Get Backers Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Get Backers

Get Backers Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     October 13, 2004
Release Date: October 19, 2004

Get Backers Vol. #02
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Get Backers have proven themselves time and time again, so finding a rare violin should be a snap, right? Well, not if the violin's been taken by a young crime lord who's hired one of Ginji's old gang members to protect it AND has a pair of sibling assassins waiting in the wings. (And we won't even mention the Undead.) Next up: a mysterious art thief who's teamed up with Himiko to steal a priceless Van Gogh. As usual, things aren’t quite what they seem on this job, but what're a couple of down on their luck recovery guys to do? Don't miss the mayhem as the Get Backers Find The Fine Arts!

The Review!
Spreading two more tales across five episodes, Get Backers provides more fun action and story with the second installment.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is a solid piece of work with plenty of directionality across the forward soundstage that brings you fully into the action during the big sequences but also hits up the dialogue pieces just as well. The English mix is done in a 5.1 upgrade and that expands well upon the original mix by giving it some greater clarity as well as more oomph during some of the big chase scenes. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2002, Get Backers is presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. For the most part, this is a great looking release that really shows a lot of detail to the image and is generally problem free. Colors are rich with a mix of vibrant pieces and solid real world style backgrounds. Cross coloration is virtually nil while there's a touch of aliasing during some of the panning sequences. We did note some very light blocking going on in a few scenes where some of the solid color sections didn't maintain their feel too well but we're still experimenting with our upconversion settings and it was only visible if you were right on top of it (and at either 720p or 1080i; it wasn't visible at 480p). For the bulk of people checking this out, it's going to be a near flawless looking transfer.

Using the Japanese release artwork, this cover looks good though slightly outdated as it shows the characters that were prominent in the last volume and not quite as much here. The designs and general look of it is good though and it's an appealing looking cover. The original logo, complete with the small Japanese text at the top right end of it, is used and the volume numbering is there as well. The artwork itself is nicely detailed and gives you a good idea of what to expect in terms of character designs and the general feel of things. The back cover has a few shots from the show wrapped around a summary of the shows premise and the discs extras. Most of the important information for the technical side is listed in the information grid along the bottom just below the Japanese production information. The insert uses a variant of the front cover skewed a bit while the reverse side of it lists the episode titles and the discs extras. Essentially, this is a release that didn't need an insert.

The menus for this release are simple and straightforward with just static images for the backgrounds with music playing along. The main menu features the lead duo on opposite sides of the screen while the series title and selections are between them. It's a decent looking menu but as a number of menus for ADV seem to be lately, they're becoming somewhat stale with all the static imagery. Access times are nice and fast and the submenus load quickly. The disc also properly read our players language presets which continues to be a huge plus.

One again, for English language fans, the extras on this volume are solid. There's a lengthy behind the scenes interview session with a number of the characters relevant to this volume and they talk about their experiences with anime itself, acting and the show as well. In addition, there are two different episode commentaries. The sixth episode and the ninth episode both get commentary tracks, each with the director and ADR. We didn't get a chance to really go through the tracks in much detail but for those wanting to know more about the entire writing/directing process and what they all think of what was needed for this show, this release really provides that in a number of ways. In addition to all of this, there's the standard clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume of the series, we were pretty much into the show and really liked the way it played out. The way it took an episodic idea but gave it enough meat to spread it out a bit more without making it feel forced, taking a story that others would rush into one episode but giving it three episodes to really tell the tale. While the first volume gave us a couple of single episode tales to get into things and then a three episode arc that really got us into the show, this volume gives us another three episode arc and a two episode arc to further expand upon the world of the Get Backers.

In a way though, with five episodes and two stories, there's not as much to actually talk about with the show itself. Both of the stories on this volume do a good job of expanding the world of Ban and Ginji by bringing in more of the way things work but also starting to explore Ginji's past a bit more. While we've seen some of the basics of Ban's past previously, we start to see more of what Ginji was up to when he was the "Lightning Emperor" and spent his time in the Limitless Fortress, something that in itself hasn't been too thoroughly explained yet. A lot of what we get for the background for him comes from the fact that since he dissolved the VOLTS group he led and went off with Ban, those who were left behind have fallen into lawlessness and have factionalized. It's not a pleasant situation and most of them can't understand why Ginji left like he did or spends his time with Ban. The main arc on this volume does a good job of bringing in elements from that but not making it the central focus just yet.

The opening three episode arc has a seemingly easy task for the duo. A young prodigy's violin is stolen just a day before her dying maestro and teacher is flying in from Italy to see her perform for what's likely the last time. Her skill with the violin is extremely high but not just in a technical way but in producing the heart and soul of music from it, something that others have a hard time with. The violin's been stolen by Akutsu, a fellow student with Madoka, as he never managed to achieve her level nor really impressed the maestro. Even worse for Akutsu is that he looked to his violin playing as a way of escaping his fate as the son of a low level mafia boss. But his failure to achieve the same level of the blind young prodigy has left him in a situation where he's become even more involved in the mafia than his father and now lives the life that he's been consigned to.

The chance to tweak his former maestro as well as deny Madoka her chance to play for him leads him to have the violin that she needs stolen and he sets to having it guarded by Shido, one of the former "Four Kings" of the Limitless Fortress. Shido's an interesting character since he's definitely the type you can see being a friend of Ginji as he's got shades of Ban to his makeup. And like Ban, he's got an interesting power that allows him to communicate and control animals. He uses this to great effect in his guarding of the violin since he keeps a small range of interesting animals with him such as a lion or he's able to mobilize an army of rats to send against them. Shido's arrival on the scene starts leading to the many flashback sequences and discussions where we learn about the Fortress and the way that former VOLTS members have left the way of Ginji and are fairly lawless now.

The story does seem a touch drawn out going into three episodes but it allows for some better setup to occur and the fight sequences to not be as rushed. What really works in its favor in my mind is that it allows for the epilogue to the stories to have more time to settle down and be talked about rather than just rushed through before the end credits start. This also plays heavily into the two part tale where the epilogue and explanations from the 'villains' are given time to be played out and we see what they were really up to and what motivates them.

The style of this show continues to be a nice change of pace as well. The characters continue to look very lanky and overly thin at times but there's a good consistency within the world here that's enjoyable. The way they switch from regular to various deformed forms is also a lot of fun since the regular design will mess with the deformed design when they go that route which adds some fun comedy to the show. While there isn't a huge amount of detail to the show since it's pretty character and fight driven, the clean and simple look with such solid colors really works well here. It almost has more of a theatrical feel in the way it looks more expansive due to it being widescreen rather than full frame, allowing the characters to be better spaced out.

In Summary:
While there's still forty episodes to go and plenty of chances for the series to really stumble, the first ten episodes have so far really been a lot of fun to watch and hits some of the more critical areas of how we look at shows. While a number of comedy shows barely get us to laugh at all, this one with its interjection of small moments of humor gets a good amount of laughter from us. The action sequences are fun to watch and while some of Ban's Jagan moments have worn a bit thin from their overuse, the way that characters are powered in this particular world is interesting and we're looking forward to seeing more of how all of this ties together.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean open and ending animation,Behind the scene interviews,Commentaries for episodes 6 and 9 with Lowell Bartholomee (ADR director) and Dan Dietz (ADR scriptwriter)

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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