Gasaraki Vol. #5 -

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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     May 22, 2001
Release Date: May 22, 2001

Gasaraki Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
The tangled web of secrets finally begins to unravel as Yushiro and Miharu follow the path of the Kai to an uncertain destiny. Pursued by the Gowas, they seek a key to the mystery in their shattered pasts, but will they find it in time to stop the fires of war?

Then, Kugutsu faces Kugutsu in deadly combat as monstrous Kugai crush their enemies underfoot and armed rebellion sweeps the nation!

The Review!
Now that we've moved past the first half of the series, we get a few episodes worth of mostly exposition, history and... more questions asked than answers revealed. And much like folks felt during Evangelion when similar things occurred, I find myself only more drawn in after the revelations made here.

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.

Much like earlier volumes, the visual presentation for this show is just great. With the second and third episodes on this disc being presented in a muted black/blue/gray style, the transition back to a color moment is an abrupt moment. The colors used throughout are well represented, though a few scenes with a number of thin lines cause some slight jaggies here and there, but that's simply due to the animation style more than anything else.

Keeping in tone with the off-color episodes inside, the cover reflects this well with the Kugai taking up a lot of the cover and the Heian era Miharu nearby. The reverse side has a some nice animation shots, some shots of the extras and a layout similar to previous volumes. This is a really nice looking package. The insert provides another look at one of the mobile platforms on the outside, while the interior to it has the floorplan of the Gowa residence. You know you're a complete Gasaraki junkie if you pored all over this. Never mind if you actually want to build it.

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.

The extras included continue to be solid, with lots of actual useful information included. Checking out the production gallery and clicking on all the icons inside provides a wealth of great information, the text interview with the art director brought some interesting information into play on the design of the show as well. The dub studio bit was brief (especially when compared to the copious amounts of dub studio sequences included by other studios) but still a start of a welcome inclusion. I'm still holding out for a creditless opening gallery now that the remixed versions were introduced with two episodes here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Details, plots, stories... massive amount of backhistory is provided here. There's little action here in these episodes, but when it does happen, it's like when the Kugai first moved a few discs ago. You're simply drawn to it and watch in wonder.

Things start off in the present, with discussions among the upper Gowa family members and others of the ruling class of Japan talking about where the nation stands, what should be done and where it should go. A telling of the ancient Kugai and their call to another world through the dance of the Gasaraki brings some amount of concern and caution among the Gowa, after feelings of resentment for being told the story when it's the Gowa's own history, and one they know well.

Yushiro and Miharu converse while traveling along the ancient paths (which to some extent, I have to wonder how they've held up so well so long while the nation has changed), mostly about their feelings about their paths and what's led them to where they are. Miharu reveals a few interesting bits about Symbol, but it's not long before we move on to the past.

The second episode starts off in a very different way than the previous episodes. With a remix to the opening song (which I'm only partially keen on), we're treated to a visually diverse style that's done in mostly black and white, presenting a number of images that are both telling and mysterious.

The clock gets set back to the Heian era, and the Watanabe clan of the kai. A version of both Miharu and Yushiro is here, though they're not the primary focus of the episodes. The episodes deal with the leaders and their differences on how the world has changed. The current leader, while knowing that the kai have been placed on the sidelines by the rulers of the nation after they helped secure their place using the Kugai, refuses to try and regain the power in the imperial court, preferring the status he has now.

Of course, another member of the family feels differently and challenges him. This leads to a shift in power not unlike the one in the present day. The clan begins the Gasaraki dance once again, which is done with great reverence and ritual, even though the dance itself is becoming forgotten among the clan. The differences between the past and present are stark at times, and watching the Kugai absorb Yushiro in this time period appears to be quite different than the present day.

The moments when the clan with two Kugai by their side, head off to the imperial city is a striking sequence. The fear on the imperial soldiers faces is quite telling, though their leaders are unsure exactly why this change in the kai clan has occurred. But there are subtle hints that the Symbol faction may be involved here in the past somehow...

Gasaraki's trip to the past has brought a wealth of new information and has really helped layer everything nicely. With little action in these episodes, it won't bother most people who've been hooked from the beginning with this great story and the style in which it's told. The mythos only continue to build here and I'm completely hooked.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Sheets,Glossary,Behind the Scenes look at the making of the Gasaraki series

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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