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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 149.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gad Guard

Gad Guard Box Set

By Lori Lancaster     March 06, 2008
Release Date: July 25, 2006


Gad Guard Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
"Many people have searched for it, many have stolen it, and many will kill for it. The Gad is a seemingly magical stone which, once making a strong spiritual connection with someone, will grow into a very powerful robot known as a Techode - a mechanical being that embodies the will of the bonded person. This is the story of Hajiki Sanada, a boy struggling to help support his fatherless family in an electricity-impoverished city known as Night Town. One day he encounters the Gad and a special bond is formed. Now his life will never be the same..."


The Review!
Audio:
For the purpose of this review, the English 2.0 track was used. Both the English and Japanese audio tracks were free from glitches. The music used help set the mood well for this series. Most of the music was Jazz in nature. There was a nice balance between the sound effects, background music and vocal parts. They did not go overboard in the usage of sound effects.

Video:
This is a transfer of a recent anime series. On average the video had a very smooth frame rate and no interlace issues. There was a visible gradient due to a combination of the art style and mpeg2 compression. As is to be expected from Gonzo, the character and techode designs were very nice and consistent. The animation style does seem to deviate a small amount on the last volume. Volume 2 had an issue with consistent up and down jutter throughout the disk. It should not be too much of a distraction on a smaller set. The usage of "Nvidea Instant Media" player seemed to lessen it.

Packaging:
All 7 volumes of "Gad Guard" come packaged together in a handsome and sturdy box seemingly the same as the original artbox release.

The box itself used a background of what looks like Hajiki's neighborhood at sunset. This wrapped around the three main sides of the box and was done using brown tones. All of the main characters including Hajiki's family are drawn in a stylized super-deformed manner.

The individual volumes themselves utilized the original cover art from the previous single release. This release used clear keepcases for all the volumes. As such, each volume had a reversible cover. The cover art for each volume was as follows:

Volume 1: Hajiki and Arashi on the back of Hajiki's delivery bike
Volume 2: Takumi and Aiko with old fashion telephones standing back-to-back
Volume 3: Arashi with two Techodes in the shadows behind her
Volume 4: Takumi and Thunderbolt
Volume 5: Sayuri and Zero
Volume 6: Aiko and Takumi on a beach front
Volume 7: Arashi slightly turning around and Hajiki walking forward

Each volume has a smaller line-art reproduction of the main characters of the corresponding cover on it's spine. On the back of the volumes are screen caps from the episodes. Also included are the episode numbers on the disk, the volume title, extras, staff credits, and a small summary. Inside, each had an insert that mirrored the front cover for that particular volume on one side. On the other is a listing of the episodes on that disk. The insert folds out to reveal a mini poster with unique artwork.

Menu:
The menu itself was uniform throughout all 7 disks. It started off with an opening animation of a falling gad. Once the menu popped up, there was an animated sequence in the background while the theme song played. It was pretty straight forward. The choices were to play all the episodes, language setup, individual episode start up, choosing a specific chapter, or the extras. The setup, chapters, and extra features each had a static image when you click on them. Parts of the animated background had a jagged look to them.

Extras:
Each volume had a standard image art gallery that was rather small. It was composed of image art used in that particular volume. It included the front cover, the background used, the insert art, reverse cover art, and then art from some of the screen caps used for that particular volume. There are some slight deviations from this though. Volume 1 had a few colored backgrounds that were used in the series. It also included colored character sheets of the square Gad and the characters. The wrap-around art used on the art-box was also included. Volume 2 had a colored character sheets for all 5 Techodes. Volume 3 also included a piece of 'super deformed' original art, a colored character sheet, and a still from the series. Volumes 4 and 5 included the line-art used along the spines of both the reverse and front covers. Volume 5 also had two colored character sheets.

The non-credit opening and closing were on volumes 1 and 2 respectfully. They were both fairly crisp, and gave a nice chance to fully appreciate the art. The promotional trailer was a commercial for the first volume of Gad Guard. It was completely in Japanese and without subtitles. Also on all the volumes were previews for other Geneon titles.

Content: (Please note that portions of this section contain spoilers.)
Gads. A small and mysterious space rock that is highly sought after on a world not too different from our own. Rarely do they become awakened, but young Hajiki was about to be one of the few to do so. He was soon to embark upon a predestined adventure that would gain him new friends and important knowledge as well.

