Gasaraki Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Bandai Visual
  • MSRP: ¥5000
  • Running time: 55
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gasaraki

Gasaraki Vol. #1

    March 31, 2002

Gasaraki Vol. #1
© Bandai Visual

What They Say

The Review!
While fans await Bandai to release Gundam on DVD, for the moment, at least, some may find consolation in Bandai's recently released mecha shows such as Brain Powered or Gasaraki. First aired on TV in October 1998, Gasaraki is Emotion's recent series that features character designer Murase Shukoh and costumer Izubuchi Yutaka of the Gundam W fame. Set in the not-too-distant future, the show presents a unique mix between mecha and Shintoism, where spirits summoned from the Shintoist ritualist dance interact with the Tactical Armors, or the "mobile suits" in Gasaraki.
In the first two episodes, we were introduced to the members of the Gowa family that is behind the powerful Gowa Digital Systems, the manufacturer of TAs for the Japan Special Self-Defense Force (JSSDF). The main character, Yushiro Gowa, the youngest son of the Gowa clan, who has been recruited by his father to pilot the Type 17 Raiden Armor in simulations, is found to have the special ability to pilot the TAs and to summon the legendary Shintoist spirits. Unlike their three elder brothers, the 17 year old Yushiro and his 14 year old sister Misuzu, are not involved in the family business and are not knowledgeable of the dark secrets in the family. During Yushiro's performance of a ritualistic dance, Miharu, the mysterious female protagonist shown on the DVD cover, appears in Yushiro's vision. Miharu, also dressed in Shinto costume, pulls out a knife and tries to kill Yushiro...

The show takes on a mysterious mood, and although the story progresses little in the introductory episodes, this series offers much potential for plot and character development.

I was pleasantly surprised with the video quality of this DVD. The transfer was crisp and rich in color. The bitrate was consistently held around 8.3 to 9.5, with occasional mid 7's during relatively still scenes. Indeed, the excellent video on DVD preserves the artistic integrity intended by the animators. Granted that this disc is benefiting from a fresh transfer, but the bitrate also shows that attention to detail has been taken during the encoding process. In fact, Bandai's on-line catalog has shown that subsequent Gasaraki volumes will be dual-layered even though they will only contain 75 minutes of material.

The audio of DVD comes in a no-gimmicks Dolby Digital Stereo. Soundtrack was clean and clear. The opening song, "Message #9", sung in English, has a strong techno feel in the style (at least it was more acceptable than the jazzy music played in other recent animations). The music in the episodes features numerous Shintoist instruments and chants. On the other hand, the ending song, "Love Song", sung in Japanese, had a more Lodoss feel that was very enjoyable.

The DVD menu is simple and consists of a main screen for accessing the 2 episodes and a screen for chapter selection and supplements. This is similar to the menu of Cowboy Bebop DVD. The menu background shows the Shinto stone shrine and it has a brief "tuning in" animation that resembled video communications in the show. In the supplementary materials there are intro and ending sequences without the credits, 15s and 30s commercial spots, and info on Cowboy Bebop, Gasaraki soundtrack and related plastic injection models by Bandai. I gave a slightly higher menu rating because of the gorgeous new animated Emotion logo in the title sequence.

Gasaraki DVD consists of 9 volumes with a total of 26 episodes. The first volume, released on Jan. 25, contains 2 episodes at the SRP of 5000 yen, and the rest contains 3 episodes (75min) at 6000 yen each. The DVD comes with the preferred Amaray Keepcase with stylistic cover art shown in the scan here. There is a booklet containing interviews with the director, introduction to the Gasaraki world, conceptual drawings of the characters and vehicles, and organizational charts of the Gowa clan and the JSSDF team where Yushiro belongs. Being the first volume in the series, the disc is packaged in a deep orange box that holds 4 DVD keepcases. A second box is expected to be included on volume 5 of Gasaraki as well. On each sides of the collection box, there are pencil drawings of the Tactical Armor and Miharu in her pilot suit.

All in all, the elaborate packaging, beautiful artwork and the excellent video transfer make Gasaraki an attractive DVD to be imported. Given the Shintoist background in the animation, it is doubtful whether the US distributors will pick up this series. On a more relevant note, however, Bandai's attention to video quality on Gasaraki makes one hopeful that its classic animations will get the similar treatment when they are eventually released in both Japan and the US.

Japanese 2.0 Dolby Sound,Separate Credit less Intro and Ending,30s and 15s Commercial Spots,Ad for Cowboy Bebop & Gasaraki Vol.2 and Merchandise,Special 4-DVD Collection Box,Conceptual Drawings,Production Notes

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