Gravitation Vol. #4 - 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: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gravitation

Gravitation Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 27, 2004
Release Date: October 26, 2004


Gravitation Vol. #4
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
Based on the best-selling graphic novel series by Maki Murakami, the Gravitation anime has been Rated one of the best romantic anime TITLES of all time (Anime Insider, 2003). As ONE OF THE FIRST SHONEN-AI (male homosexual love story) anime titles to hit the States, Gravitation's popularity is soaring with female U.S. audiences. First spotlighted in Newtype USA's July 2004 DVD, this wonderful romantic series will soon be spreading to new audiences across the nation when it DEBUTS ON THE ANIME NETWORK!

Love - the one force that simply won?t be denied!

Just when everything was finally turning around, Yuki has fallen ill! When Touma discovers that it's Shuichi's fault that Yuki's sick, he's determined to stop the two from seeing one another. Will Shuichi stay, even if it hurts his beloved Yuki?

Yuki's soul, meanwhile, is in torment. His dark past continues to haunt him, pushing him away from the people who love him most. When he suddenly disappears without telling anyone, Touma, Mika, and especially Shuichi will stop at nothing to find him! However, Bad Luck's manager K isn't about to let Shuichi go running off when they have a huge concert tour scheduled to begin. Forced to make the ultimate choice, will Shuichi pick Bad Luck or Yuki?

PLUS, the first 5,000 DVDs released will include a special dual-sided hard plastic VIP Backstage Pass that comes in its own special keepsake envelope!

Contains episodes 11-13.

The Review!
Gravitation's TV run comes to a close with the final three episodes that ties up some of the main loose ends nicely.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a really good stereo mix that has some solid oomph to it when it comes to the music scenes and some of the action sequences where the sound effects make good use of the stereo channels. Dialogue is for the most part center channel driven but it's got a good range to it and comes across well. Combined with a solid music score, the audio for these two tracks comes off very good and free of problems during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing back in the fall of 2000, Gravitation is presented here in its full frame aspect ratio. Halfway through the series, we shifted gears in our setup and the change is very noticeable with this show. The show features a lot of really good vibrant colors throughout, particularly when it comes to the purples it seems, but also in many other areas. Combined with the good backgrounds and the overall feel, the colors look great, solid and generally free of problems. The cross coloration problems that we had in the first volume had dropped off some in the second but was still plainly visible. In this volume under the new player and connections, that's almost practically gone. You can tell that it's really still there as along the edges of the hair there's some faint movement, but our hardware change went a long way in reducing a visible problem to a minor one. While some of the backgrounds aren't quite as solid as they could be, they still look very good. Right Stuf also manages to score some good points here by having alternate angles for the opening and ending sequence based on language selection before starting the disc with the original Japanese credits as the default and the translated ones as the second angle. Overall, the show looks good but will vary by how your setup handles the cross coloration as well as your own eyes.

Packaging:
Bringing the series to a close with the same style as the previous ones, we get a great shot of Yuki and Shindo in something of an embrace set against the New York City skyline at night but with the soft white light emanating from it. This just looks really good and fits in beautifully with the other covers in the series. The back cover has a few shots from the show and uses some good images such as stage equipment as well as tickets to give it a very in-theme feel. The summary provides a good feel for what to expect and Right Stuf has adopted the technical grid along the bottom with all the basic information. Even better, the cover artwork for the reverse side is very sweetly done; it's all black and looks like a plaque so underneath the disc side there isn't anything but the other panel has a Bad Luck CD cover and a "Double Platinum Record" piece underneath it, just like the kind you find in the offices of managers and producers.

Menu:
Shindo and Yuki make their appearance on the final menu for the show along the right side as they give off the right look and feel while the backdrop is set with screaming fans from the concert and motion lights coming from the spotlights all set to one of the songs from the show. It's very much in theme and it looks and works great. The layout is easy to navigate and the functionality is smooth and fast. Even our usual issues with the trailers section has been removed so that it's no longer a problem. The disc also did a solid job in reading our players presets and defaulting to them.

Extras:
The extras for this volume are pretty similar to the past ones and look really well done with the layout for the extras menu. The art gallery is pretty standard fare and the Eiri Yuki Unmasked section is the usual character profile pieces. There are some good translation notes included with this release that explain away a few peculiarities and we also get a clean ending sequence (again, nicely listed as a music video but clear about what it is). While not a lot of material, it's well laid out and done in-theme with the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With its final run of TV episodes, Gravitation manages to put in a good amount of last minute drama, comedy and overall over the top moments that have made this show so much fun to watch. While it doesn't cover all of the manga by a long shot, it does bring some parts of the series to a good conclusion here as an "Act 1" piece and I ended it plenty satisfied.

The mysterious problems that Yuki has, which are not fully explored here in the series, have been causing him problems and his recent blood spurting moments have landed him in the hospital again. His closest family members, mainly his sister and Seguchi, confront him about what they think the problem is and how he simply has to stop seeing Shuichi since it's so bad for his health. Whatever it is that Shuichi has brought into Yuki's life is adding more stress to him and forcing him to think about events in the past that only accelerate the problem. Shuichi is partially unaware of this mostly because everyone keeps it secret but when he does learn of some of it and Yuki's apparent plans to go to New York to get away, it sets him into another downward spiral.

There's a lot of drama throughout in dealing with Yuki and his past, the revelations we learn about what happened and the person he killed and most of the basics surrounding it. Yuki gets some good time to himself, which while it does allow him to look cool and aloof, also provides some time to get his inner thoughts rolling along and able to figure out just what his mindset really is on the whole matter. Seguchi is brought into a lot of this nicely since he feels some sense of responsibility about all of it and his involvement in both the past and present in how he tries to make things better for Yuki are in the right place but the wrong way to do it, but he still tries. It causes its share of confusion and sets K against him somewhat but it's not unexpected.

There are some really good light moments in this volume as well to break up the tension a bit. The actual date episode is solid with Yuki and Shuichi going to the amusement park for the day and acting like a normal couple. It's one of those things that just about every scene with it is endearing and cute enough to make you smile over the happy energy emanating from there. The two, while very different, continue to make an interesting and fun looking couple and when they actually get moments like this, and the moments where Yuki realizes just how he really does feel only helps to reinforce that.

One of my favorite things with this volume is watching the changes in Ryuichi when he's dealing with Shuichi. His "deformed" moments are just priceless and I wish you could see them done with his regular character design just to see how they'd pull it off. His influence has been an interesting part of the series since he's ended up being both an idol of Shuichi's and something approaching a friend as he gets more and more into the business. Watching them perform together has been fun and the way Ryuichi encourages and prods Shuichi along is something that a character like his could only get away with.

In Summary:
Gravitation is certainly not a series for everyone. It's over the top in a lot of ways, such as having an SR-71 show up as an aircraft to transport an idol singer, but it's also got a lot of heart as it ignores most of the gender issues and just keeps pushing the two leads together and having them slowly and awkwardly feel each other out. Shuichi's character probably annoys a lot of people but we just found him very entertaining and an amusing character to watch. It's hard to explain the appeal of this series other than the simple thing of we've read a good portion of the manga and while the two are pretty different, there are a lot of similarities and we're as hooked as we are on the manga that the anime is a real treat. This series just has an energy and a sense of humor that had us laughing hard that really appealed. I cant wait to see the OVAs.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Clean "Glaring Dream" Closing, Episode Liner Notes, Art Gallery, Eiri Yuki Unmasked!

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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