Get Backers Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Dani Moure     May 24, 2005
Release Date: March 21, 2005



What They Say
It's nice to know people take the arts seriously, but what do you do when people just TAKE them?

The Get Backers have proven themselves time and time again. They've got a nearly 100% success rate. So finding a rare violin should be a snap, right? Right, unless the violin has been taken by a young crime lord with ties to the Mafia. Oh, and he's hired one of Ginji's old gang members to protect it. Plus, he's got a pair of sibling assassins waiting in the wings. And let's not even mention the Undead!

Assuming they get out of that mess, look what's waiting for them: a mysterious art thief named Clayman who's teamed up with Himiko to steal a priceless Van Gogh. But things aren't quite what they seem on this job. Real and fake, good and evil, truth and lies all keep switching places. What's a couple of down on their luck recovery guys to do?

Well, there's only one way to find out. Hop on over to the Honky Tonk Cafe, sit yourself down and watch as the Get Backers launch into action!

Episodes:
6. Get Back The Divine Melody
7. The Animal Transformation of The Beastmaster
8. Timbre of Life, Resound!
9. Get Back The Phantom Sunflowers! Part One
10. Get Back The Phantom Sunflowers! Part Two

The Review!
The hijinks with Ginji and Ban continue in another fine volume of Get Backers.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese track for my main reviewing. The stereo mix comes across nicely especially during some of the action scenes and when the music kicks in. I enjoyed the performances of the voice actors a lot too, with Showtaro Morikubo again strong on all accounts as Ginji. I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

I also spot-checked the disc in English, and this time I noticed no issues with the track after the tinny effect on volume 1. I noticed no dropouts or issues with the track at all, which had some good directionality during the episodes proper, though it didn’t seem a great deal different to the stereo mix.

Video:
With five episodes on this disc plus extras, you might expect the video quality to suffer somewhat. Not so, as this anamorphic widescreen presentation looks great, with colours coming across extremely well and no noticeable artifacting during regular playback. Like many recent ADV shows, Get Backers looks very good.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font (ADV’s usual), and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.

Packaging:
The front cover has a really nice image of Himiko in the foreground with her poison swirling around, and the Dr Jackal looming just behind, both under the moon. The artwork is really nice, even if the image seems more suited to the last volume given the characters present. The volume number is also on the cover, as well as the volume title and logos. The back contains the usual summaries and screenshots, with ADV UK’s excellent technical information boxes at the bottom.

This release continues without any inserts (not a bad thing in my book), with ADV UK instead opting to put the disc in a clear keepcase, with a clean image of the cover art behind the disc and the chapter and extras listings behind where the insert would sit. It works really well and is certainly something I won’t mind seeing more of.

Menu:
The menus are simple but functional, with a brief introduction sequence continuing to the static opening menu featuring Ginji and Ban on either side. The selections in the centre are thankfully comprehensive. You have the ability to select an episode, the usual languages and special features, as well as (in a nice change from later) scene selection. The opening theme plays over this menu. Submenus are simple and static, but all have different music from the show playing over them. The menus are nice and functional with quick access times.

Extras:
ADV continues down the road set by the first volume with quite a wealth of extras. The clean opening and ending show up again, which is nice enough. Then there’s another instalment of “Behind the Scenes”, this time with Jason Liebrecht (Ban), Deanna Shoemaker (Himiko), Katherine Catmull (Clayman), Matt Hislope (Kazuki) and Omar Gallaga (Shido). All of the participants spend a bit of time answering some questions (which appear on screen) about their past works, what they do outside of anime, how they got the parts, their performances in the show and so on. While the questions aren’t necessarily the most spectacular, it’s nice to get to know the English voice actors a bit more.

The other extras are two commentaries, one on Episode 6 with Lowell Bartholomee (ADR Director) and Dan Dietz (ADR Scriptwriter), and another on Episode 9 with the same participants. Both are good tracks that are nice to listen to, as the two impart some views on the show, their work on it, as well as their work in general. As usual with these commentaries, while they don’t impart anything amazing, they do provide some interesting information about the production process from an English language point of view, which is particularly nice for fans of the English track. While a lot of fans of the Japanese track won’t watch these out of principle, I’d still recommend a listen because there’s some interesting stuff in there anyway.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed the first disc very much, I was quite eager to see more Get Backers. It started off quite strongly with some good stories and characters, and thankfully the second disc continues in a similar direction, building on the foundations set by the first.

One of the things I really like about the stories thus far is how they’re structured into short story arcs spread over multiple episodes, as it really gives the producers a chance to tell a good story and throw in some good characterisation for both the main cast and the supporting cast.