In order to better understand the motivations of the characters and the series itself, a brief introduction to the world of "Gad Guard" should be given. The world of "Gad Guard" was comprised of different 'Units,' referred to by color code. For example, the one where all the main characters lived in was named 'Unit Blue'. The sector that most of the action took place in was referred to as 'Night Town.' It was so named for the fact that after midnight each night, the electricity would be shut off till the next morning. Sometime in the not so distant past, the world as we know it had undergone a massive re-organization. The end result was the creation of these 'Units' that people now live in. It was at some point after this that Gads started to appear. They were said to have come from space. Some of the wealthier people collect these 'Gads' as a means to show their self-worth and wealth as human beings. It is said that they (Gads) posses an awesome amount of power if the right person can unlock it. These Gads were able to evolve into one of two forms, a 'Techode' or an 'A-Techode'. A-Techodes were sometimes generically referred to as 'Gadians' by people from other units. Either way, these Techodes and A-Techodes absorb the intense feelings of the humans around them. If all an A-Techode were subjected to an environment were mostly greed and hatred were prevalent, it's physical manifestation would reflect that.

The series began with an introduction to Hajiki. His family background and a brief look into his daily life was given. In essence Hajiki was a young man who worked hard earning money for his family as a delivery boy for a man named Hachisuka. His main motivation was the desire to one day buy back the old house they had in a better area of their 'sector.' His family had moved as a result of the death of his father since they could no longer afford the house. His father had been a pilot who's aircraft went down one fateful day in front of a rather horror struck crowd. His mother worked as a waitress at a restaurant while his sister went to school and took ballet. He attended what seems to be a Catholic school, where he had just recently met a new girl named Arashi. It is through an odd combination of chance and Arashi that he ended up in contact with the mysterious package he had delivered earlier that day. It was then that he managed to activate one of the odd stones it contained. As a result, he found himself face to face with a robotic entity. It was also at this time that Hajiki's rival for most of the series made his appearance. During the rest of the volume there was a rapid-fire pace to the introduction of three other holders of awakened Gads.

Some might have found the quick introduction of other main supporting cast members to be a bit too contrived. However, this allowed for a greater opportunity to give an overview on what their motivations in the series were. Nodding to the idea that these young teens are 'piloting' these fearsome 'Techodes,' is their costume choice and what the chosen names for said techods were. The costumes some of them used to mask their true identity, were basically comprised of masks and aviator scarves. Hajiki himself wore these in addition to a bomber jacket and aviator goggles. The given names for the techodes themselves invoked images of World War II aircraft. The agile and experienced Katana for example piloted Zero, which was a Japanese plane known for agility and power. Due to his experience with operating 'Heavy Metals,' Katana was a very formidable opponent. The machine known as a 'Heavy Metal,' was a metal construct that was capable of moving around heavy equipment or machinery. Takumi himself was a teenager who had a strong sense of justice. This was mostly due to the environment he was subjected to as a young child. As a result, he and his Thunderbolt mostly use their capabilities to uphold justice. As for Aiko and her Messerschmitt, they were both mostly non-combatant in the show. For Aiko, her Messerschmitt seemed to symbolize more of a friend than anything else. Growing up as a rich girl and attending a prestigious school most likely made her feel separated from others in a sense. Arashi was a girl who greatly desired the ability to travel freely. More to the point, she wished to be without the bonds or constraints she felt to have been bestowed upon her at birth.

The third volume further explored the main cast. Of particular interest was episode 9, where Katana's back story was explained in the form of a visit to his old Unit. One of the reasons that it was enjoyable was the fact that it gave a softer edge to Katana's character. The fact that he expressed his happiness in so subtle ways was part of this. The other part is that seeing the area he grew up in and the hint of his beginnings enabled people to have more sympathy towards his character. Aside from this small taste, the rest of this volume gives a brief look into the politics of the world, and also delves a bit more into Hajiki. To give a break from all the intense character-centric information, there is also the inclusion of a filler episode.

The next volume dealt mostly with the themes of politics and corruption. The first step towards this was in the form of a very sinister man that was handing out judgements to those with shady backgrounds. This continued on through to the end of the disk with episode 16. Apparently, a pair of politicians fled the Unit with money that was supposed to be used in the reconstruction of "Night Town."

