Gravion Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gravion

Gravion Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 18, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004

Gravion Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
So far, Gravion has been able to hold back the Zeravire invasion, but each new wave of invaders grows more powerful. That doesn't mean the Gran Knights couldn't use a little time off. But it?s never possible to rest for too long. The next attack is always right around the corner, and only the Gran Knights have the wherewithal to stop them! Get ready for another all out, high-tech battle of strength.

The Review!
Against my better judgment, Gravion starts to grow on me.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. 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. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems with it during regular playback.

Originally airing back in 2002, the transfer for the four episodes of Gravion here looks really good. The show isn't blended as smoothly as some other Gonzo series 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. I don't sit with my face a foot away from the display device). Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal throughout and there weren't any real playback issues at all.

Using the original Japanese artwork from the second volume, the cover art looks decent enough with Toga standing in action pose in front of the Gravion, but it does prove that not all Japanese cover art is the best there is. The back cover uses some of the standard futuristic layout design items to provide a few shots from the show and a brief summary of the premise. The discs episodes are listed by number and title and the extras are clearly listed. The usual array of technical information is along the bottom in the easy to read and decipher technical grid. The insert is almost a mini-booklet that's called the "Gravion Character Design Works", and it opens to highlight Toga and Luna's character designs. In addition, there's a three panel side story, presumably translated from the original Japanese release, entitled "G's Tragedy". It's all text and is well done. This release also has two clings included inside, one for Eiji and one for Mizuki, both of them in their combat uniforms.

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.

The extras don't change too much with this volume but there's a few new additions. The opening and ending sequences are provided in their clean format and there's a series of design sketches included in a video gallery. There is also a few of the original TV spots promoting the series during it's 2:25 AM run as well as about two minutes worth of commercials for the DVD release and all its bonus content.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the opening sequence to the series, there's a brief scene towards the end when the credit for Obari comes onto the screen at the same time that you have Sandman doing his "Hair blowing in the wind turn" move. To some extent, that's what Gravion has been like to me so far. It's style and flair, it's about looking cool and strutting. It's also my general opinion of the bulk of Obari's work over the years as well since he's not exactly one of my favorites.

With the second of three volumes of the first season of the show, we get four more episodes that rush through the center part of the show. These are the episodes that help humanize the characters and provide discoveries into the larger plot. The first volume had annoyed me on a number of levels, especially the way it was not only seemingly trying to be several genres at once but also trying to parody and homage some of them at the same time. It was a convoluted piece at times that dealt with a genre I'm not too fond of to begin with, namely the "Classic" giant robot shows. These were before my time and they're something that I've had hit or miss luck with in enjoying during the various revivals that have come along in recent years.

The Gravion unit itself and enough of the fighting sequences in this volume get pushed off into the realm of "we gotta show it to keep people hooked" space. After letting the combined ships having much of the stage in the first volume, the characters become focus now. It's rather necessary at that since a lot of them still feel very much stereotypical of their outfits and designs. A lot of fun is had right off the bat which surprised me as the maids are heading from the castle to the nearby city to do a re-supply of stocks. There's a good couple of dozen of them heading out to acquire a lot of goods so Eiji uses the opportunity to take Toga out of there so he can see the city. As he learned, Toga's never really left the castle before and seen the real world that he's fighting to defend. After they dress up as attractive maids and then sneak away from the main group, Toga gets to learn that cars are real, cola is indeed cool and that there are just an amazing amount of people out there. Eiji hooks up with some of his friends and that brings in a lot of humorous moments as he tries to explain that he's actually piloting the Gravion and they don't believe him. It's a moment like this that they learn about the propaganda that's being used about it and how the Gravion is actually an EFA secret weapon.

One of the female characters that really needed some background and fleshing out is Luna since she's a potential love interest for Eiji. She's gotten the short end of the stick so far but she makes out really well here when she gets permission to return home to Okinawa for a day to visit her fathers grave. Her personal history in fighting the Zeravire comes more into focus and helps clarify why she does what she does. I still think she's close to wearing a maid uniform out in public though. While enough of her past is still obscured, we do get to understand somewhat of why she's tied closely to Sandman and in fighting against the Zeravire. There's a decent action sequence included in the episode, but it's the comedy and fanservice of the episode that works best. After all, she's in Okinawa and everyone else comes to visit her on the beach which leads to skin, skin and more skin. Even Sandman gets in on things in a thong. That alone was priceless.

In fact, Sandman gets a few good moments throughout the series like that in these episodes. While he does playing the all-knowing smart guy leader, such as when Eiji does something incredibly reckless but he keeps faith in him regardless, he also plays up a different side of himself as well. After briefing the team on a mission, one of the maids next to him offers him a cookie. And he dramatically takes a chomp out of it. It's little moments like that in the show that's starting to help change my opinion of it. This volume has a lot of those little moments in addition to the character material that helped change it.

The one that really did me in though is when we get to see more of Mizuki. I'm not sure of the character designs are accidentally off-model here or whether they were going for a really specific look but I think it worked out very well. Getting to see how Mizuki works at things and the way she keeps her residence in the castle is intriguing. There are a lot of fan service shots of her in a tank tee and loose shorts but it's all done with angles in the dark and obfuscated lighting, almost film noir style. While she's usually rather light and bouncy, particularly with the oversized chest she has, this time we get to see the more analytical side of her and what one of her goals is. The ties that bind her to not only Sandman but to Eiji are very interesting and it does go back to pushing along the original storyline of why Eiji even came to the castle.

This disc needed more Leele however.

In Summary:
With something of a de-emphasis on the fighting Gravion sequences, though they're still there, the show makes the necessary time for the characters to get interesting and fleshed out with this batch of episodes. Three of the leads get some solid time and actually start to become interesting in their own right. But we also get some interesting details about the origins of the Zeravire and the Gravion as well as how that beast of a machine operates. Some very interesting stuff is done with the gravity concepts and how it can be used here which is seemingly tied in with Eiji's sister. There's still plenty of mystery to things that you know they're going to milk well enough but I think they managed to give back a lot of good things in this batch of episodes that have considerably improved my opinion of the show.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Design sketches,Japanese TV and DVD spots, Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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