Gokudo Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gokudo

Gokudo Vol. #6

    February 28, 2003
Release Date: November 19, 2002


Gokudo Vol. #6
© Media Blasters


What They Say
The great body-switching curse has finally been broken, but Gokudo is still a baby! Determined to do something about his diminutive condition, Gokudo sets out for the legendary magical spring. He need only sacrifice Rubette to the Fire God to cure his little problem. But Rubette has been his constant companion for all his adventures, and of course he wouldn't just sacrifice such a valuable friend, right? After that little escapade, Gokudo and company are set to face off with the nagging demon Granny, who's been tormenting for their long journey. But she's nothing compared to Indra, who has been sent by the followers of the Buddha to destroy our heroes in the name of all that's good and just in the world. Well, who can blame him?

The Review!
Audio:
Things sound pretty much the same as previous volumes, except I will point out that the Japanese audio track sounds a bit muddled in the first episode on this disc. Gokudo has never been the kind of show that would impress anyone with its technical qualities, but overall, it sounds pretty good.

Video:
Video quality is nearly identical to the previous volume, looking a little washed out compared to early volumes in the series, but without the color bleeding that permeated those discs.

Packaging:
The final volume pays tribute to the entire series, dedicating the front cover to a gigantic group shot featuring Gokudo surrounded by the female characters from the entire series. It’s a little jumbled-looking, but kind of fun to look over the characters and remember them. Besides, Gokudo’s exasperated expression is priceless.

Menus:
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.

Extras:
While extras for this series have been minimal up to this point, volume 6 surprises with a nifty set of homespun extras featuring interviews with English dub actors Daniel Kevin Harrison (Gokudo) and Angora Deb (Rubette), Producer Joe Digiori, and Director Bill Timoney (that’s Tee-Eye-Money.) During the audio-only interviews, Harrison and Deb talk about how they got into the business of anime voice acting and how they feel about the industry. Even better, they talk extensively about how they discovered the right voices for the characters they play in the series, how they feel about the characters, and tell humorous anecdotes about the recording process.

I know that some people will never bother with anything to do with the English dub or English dub actors, but they’re really missing out here. I suspect that much of the resentment toward English dubs is due to a misconception that English voice actors are unprofessional, apathetic, and generally ignorant of what anime is all about. While Media Blasters could have put a bit more into these extras, making the interviews longer, and with video, and even perhaps adding behind-the-scenes footage, I’m giving it the A- out of personal bias that extras like this go a long way toward strengthening the relationship between fans and the hardworking professionals that help bring anime to the Western world.

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

Volume 5 left me sort of cold, meandering through a storyline that had long since lost its comedic spark. As volume 6, Finale Extraordinaire gets underway, we get one more episode in the Hotoke arc. It’s one of those unnecessary affairs, where the Monk Sanzo, previously thought to be defeated, comes back to life for one more battle. Thanks to the low-quality animation, and general fatigue of the storyline, I couldn’t keep much interest in what was going on. Things start to pick up again at the end, starting with a clever bit involving a cellular phone, the first scene at which I had laughed out loud in several episodes.

With Sanzo defeated, the gang is returned to their original bodies, and everything appears to be resolved, except for the fact that Gokudo’s body (previously inhabited by Gokuu) has been reduced to that of an infant. The gang sets off for a nice, short adventure in search of the Spring of Life, a mystical body of water capable of making the old young and the young old. Only the water of the Spring of Life can restore Gokudo to his proper age.

The next two episodes form a self-contained arc, much less epic in scope, in which two rival tribes, the followers of Fire God Ryu-Gee and the followers of Moon Goddess Negana Luna, are fighting over control of the Spring of Life. It’s a classic set-up for a Gokudo adventure, in which Gokudo sides with neither good nor evil, but only the group capable of helping him reach his somewhat selfish goals. Along the way, Gokudo and Rubette must challenge the feuding gods, and either bring peace to the land, or become consumed by the gods’ power.

Now that everyone is more-or-less back to normal, except for the much set-upon Gokudo, the group regains much of the relaxed, dysfunctional chemistry that made the middle parts of the series such a joy to watch. Plus, the story is relatively direct, without all the rambling and intricacies of the Hotoke arc. Unburdened by an unwieldy plot, we get some really good gags, and the scenes with the gods provide an opportunity for some classic characters from early stories to make cameo appearances.

The story is not quite over yet, though, as the final episode takes Gokudo and Rubette back to Eshalotto, their homeland from the first story arc, and attempts to tie up several of the loose ends from the series, including the secret behind the old hag who is the queen of the Magic World. Once again, we get a chance to revisit some old characters, including as Seigi and Arsaga, schmaltzy rulers of the kingdom. (I was hoping we would get to find out how they were doing before the end of the series.)

Rather than dragging out the finale, Gokudo sets up a funny conflict, delivers the laughs, wraps things up in a slightly messy package, and leaves us wanting more. It’s a lesson that seems to have been forgotten in the Hotoke arc, and I’m glad to say that the series returned to form nicely for these last few episodes. After volume 5, I was beginning to wonder of the writers had run out of good ideas. Now, I’m quite certain that they had not, and even find myself wishing that the series had run for more episodes.

Now that the series is over, those of you who have been holding out on Gokudo have no excuse. The series does drag a bit during the fourth act, but overall, the series delivers the goods in a way few fantasy series on the market today dares to do. Simultaneously smarter and trashier than Slayers, Gokudo should appeal to fans of Slayers as well as fans of self-referential, satirical anime such as Excel Saga and the original Project A-Ko. Gokudo is perhaps burdened by its slightly low animation quality and its lack of star power, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is the kind of show that seems destined to become an underground cult favorite but deserves better. So check it out, and spread the word. Gokudo delivers the goods.


Features
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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