Gintama Collection 04 -

DVD Review

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Sentai Filmworks
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 250
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gintama

Gintama Collection 04

Gintama Collection 04 Anime DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     February 24, 2011
Release Date: February 22, 2011

© Sentai Filmworks

Nothing says love like how the Odd Jobs crew treats each other.

What They Say
Things get really crazy... that's like, crazier than usual, which just goes to prove that the universe really must be composed of infinite possibilities� when Kagura's father shows up in Edo to visit his daughter. Oh, and he's also in town to take on the deadly alien menace that he might be on the trail of. When Yakuza takes on Aliens, who will lose? The innocent bystanders of course. And needless to say, Kagura's associates respond to her possible (and not particularly voluntary) exit from the franchise in predictable fashion: by trying to grab female lead status for themselves. Meanwhile, Sadahara discovers a devilish aspect of his own personality while becoming a demon, which leads to inevitable difficulties with the High Priestess types. So what's Gintoki doing during all this? Dodging, mostly. Japan's hottest anime series continues as aliens on the loose and underemployed samurai make total assassins out of themselves in the insanity that is GINTAMA COLLECTION 4!

The Review!

Considering the length of this series and its fairly niche appeal overseas, it's little surprise that this show is only presented in its original Japanese stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. The show has a pretty basic comedy mix to it with a good full feeling that has some minor moments of directionality when needed. Placement is pretty good overall but often it's just the single character talking on screen and more often than not they're the primary focus in the center of the screen. The music makes out the best with a more full feeling but it's not anything that really stands out either. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The collection has ten episodes spread across two discs with five episodes on each of them. The show has the look you get with a lot of comedies in that it's bright and with a lot of colors to help make everything stand out. The show has a fairly average bit rate that works well for the amount of large areas of the same color we often get, or the scenes with lots of close-ups and solid color backgrounds. The show generally looks good in that it doesn't have any seriously distracting noise moments or cross coloration. There's very little in the way of line noise in the panning sequences as well, though often the pan goes by so fast you'd be hard pressed to tell.
Similar to the previous volumes in its overall design, I really do like this layout as it has a good striking feel to it with the red and white background. The white space draws the eye nicely to the logo and the character artwork while the red adds that extra bit of flair. The character artwork for this installment focuses on the various supporting characters with several of them scattered about in their uniforms. Since it's all small artwork it feels kind of odd and without anything really eye-catching to it, but it's fun to see them all together like this. The back cover gives you a better idea of what the show will be like with a shot of one of the characters on the left. The top half has a solid red background where we get the premise of the show and an idea of the basic gags. The bottom half, slightly askew, has several shots from the show and a solid technical grid that lays it all out clearly, as well as a good mention of the episode count for the series. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for Gin Tama are pretty basic but fit in with the style of the show rather well. The menus have a similar feel tot he back cover with the reds, yellows and whites making up the primary colors for the background and borders while providing a shot of the main characters on each menu. There aren't any real submenus here outside of the special features, though I don't consider trailers and credits a special feature. The second has a couple and there's no language options here since it defaults to subtitles being on. It's a decent menu that works for a comedy series pretty well with individual top level episode access.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the fourth set of Gintama, we get ten episodes that brings us to the end of the first year/season of the series. It's been an up and down ride for the most part for me with some good episodes here and there but generally awkward characters that never really connected well at times. As a group, the Odd Jobs characters certainly have their charms in how they play off of each other and there's a certain camaraderie that has come from it, but it can be frustrating watching them at times in how they do treat each other. The hit or miss nature of the comedy certainly doesn't help for me at times either, but there have been episodes that I liked a lot compared to others that fell flat, so I continue to watch it since it's not an abject failure or anything.
With the ten episodes here, it actually works in the shows favor for me since watching it all over the course of a day doesn't feel like it's too much. In fact, the show has a four episode arc right from the start that has Kagura's father coming back into the picture and she's conflicted about going with him since he's a famous alien hunter. There's a lot of gags from the start about a movie called Alien versus Yakuza that's playing so there's a lot of people re-enacting parts of it and general enthusiasm for it and that all fits in to his arrival on the scene. Umibozu is there just to visit her but she thinks she's learned what she needs to in order to join him and the fact that she believes the others in the Odd Jobs group don't really want her around anyway, so it's time to move on.
This is a pretty decent storyline as it progresses and we see lots of gags with Umibozu and his hair problems, but also a good look at Kagura's past and the way life was on her home planet that caused her and her father problems. The revelations about her brother and her father with the way he tried to kill his father in an effort to revive a long dead tradition explains a lot about why her father has been somewhat distant for awhile but also why he sent her to Earth in order to gain more of a personality for lack of a better phrase. Events naturally turn to her going away and Gin and Shinpachi realize what's happening and race to stop her from doing it. It goes surprisingly big, as things in this series often do, by having the giant alien parasite that Umibozu is there hunting causes a problem. It's pretty fun overall and it all goes even further in the epilogue as she listens in to all her supposed friends who thinks she's dead talking about who should take her place. It's pretty amusing watching them all vie for the position.
The standalone stories in this set are pretty decent overall, though they get a bit weaker as they progress. We get a fun little episode about ninja material as Sachan makes her presence more known in the group for awhile and she gets them to go with her on a training mission. That mission is hilarious as she has each of them try to go into a convenience store to buy a porno mag. Without making their presence known yet still following through on it. Each of their methods is wildly different and seeing them go through the gags with it is a lot of fun. The show is a bit weaker when it does the episode involving a rescue of Elizabeth that's done with them all using ninja style, but the training mission makes it worthwhile with how they oeprate.
Another episode has Sadaharu going in a very unfriendly manner as his body is continuing to grow at an abnormal rate and they're not sure why. What helps at least at first is that they have a translator device for him but Sadaharu doesn't exactly come across well. The comedy comes from him growing so fast and being such a problem at first, but it also goes further when his personality becomes more violent and really starts attacking all his supposed friends. It's cute seeing them trying not to hurt him while still trying to stay alive as we see through his eyes the issues he has with all of them. It's a frantic episode after it gets rolling and the humor works well in it.
Less appealing was the episode involving a new neighbor who is a florist but looks like an evil devil alien creature. They all see him as a threat that will end the world but he's just a normal good guy with an appearance that belies him. When he gets them all to visit, it just leaves them in a panic and going through awkward situations of trying to get away before he kills them, which is the farthest thing from his mind. It's a misunderstanding caper of the simplest order and it doesn't work well. There's another episode involving excessive drinking and a few other ones that don't really merit much to be said about them. Sometimes the character combinations that are brought in don't work, especially with the stories involved. There's definitely good material on this set, but the weak material is definitely weak.
In Summary:
Gintama's end run for the first season is pretty good and it has some very fun episodes right from the start in dealing with Kagura. I've had a very hot and cold relationship with this series right from the start and that does continue here. When a story works, the episode is definitely fun. When it doesn't, it's not that it's just okay or serviceable, it just leaves me feeling bored or completely disinterested. Sometimes the gags just don't work or the subject overall feels even more trivial than it should in order to sustain the whole episode. With there being just ten episodes here, Gintama has more positives than negatives and is fairly fun throughout but it does have its weak moments as well. With just under fifty episodes so far, it's easy to see why it ran as long as it has and has kept an audience, but it's one that would be hard to handle on a week by week basis for me. 

Japanese 2.0 Language, English subtites

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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jnager 3/13/2012 1:19:58 PM

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