Gravion Complete Collection - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 39.99
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gravion

Gravion Complete Collection

By Chris Beveridge     January 25, 2008
Release Date: January 17, 2006


Gravion Complete Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
The Zeravire exist for one purpose: the annihilation of all living things in the entire universe. Now Earth is their new target, andonly the six Grand divas, combined to form the giant robot Gravion, have any hope of stopping them!

The Review!
Mixing in mecha, babes and a healthy dose of campy atmosphere, Masami Obari goes for the gusto with the God Gravion and a series of maids.

Audio:
The bilingual release of Gravion is pretty solid as ADV Films gives it the right treatment since it's an action show. The original Japanese track is presented in its stereo form at 224kbps and comes across well. The English mix is done in a 5.1 format which is encoded at 448kbps. The series has a lot of things going on during it as well as some in-series specific music, so the stereo mix gets used pretty heavily here. Dialogue is generally center channel based but does spread out a bit throughout the show, but it's the music that really fills things up. There are a lot of action scenes throughout here as well so those tend to use the stereo channels a lot to emphasize their location on the screen. The English mix notches things up a little bit more with some greater bass and more obvious dialogue placement which works well. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems with it during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2002, this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for the series on this release tends looks really good. The show isn't blended as smoothly as some other Gonzo series of the time, but it definitely looks to be done by design, so you have some very vibrant foreground characters and animation that almost feel like they're sliding over the backgrounds instead of being a part of them at times. The colors are rich and solid without any noticeable breakup (from a proper viewing distance at least. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal throughout and there weren't any real playback issues at all.

Packaging:
The first season set of Gravion is done in thinpak form with a good heavy chipboard box to contain the three discs. The main panel artwork is a good bright and colorful piece that features four of the female leads together in their standard uniforms while the other main panel features the two leading men of the Gravion. The backdrop for both panels is a wraparound piece that shows the Gravion itself with a small view of the Earth behind it. The small footprint of the release is a definite positive as it takes up about a keepcase and a half of space while looking good. Within the box there are the three black thinpak cases which utilize the same cover artwork as the singles to good effect. The artwork for the show is bright and colorful yet still detailed enough to really draw you in. The back covers for each of them are cleanly done with a good summary of what's going on in those particular episodes and a listing of the episode numbers and titles. The remainder is fleshed out with production credits and a very clean and easy to use technical grid. No inserts are included nor are there reversible covers.

Menu:
Going with the futuristic computer layout style with bright blues and pinks for the selection portion, the main menu looks like some of the monitors the characters use in the show, albeit a bit busier. Animation plays along the bottom in a couple of windows, showing parts from the opening sequence, while a brief spell of instrumental music plays over it. The layout is a bit awkward at first since selections are all over the screen but it's easy to navigate after a minute or two.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gravion's a thirteen episode series from 2002 that paired up the slickness of Gonzo with the ideas of Masami Obari. In its original release, it was pretty easy to mock and not take the show too seriously and that's still pretty much true now. The series has a straightforward story it wants to tell and it gets bogged down in the usual formula that's taken to tell it. Every episode a newer, stronger and stranger looking alien shows up for the Gravion team to fight and they have to come up with newer and stronger weapons to take it down. If that's not enough formula, they decide to throw in a ton of maids that work as security, servants and medical staff in order to bump up the fanservice content. .

Taking place in 2047, the world has changed drastically. It's been ten years since the Earth Federated Alliance has gone and merged all world governments together leading to an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. One of the most prosperous people is the elusive and seldom seen in public Klein Sandman. He's the standard massively wealthy billionaire that has his fingers in more pies than could ever be counted. His castle, an elaborate structure that's basically a rock formation that holds it up off the ground, is massive and intricately laid out with five towers and many smaller buildings throughout it. When Sandman sends out invitations to a party, anyone who is anyone attends no matter what, which is why we have some of the most powerful people on the planet now there wondering just who he is and what he's up to.

