlights.

As I mentioned above, these episodes went by quicker and pulled me in a bit more with the Heian period flashback. It was interesting to see how the creators were able to put the Kugai into the historical Japanese world. It added a new dimension to the series, and freshened it up a bit. It wasn't unexpected; there has been much hinting at past lives in the series so far. I'm looking forward to see just how this show will conclude. Now I have to give my brain a rest for a while, I think I'm on intrigue overload @_@

Roman J. Martel
Tell me what you think! E-mail me at...
roman@animeondvd.com



Review Equipment
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
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gasaraki