Gatekeepers Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: 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 David Owens     February 16, 2002
Release Date: September 25, 2001

The Review!
Hmmm. While quickly running through the grades on Gatekeepers' first DVD, I noticed I doled out a bunch of A's, so I went back again just now and re-evaluated the grades...and then decided I really can't in good faith lower them any.

Gatekeepers was a series I bought a few dvd's of the Region-2 release, but until the past couple of weeks I couldn't watch them on my television since I didn't have a region 2 player. Now that I have one, I've watched the volumes and noticed one very important thing: the R1 release is almost exactly on par with the Japanese release in all respects, except one small difference.

The video in the first volume is just the TINIEST bit less clear than the video on the R2 releases; the lines are just a small, tiny bit less sharp and distinct. And really, that's about it as far as video's crisp and clear otherwise, with bright colors, good digital effects (good meaning "ARGH! THE PAIN!" for most people :) ), and very good animation, all of which was transferred pretty well.

The audio is also great on the DVD, with some nice low effects, clear voicing and sounds, and a good transfer overall from the original. The dubbing on Gatekeepers is turning out to be slightly above average, so far anyways. Shun Ukiya's voice is done by the same guy (pardon, I don't know his name) who voiced Chichiri in the Fushigi Yuugi dub, something which completely eluded me until I heard Shun's line in the second episode where he says "blah blah blah, y'know?", at which point the connection was obvious.

Wendee Lee voices Ruriko Ikusawa, and while I love her to death...I just don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have watched Rayearth before this, because every time Ruriko hops up and yells "GAAATE OOOPEN!" I keep expecting to hear "WAAATER DRAAAAAGON!". Oh well, minor things I suppose. :) The rest of the cast is pretty decent so far, and I like Reiko's voice when she's introduced in the third episode.

As for the menus and packaging, both are definitely a step above the usual. I love the menus, and typically I'm not impressed by menus. They're quick, very clear, very nice-looking, and fit in with the theme. The case itself is also snazzy, as a clear Scanavo to show off the reversible cover showcasing the original Japanese cover artwork of Ruriko! Yay! Nice addition, but I actually honestly prefer the American cover. Hmmmmm.

Delving into the extras department, since the cover segues right into the additional material, you get a pair of AEGIS identification cards if you're lucky. These cards, similar to the one Shun uses in episode 3, give the Gatekeepers authority to do pretty much anything. Fill that blank card out and go have a ball, I say!

As usual for better releases, there's a clean opening/closing included on the disc. Also as usual with Pioneer releases, there's about a bajillion other extras included also, above and beyond the ID cards. Ok, not quite a bajillion, but close, considering you've got TV commercials, the aforementioned clean opening and closing and ID Cards, plus the special openings and closings (which I'm not sure what they're for, but they're on the Japanese DVDs...they basically are alternative closing credits playing the opening song, For Tomorrow's Smile, but with a sepia-colored movie-film style background showing scenes from that episode. I kinda like these endings, actually, though the "normal" ending is cute enough.) Compare this DVD to some others I could mention which include, well, nothing...and this is a pretty stacked DVD, even for Pioneer, who typically go overboard for on-DVD and pack-in extras.

As for the story itself, Gatekeepers isn't exactly earth-shattering completely new original thoughts, or anything of that nature. I don't think Gonzo even remotely tried to make it that way, so I won't hold it against them.

The basic premise of Gatekeepers is that sometime before 1969, the time of the story itself, these interstellar bad guys called "Invaders" came to Earth and started dressing up like us and doing "bad things", like committing adultery with their secretaries, then firing them afterwards, and stuff like that.

They also can make themselves into wicked cool shapes, which hearkens back great memories of those goofy Wonder Twins taking the form of a firebreathing man-eating dragon, and the other guy takes the form of like, a bucket of ice. Well these Invaders do the same thing! You should see it, in the first episode, they turn into a big eight-ball! Woot! If only Ruriko and AEGIS could turn into a big cue stick--

Well, anyways, Ruriko Ikusawa, age 17, major cutie, works for a special government task force called AEGIS, whose mission it is to repel and get rid of these big morphing Invaders. The first episode introduces us to her and to Shun Ukiya, the resident hotheaded kid leader guy, who mysteriously wears a Breathe-Right strip. Funny, I didn't know they'd been around that long. Oh well.

In the first episode, basically we have pretty formulaic plot: introduce characters, have bad guys show up, turn into big aforementioned eight-ball, zoom around, show off CG animation, then have the good guys come up, blow stuff up, and win. The ending is a nice amusing twist leading right into the second episode, which has to be one of the more amusing scenes I can remember seeing in an anime. "Well, I like Miho more. Her nose isn't runny all the time." Tee hee.

The third episode picks up and introduces a new character (while the 2nd really just gives more background, and another wicked cool morphed enemy, but not an eight-ball this time, darn), Reiko Asagiri, who is even cuter than Ruriko, but even denser than lead.

Ah, a fine trio to start off the Gatekeepers with! It all works together, though...the silly enemies morphing into goofy shapes, the quirky main characters, the weird supporting cast....I really like Gatekeepers, and liked it even from watching it on my computer when I first got the R2's. I can't wait for the next volume to come out (yay, Kanoe gets introduced!), and unfortunately I have to amend something I said in a previous review when I said that series would be the last 8-disc/3ep-per-dvd release I'd buy. Gatekeepers has now sucked me in enough that it'll be the last 8-disc release I'll buy, not only for the story and characters itself, but for the amount of cool extra work Pioneer put in to producing the first DVD, which they hopefully will continue with the rest.

I highly recommend Gatekeepers to most anyone due to the "bang for the buck" potential of what you get by purchasing it, but also because it's a genuinely funny storyline based on pre-written and pre-existing ideas and stories. Don't miss this one.

Review Equipment
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive DVD Player, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable


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