Gasaraki Vol. #6 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.6
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 4
Every time I return to Gasaraki I have to re-orient myself. But once I get into the mind frame of the series it is very engrossing. I'm still not being drawn in completely or panting for the next disc to come out, but I must say that it is one of the better series I've seen in a while. I'm very interested in seeing how all the plots, subplots and characters end up.
The Gasaraki discs continue to get high marks in the technical arena. You've still got top sound and video. The menu has remained the same. The presentation gets the same score, with only the number of channels of sound missing from this great looking keepcase. Let's take a look at the extras, an area this series continues to excel in. There is a text interview with the character designer. A glossary with some military and government terms that come up in this disc. There are production stills with further description. And then another walk through of design sketches for characters, weapons, settings and vehicles used in these episodes. On the insert you've got a diagram of the interior workings of the Ishutar cockpits used by Symbol. You get another great round of extras on this disc.
More Gasaraki means more overly long summaries by me. (sigh). O.K. I'll try to keep it quick. These three episodes return to the tone and feel of the rest of the series. The quick flash to the past that occurred on the previous disc is not really addressed. Instead we jump right into current events. Yushiro and Miharu make it to Kyoto only to be caught in a war of rival turf gangs in the Asian slums. Meanwhile the Gowa family with it's fellow conspirators makes their move to transform Japan. Symbol also shows up again in this disc. Obviously they want Miharu back and set up a stage with which to retrieve their prize pilot. Mostly the plot sets up and initiates the transformation of Japan by the conspirators. As such there isn't much in the way of mecha action, but it is dense with plot mechanics and character motivations. Like the rest of the series you can't take your eyes away from the screen for a minute.
Again the animation returns to it's former look and feel. All the gritty realism is captured and really makes things sizzle. These episodes use urban rioting and chaos as a major plot point and the battles in the slums are very well done. Beyond that the sound that accompanies the visuals continues to make this world very real. I'm constantly impressed with the attention to detail and mood by the both the animators and sound designers for this series. The opening and closing credits also revert to they're original style. Were the flashback episodes the only reason for the change in style? There are still a couple of discs to go, so I'll have to wait and see.
Again with the heavy plot and light characterization. My main gripe with the series is the fact that I don't feel connected with any characters at all. The story is well thought out and executed, but it makes it hard to get involved if I don't know or care about the characters. And while much of characterization is revealed by what the character does, we are never really allowed any good amount of time with any character. This is mostly due to the fact that the plot must continue and everything must be set up in the space of 28 episodes. The story itself is very good, but the characterization is weak and that is why I can't give it a top score.
The English cast remains to be excellent. I really got to hand it to them. This seems to be a tough series to attempt but they are doing a great job. Added with the score and both these elements add to the impact of the series. There are now low scores here for the action or the music.
Once again I have to say that is disc was just what I expected it to be. You've got a nice dense plot and lots of plot and planning. And now we are also getting to see the fruition of those plans. But I'm still not totally pulled in. I had a reader tell me that he found the release schedule to be a major problem with this release and I have to agree. Much like Trigun, this series benefits from a much tighter viewing schedule, especially if you hope to keep up with all the plot mechanics. I will definitely need to rewatch this series with less of a gap between episodes.
Roman J. Martel
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Phillips Flatscreen (27 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