Gatekeepers Vol. #8 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers Vol. #8

By Chris Beveridge     November 08, 2002
Release Date: November 12, 2002


Gatekeepers Vol. #8
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Gate Keepers features animation from Gonzo (Blue Submarine No.6, Hellsing, Vandread), character designs by Keiji GOTOH (Nadesico)!

The Shadow commandeers the Tokyo Tower and broadcasts paranormal frequencies at 10,000 times the normal strength! The AEGIS commander scrambles the Gate Keepers to deal with the threat but Ruriko and Megumi remain missing.

Unfortunately, the Gate Keepers are unable to stop the awakening of sleeper Invaders from all over Japan and the Shadow seizes control of the government! The fate of Japan rests on the shoulders of AEGIS, but even the HQ has been compromised. Only surprising revelations can provide the glimmer of hope necessary for survival!

The final volume!

The Review!
The concluding volume of the Gatekeepers TV series provides a nice consistent batch of episodes telling the story and does a decent job of wrapping up some aspects of things. But something just doesn’t sit right.

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:
Once again, this is a great looking transfer of a very recent and fresh series. 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:
The reversible covers make their final appearance here, and it’s actually one I’d rather not reverse. The retail cover has what looks to be the full cast of human characters set against the government buildings as the Invaders drop from above. 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 great looking Japanese versions with its focus on single characters. This volume gives us the image of Ukiya in his standard school outfit while waiting his sword 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 Ukiya artwork. The special pack-in this time is two AEGIS ID cards, this time featuring Misao Sakimori and Jun Thunders.

Menu:
The main menu is a good piece, utilizing a particular scene from the show where the Invader spawnings are happening as seen on a radar map of the country. We get a close-up sequence of what is presumably Tokyo for this particular view, as well as having bits of animation play in the lower right corner while the infestations are tracked. Submenus load nice and fast as there aren’t any transition animations and access times for selections are solid.

Extras:
Extras are fairly minimal this time around, though we do get the three original TV endings here in the extras since the regular program is using the home video version. There are also several pages worth of line art from the production stage of these episodes included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The concluding episodes to the TV series do a rather good job of bringing things to what seems like a conclusion, but also leaving enough things open ended, or just plain not talked about, that there’s room for all kinds of directions to go with a sequel. This works well for the creators to keep the project going if they want, but makes it difficult for fans who wanted a closed ending to the series. But as with most anime, it comes down to whether you wanted the characters to reach a certain state or you were just interested in the larger story. This one is about the characters.

With Rurippe being captured by Kageyama and under his influence now, Ukiya is desperate to save her. But unlike times past, they have some very useful new information – the identity of the mysterious Shadow, apparent leader of the Invaders. A dossier on a young boy named Yuji is shown the team, and we see the visual interpretation of it. We see the young Yuji growing up with his powers to foresee the future and how he uses it in a good way, one that doesn’t cause any trouble. When he sees his fathers company going into ruin, he instinctively tells him about it, but only gets himself slapped down by him. His fathers company and life end up being destroyed, leaving young Yuji to to live on his own, as nobody wants a child who says they see the future.

Yuji goes on to try and eke out an existence, though his schoolmates no longer want him near. His family has abandoned him and he’s seeking scraps of food where he can. But when he runs up against the man who set up his father, a change overcomes him and he opens a black gate as his mind begins to snap, and he starts unleashing his power on those who ruined his life.

Yuji, growing up to become Kageyama, has started his plan to conquer all of Japan and have the maggots of humanity serve him. Using Tokyo Tower as his launching point though his Political Thoughts group, he’s got hundreds and hundreds of people coming to see him. The two Invader Executives start questioning what he’s doing, telling Kageyama this isn’t why they lent him their power and that their goal is to have a human farm of misery with which to supply themselves for eternity. Kageyama gives them that perfect laugh and then shows them he knows what kind of pawn he’s been all along, which turns into an eerie moment of the mouse chasing the cat in a sense. Kageyama establishes just who is properly in charge with his black gate.

His use of the power though has set off alarms at the Gatekeepers HQ, and with it being as powerful as it is, they know is must be Shadow so they all head out to deal with it. This sets up things that play out for the remaining episodes, where Kageyama begins to turn a huge portion of the people of Japan into his Invader army, conquering the nation quickly and easily. Even the Gatekeepers HQ is infested with Invaders, causing the kids who left already to be the only ones who can deal with this.

The episodes play out well, giving the focus of one single enemy to defeat to win the day, and doing so in a believable enough fashion that it doesn’t seem like they just yanked it out of thin air, as so many endings often seem like they do. Kageyama as the focus works well, especially once we know of his origins. It was quite enjoyable to see a character who had grown up with vengeance follow through with it and not “see the error of his ways” at the height of his plans, but rather fought tooth and nail against his natural opponent of Ukiya as Ukiya tries to save Ruriko. The convictions of both sides are strong, and that made the finale all the more enjoyable.

Gatekeepers early on felt like a guilty pleasure, especially when they got past some of the really bad CG they were using in the first couple of episodes. I knew this was pretty corny at times and that it was predictable and fairly shallow. But I found it to be enjoyable and fun to watch. It entertained me quite a bit all told. But yes, I was annoyed with the lack of a real explanation behind the Invaders themselves and their larger plans. I do think the ball was dropped in exploring what happens to those who get changed into Invaders, but I also think this was something the creators did not want to focus on, rather they wanted to deal with the threat itself and how the characters deal with it.

While at times it felt like a bad 60’s version of a TV show with the way the villains appeared, it always had a sense of style and innovation to it. Gatekeepers feels like a mix of old and new but was almost always simply fun to watch. The characters are what made this show as enjoyable as it was, though I will always view it as a guilty pleasure. If you’re not looking for something deep and something that will avoid looking at some potential issues, this show will entertain greatly.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Special Endings,Line Art Gallery

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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