When Sandman does finally introduce himself, he reveals some amazing looking footage of aliens attacking outposts along the solar system where humanity has started to explore. Everyone assumes that it's movie footage but he reveals that it's really happening, something that's quickly confirmed as the heads of various government bodies are hit up on their cellular phones there. The aliens, called Zeravire, move quickly and are about to hit Earth as well. The EFA is convinced they can handle the job but their weapons and ships don't seem to do any damage. This is when Sandman reveals that he has the technology to do it, and we see the giant robot Gravion dealing with the invaders.

Sandman's been preparing for this for some time, though a lot of it is left to mystery in these early episodes, but he's intent on handling this problem himself and sends his envoy, a masked red-haired man named Raven, to the EFA to hammer out that agreement. The Gravion, as made up by the pilots and their various vehicles, have specific weapons and moves that are used against the continually evolving Zeravire. This actually proves to be problematic for the Gravion team as once they find a way to defeat one of the enemy, the enemy learns from that mistake and then that move fails to really do much damage, or the enemy figures out a defense for it when it comes back in its next form. That's actually a nice change of pace.

The Gravion team is something that gets solidified early on here. Those who pilot the vehicles are somewhat special among humanity in that they have a special attribute to them, not necessarily genetic per se, but an inborn talent that allows them be labeled as an "Earthgertz". Sandman refers to the pilots as that, people who are special and able to handle this. The last of the pilots he needs arrives in the castle just before the Zeravire attack. In his teens, we're introduced to Eiji, a young man whose come to Sandman's castle in search of his missing sister. Having received a note from her with the simple words of "Help me!", he's tracked her down to here and has snuck into the castle to find her. Of course, the castle is state of the art in surveillance so everyone gets to watch as he sneaks throughout there trying to find where she could be. His luck goes sour though when he stumbles into the room where the Gran Kaiser is located and its pilot Toga is. Eiji's on the defensive but Toga's almost like an innocent child at times and just wants to be friends with someone who's similar. With the Zeravire attacking, events tumble and Eiji finds himself falling into one of the vehicles, forced to pilot it and to go through the combining process to deal with the first of Earth's new enemy.

The series goes in pretty predictable directions for the first few episodes, especially once you get past the really poorly paced first episode. There's just too much being introduced there and it doesn't work well. Once past that, you get Eiji trying to figure out what's going on with the situation he's been thrust into while also trying to find his sister. He gets to meet the various cast members, learn about the vehicles and how Gravion works in addition to trying to get a handle on Sandman, since he supposedly tricked him. There's a subplot that gets worked in about the mysterious pilot of the G-Shadow and how that person isn't part of the regular group. This actually becomes the main point by the end of the first volume and introduces the only character I halfway liked.

When looking at a show by Obari, I can't help but wonder if it would have been better if he had done it as an adult release. The character designs for the series are all ones that would certainly be appealing in that genre, especially since he runs the gamut from the big breasted types to those that are rather flat chested. They don't avoid going down the erotic path on occasion as well as you have characters like Mizuki who basically straddles the seat in her craft. You even have Luna going into a quasi-bondage gig when she uses certain elements of her drill machine as it has to keep her in place. Putting most of them in maid derivative outfits doesn't help push the sex down either. There are show since then that have taken this even further though which in turn makes this look a bit more quaint than I would have guessed.

In Summary:
With it being over three years since I last saw this first season of the show, I was admittedly curious to see how it would hold up in a marathon session and whether my opinion of it had changed much. Much of what bothered me back then is still here, but now it's mostly an amusement and it's almost quaint. Having seen a lot more mecha shows since then, and some that seriously pre-date this series, it's given a bit more background in a way that lets me appreciate the context of what Obari is trying to do with it. It still very much feels like a whole lot of pandering going on and I'm still not too keen on the entire combining mecha subgenre, but on the whole what is done here is quite competent and certainly right up the alley of many mecha fans. I'm still more in favor of the more serious material when it comes to shows like this, but Gravion had me smiling a bit more this time around.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 480p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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