Gatekeepers Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • 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 Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     March 23, 2002
Release Date: March 12, 2002


Gatekeepers Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Baron Akuma (Akuma Hakushaku) has forced the AEGIS team to crash on a tropical island where their dreams suspiciously come true! Then, the destructive Kaiser Kikai (Kikai Shogun) turns the bullet train into a missile headed straight for Tokyo, with Shun and his family on board!

Finally, while searching for a missing AEGIS airplane, Shun and Ruriko are attacked by a new type of flying Invaders. However, when a mysterious girl with amazing gate abilities saves them, should they believe their luck?

The Review!
The fourth volume of Gatekeepers pulls of an amazing thing, making a bikini-clad episode seem like it really belongs there. After this, how can I not love the people at Gonzo?

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show continues to have a good stereo mix with some of the music being thrown to the rears and some nice directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear and we didn’t notice any distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Much like the third volume, there’s little to really find fault with here. The transfer looks spot on and presents a gorgeous image with lots of vibrant colors and layered animation. Cross coloration continues to be absolutely minimal while the other usual problems we see with releases are non-existent here. This is a release you can just sit back and enjoy.

Packaging:
Pioneer scores huge points here again by presenting the series with a reversible cover and making it hard for me to choose. The main cover features five of the girls in their bikini wear set against a blue sky with palm trees. The back cover provides a small array of screenshots from the show and a brief summary of the show as well as episode numbers and titles. The reverse side of the covers continues to bring us the good looking Japanese versions with its focus on single characters. This volumes gives us the image of Yukino in her more traditional outfit while the back cover provides another mini-comic of sorts with animation from the show. The insert provides chapter stops for the three episodes on the top while the interior folds out to a miniposter of the Yukino artwork. The special pack-in this time is another AEGIS ID card, this time featuring Kaoru.

Menus:
Continuing with the in-theme menus, we get a retro style menu of the AEGIS computer screens and a tracking session with the user selections along the right. Some animation plays throughout it as well as some menu specific animations. It’s a good little piece that builds on the shows theme nicely. Accessing submenus is nice and fast and the usual trademarks of a Nightjar menu are to be found, making these menus easy to use and stylish at the same time.

Extras:
There’s some interesting extras presented here, and a new trend we’re starting to see continuing here as well. While we usually (and thankfully) get creditless openings and endings, Gatekepeers marks the appearance of another Japanese opening, showing the original credits in Kanji. Checking these out against what Pioneer used and I continue to be impressed with how good of a job they’ve done. We also get the original endings for these three episodes presented in the extras section. A really neat extra included is the artwork used for the script covers for all of the episodes. Be careful though as some might consider some of the titles spoilerish. And we also get another batch of lineart showing various production sketches and the like.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This installment of Gatekeepers again makes me qualify this show as a guilty pleasure and one that I just want more more more of. It’s such a fun little show that doesn’t take itself really seriously and just has a good time. It makes me have a good time.

This is especially proven with the opening episode that takes place after the group helps the Apollo 11 land safely and avoid any trouble from the Invaders. They take a the next flight out from there and along the way, something happens and the plane goes down on a tropical island. Ukiya now finds himself essentially alone with all the girls, though the other two guys sort of blend into the background. Each of the girls try and use this situation to find their own time and way with him, though some start acting rather out of character, but all look great in their swimsuits, Ukiya can’t resist.

The episode plays out pure fanservice with its overall show of skin, but at the same time, it uses the episode to get into the heads of most of the characters and see what makes them tick. Since they’re being controlled by the “brain” Invader and manipulated to his whims, the out of character tics aren’t all that surprising, but it works well in bringing qualities and emotions to the surface in some of them that weren’t quite as obvious before. This episode just does things right in bringing together everything and making it work well.

Another episode that works well and shows just how much effort and planning is going on by the Invaders starts with them acquiring a cargo ship six years earlier and causing it to disappear. It suddenly shows up in the middle of Tokyo bay in 1969 and is used as a way to sneak in to the area under the AEGIS scanners by using their powers over time to slip it into there. This lets the Kikai Shogun character of the Invaders make his dramatic appearance and lets him wreck some havoc among the city. The bullet train gets to be his first real victim, which coincidentally is where Ukiya is as he’s showing it to his family. This leads to the usual kind of dramatic situations you expect, but it plays out nicely with Ukiya on the train and the general feel of the Shogun.

The last episode is a rather interesting one that begins the introduction of another Gatekeeper member (you know she is since she’s in the opening credits of each episode) but things don’t progress that far. Instead, you have Ukiya and Ruriko off in Hokkaido searching for a downed AEGIS transport and end up getting involved in something that feels rather supernatural. This episode was great just from the amount of scenery we get in the mountains and the laid back nature of Ukiya during the beginning. It was great to see him being interested in just enjoying the flowers and the locale.

While there’s not a lot of overall progress on this disc beyond some character enhancement, we do get some good actual character development and insights at the halfway mark of the series. This is pretty normal for this point in any series to have some standalone episodes and provide some fanservice, so there was little surprise here, just plenty of good fun and laughs. If you’re picking up the series, this is another good installment.

Features
Japanese Language,English Languag,English Subtitles,Japanese Opening,Special Endings,Script Cover Artwork,Line Art

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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