Gatekeepers 21 Box Set -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
  • Released By: Century Universe
  • MSRP: 18.75
  • Running time: 180
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers 21 Box Set

By Chris Beveridge     August 01, 2003
Release Date: July 16, 2003

Gatekeepers 21 Box Set
© Century Universe

What They Say
In 1969, Japan was experiencing rapid economic development. It was a period, when the people of Japan were never satisfied with what they have. Invaders were formed from their never-ending ambitions. Invaders were all over the world but their main focus is Japan, which was progressing at that period. These Invaders have caused many disruptions to Japan, particularly in Tokyo.

But thanks to the group of teenagers " the Gate Keepers of AEGIS, Invaders' further disruption was stopped.

After the Invaders' defeat, Japan continued to prosper. Big businesses rose until the eighties (period when Showa period ended, death of Hirohito). Time changed --- crime rates have increased, environmental problems have been apparent, and international situation has become unstable. The people's conventional sense of value and moral view have collapsed, the bright future cannot be imagined. Thirty one years passed, since the Invaders defeat, Invaders, the darkside of the human heart, have reappeared.

AEGIS Network (Fareastern branch), still underground Tokyo, have been working hard for their country's protection. The first member of the 21st Century Gate Keepers is Ayane Isuzu, who works for a mysterious man, and her job is to find and recruit a Gate Keeper while protecting Japan from Invaders.

The Review!
It's time to move out of the 60's and Gatekeepers hits the future as the new story unfolds in 2001.

Having enjoyed the TV series in Japanese, and with only Japanese language available here, we went with that track for our primary viewing of this series. With the Japanese mix being a fresh from the start 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, things here sound fantastic. While there isn't a huge amount of directionality to the rear speakers, they do get some good ambient sounds and the forward soundstage is very sharp and crisp with a dynamic mix. Dialogue is sharp and clear throughout and we noticed no dropouts or distortions.

With this being such a recent show, and having the region 1 transfer to compare against, the transfer here for the majority of it really stands out. There are some areas where it looks grainy, but these tend to be at night where they're trying to simulate real highway street lights, which gives the area around them a fuzzy feel that almost looks like macroblocking. One area where things don't look as smooth as they should is in the beginning of the episodes when a scene first comes on the screen. Since it's done slightly slowly, you can see a fair amount of color banding along the digitally colored backgrounds, giving it a not so good look. There's a bit of cross coloration showing up in a few scenes, notably one panning sequence inside the classroom, but otherwise it's pretty minimal.

All six episodes are included in this release, three on each disc to allow them to use single layered discs. The first volume has a nice shot of the trio of women, each of them colored a different shade and set against the black backdrop while the series logo is dead center over them. It's a nice striking piece of artwork. The back cover has a number of shots from the show itself and uses part of the front cover as its background here. There's a very brief summary of the shows premise and a nice blocked listing of the discs technical information (though while it does list all-region, it is definitely region 3 encoded). While clear keepcases are used, neither of them has anything on the reverse side, giving off an empty feel when you do open them up. The second keepcase is pretty much the same but with different artwork and screenshots. The front cover has a very nice piece of the same trio again, this time fully colored, but set against the lighter backdrop of the cityscape with clouds and a touch of blue sky.

This release goes a bit further as well in taking the two keepcases and putting them inside one of the hardest boxes I've felt yet. The front panel uses the first discs cover artwork while the back panel uses the same style of back covers but with different animation shots. The packaging is really nice overall and definitely something that the box fanatics will be surprised with considering its thickness. This is probably the first box that I've felt could be used as something to actually hurt someone else with it's so thick.

The main menu is a really nice piece, though static once it finishes loading, that has the backdrop of a world map and has the Aegis logo slide along the top and the menu selections laying over the map itself while the sixth episodes end song plays along with it. Selections are quick and easy to make since it's all right here and there's almost no load times once the main menu is up and going.

Unfortunately, none.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a successful and rather fun TV series that took place in 1969, the Gatekeepers folks decided to throw things up in the air and move the story forward to 2001 and darken things up nicely. The result is a very engaging little OVA series that looks extremely attractive with its animation.