The first three episodes on this disc are given to one such arc. It all starts with some people from Ginji’s past. He used to be the leader of a group called VOLTS in a place called the Limitless Fortress, where he grew up. But when he left to team up with Ban, VOLTS was thrown into a bit of turmoil, with none of his successors accepted as leader, leaving everything in chaos and no one particularly happy with him. Then along comes a blind girl called Madoka, something of a child prodigy because she’s so amazing at playing the violin. While she’s out with her guide dog Mozart, carrying a violin, she’s attacked by a gang from the Limitless Fortress, but Ginji rescues her.

She then employs the Get Backers to retrieve the Stradivarius, a famous violin, so she can play her best at an upcoming showcase. It’s been taken by a world-renowned violinist called Shunsuke Akutsu, who is also an entrepreneur with connections to the Mafia. But Shunsuke has employed one of Ginji’s old friends from VOLTS, the Beastmaster Shido Fuyuki, leading to a dramatic showdown. With another VOLTS person also involved, the Threadmaster Kazuki Fuchouin, not to mention betrayals all around from the people surrounding Madoka, things don’t look too good for the Get Backers!

What I really liked about this story was how it played with Ginji’s past to bring out some real emotions in both Ginji and Ban, as well as Kazuki and Shido. There’s obviously a lot of history coming from Ginji’s time as the Lightning Emperor in the Limitless Fortress, and as we see more of it, it’s got me really looking forward to some juicy stories when he inevitably returns there.

But even taking that aspect away, over the course of the three episodes this was a really well-told story. Madoka was a really believable and likeable character who it was easy to get behind, and just when you thought Shunsuke would come out and redeem himself, he turned it around and proved to be a more than worthy villain. The assassin card was also played well, because although the hints were there you could never be quite sure which way they would sway. It was just a really enjoyable adventure that told a good story and introduced us to some really interesting new characters. Shido and Kazuki are definitely two that I really want to see more of as the series goes on.

The other two episodes on this disc conveniently form a two-part story. This time Ginji and Ban are employed to retrieve a newly discovered Van Gogh painting, the thirteenth picture in the “Sunflowers” series. It’s apparently been stolen by a painting thief called the Clayman, who’s stole several other discovered paintings as well. But as you’d expect, this isn’t a standard case. Clayman has employed everyone’s favourite Lady Poison, Himiko, to lure out Ginji and Ban, and is well prepared with some tricks of his own. But there’s something different about him to what you might expect from a serial thief, in that he truly seems to be an art lover and keen to preserve these new paintings, leaving the Get Backers to get to the bottom of the story.

While this story may not have really linked in with the past, other than Himiko’s appearance, nonetheless I found it really interesting. The focus on art was a good hook for me, as I do have a bit of an interest in it, so it was interesting to see an anime take on things. I really liked the way the Clayman was presented, and the interesting double-bluff on the cliffhanger at the end of the first part, when Ginji and Ban are in a bit of a pinch facing up to Clayman and Himiko. The writers continue to do the bait and switch really well, showing one side of the characters motives that may make them look sinister but then revealing their true intentions.

Of course, in the case of Clayman, the motives are switched again but the final reveal is played out well, when ban figures out exactly what’s going on with regards how they were fooled, and I liked the showdown when they reappeared with all the paintings during the insurance meeting. This story really helped show that while the two have a lot of force behind them, they’re intelligent too, and that’s usually the way they end up solving their cases rather than just using brute force, and in the long run it’s something that should help keep the interest in the series up as they unravel the mysteries presented to them.

One of the strongest points about the series is its characters, and it’s nice that it’s not just the regular cast (if you include Natsumi, Paul and Hevn in there) that get a good amount of attention, but the supporting cast are always well thought out as well. The length of the stories really gives the time needed to flesh them out, making both the heroes and the villains all the more interesting in the process, and the creative team deserve a lot of credit for making that aspect work well.

Given the show’s length, you’d expect the animation quality not to be particularly outstanding, and it starts to show a bit here as there are a few stills and pans thrown into these five episodes to trim back on costs. It’s not a horrendous amount by any means, but it’s a bit noticeable as it does occasionally affect the fluidity. The character designs are all very interesting, again for both the regular characters and the recurring ones, and the show has that newer “shiny” digital feel to it that many others made in recent years do. The music continues to fit the show really well, and I’m still liking the enjoyed the ending theme, “One Second Refrain”, quite a lot.

In Summary:
After a strong first volume, it’s nice to see Get Backers not lose any steam in its second outing, but rather build on the very solid foundation laid out by its predecessor. The stories in this volume are well told and have a good pace, with enough twists and turns to keep things interesting as they span multiple episodes. The new characters introduced in these episodes are also very strong, and this continues to be a real plus point for the series. Though it is a long commitment, you can’t argue with the value with five episodes per disc plus a wealthy amount of extras. Get Backers continues to show great promise here, and I’m extremely hopeful that it’ll maintain this consistent level of quality throughout its run. I’d definitely recommend it so far.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Commentary,Behind the Scenes,Clean Opening and Closing

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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