Gaogaigar Vol. #04 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

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: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gaogaigar

Gaogaigar Vol. #04

By Chris Beveridge     March 26, 2007
Release Date: March 27, 2007

Gaogaigar Vol. #04
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The menace of the Four Machine Kings spreads, backing GGG into a corner. Gai's ultimate attack, Hell and Heaven, is tearing GaoGaiGar apart, and each time he uses it could be his last. When a giant Zonder metal plant appears in the city, Gai doesn't hesitate to use the forbidden attack and sacrifice himself for everyone else.

To save Gai, young Mamoru goes into battle himself. With Volfogg, he attacks the Machine Kings in a last ditch effort to purify the Zondar plant. However, the enemy cannot be driven back unless GGG fields its most unstable, untested super weapon: The Goldion Hammer!

Contains episodes 16-20.

The Review!
Story arcs start to build over multiple episodes and the villains begin to act with something resembling... a plan!

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.

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.

With a brighter background than previous installments, Gaogaigar looks decent here until you get to the details. The details being the arrival of the G-Tools and their corny nature. Beyond that, it would be a solid look action layout with the Gaogaigar wielding the hammer and plenty of visuals to complement it. 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.

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.

The extras are similar to the previous volume in that we get 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)
The third installment of Gaogaigar didn't do much to make get completely behind the show. So much of it seemed to be wrapped up in episodic encounters where you wonder how stupid the bad guys are to act that way. This set of episodes, which brings us through number twenty, starts to provide a bit more of an overall arc and our villains act like any thinking person would.

Yet even as interesting as it starts to get, the show is still riddled with plenty of silly moments that weaken it overall. With it still being so relatively early in the series they still keep introducing new kinds of weapons with the statement that they're the most powerful weapon. Yet. And then they have to up it again in the next episode. The weapons were already plenty powerful when you have something like the Dividing Driver but in these episodes we find out that with enough power against it that it can bend space itself. Since the official Gaogaigar sized flathead screwdriver isn't enough, they also introduce a new set of G-Tools with the Pliers. The Pliers are an amusing looking group of tools that have been made in America. The boxy looking things are almost comical in nature and they really emphasize that at times. It really works against my enjoyment of the show, even as over the top as it has been.

One of the storylines that run throughout these episodes deals with how Gai is getting closer to his breaking point. So many battles have been going on since the start of the series and are only increasing in intensity that its toll is starting to show. The storyline itself is good but it ends up being dragged across multiple episodes and takes awhile before it really starts to sink in. Even worse, it becomes a showcase for Gai to simply show that he'll do whatever he needs to in order to protect people. Once in awhile it's not a bad thing and an expectation in a show like this, but here it just seems to go on and on and on.

With the discovery of how the Dividing Driver can cause a warp in space depending on the intensity of the energy dissipation that it's working with, the Zonderian side finally starts acting smart. In a very slick moment, you have each side essentially saying the same thing about it but each of them trying to figure it out to their advantage. The GGG folks need to fix it before it can become a disadvantage while the Zonderian's want to exploit it as quickly as possible. The Zonderian's don't exactly become any more engaging during these episodes, but here and later on such characters as Pizza and Primada become much more enjoyable to watch. Their attacks don't feel quite so willy nilly and seem to have some sense of purpose to them.

In Summary:
After the third volume of Gaogaigar I had to wonder if the show would pick up steam again. This set of episodes sets things back onto a more enjoyable course while still keeping to the flaws that it seems to be built on. The shift to more multi-episode storylines works well here, though surely worked against the show a bit in its broadcast run. The characters are slowly getting fleshed out and some of the secondary members are becoming more interesting as well. While there is still a big goofy factor to the entire thing and I can't help but feel like I'm watching an alternate universe Transformers of sorts, Gaogaigar is starting to hits its stride.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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.


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