Gunbuster 2 Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 39.98
  • Running time: 62
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster

Gunbuster 2 Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     April 26, 2007
Release Date: June 26, 2007

Gunbuster 2 Vol. #3
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.

What They Say
"The real enemy, the Fluctuating Gravity Well, closes in on mankind!! What will be the fate of the Sol System?!
Finally, Nono's true self has been revealed. Since the shocking Titan Incident, the Topless have been placed under house arrest in the remotest part of the Sol System, their abilities sealed up. With their very existence denied, Lal'C and the other pilots are now at the mercy of fate. But another catastrophe is closing in on the Sol System, as the corps of Space Monsters gather around their nest. The real enemy of mankind, the fluctuating gravity well, has at last appeared. The time has come to launch the strongest fleet in the Space Force--and the Buster Machine # 7! "

The Review!
Kicking things up several notches to a truly epic level, Gunbuster 2 races towards its conclusion and firmly ties itself to the past.

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.

Using the cover artwork from the sixth volume of the Japanese release, we get the pairing of Lal'C and Nono together in their piloting outfits while a close-up of Dix-Neuf is in the background. Because of him though the cover is pretty dark and almost a bit murky. I wonder if this would have worked better with just a shot of the Earth behind them taking up the bulk of the space, giving it more impact. 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. The final booklet covers a lot of material starting with more character designs and mechanical designs as well as numerous interviews with the creative staff. These are really good albeit brief Q&A sessions that talk about the project in total.

The menu design is almost painfully simple as it provides the only instance of the fifth 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.

The last volume only has one extra on it which is a trailer for the theatrical movie.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the series, Gunbuster 2 has me fairly conflicted in how I feel about it. Standing on its own, I think it's done a rather good job when it's look at in total. Certain aspects of it could have been tightened up for those of us that don't live and die by the show, such as providing a timeline somewhere, even in a booklet. With the end of the show they tie it into the first series much more strongly than in previous episodes which helps to clear up a lot of things. And those last few minutes evoke quite a lot of emotion.

After the revelation of what Nono really is in the previous episode, the scope of the series has changed considerably. The Topless now find themselves in a position where they're considered a threat and that's why the space monsters have been attacking again but that's all fallen to the side now that the Fluctuating Gravity Well is now the real monster. Termed the Exilio, it's arrival has managed to put both humanity and the space monsters on the same side due to the threat it poses to the universe at large. Yet even as epic as things begin to get after the Titan Incident, the focus is still kept to the characters as we watch Nicola go through expiration and Lal'C thinking about retiring early and undergoing treatment.

A good deal of these two episodes follows much of the same thematic feeling as the original series did at this point. The scope of the story has grown considerably, and in true Gainax fashion, they throw a ton of rank and location subtitles across the screen as we visit numerous areas and individuals. The threat of Exelio has them working with Nono in order to visit the Red Milky Way section in order to take it down along with the space monsters. The revelation that the monsters have been working to seal it in and the general scale of what's going on is fascinating. Very few shows over the last twenty or thirty years achieve this kind of scale in anime. It's often left to science fiction novels to go this route and let the imagination do it. To see it like this however is to truly excite because it is so rare.

As with any epic battle that's about determining the future of humanity, it doesn't end quickly or without a lot of pressure. The attacks aren't quite as successful as hoped and Nono, in her Diebuster mode, provides for some strange moments that aren't all that clear. In a lot of ways, because of how profound all of this is for the characters, it's hard to imagine anyone not breaking down at the sight of Exilio breaking free of the confines. The beauty of the starscape is staggering as is the mission that the fleet is pursuing. Yet even in the midst of all of this we see Lal'C having to confront her own issues over Nono and the way that the two of them have been pushed apart.

When everything comes together for the show it does it in a spectacular fashion. My love of the first series is higher than most other shows so seeing how they finally tied things together and offered another perspective on certain events it helps to add to it. Thankfully what was done here doesn't detract from it, even if they do go so completely over the top with their final plan for salvation. Yet even there it fits in with the way this series and its predecessor have worked so that it doesn't feel terribly out of place. While the final moments of Gunbuster 2 don't quite evoke the same feelings as the original, they start to come closer than a lot of other shows have over the years. My initial fears when I first saw the designs for this years ago was that the maids have invaded something sacred. In the end, Tsurumaki has earned a lot of credit for what he's done here.

In Summary:
Gunbuster 2 is a series that's going to be hard to please everyone with, particularly fans of the original. A good part of this series however reminded me heavily of the Gainax that was, not the Gainax that is now. Stylistically and in terms of how their plots operated, this has a lot more in tune with older shows like Evangelion, Honneamise and obviously the original Gunbuster. Much more so than their more recent efforts which have left me feeling like they'd lost their way and had fallen out of touch. Gunbuster 2 evokes a good deal of what appealed to me as an anime fan almost twenty years ago and has reminded me that many of those same things are still highly appealing. It's not as good as the original series but it's definitely an excellent complement to it.

Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Theatrical Trailer

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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