Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- 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 Way Jeng
June 20, 2003
Release Date: November 12, 2002
Returning for another four episodes of good-natured fun Dai-Guard is back. This disc is a strong follow-up to the last disc, as we see a little more character development as well as a few new monsters. But make no mistake, there's still plenty of good battles to be had as the team is called forth to do battle. Overall the second volume of Dai-Guard provides everything you expect, from lots of laughs to some cool monsters to defeat.
The episodes on this disc basically continue the trend set in the first disc. Monsters show up and Dai-Guard has to defeat them to save the world, and in the meantime the pilots struggle to finish the paperwork that inevitably piles up while they're defending humanity from destruction. Along the way we get a number of good scenes fleshing out the characters, such as Ibuki's flashback to memories of her father. The scene fills in a little of the backstory of the Dai-Guard world as well as gives a little more insight into Ibuki's character.
One exception to the above is the third episode on the disc, wherein Dai-Guard doesn't fight a single monster. However, rather than be boring this turns out to be one of the most hilarious episodes in the series thus far as we watch the office workers and bicker amongst themselves. Akagi teases Ibuki with a monologue that's just so funny it defies explanation.
Another element of the show that's developed a little more is the struggle between Dai-Guard's pilots and the Army. While in some ways this is old news to giant robot anime, there often being a rivalry between robot teams and the rest of the military, this is a somewhat more interesting relationship because when objectively viewed the military has some honestly good points regarding why they should control Dai-Guard. As much fun as it is watching Akagi trying to win fights with enthusiasm rather than smarts it's understandable that the military wants trained pilots with combat experience instead of office workers.
It seems that the pilots' relationship with the Army is going to be one of the founding themes behind Dai-Guard, and it's certainly a good thing for the series that the tension exists. While battling the monsters is fun to watch it's not a real source of conflict for the show because there's no intelligence at work. The conflicts with the Army provide the series a level of complexity, which is especially fulfilling because the show refuses to paint the Army as either right or wrong. Instead there's a give and take where the pilots have to admit that the Army is helpful, and vice-versa.
Audio for Dai-Guard continues to be excellent. The voice acting is solid for all the major roles, and the Akagi, Ibuki, and Shirota characters are especially good. It's just fun listening to the difference between the zealous emotion of Akagi against the constantly annoyed and otherwise almost emotionally devoid Shirota. The opening song continues to be a great lead-in for the show.
One small complaint I have is that the sounds made by the monsters gets somewhat repetitive, and it seems somewhat odd that they would all make the same sound. On the other hand, this does serve as a unifying element binding them together.
Visually Dai-Guard maintains the high standards set in the first disc. The backgrounds are as detailed as they were in the first disc, and in some ways surpass the first disc. Several outdoors scenes take place while it snows, and while the snowfall may be a small detail it's appreciated nonetheless and also shows the high production values at work. Designs for the monsters resemble abstract geometric shapes or sculptures. This serves as yet another significant difference between Dai-Guard and other shows, as one would normally expect an anthropomorphic monster.
Packaging for the second volume of Dai-Guard is about the same as the first. The front cover shows a nice shot of some of the characters and the Dai-Guard robot, and the back provides an episode count along with a short synopsis and a few images from the show. Unfortunately, the back doesn't have a list of extras, though this isn't too bad since there aren't any extraordinary bonuses on the disc. Still, it would have been nice to have.
The insert shows another picture, and the back contains a list of the episodes and chapters. Just as in the first disc none of the episodes, or the internal chapters, are given any much description. The insert therefore fails to be very helpful.
Menus for this disc are about what you'd expect. The main menu plays the opening animation and the full opening song, so it's not really bothersome to watch. Sub-menus have shorter music, and while it could be a bit longer it's not a problem. The menus load relatively quickly, and overall these are pretty well done.
Extras for this disc don't include anything spectacular, but neither are they entirely absent. Starting off is a clean open and close. Both of these are good for people who just can't get enough of the music from the show and want to listen to the songs, though the very beginning of the ending song seems to be omitted from the clean close. Rounding things off is a relatively large gallery of production sketches. While these are interesting to see, none of the captions are translated into English. These would have been a lot more interesting with translated captions, or perhaps with some other commentary.
Sharp 13" television, Microsoft XBox