Gatekeepers Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     September 25, 2001
Release Date: September 25, 2001


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


What They Say
1969. Stranger invaders threaten Japan's recovery from the devastation of World War II with a shocking form of guerilla warfare. Fortunately, a new type of hero has been discovered among the teenage population of Japan - the Gatekeepers! Able to channel "gates" to other dimensions, this new generation of heroes are the only thing standing between Earth and total annihilation!
From GONZO (Blue Sub. No. 6) with character designs by Keiji GOTOH (Nadesico).

The Review!
Uh oh... I think we're going to have to classify this one under a guilty pleasure...

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. While there's a fair amount of dialogue throughout this show, most of it is very center channel based and only a few moments of directionality. The sound effects and the music make much better use of the forward soundstage, particularly with the opening song. We didn't notice any problems with this track in the form of dropouts or other distortions. A very clean track overall.

Video:
I wish more discs were close to this. The first episode was flawless. The second episode had a few minor bits of cross coloration. The third episode had several instances of this as well, but all told still quite minor compared to some of Pioneer's other recent offerings. With the show being released in 2000, the source materials are in fantastic shape and the quality from the video just oozes here. Those bits of cross coloration are all I had a problem with. This is a thoroughly enjoyable transfer with lush bright colors and lots of excellent solids.

Packaging:
It looks like Pioneer pulled out all the stops here. This is a great looking package. The series looks like it'll be presented in clear keepcases. The front cover is a new piece with some of the main characters and villains behind them striking a pose. The back side provides a brief summary of the setting and goes into detail on the features and creative aspects. Episode numbers and titles are also listed, which is important as the volume numbering is non-existent here. To make this package sweeter, you can reverse the cover. The reverse side main cover is essentially the Japanese DVD cover. The reverse back cover provides a mini color manga for the show, but it's unfortunately not translated. The insert provided is a foldout. The top page lists each of the episodes and their respective chapter stops, while folding it out provides a cleaner shot of the Japanese cover with Ruriko. Very nice!

Menus:
As soon as that flashy menu flew up on the screen, I had a big silly grin on my face. Confirming it in the credits section, Pioneer's gone and gotten Nightjar to provide the menus for this series. And the first disc's menus look great, with lots of show animation flying around all while keeping the menus very easy to use and with fast access times. It amazes me that you don't see them doing more menus out there. These are among the best I've seen.

Extras:
Let's start with the pack-in extras first. Available on a limited (while supplies last) basis, two identification cards have been included. The first is the Earth Defense License for Ruriko, with one side in Japanese and one side in English, that lists some of the vitals as well as a picture. A second card is included as well, this one without any of the information put in, so you can make up your own license. It's my understanding that these are the same pack-ins that the Japanese got with their first volume, which is fantastic.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So why are we going to call this a guilty pleasure? A part of me says that this should fall heavily under the been there done that category. Recent shows that have fallen into that trap I've ended up not caring much for. But for some reason, this show is just infectious.

The first positive is that the show takes place in 1969. While this may not seem like a lot, it opens the show up to some slightly different designs and gives them the ability to be a little more out there and creative in terms of equipment and villains. The show revolves around a special group called AEGIS, folks who are in charge of the defense of Earth from alien invaders that were discovered to be "among us" since 1945. Members of this group are given special Earth Defense License's that allow them to be above and outside the law, to get done what must be done in such bizarre situations.

The first member that we really meet is Ruriko, a young high school girl whose been gifted with the ability to open Gates, a power that's in some way related to the invading aliens that when manifested, converts the alien to a crystal. While the AEGIS group is transporting a mysterious cargo, they come under attack from the aliens. What the aliens are is rather creepy and hilarious at the same time. Prior to an attack, a wave of some sort is sent to an area and people who get affected become enthralled and march to one location together. Then they all pull out newly found black sunglasses and turn into Men In Black, completely under the thrall of the real alien, a red master unit that arrives on the scene afterwards. And this red unit has the ability to morph the MIB's into whatever form is required.

Ok, ok. So there's your two Sailor Moon references. Creature of the week in a weird form (giant black ball, stereo deck) as well as the turning into crystals. Unlike Sailor Moon though, it appears that those converted to MIB's don't get restored afterwards when they're turned to crystals, as the crystals were smashed in many instances.

Anyway, Ruriko's ability to open Gates allows her to take down the MIB's far easier than other members of AEGIS using only conventional weapons of the time. Her way of doing it is rather interesting, in that she has an expandable bow and a quiver of arrows that are strapped to her leg under her school uniform. When the bow is loaded with an arrow, she invokes an open gate which appears at the tip of the arrows, and then the arrow shoots forth and slides through dozens of the MIB's, converting them to crystals.

As much as I like Ruriko, she's not exactly the main character here. We're also introduced to early on to Shun Ukiya. Shun's the same age as Ruriko. He lives with his mother and little sister, and is an all around decent fellow if a bit over the top in his kendo style. His general view of things seem to be through the eyes of manga, such as talking about his kendo fate being in the same style as a sports manga, or his introduction to the underground lair of AEGIS through the eyes of a spy manga.

Shun sort of fell into becoming a member of AEGIS. When the big rolling ball of MIB's was going through the town, he ended up coming across it and felt a strong desire to protect his family from it, since it was trashing an area of town close to his home and in places where his family had been. Unknowingly, he opens an immensely powerful Gate and takes out half of the ball just by using a simple can. The AEGIS folks take advantage of this and Ruriko helps Shun out in getting him to take out the rest of it now that she's been overly weakened.

The underground headquarters of the far east division of AEGIS is your pretty typical late 60's super-hideout. It's all underneath Tokyo, with one of the elevator exits leading right into the school with Ruriko and Shun end up in. Shun gets a good tour of both the lair and the school as they convince him that he needs to help them out. I'm convinced the moment he truly agreed was when they gave him the use of the car for a mission. The car kicks ass.

There's so many things in how the show is styled and laid out that it feels very much like shows I've seen before. But it also manages to make it feel fresh and exciting. The animation is also spectacular and has some really high production values for a TV series. Though I do expect a number of complaints from people about how some of the CG animation is used, I thought the way it stood out only amplified how out of place it is in the real world.

This is one great looking disc with three really fun episodes. We had a lot of fun watching it, all the extras and the great packaging Pioneer has done. For those complaining that region 1 never matches region 2, this disc is a great counter argument. Excellent job and highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Special Intro,Special Ending,Clean Opening,Clean Ending,TV Commercials

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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 7:23:17 PM

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