Gravion Zwei Complete Collection (Thinpak) - 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: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gravion

Gravion Zwei Complete Collection (Thinpak)

By Chris Beveridge     January 28, 2008
Release Date: July 25, 2006


Gravion Zwei Complete Collection (Thinpak)
© ADV Films


What They Say
There's a new player in the game of Earth Defense. Enter the elite G-Soldier Squadron, the first of the government's attempt to mass-produce Gravion technology. Led by ace pilot Faye, will the G-Soldiers push the Earthgertz gang out of a job? While facing a series of stepped up Zeravire attacks, Sandman decides his team needs some time off¦ at a hot springs resort. What better way to form a cohesive fighting unit than to see everyone in their skivvies? Towels fly and karaoke maids abound as the Gravion team battles a hidden danger deep within a nearby volcano.

The Review!
I think Mizuki's breasts have gotten bigger in this season. And bouncier.

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 2004, 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 has resolved the blending issues of the previous series and the foreground characters feel much more natural against the backgrounds and they look far less like they're on top of things instead of in a setting. The colors are rich and solid without any noticeable breakup. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal throughout and there weren't any real playback issues at all. The colors are rich and solid without any noticeable breakup (from a proper viewing distance at least.

Packaging:
The second season set of Gravion is done in thinpak form with a good heavy chipboard box to contain the three discs. The main panel of the release is a good one that pushes the fanservice well as it features Ena with her outfit being torn to shreds while Leele and Mizuki are in the background. Mizuki in particular helps the fanservice level by the amount backside she shows with her outfit. The other panel gives us lots of pretty boy material as you have Eiji, Toga and Sandma together which is also tied to the other panel through the backdrop of a large image of the moon. 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 new pieces of artwork than what was on the singles. The first volume has a comical hot springs piece with lots of flesh being thrown about while the second volume uses the artwork of Ena from the box cover and brings in Raven and Ayaka. The final volume lets the Gran Troopers have their moment in the sun while also making sure we get to see a lot of Faye's sexiness. The back covers for each of them are cleanly done, if emptier than the first season, with 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:
The menu design changes from the first season as it features an image of the Gravion in the center done with a blue and white filter that is slightly murky and not quite so distinct. Individual episode access is available from the top menu and the only other thing available is the language selection section. We didn't have any issues in moving around considering what little is here and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Coming out in Japan nearly a year after the first season, this one is made up almost entirely of payoff sequences. The first season introduced us to a lot of basic material with an alien invader and someone on Earth who has the ability to stop them through the combination capable giant robot Gravion. The characters were introduced and the setting laid out well enough and they gave us a decent point through which to end the season, enough so to tease you into wanting more. As good as the climax was for the first season, it wasn't what you would want for the series overall.

With Gravion Zwei, with zwei being the German word for two, we're brought back into the swing of things with the group but it's been fairly quiet in the interim. The Zeravire haven't attacked since we last saw them and things are getting a bit lax around the castle. Things are so out of control in fact that after Eiji completely blows a bet with some of the maids, he ends up promising that he and all the other Gran Knights will be maids for a day in exchange for another shot at winning. Naturally his streak continues and the next thing we know we've got all of them in maid outfits and doing duties for a day. They do go over the top here with putting both Eiji and Toga into the same kind of maid outfits and wigs, something that completely freaks Raven out when he comes across them. With Sandman out of the castle on business elsewhere in the world for so long, things have simply broken down here.

One of the big issues in the first season of the series was the EFA's distaste for relying on a mysterious group like the Gran Knights and Gravion for the planet's defense against the Zeravire. That appears to be shifting in this season as they're close to building their own equipment to deal with things as we see the President viewing a simulation session with five pilots who are set to take on the job. Though we don't see much of the gear itself since it's all simulation, it's a mostly hardcore crew but they have their own quirks from what little we see of them but they've also got busty women in slick uniforms much like the Gran Knights. This is given a few minutes in the first episode and is essentially the entire real plot we get for the entire first volume.

The Gran Troopers bring a nice new facet to the series but it is one that doesn't overwhelm the main one. It provides an outside look at what's going on and allows for the characters on the Gran Knights to be tweaked nicely as it progresses. There are some interesting ties to the Gran Knights that come about, things that could certainly be explored in a larger sense, but taken in the small doses here it works well. Faye's relationship with Toga would merit more time in general, but what we get here is ideal as it keeps the flow of the series moving forward and avoids the show becoming solely about any one character. Even with Eiji as the supposed central character, Gravion really takes on a large ensemble feeling this time around which works to its benefit.

The most interesting material in this release of Gravion revolves around getting the goods on just who Sandman is and what his history is. And not just of him, but of his relations and of the Zeravire. This episode, revealed to most of the characters that are pilots of the Gravion, is something that helps them understand the true nature of the Zeravire and just how terrible they can be so it does reinforce their desire to fend off the things. But there's such a personal drama wrapped around it with Sandman that it really surprises a lot of them. There is a lot of information given here that's still done in the standard episode template (which means the required Gravion action scenes are indeed here) that it really is surprising that they covered as much as they did. Between the revelations here and the way it affects the team, it's almost like they could have hit a high by learning the reality but it whacks them so hard that they're almost all the way down.

Which of course is when the Zeravire attack and the Gravion isn't up to handling it all that well. But it does allow for the EFA forces to bring their craft into play and this starts to open up some of the hinted at relationships and connections that the cast of pilots from there have with the larger storyline as well as bringing in a lot of varied action. While they don't have maid outfits on, they do wear similar to what the rest of the Gravion folks where so there's still a lot of style to it. Style does continue to be the main fuel of this show and it's well displayed here. Between the flashbacks which only ups the style quotient to the revelations made about certain characters that will change how cosplay is done for them, this is the volume that really manages to do a good job in at least one full episode of combining style and substance without one overwhelming the other.

In watching this second season so soon after the first season in marathon form, my opinion of the series in general has certainly changed. I don't think I consider it high art or anything near it, but it stands out as one of Obari's better works. What's most noticeable about the show is just how much more improved the production values are. The animation is much cleaner, which is saying something, and has a stronger sense of vibrancy and fluidity to it. They do up the fanservice as well to balance it out, but this season just looks so much more alive and, well, animated than the first that it's a very striking difference at times.

In Summary:
Gravion Zwei was a series that I admit easily that I dreaded fairly well when it first came out considering how little the first season had impressed me. Zwei, when taken in full, provides a very different view especially after coming off the first season. Everything feels like it ties together much better, even if it a bit too strong with coincidences, and the storyline really does feel more like it's all about the payoff for the first season, almost like a thanks for being able to make the second season. There are lots of moments where the fanservice goes through the roof, and I remember being annoyed with it before, but now it just clicks so much better. Gravion Zwei isn't a top tier title by any stretch, but it's one that I've found much more enjoyable and a bit more compelling when taken in this form.

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 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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