Dai Guard Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: D+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dai Guard

Dai Guard Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     October 02, 2002
Release Date: November 12, 2002


Dai Guard Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
Everyone's worried about the bottom line. The Earth must be saved from the encroaching invaders, but has anyone bothered to add up the price tag for victory? Luckily for the human race, our trio of heroes has thrown the calculator out of the window.

Unfortunately for the invaders, that's not Earth's only weapon! Can the mighty Dai-Guard save the world from certain destruction? Will the enemy discover our heroes' weaknesses? Who will be left standing after the smoke clears and the accountants arrive?

The Review!
The second installment of Dai-Guard moves smoothly through the remaining single digit episodes and provides some solid character building and simple episodic pieces that help build up the core cast of characters.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a solid stereo mix with some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear while ambient effects and the music make good use of the stereo channels.

Video:
Pretty much flawless. One of the best looking TV series transfers I’ve seen.

Packaging:
Again going for the same artwork as the Japanese release, we get a good image of the Akagi, Ibuki and Shirota via headshots as well as a headshot of Dai-Guard. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and a solid summary of what to expect from the opening couple of episodes. Unlike other recent ADV releases, there’s no technical listing box here, and it’s even unclear if this is a bilingual release, never mind aspect ratio and other bits of information. To make it even more confusing, it lists 4 episodes on the top half but the running time is for five episodes. The insert uses the artwork from another Japanese DVD release while the reverse side is a breakdown of chapter stops for each of the discs four episodes.

Menu:
Done up in a sort of construction way, the menus are designed with a lot of metal imagery in mind. Episode selections are along the left while a clean version of the opening plays along on the right. Setup and other features along the bottom. Overall the menu is nice and logically setup with no noticeable slowdowns in accessing various areas.

Extras:
The extras that are new in this round are pretty minimal, but there are thirty new production pieces of conceptual artwork split into three sections of ten. To fill this area out a bit, we do get another appearance of the clean opening and ending. Just in case you did not get enough of the baa baa baa part of the opening song.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first enjoyable volume of Dai-Guard, I expected the second volume to taper off a bit. While it did in some respects, mostly in regards to really finding out the larger story of what’s going on with the aliens, it didn’t taper off in the character development area and the fleshing out of the area these characters inhabit. And that’s a good thing.

The first episode alone is worth the price of admission as it delves nicely into Ibuki’s past without going into all the details and giving everything away, while still telling you enough to let you come to your own conclusions. A good percentage of the episode is just simply somber, as she reflects on the park she used to wait for her father in when she was little, which is now slated to be rebuilt in the reconstruction phase of the city. The realization of what’s going to happen there, a piece of her past finally being fully removed, ends up getting to her. Of course, there’s a tie-in to the present when one of the aliens attacks and a little girl and her father get stuck in the same area, but it’s done with just the right level of emotion and subtlety that it works out perfectly. They even did an excellent job of giving this episode it’s own feel through the colors chosen.

Another aspect that plays up well throughout the other three episodes is the surprising change in the relationship between Akagi and Shirota. While the two have butted heads since they first met, Akagi actively works to make some inroads in getting to know Shirota better. Shirota really doesn’t know how to deal with this, and continues in his usual way. There’s a really amusing scene as he tries to tell Akagi what his responsibilities are to the team, but keeps getting interrupted by a drunk salaryman who’s saying the same exact things to some of his underlings. Of course, just the fact that the two of them go out to eat together is a huge step, but they manage to take it a fair bit further.

The two actually start becoming friends. There’s some laughter and joking between the two and some amusing work related things that happen, especially with the labels. The real culmination of their new attitudes towards each other comes when Akagi really messes up and can’t pilot the Dai-Guard during a critical moment, and Shirota fills in for him. The two of them end up working very closely together in the cockpit and experience that rush of power and strength in the same way. There’s some really good moments of emotion throughout their relationship, but this part of one of the episodes really drives it home.

The action sequences throughout the episodes are fun as well, as we get an Evangelion-like feeling as new and weird creatures invade and Dai-Guard comes out to stop them. The VP of the Technology group gets more screentime here as she develops some really amusing weapons of mass destruction as well as circles in on the areas where the aliens have weaknesses. Having her come up with solutions on her laptop while at the public baths just gives the character the right amount of oddness without going completely overboard.

The four episodes here really flew by fast and made me wish there really was a fifth one here. The animation is just incredibly smooth and well done, the characters are starting to flesh out nicely and even the secondary cast is getting some good face time. While they’re still riding their one-tricky pony in terms of Dai-Guard being held hostage by accountants, they’re not throwing it in our faces like they were in the first disc. Things mellow out a bit here, but you can see the seeds of bad things to come being planted. It’s not revolutionary, but I’m having a hell of a good time with this stuff.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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