Gad Guard Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • 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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     February 18, 2005
Release Date: February 22, 2005


Gad Guard Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The carefree life of these teens appear to have ended. Takumi has a new loss to deal with and things explode between Hajiki and Katana bringing Hajiki’s family directly into the conflict. The life that Hajiki once knew has come crashing down and his life will never be the same. Will Arashi be able to bring Hajiki back to the home he has abandoned?

The Review!
Gad Guard finds its groove again as the plot seemingly kicks in from nowhere only to then change direction once again halfway through the volume.

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:
Sayuri and Zero share the cover this time and with the darkened background and the darkness that is Zero itself, the cover has a neat feel with the lightness of Sayuri in her pink outfit and the red eyes of Zero. 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 Katana with their Techodes in the midst of a junk field. 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 the same as the last volume, which is just 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)
In its own way, Gad Guard continues to be an infuriating show. The potential that's here is just great but the lack of focus and the way it meanders on only suddenly shift in a different direction is just frustrating as all get out. This volume doesn't do that as badly as some of the previous ones did since those were mostly standalone stories, but when it does it here it's like separate the four episodes squarely in half as two phases of a larger storyline.

Life in the Unit Blue is getting a bit hairy now for Hajiki as he finds himself approached by a police inspector named Bart (or something completely different in the dub for some reason) who is looking to get him to work on their side in order to take down Katana. Knowing that Katana is gearing towards taking over the entire Unit by himself, the police really need someone with the same kind of drive and equipment to be able to take him down with the least effort. While Hajiki certainly does have an axe to grind with Katana he doesn't like being manipulated like this nor the insinuation of his similarity to Katana.

This idea becomes much closer to Hajiki's heart as an incident occurs not long afterwards in which Takumi's Techode ends up going crazy and tries to eliminate Aiko's, only to be saved by Lightning for a few minutes. Takumi's Techode has begun reverting so much that it actually goes back into its cube form, and it's there that Katana shows up and tells them that it was doing only what it could by reading Takumi's heart. His confusion and lack of certainty about things caused it to be just as confused and went into retreat mode since Takumi wasn't being honest with himself and this is something that will happen to all of them as they're not honest with their hearts. Since Katana lives and does as his heart desires, Zero is keyed to the same kind of drive as Katana and the two won't suffer that kind of problem.

The fight between Katana and Hajiki starts to really escalate here since Katana views him as the only real threat, never mind the problems that are being caused by Jack Brown since his arrival in the Unit. His pairing up with Hajiki, even briefly, sets into motion a series of nasty events that leads Katana to kidnapping Hajiki's younger sister and demanding Brown in exchange for it. This leads to a nasty fight with Hajiki trying to understand what his heart really wants and intends since he doesn't want to lose Lightning, but it also sets into motion the next stage of events which is getting away from the Unit and going to places where those like Katana won't bother targeting them since he's off elsewhere.

What makes this second part work, other than it being a bit of downtime overall that lets Hajiki get a chance to calm down and be free of the confines of the city and its capers, is that Shinozuka is with him and the two get much closer throughout all of this, even to the point of one woman continually thinking they're married. The two of them really work out well here in their time together, even with Shinozuka bedridden for a weeks worth of time, that as things go about during the last two episodes you finally get a real sense of some growth and change in these characters.

In Summary:
With this volume bringing us up to episode twenty, I'm still really unsure of what this series was trying to tell or where it's going to go other than a big showdown presumably between Katana and Hajiki that's been a given since practically the beginning of the series. There is some good character moments throughout this volume but the way the show shifts so widely from one direction to the other continues to be really annoying as its lack of focus only makes it harder to really get into it. With the show seemingly past the standalone episodes of the last couple of volumes, I'm hoping that things will at least finish out in a decent manner over the next six episodes, even if I have a feeling they won't.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
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.

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