Garaga -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B-/
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Garaga


    September 11, 2001
Release Date: September 11, 2001

© Central Park Media

What They Say
It should have been a routine voyage, but as the starship XeBeC entered the warp-ring, an explosion in the engine room sent the starship hurtling out of control. Once the smoke cleared, the crew found themselves in a remote corner of the galaxy - their only hope was to make an emergency landing on the Earth-like planet below - Garaga.

But now the crew's trapped on Garaga, and they face attacks from dinosaur-like monsters and immensely strong ape-creatures - who waste no time in trying to eliminate the crew - one of whom is actually the daughter of the Vice-Admiral of the Space Federation!

What was the XeBeC's true mission? Slowly the mystery unfolds - a powerful general, hidden agendas, a ruthless plot, and a mysterious race of psychics! It's up to our hero, Jay M. Jay to save the crew, the girls, and the galaxy.

The Review!
Ignore that bit about "Planet of the Apes"! The resemblance is superficial. Garaga was intriguing, not horrifying.

Audio: For my primary review, I listened to this disk in Japanese. The overall quality was strong and clear. I didn't notice any scratchiness or other problems. The music is nice (if mostly synthesized), and there was some directionality. A large part of the sound involved effects, and these came across very well, despite a limited use of directionality.

The dub was slightly better than average. Some odd tonalities and the occasional repeated or dropped line made me think the actors needed more time, but they got their characters down pat. Alf Dolf and Galleigo sounded particularly nice. Heran was poorly timed and really got on my nerves, but the original wasn't perfect, either. Overall, a good job.

Video: Everything was clean and nice in the first part of the disks, with black space turning out fairly well, and the bright colors not bleeding or rainbowing much. Then about halfway through the disk, some artifacting begins to appear, along with vertical white lines. These are mostly in the darker scenes, but not universally. Also, there is about a thirty-second sequence in one of the fights where the animation goes completely blocky and terrible, but that seems to be a deliberate effect, since it matches the scene's timing exactly. During the opening credits, some blurry red-and-black still images are shown. They make no sense until you have seen the rest of the show, and the effect, again, seems deliberate.

Packaging: Garaga came in one of CPM's nice styles, with the clear keepcase and reversible cover (with the reverse side in black and white). Information, such as casting and production credits, are listed on the inside cover, rather than an insert. The Japanese voice-actors are not given because "no further... information is available." That's odd, since the credits themselves list the seiyuu....

But that's only a minor quibble. The rest of the package is fine, with a black cover sporting our hero Jay, the scantily- clad Farla, the android Alf Dolf, and an ape-man. The back has Jay and more ape-men, with a bit too much writing and the prominent phrase "A must-have for fans of 'Planet of the Apes'!" The reverse cover also has a bit much writing; the front contains the space station above Garaga, and the back shows Jay with the cute little Heran. The disk itself is black with an ape-man and some text.

Menus: The main menu shows Jay, his robot buddy Onbu, Alf Dolf, and Farla. The animated sequence is merged into the center of the image- very nice. Unfortunately, whatever you do (wait too long, select a language, etc.), the show starts. Also, the only language combinations offered are English dialogue or Japanese with subtitles. However, you can change these manually.

Scene selection gives you Onbu and Jay's battle armor, along with more animated sequences and 11 chapter stops (about 1 stop per 10 minutes of run-time). All of the other menu options give you only static pictures. Besides the trailers, the extras are separated into two sections- those you can view with your normal DVD player, and those that require a computer.

Extras: There are two sets of extras. If you are playing this disk on your DVD player, you can see a trailer and a "meet the characters" bit that barely scratches the surface of the sheer number of players in this show.

If you put it in a DVD-ROM (or follow the links to CPM's website), the "DVD-ROM" option brings up a screen telling you how to access other DVD features. These include a gallery of 16 images (most of them from the anime), the entire script (subtitle version, I think), a cast list, production credits, and links to CPM and affiliated websites. These were okay, and interesting enough, but I'm sure the gallery would have looked better on my TV than my monitor.

Content: This is an action/adventure story based on political intrigue, which you would never know from the cover. It begins with an unnecessary explanation of warp gates, then moves to the XeBeC heading for one. Some sudden navigational problems and explosions knock them off course, and they must crash-land on a mysterious planet....

Except it's not a mystery to most of them. The crew is chock-full of spies, moles, and traitors of various sorts, all focused on Heran, daughter of General Yun (whose connections and politics are not explained until over halfway through the disk). Yet Heran is a minor character. During the battles that follow, the pilot Jay shows his physical superiority, even when faced with giant reptiles and vicious ape-men. He can blame part of his skill on his battle armor, and part of it on the beautiful (and under-dressed) Farla, a native telepath who saves his life more than once.

The rest of the crew can almost keep up with Jay. Randy, Min, and Kisarl form a trio that seems suspiciously handy with their guns and with electronic equipment of all sorts. Borgie is supposedly just an old man, but he takes charge of the crew after they crash, deftly shoving the captain out of the way. Crew member Ann keeps reporting Heran's movements to someone, and the injured passenger Paula makes friends with Heran, appearing remarkably undisturbed to be suddenly dumped in the wilderness.

Jay and Farla are clearly the main characters. From the beginning, however, others get as much or more screen-time. In fact, the focus seems to shift constantly throughout the story. This suggests to me that there is background material I haven't seen, like a manga or other series parts, or that the show was cut for being too long. If that is the case, the other material may shed more light on the overall galactic setting (for those who are interested). This is definitely an OVA in which the viewer arrives at the tail end of the story and gets to watch the wrap-up while trying to figure out what came before.

I'll warn you that the ending is satisfying but strange. It neatly ties up certain plot elements, though sometimes all too neatly, while leaving lots of loose relationship threads and the sense that the story is continuing somewhere off-screen. It is not at all clear that the temporary alliance formed by the winning side will hold, or what the galactic government will do now. Think of this as a piece of an ongoing epic, with psychic powers, a few scantily-clad women, lots of fighting, and enough characters that you'll almost certainly find one you like. A fun way to spend an hour and a half.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Garaga Trailer,Meet the Characters

Review Equipment
25" Samsung Stereo TV, code-free Pioneer 333, Sony STR-SE391 receiver, Sony speakers, and the cables that came with the set.


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