Gad Guard Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • 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. #3

By Bryan Morton     September 12, 2006
Release Date: May 16, 2005

Gad Guard Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
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 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 nowadays. But there are some things in life that can place a little light into the world. Maybe even multiple lights..

Episodes Comprise
9 - Snow Melts the Heart
10 - Bundles of Bills in the Setting Sun
11 - No Returning to Rainbow Town
12 - Bluebird

The Review!
Hajiki's finding out that life can be both a blessing and a curse, Katana revisits his past, and the Techodes continue to wreak chaos in the city.

Audio here is presented in English and Japanese, with both soundtracks being in 2.0 stereo. I listened to the Japanese track for this review - there's a decent amount of directionality used, although the mix is never really outstanding. There were no obvious problems with the encoding.

Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format, and as with most Gonzo shows looks great, with good use of colours and background detail giving the presentation a real sense of depth. Again, there were no obvious problems with the encoding.

Another double-sided cover with this volume - the main cover features Aiko, striking a pose with her Techode in the background, while the alternative front has similar image of Arashi. The back of both sides features the usual screenshots, technical information and promotional paragraph. Nice enough, but nothing particularly special.

The menus are simple but functional. After a brief introduction, the image of Aiko, as used on the cover, appears in the centre of the screen, with the episode numbers and other selections off to the right. The show's opening theme tune plays throughout. The two sub-menus use static pieces of artwork. As with most ADV releases, it's all pleasingly quick and easy to use.

Not much in the way of extras here - there's a trailer for the Japanese DVD release, the standard creditless opening & closing sequences, and a production art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Katana and Sayuri leave Night Town to pay a visit to Unit Grey, to catch up with his old master, Radigue - a Heavy Metal expert, and someone Katana wants to hire to carry out repairs on Zero (currently missing an arm). Problem is, it seems that Radigue's skills are on the wane, and parts are hard to come by. Meanwhile, a police investigator is also in Unit Grey, and seems to have an interest in Radigue and Katana.

The trip away from Night Town means no appearances for Hajiki and the others this episode, as it's really a character piece for Katana " almost an attempt to show that he's not completely the hard-ass character he's been painted to be so far. Certainly, the way he gets on with Sayuri does show he has a heart in their somewhere. We get a few snippets of interesting information about his past here, but nothing to really tell us what happened in between his "apprenticeship" with Radigue and where he is now, which I would have liked to see. Katana's the last of the main characters to get any real background to his character, but unfortunately while this episode is good at painting him in a different light, it's back to usual for the rest of the disc as his rivalry with Hajiki is renewed.

Back in Night Town, Hajiki and Lightning have lost any pretence at sneaking around town - now everywhere they go there's invariably a convoy of police cars giving chase, and it's reached the point where Takumi and the others can't go out with their Techodes for fear of drawing too much attention. Work's getting busier for him, too " between delivering packages that Katana desperately wants to get his hands one, bombs to gangsters, and invitations for a rush wedding, he's got his hands full.

The thing that surprised me most about these episodes is how little screentime poor Arashi got " after finally getting her own Techode at the end of the last volume, she ends up sitting most of these episodes out, only really getting involved towards the end of episode 11 (where Hajiki and the others are dealing with a gang's Atechode), and even then only making an impression because she clearly has no clue what she's doing. In some ways Arashi comes across as very confident in herself, but in other scenes she seems very insecure, especially where she's trying to get more involved with Hajiki and the others.

Hajiki himself gets inadvertently dragged into the darker side of Night Town after unwittingly delivering a bomb to a group of gangsters, and after seeing the bomb go off has to deal with the guilt that his actions " however unintended " bring him. His way of dealing with the problems is to try and track down the people responsible, with a little help from Takumi. I quite like the way Gad Guard's beginning to dig into the darker side of its setting, even if it's not directly related to the Gads, and letting us see how some of the characters deal with situations that aren't all fun & games.

The final episode, where Hajiki's busy delivery wedding invitations while Arashi looks for her missing cat, is one of those episodes where nothing really happens other than seeing a fairly ordinary day in the life of the characters. If you don't go for "slice-of-life" stories you'll probably find it quite dull, but I quite enjoy this sort of story, and it had a slightly feel-good feel to it that made for a nice change after the previous episode.

For the conspiracy-minded, there are few little tidbits thrown into the episodes (the way Aiko's father is able to call off the police hunt for Hajiki and the others, and the police investigator who's killed and absorbed by his Techode, for starters) " the way Gad Guard is developing I'm not 100% sure how much these events will be used later in the story, but they certainly feel significant.

In summary:
Gad Guard so far seems happy to work with essentially standalone episodes that give the characters a decent amount of development " sometimes even the Techodes themselves feel almost secondary to that. For the most part that's no bad thing, but it does sometimes feel the series is just treading water and not really going anywhere. Hopefully that'll change as the series progresses " in the meantime, Gad Guard is enjoyable in its own way, but isn't anything really special.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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