Gasaraki Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gasaraki

Gasaraki Vol. #1

By David Owens     February 16, 2002
Release Date: September 26, 2000

The Review!
It would seem that, when it comes to Gasaraki, I run opposite of pretty much everyone else; where everyone seems to like the opening song, Message #9, I happen to think it sounds too much like Bjork and much prefer the closing theme, Love Song. Most of the reviews, save for one, praised Gasaraki profusely, but while the first DVD is a good opening and set-up of possible goodness in the future, I can't say it's a "must have" at this point, except for a few key points I'll mention.

Now, before I start getting hate mail, I suppose I should elaborate some more. I don't mean to say that Gasaraki is a bad series; as a matter of fact, I think quite the opposite: based on the first DVD, I think it'll be a very, very good series. Unfortunately, it looks like it's going to take its sweet time getting there with a lot of background material. For people who like exposition and background right up front, this will be a great thing, but I prefer getting hooked at the start with something exciting, and then getting the exposition. Call me crazy, but the first episode of Gundam Wing started right with Operation Meteor beginning, and the five gundams landing on earth. The first episode already featured a battle between Heero and Zechs, and lots of action. In twenty minutes.

Gasaraki goes the opposite route of the in medias res approach, and provides background. Imagine Gundam Wing if it had started six months prior to Operation Meteor, and start it there. As I said before, this isn't necessarily just doesn't particularly addict the viewer, or at least not me, like other titles do, such as Dual or Rurouni Kenshin. However, Gasaraki has many good points going for it, and since other people have done very nice content reviews of the first DVD, I won't repeat the plotline. Suffice it to say that my take on it was it's a lot of background info and unfortunately, not much goes on. It's a lot of scheming, press releases, and a nifty Noh performance. Apart from that, well...The minor gripe I do have with Gasaraki is the somewhat hurried-looking character art at times. Several times, Yushiro's brother, Kiyotsugu, is drawn so shoddily that the only comparison I can make is that he looks like a long-haired rat. This isn't a major deal, and this is a TV series, so I guess I shouldn't expect designs to be flawless, but it just looks like some of the scenes were drawn by five-year-olds; these sort of below-par screens didn't make their way into Gundam Wing, at least not that I saw, so it's a bit annoying at first I suppose.

Again, I'm not losing hope on the series, because the setup for a good storyline looks very promising. I wasn't a fan of Cowboy Bebop's first episode either, and yet I really loved that series, so I guess it just goes to show... At any rate, there are a lot of good things about Gasaraki. First and foremost is the fact that Gasaraki is the single most beautiful looking anime DVD, as far as video quality, available that I've seen. It surpasses Dual by a slight margin, and Bubblegum Crisis by a noticeable amount. Simply put, Gasaraki is the perfect example of DVD quality for anime, and for that alone might be worth the purchase.

The second good thing about Gasaraki, apart from the incredible video and above-par audio and English voice acting crew, is the premise: instead of many series' "invincible robot" idea, Gasaraki goes the realistic route and ends up appearing very similar to a Squaresoft video game called Front Mission. This is not a bad thing, honest: realistic series have a lot of good points, among them the ability for major drama. In Gundam, did anyone really think that any of the five boys would die while inside a god-like battlesuit? No. But the T.A.'s (that's Tactical Armor, so don't even think it) in Gasaraki are very vulnerable. At one point in the episode, they are compared to a bipedal tank, which is impressive, but certainly doesn't mean they're invincible, and that vulnerability can lead to a lot of good storylines and plot points.

Although this review may seem negative (and I guess in retrospect it was, to an extent) it really isn't. My overall theme, I suppose, is if you like showing off awesome video, or are a complete mecha buff, Gasaraki is right up your alley. If you're not either of the above, then maybe wait for another DVD or two to come out and see if the story progresses to the point where it's interesting enough to purchase all the available ones, because as it stands, the first DVD just doesn't hook you and reel you in the way some series do.

Review Equipment
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer DV-434 Prog-Scan DVD, Pioneer VSX-D509S DD/DTS Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables


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