Gatekeepers 21 Vol. #1 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers 21 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     March 01, 2003
Release Date: April 15, 2003

Gatekeepers 21 Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Old enemies return... Ayane Isuzu, a high school student, also works as an invader hunter for the AEGIS Network run by the mysterious tycoon, Reiji Kageyama. Ayane attempts to recruit her classmate Miyu, but once Miyu discovers that the Invaders are humans, she tries to go back to living a normal life.

Meanwhile, relentless attack by the invaders lead by the mysterious Ghost Girl and the revived Kaiser Kikai continues. Why is Ayane reluctant to use her gate- a legacy of her father, Shun Ukiya?

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, 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 the Japanese track in 5.1, the English track also made the grade for 5.1 so everyone gets to enjoy this sweet mix.

With this being such a recent show, the transfer for the majority of it really stands out, particularly with the shading of the blacks and all the other dark gray shades. 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. There’s a bit of cross coloration showing up in a few scenes, notably one panning sequence inside the classroom, but other than that there’s hardly anything to nitpick with here.

The front cover is a rather dark piece with the shows two leads in dynamic poses set against the shaded images of the past, such as the Kaiser and Ukiya’s car. The only thing that doesn’t work is the silver bar across the top. The bar itself is fine, but it’s just advertising that it’s dolby 5.1, something better suited to a burst sticker on the exterior than anything else. The back cover is a touch lighter with a dusk setting and more character artwork to check out. The discs eatures and basical technical information is all clearly listed as well as the primary creative and production credits. The insert has Reiji surrounded by black (while wearing black) and it certainly fits his look. The interior is a small poster of the three primary girls from the show set against the site while Ayane gets theback of the insert. Pioneer also continued the tradition from the TV series by making this a reversible cover in a clear keepcase, as Yukino gets the reverse front cover while the back lists the discs chapter stops set against artwork of the three women. Both covers here look good, so it’s definitely a tough choice.

The folks at Nightjar make their way back to Pioneer with another really excellent set of menus that definitely helps build the creep factor of this darker show. The main menu plays with the Gate itself while mixing the shows animation behind it in a blurred style while some truly creepy music plays along with it. Menu transitions are very brief, as the Gate goes towards the viewer, and access times once in menus is solid. Excellent looking menus here.

The extras are a bit spares, but they’re the kind I want at a minimum and then some. The opening and ending sequences here are presented twice, once as a textless piece and once with the original Japanese credits. All are in 5.1, which is a real plus. There’s also an art gallery that contains about twenty nine pieces of color and black and white artwork.

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.

If you loved the TV series, this darker side “epilogue” is a lot of fun and does plenty of teasing. Excellent animation, solid 5.1 mix and an engaging variant upgrade on the story and powers, this is an easy recommendation.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening

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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