Gokudo Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gokudo

Gokudo Vol. #4

By Paul Grisham     August 16, 2002
Release Date: July 30, 2002

Gokudo Vol. #4
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The odds may be stacked against Gokudo, but he's not planning to slow down any time soon. This time, he's got a pair of bubble-headed Chinese witches to deal with, not to mention a spell-throwing talking panda. And if that isn't confusing enough, Gokudo wakes up one morning and finds that he's a girl again! Only this time, it's a specific girl, Rubette, and everyone else has changed places too. There's no justice in this world! What has a lying, cheating, sniveling bastard like Gokudo ever done to deserve all this? Episodes #15-18.

The Review!
Volume 4 of Gokudo sounds just as good as previous volumes, which is to say, very respectable for a TV series. I detected no problems.

The animation and art quality takes a slight dip from previous volumes, but overall, the image is pretty consistent with previous volumes, with some grain and saturation problems, but nothing distracting.

In honor of the ladies on the cover, we get a pink/magenta cover, featuring Gokudo (in Rubette’s Body), Rubette (in Djinn’s female body), and the Chinese witches Rayuka and Shikinka. Very nice, indeed.

Menus are nearly identical to previous volumes, though they have added some volume-specific artwork to the submenus. Selecting episodes in the chapter menu requires an unnecessary number of button presses, though.

Volume 4 includes the creditless ED as an extra this time, along with a a set of production pencil sketches.

(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

All you really need to know about Gokudo volume 4 is that if you enjoyed previous volumes, you’ll enjoy this one as well. If you fall into that category, run out right now and pick it up. You’ll be glad you did. Anything more is a spoiler, and trust me, this is one adventure you have to see to believe.

As you remember from last volume, our gang of intrepid travelers found themselves separated from each other and switched around in each other’s bodies, Gokudo trapped in Rubette’s body, Djinn in Prince’s, and so on. Gokudo was taken in by a Chinese demon buster, named Tei, who has enslaved the mischievous Ikkyu. Gokduo has managed to rescue Ikkyu and escape Tei’s misguided attentions thanks to the assistance of a ridiculous creature that looks something like the pastel love-child of a hairy penguin and an elephant.

On the run and looking for his companions, Gokudo’s situation goes from bad to worse, as he meets two Chinese sorceresses who are as dangerous as they are beautiful (and ditzy.) He’s quickly reunited with Djinn and Rubette, but as they press on, searching for the remainder of their party and for answers as to why their souls have been transmigrated, they will encounter the same kinds of wacky hijinks that we have come to expect from a Gokudo adventure. From carnivorous peaches, to magical hot springs, to a monkey version of Jerry Springer (surprisingly close to the real thing!), to a panda with delusions of grandeur and even the return of the Dumpling King, the laughs come hard and fast, and rarely let up during these four episodes. The highlight is an extended sequence with Gokudo, Rubette, and the Chinese witches becoming idols and forming a girl band in Hell, complete with Ikkyu acting as their sleazy producer.

Really, if I have any complaints about these episodes, it is my recurring complaint about the Media Blasters release that the volumes end on cliffhangers, rather releasing a complete arc on a disc. Already five episodes long (including the one from volume 3), with at least one more on the way on volume 5, the current arc is easily the longest arc so far. We’ ve gone through standard Western fantasy fare, Arabian myth, Japanese legends and Indian gods, and the current arc is well-rooted in Chinese lore. Even so, it hardly feels like the writers’ creative well is running dry. Each episode is a perfect example of comedic one-upmanship, each scene and each episode topping the previous one. Though this arc lacks the epic feel of the Inaho arc, the mixed-up bodies, mistaken identity jokes, cross-dressing, and sheer absurdity keep things humming along, and involve the entire cast in a way that earlier episodes could not.

Now that just leaves you stragglers who seem to be ignoring my previous recommendation that you should be picking up this series. Really, this series is so good, that I am starting to reconsider my previous distaste for fantasy-themed comedies. I’m even considering buying into the Slayers series solely on the chance that it is one-tenth as entertaining as Gokudo has turned out to be.

One of the best things about Gokudo is the way in which the creators are simply unafraid to keep trying out new things. They leave practically no stone unturned in their quest for good adventure and good comedy. Each arc features new characters that are memorable and appealing, along with zany hijinks that will leave you holding your gut and wondering how they just got away with that one. But the real strength of the show are these characters – characters whose basic foibles are both strengths and sources of great amusement for us and for them and who grow on you as the series wears on. Watching Prince, now confined to a monkey body, trying desperately to pick up human women is one of those sights that will seemingly never get old. Gokudo selling out Djinn to the local authorities for a few pieces of gold (while promising to help him break out later) is typical Gokudo.

Will our characters ever get their bodies back and ever make any progress toward their ultimate goals? Only time, and Volume 5, will tell, and count me among those who are counting the days until we can find out.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable.
(Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic
A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)


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