Gad Guard Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • 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. #4

By Bryan Morton     September 21, 2006
Release Date: July 18, 2005

Gad Guard Vol. #4
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
Everyone wants their own gad. But is it really something to be desired? Could it actually be a curse? A hitman comes to town to hunt down Katana, Catherine uses her friends for the chance of finding her own gad, and Aiko's father appears to care more for gads than his own daughter... A blessing or a curse? Even Takumi will come to know the horrific reality these gads represent...

Episodes Comprise
13 - Dwellers of the Dark
14 - Seeking Lost Time
15 - A Garden in the Sun
16 - The Day we Bare our Fangs

The Review!
The further we get into Gad Guard, the clearer it becomes that Gads and Techodes, while being very much sought after, don't bring happiness to their owners. It's taking a while for Hajiki and his friends to realise that, but they're getting there...

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 Takumi, posing with Thunderbolt in the background, while the alternative front has Hajiki sitting on Lightning's shoulder. 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 Takumi, 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, with just a gallery of screenshots from the show this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Katana's still wreaking his own kind of havoc with Zero, to the point where some of his adversaries have taken out a contract on him. His would-be killer is no pushover, and Katana soon finds himself relying on Hajiki's help to avoid meeting a premature end. Meanwhile, when Takumi finds a man who's half-fused with a machine of some sort - and unfortunately for him, has lived through the experience - he becomes determined to find out who was responsible, while Hajiki's beginning to develop something of an ego problem, no doubt thanks to his Techode friend.

A bit along the lines of "power corrupts", really, and Lightning certainly counts as power. It's always interesting to watch Katana and Hajiki deal with each other, as they're not that different to each other under the surface " Hajiki just has more morals to keep the more primal urges in check, and that's something that Katana eventually spots and tackles Hajiki about. The more I see of Katana, the more I like him as a character, even if he's still as two-dimensional as you could get. There's just something about him that's oddly appealing. The token bad guy for this episode, hitman Takenaka, also reminds me of Xellos from Slayers in some ways, and that's no bad thing.

From there, the elusive Gads become the focus of attention for the remaining three episodes, first as Catherine's attempts to track on down continue when she hears word of a series of suspicious fires in Night Town's dock area, then as Aiko's father, owner of possibly the largest collection of Gads on the planet, learns what his daughter's been up to while he hasn't been paying attention.

So Gads are the ultimate symbol of power and status, and Larry Harmony has spent a considerable fortune building a very impressive collection of them, by fair means and foul if his business contacts are anything to go by. It's his plan for Aiko to follow in his footsteps " if only he can persuade her that that's what she wants to do. Unfortunately, his obsession with possessing Gads only helps persuade her that he sees her as nothing more than another possession.

Gad Guard has featured family relationships several times so far, but this is probably the most up-front case of it so far, and it's interesting enough " especially as events move on and Larry learns of Aiko's Techode and her connections with the others, and begins to explore using them for his own advantage. Personally, I'd find it hard to trust anyone who has a series of evil eyes embroidered down one side of his suit jacket, but the scenes with Aiko and her father working through their relationship are actually quite good, and help to explain a little why Aiko's so attached to her Techode. Her father is definitely a shady character, though, and one whose past actions look like they're about to come back and bit him.

The final episode on the disc is the best of the bunch, though. Part of it continues the story of Larry Harmony's attempts to bring the kids under his control and the problems he's having with some former associates, but there's also some good screentime for one of the policewomen who occasionally crop up, usually trying to catch Hajiki or Katana and getting highly frustrated at their inability to do it. Takumi's shocked to find one of them working the night shift at a rather dubious establishment (police pay apparently isn't that great), which seriously upsets his sense of justice to the point where he tries to make her see sense.

I always like it when fringe characters get some good screentime, and it's especially enjoyable here as her part-time job wasn't what you would really expect a good, law-abiding policewoman to be doing. One of Gad Guard's stronger points has been the work that's been put into developing the characters " it hasn't always worked, but it's good to see the effort being made as it makes it that bit easier to connect to the characters.

In summary:
Gad Guard still doesn't do anything to make it stand out as something usual, but what's here is enjoyable enough in its own way. The series definitely works better when it's focussing on the characters rather than their robots, and the more it delves into the grey areas that owning a Techode seems to drag the kids into, the better it gets, but there's just something missing from making it really worthwhile viewing. Worth checking out, but don't expect too much from it.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,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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jnager 3/13/2012 10:13:20 AM

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