Gad Guard Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gad Guard

Gad Guard Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     June 27, 2005
Release Date: January 17, 2005

Gad Guard Vol. #1
© ADV Films UK

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...

1. Looking Up At The Same Sky
2. Putting The Pieces Together
3. On A Street Corner In Night Town
4. With Bright Eyes

The Review!
ADV bring us yet another series from studio Gonzo, but is it another smash hit, or tripe masquerading as eye candy?

I listened to the Japanese track for my main reviewing. The stereo mix comes across with a bit of directionality, and I didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions while listening to the track. It’s really just a bog-standard stereo mix that you expect from shows nowadays.

The full-frame transfer is pretty lush, showing off the varied colour palette and making the shiny colours look nice and, well, shiny. I noticed no blocking, breakups or other artefacts as I watched, so it’s another thumbs up I have to give ADV for presentation.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font (different to ADV’s standard but matching the US style), and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.

The front cover features an image of Hajiki and Arashi sitting on his bike next to each other, in front of the city landscape. The show’s logo appears in the top right, while the volume number and title are clearly listed on the front cover as well. The back features a few screenshots along with your standard descriptions, episode titles and feature listings. ADV’s information bar makes a welcome return, too.

This was another of ADV’s first releases that did away with needless inserts. Instead we just get a reversible cover (in a clear keepcase). The reverse side features Katana and Sayuri, also in front of the city, and the back cover is mostly similar to the regular one, without the barcode and a few bits. I definitely prefer these releases in clear keepcases without inserts to having a black case and a pointless single sided sheet of paper.

The menus are simple but functional. After a brief introduction, the image of Hajiki and Arashi appears in the centre of the screen, with the episode numbers and other selections off to the right, as some music from the series plays. A nice touch is that in the city background, the cars are moving. The two sub-menus are static with different pieces of artwork of the series’ characters, with no music playing on top. It’s a simple but functional system, which means access times are very good.

Extras are a bit sparse on this release. First we have a brief promo trailer for the release of the first Japanese DVD. Then comes the obligatory clean opening, and a paged art gallery. It’s not a great deal, but then it’s the show that counts.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Whenever I start a new series from Gonzo, I’m always quite enthused. Gad Guard is no exception. After all, we’re pretty much guaranteed a nice, shiny look to the series, a bit of style and maybe, just maybe, some substance in there too. Unfortunately in the case of Gad Guard, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. While it does have a sense of style about it, it’s like they tried a little too hard to give it something unique. And while the jazz music playing in the background does give it a different flavour, it barely covers up what is a wholeheartedly mediocre show.

It’s far from terrible, it’s just hard to get excited about, because Gad Guard features many of the anime clichés you’ve come to expect. A young boy living in a world with a slight twist on our own, the discovery of giant robots, a mysterious young female, a slightly crazy older female, an older brother/father type figure and the obligatory mysterious enemies. Granted, that’s a slight simplification, but it’s also surprisingly accurate.

Our teen hero in this case is Hajiki. He works as a delivery boy, and one day is asked to deliver a small box to a woman. He succeeds in his mission and is on his way, but takes a certain interest in the items, which he doesn’t usually do. As he’s taking a look, a box is stolen from him, and like every good delivery person he makes it his mission to get it back.

All the while, the new transfer student (who can kick some major ass) called Arashi is with him. She seems to take a liking to Hajiki, but he’s a bit cold towards her. When he eventually chases down the weirdo who’s stolen the box, with some well timed bike skills he gets it back, only it starts moving. Suddenly, out pops a giant robot (which this series called “Heavy Metals”). This robot starts fighting with another, and it becomes apparent that Hajiki’s Heavy Metal, which he names Lightning, isn’t the only giant robot on the block, and there are forces at work that want to get hold of them all.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because, as touched on before, Gad Guard feels like a bit of a rehash. When lines come up like “this is no ordinary Heavy Metal”, or something similar, I just found myself occasionally rolling my eyes and thinking “of course it’s not, it never is”. And much of the story fits into the same category. There’s a mystery behind the Heavy Metals, and also a mystery behind Lightning since Hajiki is the only one it responds to and who can control it. Arashi seems to know a bit more than she’s letting on, and you have the likes of Catherine coming in and being all mysterious, knowing more than she’s letting on too. And just to top it all off and tick that final cliché box, Hajiki’s father isn’t around but everyone seems to know about him and what he used to do… and sure enough, everyone who did know him seems to think Hajiki’s just like him.

Despite its flaws, the show does have some promise. A few of the characters are pretty interesting, especially Kanada and Sayuri, who make an interesting pair. I did like the way Kanada kept chasing Hajiki down after his defeat as well. Arashi’s pretty interesting at times, although occasionally she comes off as a bit superfluous. It’s hard to get too excited about Hajiki at this point, since his character at this point really is like an ultimate derivation. It’s a bit of a shame as there’s only so much you can really take. The story, as samey as it may be, does provide a few hooks to hold a bit of interest in seeing the next volume.

The show does have some nice artwork going for it, with some pretty good character designs and out-there mechanical designs, and the backdrops are pretty good most of the time too. The animation isn’t anything special, but is more than sufficient, and as you’d expect from a relatively recent Gonzo production, there’s a shiny look and feel to it. The music is quite jazzy in style, and while it’s a bit different it does feel a little like it’s just there to give the series something different. While it does have its own sense of style, it can’t really hide where the show has come from.

In Summary:
After just one volume, it’s hard to get too excited about Gad Guard. Coming from studio Gonzo, it’s a bit disappointing, and while I don’t expect to love all their series I generally find something more entertaining than this in the shows they churn out. While the show isn’t actually all that bad, it just has such a “been there, done that” feel at times that its derivative nature will really hold the show back. Hopefully as things go on and the writers find their feet, the show will climb out of the cliché box and find its own feet, but based solely on this evidence this show is a hard sell.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Promo Trailer,Clean Opening,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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