Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 29.95
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Gaogaigar
Gaogaigar Vol. #02
By Chris Beveridge
November 28, 2006
Release Date: November 07, 2006
Gaogaigar Vol. #02
What They Say
© Media Blasters
The AI Robot brothers Houryu and Enryu have successfully completed System Change and sortied alongside GaoGaiGar. The fiery, brash Houryu and the cold, cautious Enryu have opposite personalities. Will they be able to unite their purpose long enough to combine using Symmetrical Docking? If they can't, they won't be able to save GaoGaiGar, who is on a mission to rescue Mamoru from the depths of the ocean. Gai is fighting a giant Zonder robot 10,000 meters under sea level, but his protective Arresting Field has failed. Can bravery fight against 1,000 Kg of pressure per square centimeter? Includes the shadowy first appearance of the intelligence analysis AI Robot, Volfogg!The Review!
Settling into a routine but still showing off some nice creativity, Gaogaigar mostly treads water for this volume.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series mix is surprisingly good considering it's a stereo channel mix as there is a decent amount of forward soundstage directionality to it in the action sequences. Dialogue also gets a decent amount of placement throughout as there are some busy sequences with lots of characters running about. While it doesn't stand out with a lot of sharpness that you'd get in a 5.1 mix, it serves the material very well. In checking out both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing in 1997, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. GaoGaiGar reminds me a lot of Gundam Wing, another Sunrise production from near this time frame, in that there is a fairly grainy feel to the show that gives it a bit more of aged feel. Being done with only a minimal amount of real computer animation mixed into it, rather seamlessly in several scenes I might add, this is the kind of show that simply will never look gorgeous but the transfer here looks to be spot on for the source materials. The grain aspect is what will have the most effect as well as the fact that most of the colors are fairly drab and lifeless, lacking the kind of vibrancy we're used to in more recent shows. This is a solid transfer of the materials and it scores well on that but I can see opinion easily swaying to saying that it looks bad. With a lack of cross coloration and aliasing as well as the generally solid feeling colors, I have little to complain about here.Packaging:
Brighter than the previous volume, the cover art for this installment has a good look to it as it brings together several images from the various episodes here with a blue themed background to it. There's a good mix of character artwork and robot artwork here that manages to blend together well for the most part. The colors and overall designs look rather current and don't really reveal the older nature of the show. The back cover is the standard layout for the series with a few shots in hex form along the top and some robot action along the right side. The summary covers the basics of some of the episodes in this volume while below it they list the extras and episode count. The technical information is solid and very easy to read. Unlike most other releases these days, there is an insert included. The front is a copy of the front cover artwork while the inside breaks down both some of the Brave designs and the various known characters and their relations.Menu:
Keeping very much in theme with one of the computer screen designs from within the show, the menu here looks kind of basic and almost cheesy but it sets the mood as it has the selections lined along one side and the cursor moving down the other as the opening music plays along. It's a very basic menu but it does work within the context of the piece in that it's not terribly flash or trying to use the cover art in a new way. Access times are nice and fast but I was disappointed that the disc didn't pick up our language presets, particularly since full English subtitles are the second English labeled track.Extras:
The extras are the same as the previous volume in that we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a design gallery. This being an older show and some Sunrise shows being notorious for having precious few extras to begin with, I'm not holding out hope for much more than this over the course of the series.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gaogaigar settles into its routine pretty well for this volume as it is basically focused on providing a number of stand alone stories. These stories help to expand the experience of the cast and some of the basic challenges they must overcome in learning to fight the Zonderian threat. On a weekly basis, these are likely pretty fun to watch as there is some decent creativity to all of it. Watched in a row, you feel like you can almost guess exactly what will happen down to the second as they play out so similar.
In a way, that's about as harsh as I can really be with this show. It's very honest and up front about what it is and what it's doing. It's appeal and audience is the younger children who will be all over this so they intentionally keep it from getting too involved or detailed early on or having some very expansive subplots. These elements are there and they're slowly bubbling up but right now, this is when the show was working to find its audience in a sea of other new shows that premiered alongside it. That makes it a bit more work in this manner, but the overall level of enjoyment is still there, particularly if you're a giant robot junkie.
The mix of episodes here is fun and simple as they bring in various humans who find themselves being easily influenced by the Zonderian subordinates who off them the chance. A down on his luck sea captain whose massive ship grounded in the bay finds a new opportunity to set sail when he's transformed. There's another sea related episode that has an advanced deep sea submersible launching and the man who longs to pilot it wasn't selected to, but now that he's been influenced he's able to steal it and plunge down the Marinara Trench. This alone brings some interesting moments to the show since Gai can't exactly head 10,000 feet down on his own. Probably the best of these episodes though, just for comedy and overall look, is when the pizza delivery girl falls asleep and causes a wave of insect-like motorcycles to do her bidding.
There are a few nice little changes to this volume. Mamoru is now able to enter the Space Development Center himself and head down to the secret GGG section. His firsthand interactions with the members there has added a good new dynamic to it since he brings a bit more curiosity to it. He also brings something of a simple worldview and look to things that reminds them that sometimes the problems aren't as big or complex as adults tend to think they are. His interplay with them there adds well to it overall but he still gets in some good fun with both his parents and his apparent girlfriend. Another nice element is that we see more of the two sentient robots (who surely must complain that they're little more than trucks) as they have to get into the action on their own but also start making noise about their AI really being different and each of them having different skills and thoughts, even though they're based on the same thing.In Summary:
The first volume of Gaogaigar showed what this volume would be like once it got underway so nothing here is really a surprise. This set of episodes doesn't have any big aim to it other than to continue doing what works and hopefully, during its original run, retain and gain some eyeballs. The action is solid, the designs are still appealing and it really does have something of a classic feel to it to shows I watched as a kid. The only difficulty with this set of episodes is that it doesn't hold up well in marathon session since they do all play out in such a similar fashion. Beyond that, it's good clean fun and easy pickings for any robot junkie.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening
Clean Closing,Design Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BBD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.