Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: C+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Gad Guard
Gad Guard Vol. #3
By Chris Beveridge
October 27, 2004
Release Date: October 26, 2004
Gad Guard Vol. #3
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
You know you never really know someone until you see into their past. Katana returns to his roots while Hajiki remembers his father and gathers new direction in his life. However, will Hajiki be able to handle the darker aspects of this world and retain his moral standards when the underground makes use of his services? And will Hajiki be able to complete his job when circumstances seem to continually pull him away? Night Town seems to be a little darker now days. But there are some things in life that can place a little light into the world. Maybe even multiple lights?The Review!
Gad Guard plugs away at some smaller tales but anything larger feels like it's drifted away.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we opted to listen to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a pretty decent stereo mix that mostly shows its flair of directionality across the forward soundstage during the action sequences. Dialogue is generally center channel driven and sounds good. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either language track.Video:
Originally airing in 2003, Gad Guard is another in a line of very slick looking clean transfers that Gonzo seems to be perfecting and Geneon has little problem working with. Presented in its original full frame format, I feel practically guilty by mentioning that there are a few minor instances where some aliasing crops up because they're so minimal that most people probably won't even notice. And that's the only real flaw I could find in this during a normal viewing. Colors look good with very solid dark colors and some really vibrant pieces here and there throughout.Packaging:
The cover style changes a bit this time as it is now just Arashi getting a standalone shot in the foreground with her confident look while her new Heavy Metal is in the background instead of some shots of the city. It looks decent, as did the past covers, but nothing all that eye-catching. The back cover has a few animation shots along the right and a brief summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features and extras. The release does have the volume numbering on the spine but also provides the episode numbers and titles on the back. The insert has another shot of the front cover and opens up to a two panel spread of Hajiki and Lightning. The back just has some background artwork and a listing of the episode numbers and titles again.Menu:
The main menu is nicely done with animated headshots of a few of the characters appearing on either side of the screen while shots from the varied city appear behind it along with other animated venues, all set to some of the grooving music from the opening song. The menu layout is fairly standard and easy to move about with good access times. The disc unfortunately did not read our players language presets and went with English language and song/sign subtitles.Extras:
The extras are even less than the past two volumes. All we get is a full color art gallery. The gallery has some nice pieces in it that show off the cover art for this volume and its individual pieces before going into stills from the episodes.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While we had some serious lag between the first two volumes, we ended up seeing this volume pretty close to the second volume so we were able to really keep the flow of things and that can help with a lot of shows more than some think. Unfortunately, the third volume of the series here is where things seem to fall apart.
Most of the episodes here stand alone and tell their own tales while the mystery of the gads and just about everything else from the first two volumes is seemingly ignored. A bit of down time is good but the stories that are here, outside of one or two of them, just aren't all that engaging at all. A day after watching it, only one of the tales is even memorable while the others had mostly faded from my mind. That doesn't speak well for the show in my mind.
The most engaging material on the release has to deal with Katana and Sayuri. Since his Metal has lost an entire arm in the last battles, he's returned to where he spent the last few years prior to all of this to find some of the Heavy Metal scrap so that he can properly rebuild Zero. Sayuri is completely by his side for all of this and she presents a really cute side to things to contrast his dark nature while not making him cute in the process. She doesn't exactly lighten his mood or make him do things that go against his nature, but the way he accepts her into his life as something inevitable is just a lot of fun to watch. Especially when she manipulates him with the kittens.
Katana's episode brings us some good material on his past and we get to see just what happened to him early on that drove him to the way he is. His parents, his wealth, his upbringing, all of it is touched on in one fashion or another here. The return to one of the best diggers in the Unit that he spent time with allows for some near-familial feelings to creep up into him some as well. He doesn't talk much during it, but it allows his old friend and father figure of Radigue to do most of the talking, usually with Sayuri but also to Katana, about the meaning of life and all sorts of other things. This is one of those reunion episodes that can be pretty overbearing but it's pulled of really well here since it doesn't have a huge cast involved in it but rather just three people and more often than not Sayuri isn't involved.
The only other episode that made a dent was the one with Hajiki running around with a bunny that he needs to have delivered only to find that it's actually got the key inside it to a huge amount of mafia money that was intended for weapons purchases. Katana makes an interesting appearance here and gives a nice little speech to Hajiki about how to use the mafia's money properly. The episode is fairly light in a lot of areas and it's a good piece for Hajiki to show both his casual side with his friends but also the frustrating side of being the hero he wants to be with Lightning. I'll even admit to laughing at the two policewomen who continue to chase him all over the map.
Beyond that, the show made little impression on me even after each episode ended. Asashi gets some screen time as she wants to be more involved in things now that she's got her own Metal and Hajiki gets involved in some nasty delivery business that causes him to grapple with some dirty realities. But in the end, it all seemed pretty simple and without much merit to it. Something just seemed lacking over what we had gotten in the first two volumes for the plot and the style. You'd almost feel like that other than the Katana episode, the second string writers got to come out and play with the show for a bit without anyone knowing.In Summary:
The premise and style of Gad Guard continues to be an interesting one but these episodes are the ones that would normally go a long way towards explaining some of the peculiarities of the world we're watching, such as explaining more about the Units or the make-up of the society. Instead we get one good origin episode for Katana and then three stand alone episodes that don't seem to have much impact beyond the episode itself and maybe a bit of character growth. After two fairly interesting and very different volumes, this one feels like it shifted into the clichéd and standard material instead of keeping up with what made it different.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.