Gasaraki Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gasaraki

Gasaraki Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     May 01, 2001
Release Date: May 01, 2001

Gasaraki Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
The secrets of the kugutsu continue to come to light as Yushiro and Miharu find themselves pursued by both the military and the Gowas. Their only hope: to discover the true nature of the kai before it can be used against the nation of Japan. Meanwhile, Yushiro's SSDF teammates find themselves thrown into a deadly mission of their own, forced into combat with a berserk squad of rogue T.A.s! The action is nonstop and betrayal lurks around every turn in the new shocking collection of "Gasaraki!"

The Review!
After all the excitement in the last set of episodes, things head off in a different direction here. Or do they? The small detour actually provides some rather interesting new information after the Kugai encounter...

For our primary review, we listened to the Japanese language track. Throughout this track we had no problems with it at all, no dropouts, no distortion, no odd crackling in the background. With this being such a heavy dialogue driven sound, the majority of it comes through the center channel. The action sequences made good use of the stereo speakers and the opening/ending music comes across just as gorgeous as it did on the first two discs. We listened to the English language track while writing this review and liked what we heard for the most part.

This volume contains yet another very good looking transfer. Our quibbles with it are pretty darn minor. There were a few noticeable rainbows early on and some jaggies along some of the more curved lines such as eyebrows, but that's about it. The only other thing that really caught our attention was during the extended night time fight sequences where you could see some blockiness in the sky. Otherwise, if you liked what you saw on the first two volumes, expect more of the same here. Great looking flesh tones, solid darks and grays, some flashes of really vibrant colors and just an overall detailed picture.

The great covers continue here with the striking color and design. Misuzu and the Kugai get to take center stage on this cover with the reddish orange background that much like earlier volumes just really works well with the original logo. The overall design still gets us going each time. The back cover has several animation shots and extras captures as well as the episode summaries. No episode listings are present but the volume number of the disc is clearly labeled, offsetting that. The insert is another foldout this time with a schematic on the command station that the Gowa/Military use.

The menus are just about identical to the previous volumes with the exception of what's actually available for selection (such as episode titles and the different extras this time around). This is a good thing if it stays consistent for the rest of the series and doesn't change mid stride. The menus worked flawlessly for me and everything accessed pretty quickly. The sound and animations set the mood perfectly. Definitely some great work here.

There's some really nice extras included this time around. The text interview provides some interesting bits behind the technical direction the animation took, especially in its detail. The production sheets provide some really sweet pictures and something I may have missed on earlier volumes. You can select the Japanese text associated with each of them to learn more about each item, which reveals some really great background information about it. The glossary provides some quite useful information, such as why the Fakes are called that and a few other neat tidbits as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While things left off in the previous episodes with all kinds of new dangerous discoveries and the apparent revival of the Kugai, this doesn't get directly touched upon for quite a bit here. Instead we're back to the Gowa family and the military doing what they do best; upgrading the hardware. The TA's have a new model that are being tested using new pilots, but things are going horribly wrong almost from the start. While in the field, all four of them have readings that go off the charts, almost approaching Yushiro's levels. The TA's are essentially out of control and the pilots unresponsive.

To keep the level of mystery, three of the pilots are downed through their TA itself and the links to the command center. The fourth on however continues to move off away from the testing grounds at a breakneck speed for a TA. All we see when we are allowed into the interior of this TA though is the helmeted pilot, with the helmet that covers just about the enter head with the exception of an area around the mouth and chin. Blood's running from his nose down and he's definitely under duress.

While all of this is going on, Miharu and Yushiro are moving through the woods, following the path of the Kai that Yushiro seems to known about. Miharu follows along, unsure of the why and how, but she feels the need to follow him. When the two rest, light conversation follows and we get a small flashback of Miharu from the Heian period. A quick flashback like that only provokes more questions instead of answering them however.

In an attempt to get the rogue TA back under control before it heads out of the testing grounds, the ranking military commander brings in the TA team we're familiar with. While they're understandably annoyed upon learning about this secret new upgrade that's being tested, they agree to try and bring the TA down before it makes it into the civilian world. A rather well thought out and choreographed chase sequence and close combat sequence ensues.

In addition to the more TA heavy sequences, we also start learning more about Yushiro's origins, the Kugai's origins and the long range plans of the Gowa family and the internal rivalry between the family members. Unfortunately with a show like Gasaraki, saying even a little too much can spoil a lot of it. While these episodes didn't have quite the intensity of the batch that preceded it, they're definitely solid building blocks that raise many intriguing new questions and will cause you to rewatch the earlier episodes to see what new nuances you can discern.

Gasaraki continues to be a great show, one that hasn't suffered hardly any as most series do after the first half dozen episodes or so. With disc four we're just at the halfway mark of the series where things start to pick up. If the first half is any indication, the second half is going to be a wild ride.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Text Interview,Glossary,Production Sheets,Behind the Scenes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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