Gasaraki Vol. #8 -

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: 12 & 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. #8

By Chris Beveridge     February 05, 2002
Release Date: January 29, 2002

Gasaraki Vol. #8
© ADV Films

What They Say
The world stands poised on the brink of destruction. Only through the actions of a few brave men and women will the Earth survive the coming conflict. While the puppets of the Kugutsu struggle to sever the strings that control them, the Kai prepare for their ultimate confrontation.

The Review!
The final volume of Gasaraki runs much as the entire series did. It's fascinating to watch everything move and fall into place and then to have such an unexpected twist happen.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The shows audio track for the most part continues to be solid, with crisp clear dialogue through mostly the center channel, gorgeous sounding music through the left/right channels and some solid sounding directionality from the weapons sound effects during the right sequences. There were no noted dropouts or distortions during our viewing of this disc.

For the majority of this disc, the visuals go out with a bang of great looking animation and a great authoring job. The only section where I really noticed something odd was in the first episode beginning inside the command vehicle, one of the angles that ran for only a few seconds had some serious jaggies going on there throughout the background and character animation. When it cut to a new view everything was fine and nothing else like that on the disc. Colors are wonderfully solid and vibrant and cross coloration is non-existent. A beautiful way to end the series.

Probably one of the brightest looking covers of the series, "To Be a Kai" sports a lush yellow cover with a fiery red along one side that's broken up by a gray scaled Yushiro and his TA. There's an interesting cast of characters shadowed in the yellow as well. The back cover is much like previous volumes with a brief summary of the show and several screenshots of animation and menus. Features are clearly listed but no episodes or episode numbers. The volume is however nice and clearly listed on the front and spine. The insert shows a great full color rendering of the front cover while the interior goes over the black and white schematics of the Kugai's core.

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). The menus worked flawlessly for me and everything accessed pretty quickly. The sound and animations set the mood perfectly. Definitely some great work here.

I'll admit surprise at this, but man, it truly knocked my socks off. For those who've paid really close attention, you'll have noticed that every episode/couple of episodes the openings changed with new pieces from those episodes. This is why we never got a creditless opening with the discs since they kept changing. This disc takes care of that by providing 30 minutes worth of textless openings and endings, each segment getting its own chapter mark. I've got it on right now and am just enjoying listening and watching the great music and animation.

The other usual extras are here, such as more production sketches and more of the glossary of terms. And the really neat stuff with the images and getting the text of what they are. In addition to the text interview, this series has had some really solid extras overall.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume is even harder to describe than past ones, especially without giving anything away.

After the dramatic last couple of episodes with the incidents outside of the Diet and with the government members as well as the forceful plans put into action by Nishida, there's very little left for the US government to try and do. As it always seems to be with us, our last avenue is always to simply attack, and that's the plan that's laid out. Send in the Fake's under the guise of someone else via the CIA and let them cause enough trouble that the epicenter of where Nishida and his people are so they can launch a proper strike.

This brings Miharu, though somewhat vacant still, back into play as Symbol requires her to pull off this mission and cause enough trouble that things get panicky. The use of her isn't a bad one, until she begins to communicate with her kai abilities and opens up the sky once again. This, with Yushiro there at the same time, begins the link between the two and their past selves to the present, leading to a new and more confident Miharu.

There's been two styles to this series that have been blended quite well. You've got the political/science side that falls under what the brothers have worked towards and what the TA's are. You've also got the spiritual side with the Kugai and the history of the Gowa family and its ties to the past and around Japan. With this series clocking in at 25 episodes, they managed to successfully pull off ending it with a decent wrap-up that isn't as screwed up as many other shows.

In fact, there's really two endings.

Episode 24 brings to resolution the entire political/science side to things. The war with America and Nishida over the future of Japan is brought to a rather interesting conclusion, but one that is definitely in line with the characters.

Episode 25 however is the one where fans will be going "oh my god, not another Evangelion". It's not that bad, but it's an episode that focuses heavily on the spiritual/supernatural side of the series that has been explored throughout and that does really make a lot of sense when it's all put in perspective. It caps off the series perfectly in my eyes.

Gasaraki has been a series that has gone and restored my faith in both anime and in the fan community. A show that's very complex and doesn't give out easy answers every episode or is riddled with inconsistencies. It challenges the viewer with a fixed world and duty bound characters who tried to live within its confines. It doesn't give easy, if at all. And these kinds of shows are hard to get a fanbase for, but once they do, they're immensely loyal.

Gasaraki helped fight back the dumbing down of anime. It's a series that I'm looking forward to taking in over the course of a couple of days to see just how much I missed by watching it this way because it is simply so layered that I know I've missed things. It's a rare series that I wish didn't end, but this is one more of the few like that. Excellent stuff here, highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production staff interviews,Textless open and close credit animation,Production sketches,Glossary of terms

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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