The decent into Hajiki's physical journey and the story arc that would carry through to the end of the series began with volume 5. With his secret fully exposed, Hajiki felt like he had no choice but to run away. It could be argued that he was solely looking to keep his family safe. At the same time, the idea was given that Hajiki was merely trying to outrun himself. To outrun his feelings and the repercussions of his actions. Whichever the case may be, no one was prepared to make it easy for him to leave. It is through this series of events that Hajiki and Arashi began to get closer as well. The main overall theme throughout these last few volumes was that there is no way to escape oneself. Even with the revelation of this truth, it was still too soon for Hajiki to return home.

With the seeds of curiosity that were planted in the previous volume, Hajiki continued on his journey with a goal set firmly in his mind. His destination was an odd and seemingly abandoned island. Through out the last two volumes of this series one thing remains clear; 'forget what you thought you knew.' It is hard to go into specifics without giving too much away. Suffice it to say, a great deal will be explained before the series ends. One of the nicer things of these last volumes is that Hajiki started acting a bit less rash and softened up a bit more towards Arashi. The conclusion to the series is also done in a rather unique way.

There were several things that I liked about this series. Right off the bat, "Gad Guard" had a slightly nostalgic feeling lent to it by its combination of art style and music. The theme song was a rather jazzy number infused with energy and attitude. This mimicked the energy and sureness of youth that the main characters also possed. A fair number of the outfits were reminiscent of 1940's clothing styles. Mixed in with this were some more modern styles as well. Certain main and supporting characters had their own signature clothing era style that were reflective of their personalities. This blended together to give that signature Gonzo flair that helped give more substance to a two-dimensional world. It was also nice to finally have a show where they dedicated more time to character development. However, it would have been greatly appreciated if they had delved in further into a few other areas. More details in the forms of flashbacks to Hachisuka's past as well as Catherine's past would have done quite a bit. It was never quite stated what exactly she lost other than mentioning her name. Likewise, the little girl that follows Katana around still had a few questions surrounding her. Aside from that, a firmer ending for Hajiki would have been nice as well.

Overall, the last three episodes felt like they had been rushed. It was apparent in how Hajiki went from wavering from his newfound maturity and then regressing into how things had been towards the beginning of the series. The journey he had undergone had imparted him with newfound wisdom and knowledge that few were able to posses. He had seemingly found his focus and had finally found his purpose that he and Lightning had searched for. Still, it seemed like the previous events had been for nought as he ignored the truths he had found and began travelling again. Perhaps it was simply an opening for another season or maybe it was simply a statement that 'Life itself is a journey.' Whichever the reasons were for it, it would have been nice to have had something more concrete to end with.

In Summary:
The art style and music combined well together to give "Gad Guard" part of its artistic flair that caught our attention right from the onset. It was nice to have an episode or two dedicated to each of the main supporting cast. As the name would dictate, "Gad Guard" closely followed a small group of teenagers who found themselves in the possession of "awakened" Gads. At the heart of this story, was a young man coming to terms with himself. He learned that no matter what he did or where he went, there was no escaping himself. He would always be Hajiki. This series was not shy on character development and delivered some nice action at the same time. It also managed to deliver a pretty compelling story-arc that spanned three disks at the end. The only downside was that, for all the growth as a person Hajiki had gained, he seemed to regress a bit in the end. If you haven't already caught it while it was airing on cable, try to rent it. Unfortunately, with Geneon no longer releasing any titles for the foreseeable future this is going to be hard to find.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Clean Opening and Ending sequences,Art Gallery,Easter Eggs

Review Equipment
106" 16x9 DaLite HC Screen, Panasonic PT-AX100U LCD Projector 720p native, AMD 64 x2 4200, Windows x64, NVidia PureVideo, FFDShow, CoreAVC, AC3Filter and Various Media Players DVD Upconversion handled by NVidia software, Sony STR-DE835 500W Receiver DD/DTS, Klipsch Reference System (RB-61, CS-52 and RS-42) speakers, Sony SA-WMS5 100 Watt powered subwoofer, DVI to HDMI (PC to Projector), Digital Coaxial Cable (PC to Receiver).

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