The original series, taking place in 1969, had the members of AEGIS dealing with the alien Invaders and their plots to take over the world. The leads in this series, close to the same age as the kids fighting in the original series, weren't born until 1984. And by the look of the world, progress slowed down a bit to mirror things today and it also looks like people lost their knowledge of the Invaders. With some of the stunts they pulled in 1969, it's hard to imagine the public didn't become more aware of them. But, that's likely yet another anime inconsistency.

We're introduced quickly to Ayane Isuzu, a young woman who really resembles Megumi (at least in my mind) from the original series. As a young woman gets accosted by a group of Invaders in the middle of a dark walkway, she appears and uses the technology of the day, the cell phone, and manipulates her Gate power through them, quickly eliminating the Invaders and reducing them to their crystals.

She's not altogether altruistic in this though. As we see, AEGIS in its current incarnation is being funded by Reiji Kageyama, a very mysterious and darkly clad tycoon. She gives him the crystals, he pays her money for them and encourages her to work harder to master her abilities. Ayane certainly has enough time to do so as she's an outcast at school with no friends, and the ire of teachers, as she seems to know everything. During class you can see her fiddling with one of the cell phones or her laptop as she tracks the Invaders and sets up her programs to provide her with more varying Gate abilities.

When she learns that Miu Manazuru also has Gate powers, she ends up bringing her along on one of her hunts and tries to explain to her what the world is really all about. Miu's a bit of a brighter, cheerier sort, but she chafes against Ayane's darkly pessimistic view of things. Ayane's method of training her to use her Gate ability is tossing her into the fire and seeing what she does, which is admittedly cruel when it's also the first time she's seen the Invaders and the kind that mass morph as well.

Now with a partner and the Invaders becoming more brazen in their goal of world domination, Ayane finds herself dealing with all kinds of new situations that don't fit into her preconceived view of the world. The biggest thing holding her down is the massive chip on her shoulder over her father, a father who left her and her mother at a young age and eventually died. Her history with that has colored many of her interactions with other people, but also made her almost ideal to coldly deal with the Invaders. This is likely why Reiji finds her just perfect to complement his goals.

Much of the enjoyment and excitement of these three episodes, the first half of the series itself, is discovering the changes in the world and trying to decipher the why of it all. The relationship side of Ayane is important as well, as there is always the wonder of what the kids from the original series ended up doing as they grew up. As we learn from one of them, once they grew up they stopped seeing certain things. Having Yukino return also seems to be playing something of a pivotal role in things.

One of the things that most people ask at the end of a series they wonder what happens, either the next day or years later. Gatekeepers 21 is that kind of story, where they go thirty years into the future and tell another related tale and tease with hints of what happened to the originals. GK21 also takes an already impressive looking TV series and gives it the OVA love, resulting in some really gorgeous sequences. The first time I saw the trailer I practically jumped out of my seat with how striking it was. There's huge payoff in this department with this release, not that the TV series slacked there at all.

In comparison with the region 1 release, there are some notable differences, but much like the Sumire OVA, I'm unsure of the where and why of it. I've used the region 1 names in the above content review (since it's virtually the region 1 content review), but there are differences as this two disc set uses slightly different names, such as Yukino becoming Yuokino or something similar. That isn't terribly bothersome since it's definitely aimed at a different market that can deal with name translations somewhat differently.

The translation of the show itself feels very close to the region one, but there does seem like some areas have differences. In the first episode when the young woman gets confronted in the tunnel, Ayane tells her to go home at the end of it in the region one translation. Here, she says relatively the same thing, but it's done in a way that doesn't seem as condescending. There's definitely enough variance in translating the same thing by different people, and since the bulk of this feels the same, it's not something that's really bothersome. But there are some subtitling issues that I hope Century Universe gets on top of with future releases. Instances of "girlt hat", non-capitalized sentences and a few other shortened words are annoying and definitely don't help promote the legitimate release feel.

Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,Chinese Subtitles,English Subtitles,Malay Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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