Gravion Zwei Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • 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 Zwei Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 11, 2005
Release Date: July 05, 2005


Gravion Zwei Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Toga is AWOL. Leele is still recovering from emotional shock. Mizuki and Luna are missing. Ena is dead. Could the situation be any worse? Well, yes, in fact… it can. The Zeravire are intensifying their attack on Earth and the outlook is dire. Hope is renewed when the new mech Sol Gravion shows up, piloted by a mysterious newcomer. But things get dicey when Hugi appears as a giant hologram and threatens to obliterate all life on Earth in 48 hours! Witness the power of the combined forces of Gravion, Sol Gravion and the EFA Gran Troopers when the final battles begin to take place. All the questions will be finally answered in this exciting conclusion!

The Review!
The series comes to a close in a way that only giant robot shows like this can – by adding more giant robots!.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for the four episodes of Gravion Zwei here 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.

Packaging:
The last cover to the series is a decent piece as we get Mizuki in a different outfit that unlike the others shows off her chest nicely. The background set of Sandman with the women most dear to him is really nice though especially since it has Leele in my favorite outfit of hers from the series. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a sexpot shot of Mizuki along one side while the other has a few paragraphs of summary and just how much fanservice you can find inside. The discs features and episodes are listed in a small block but no episode numbers are included – at least the spine has the volume number. The rest of the cover is made up of the usual production credits and a decent block of technical information in the grid. No insert was included with our copy of this release but apparently there is one with an interview with Obari about the series.

Menu:
Going with the futuristic layout by using the mystical symbol associated with the Gravion, the main menu is nicely in theme with bits of animation playing around it. The layout is easy to use with instant episode access and a fairly intuitive navigation style. With no transitional animations to the menu, access times are nice and fast and everything loads quickly. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras essentially mirror the first two volumes of the series. A lot of it is in the form of art galleries as there are separate ones provided for the mecha and episode art. A lengthy extra included here is Inside the Actors Head piece which is similar to how the first one ran and covers a lot of time with the voice actors. And as a standard, the opening and ending sequences are provided in clean format. A neat little addition to this final volume is a gallery of the eye-catches used.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gravion Zwei finishes its run with these last four episodes and it brings things full circle from the opening moments of the first season and a lot of what came in between. The series has been one that's been somewhat difficult to get into though the Zwei season worked better in my mind than the first one by actually providing more meat to it and getting deeper into what's really going on. If treated as one single show then this makes sense but the split has you looking at it differently.

After the last volume where we learned much of the full back story of what's going on with Sandman's past, his family history and the truth of what the Zeravire are, we were left in a bad place by events as Toga had gone off in despair after the death of Ena. The team is left in relative shambles by this and the Gravion is in need of heavy repairs. So naturally this is one of those times that you expect the Zeravire to attack, especially since we're learning that the EFA's fighters aren't quite up to handling things as well as they had hoped. That doesn't stop them from trying to bolster their ranks though as we see Toga's past before he came to Sandman's castle as his sister, a pilot herself, tries to bring him to their side.

All of this is really standard set up material though for a show of this genre and it plays out pretty much in predictable fashion from there on out. While the angst is nicely done, things flow so that the team is required to get back together because the Zeravire with Hugli at the lead has decided that he's just going to eliminate humanity entirely and his brother along with it. The anger that drives him has him launching a massive attack on the planet and then utilizing a device that will within forty-eight hours cause everything to be obliterated. It's the instance of the bad guy actually using his big bad weapon, though he does leave a natural window of opportunity open. This isn't too bad since it forces Sandman to take up combat himself and revert back to natural status (oo, he's blonde. Who would have guessed!) and to face his brother one on one over their age old feud.

The predictability of it all is what really killed the ending here for me as well as some of the minor wrap up in the last few minutes. With the threat of the Zeravire being as great and grave as it is, naturally there's an even bigger Gravion machine that's been hidden away on the moon that's brought down for Eiji to use and to fight alongside Toga with. And it's even bigger and more powerful and so forth. I did like that they brought in the EFA craft to help along the way and their fighting scenes felt more honest and well done since they were actually struggling for a lot of it. The other area that was absolutely no surprise was the return of the dead Ena in a new body, one whose real background looks to be interesting but is essentially cast aside after a few scenes to get to the action. The entire angle of motivation in the first episode here is Toga and his angst over the death of Ena since he caused it and it's entirely removed by this. Unfortunately, death in anime has become synonymous with death and comic book superheroes in the last ten years which has lessened the impact and does so each time it happens.

The worst part though is during the last half of the final episode. The entire plot that started all of this really finally comes back into play as Eiji remembers that the reason he first came to the castle was to find his sister Ayaka. It's like, oops, we forgot about that, lets close that dangling plothole this way! I will say that I found their closure to it amusing but it's given such a short shrift overall considering the time he spent looking for her at first and it being the impetus for Eiji's character in general. The afterthought feeling to the way they brought it to a close only reinforces that.

In Summary:
Gravion Zwei had warmed me up to the franchise more than the first season but I still found it to be riddled with too many problems and far too much predictability. Some of the best moments were the strangest ones, usually when Sandman was trying to hang out with everyone, as well as some of the other bits that felt like they belonged in another series. The combination of so many different things with an overall genre that I'm not a huge fan of and being directed by someone who I think should stick to adult titles meant that this was going to be a hard sell from the beginning and it was just that. Gravion Zwei has some great flashes of brilliance throughout it but as an overall end product it's terribly flawed and in some ways almost offensive.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Gravion Mech Profile & Art Gallery,Video “Eye Catch Gallery,” Art gallery, plus an “Inside the Actor’s Head” feature,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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