Gunbuster 2 Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster

Gunbuster 2 Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 23, 2007
Release Date: June 12, 2007

Gunbuster 2 Vol. #2
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.

What They Say
Contains episodes 3-4. The elite Topless make their rendezvouz, as the order is given to launch a major operation to stop the horde of Space Monsters known as Jupiter Express. Tycho, who lost her Buster Machine in her last battle, sees a rival in Nono for the pilot seat of the newly constructed Quatre-Vingt-Dix. Then the two of them meet some children who say they have "a favor to ask a Topless"...

The Review!
Slowing things down a bit for more character development before diving headlong into big action sequences, the two OVAs expand the world and its mythology.

Similar to the first OVA series, only the Japanese language tracks are provided for this release. There are two mixes provided for it and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. A very strong Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is here as well as a Dolby Digital Prologic II stereo mix. Depending on the kind of setup you have, one will work better than the other. The 5.1 mix is what we watched during the show and it's just a stellar mix. With some subtle throws to the rears and plenty of solid directionality along the forefront, it just flows beautifully. Where its real power shines though comes with the bass as the giant robot scenes or anything with lots of action just has a lot of impact to it. Both tracks are encoded at 448 kbps and we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2003, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With plenty of lush visuals and smooth animation, the transfer for this show is simply spectacular. While it doesn't have the same kind of pop to it that some other high profile OVA series have, it comes across beautifully here. Line work is clear, colors are bold and everything is basically as it was on the Japanese release except that there are two episodes. Cross coloration is a non-issue as is aliasing. A few scenes throughout exhibit some noise in the background colors but it's pretty minimal and hardly a distraction even on a 70" set.

Essentially taking the Japanese cover and just swapping out the series name logo, the second installment comes across strong with a shot of a serious Nono while all manner of destruction is ready to roll behind her. The back cover design is simple but nicely laid out with a lot of white space. An overall summary is along the top while numerous shots from the show are scattered about along with episode information, quotes from the show itself and basic production info. The bottom conveys the basics though without a technical grid which makes getting some of the information a bit difficult. While it's clear there isn't any English language dub on here, a quick perusal won't inform the casual purchaser. A rather solid booklet is included with the release that has character designs and notes from these particular episodes as well as a glossary of terms and background on the Buster Machines. The second two text science lessons are also included here.

The menu design is almost painfully simple as it provides the only instance of the third Japanese DVD releases' cover art along one side as well as a shadowed version behind it. Along the left side of the artwork are the menu selections which also include the extras. No individual episode access is set up here but rather available through the scene access menu. With no music to it and no animation of any sort, it gets the job done but without much in the way of any style. It is rather par for the course for Japanese releases however. With their being only one language on here, it defaulted to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and the full set of subtitles.

Only one extra makes it onto this volume and it's another lengthy piece of Diebuster TV, this time containing and interview with Yoji Enokido. It's from the episode 4 release so it's not something to watch first, but with Enokido being the screenwriter behind this he has some good things to expand upon here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mirroring some of the aspects of the original series, the middle arc of Gunbuster 2 plays up some of the characters and their motivations while also setting the stage for a large scale conflict. The animation continues to be gorgeous looking and the overall presentation one that just has a huge amount of impact on the viewer even as streamlined as the storyline is.

Nono's quest to become one of the Topless continues to be the primary push for her. Her spunk and outgoing nature has her becoming friendly with everyone but there is a certain level of disquiet there as well. This generally comes in an obvious manner from Tycho as she's not happy to be in competition with her. When Tycho loses her Buster Machine in an accident, she has to prove herself to be the best one for the new Buster Machine that's about to be awakened. The Machines are interesting in that a large percentage of them never wake even after being outfitted and a lot of it depends on the pilot that they're initially paired with. Nicola continues to believe that there is something far greater with Nono though so he's keeping a close eye on her for all of this.

With Tycho and Nono now in this kind of competition, the two find themselves coming across each other a lot and having to deal with their quirks. A lot of time is spent around Jupiter 2 which provides for them a backdrop to expand upon what's involved with being a Topless. This exposes all the more plainly the weaknesses that Nono has in becoming one, particularly in terms of piloting, but it also reveals more plainly what Tycho's problems are all about. There is the almost cringe inducing material that deals with kids who want to see it snow where they are and how they get close to Tycho and Nono, but the overall way it works brings some really nice visuals and helps to formulate things between them.

The grand scale of things starts to come into play very well with this volume as well. Centering around a trip to Saturn where there is a fluctuating gravity well on the planet, the apparent discovery of an ancient alien Buster Machine used to fight the space monsters is being worked through. The setting and the device itself is fascinating enough as it brings in something really neat to the show in terms of building the larger picture of the universe. It's also an episode where some of the strangeness of how humanity has been developing during all of this with the Topless is explored. The larger roles played by the Twins fosters that a lot, much to poor Nicola's experience at dinner. We also get to see some of how the Fraternity operates when it comes to dealing with the regulars of humanity and how that irks some of them. Thankfully we do get a bath scene out of it as well that's amusingly reminiscent of the one from the first series.

Nono's role in this takes center stage after awhile and really sets up things for the next volume. While the excavation is ongoing and the results causing a lot of issues, Nono is sidetracked out to Pluto where it's revealed that a Buster Machine from back during the Kupier Belt battle has lain dormant and in ruins for a couple of decades. Her hopes of reviving it so that she can use it to help defend the people are an obvious one but it fits in with her whole concept of hard work and guts. Self-realization and effort were big parts of the original series and it's something that becomes key during this episode with Nono as her place in the storyline becomes all the clearer.

Gunbuster 2 continues to be quite the visual treat as well in a lot of ways. The appeal of the first series, and a lot of early Gainax shows, was always in the epic nature of the designs. Jupiter 2 takes on a fascinating role here to those with interest in this kind of science fiction as you simply don't see things like this in other series. The detail and life to it, even with as few people as you do see, is staggering at times. When combined with the simpler and cleaner lines of the various Buster Machines it takes on a great life of its own. Even the basic backgrounds of Pluto become something greater here with how it's done, particularly in contrast to the blackness of space.

In Summary:
Feeling a bit more comfortable with Tsurumaki's style and energy in the show compared to the first volume, Gunbuster 2 moves forward solidly here both in terms of character development and overall story progression. With the short nature of the OVA series there are plenty of things that are streamlined but it loses no real impact. As the show takes on a grand scale during the second episode here, it simply draws you in even more. While there are still comparisons to be made to the original series, particularly in the thematic sense, Gunbuster 2 is standing well on its own now and pushed past my initial uneasiness with the concept.

Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Diebuster TV, 20-page color booklet

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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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