Gunbuster 2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £24.99
  • Running time: 156
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster

Gunbuster 2

    June 19, 2008
Release Date: April 07, 2008


Gunbuster 2
© Beez


What They Say
Many years have passed since the end of the first GUNBUSTER and the aliens defeated. After the defeat, certain humans were born with psychic powers, called the Topless. Only these special people can control the new mecha, the GUNBUSTERS, created the Fraternity group. Nono is just a young girl who dreams of being Topless. It's up to her to confront an extra terrestial monster who puts the world in danger. She is accompanied by Lal'C, the Topless pilot of a Buster Machine. When thrown into battle, Nono begins to discover some amazing abilities of her own...


The Review!
The UK gets the Bandai Visual USA treatment, with super animation, sound and show, but a few minor niggles stop it from getting the A grade it should deserve...

Audio:
As there was only a Japanese track available, it was the only choice I could make listening to the show. With the Japanese track available in Dolby Digital audio format, the sound echoing throughout the 6 episodes was drool worthy. Booming soundtrack, clear voices, backgrounds and effects that it should get an A...if not for some transition issues on the last episode where subtitles were not included for the FINAL SCENE. I hope this was just because this was a test disc and the released copies didn't get this - also as a dub fan, the fact there wasn't one was a little annoying for me as well - otherwise I cannot fault the transition of sound to Gunbuster 2.

Video:
Gunbuster 2 like most of the Bandai USA releases going through via Beez has been treated wonderfully - beautiful visuals grab at you in the style of Gainax - with me reviewing FLCL recently the comparisons were obvious - however combined with the stylish backgrounds and clear transition to DVD within high octane Topless battles makes Gunbuster 2 a visual masterpiece - the combination of dark and light with vibrant colours and the unique colour styles of each of the main characters and their robots makes it a joy to watch. The only niggling thing is that many of the on screen Japanese subtitles do not have English counterparts - this was annoying during one of the episodes where all the Topless show up yet we don't know their names. A little bit annoying but otherwise great.

Packaging:
The cover is a space background, with most of the main character showing but the figures of Nono and Lal'c Taking most of the stage with Nicola, Tycho and Casio mainly in the background with Dix-Neuf. Despite the black and red background, the vibrant Nono is a colourful sight in her traditional orange suit with Lal'c staring in the background. The colours of each of the characters are showing vibrantly which stands out as the main packaging. On the back, you have a slip with the summary of the shows, the names of the 6 episodes with pictures of Nono in Buster Machine mode, Lal'c, Tycho and some small pictures on the back. Removing the slip however gives you a stunning picture of Nono in Buster Machine mode amidst a fiery background as rocks, shops and flames explode whilst Nono looks stern with her arms crossed. The inside sadly isn't as stunning as it's basically a simple space background with elements of green and black on the left side and a starry background on the right.

Menu:
The menus on both discs are the same as they reveal scenes from the show on the background and the various characters revolving around the menu selection screen on the right side. There is no play all selection however until you get to scene selection whilst from there you can also pick the subtitles as only Japanese language you have the option of English or French subtitles. Whilst the navigation is easy, it's rather simple and the confusion initially of no play all option before doing a little exploring knocked it down a few points.

Extras:
On both discs, the same opening and ending textless are on there as are trailers for My Hime, Stratos 4, IGPX and Eureka Seven. The unique extras are the Japanese interviews of the voice of Nono (Yukari Fukui), the director (Kazuya Tsurumaki - both on disc 1) and the script writer Yoji Enokido (2nd disc). The first interview is unique as it switches in between a non-serious interview with Fukui and a 'battle machine' as it asks her questions about the Gunbuster universe as well as simple random stuff. The interviews with Tsurumaki and Enokido are more in depth to the series - Enokido's is more relaxed though whilst Tsurumaki's is a more serious setting - clips from the original Gunbuster are mixed in with the interviews for fans of the original as there is in depth conversation discussing the differences between them and how ideas had to be created for Gunbuster 2 to be sure it came off well considering the original and how to make a true sequel. There's a lot of interesting material for Gunbuster fans in the interviews, though again the lack of English subtitles towards many of the on-screen descriptions was very frustrating.

Content:
Having seen the original Gunbuster despite not being a huge mecha fan, there was a lot of talk about how well the sequel would go as a lot of people considering Gunbuster not needing a sequel, almost sacred as how good it was. However, a sequel was made which is both incredibly different from the original but still retains elements that made the original so well known and loved. There will be different opinions for this 6 episode OVA from fans and alike, but personally I found it a joy to watch.

Gunbuster 2, also known as Diebuster or Aim For The Top 2, starts off with a ditzy girl, introduced to us as Nono on a video perfect snow background who has run away from home as she is chasing a dream of becoming a space pilot. Nono is immediately introduced as being a bit of a space head, but also with an attractive look on life and eternal optimism. Unfortunately, she doesn't get the luck either and seems to have some bad luck as she works in a bar, and most of her salary seems to go out to all the plates she somehow uniquely splits. When some regular space pilots enter and seem to enjoy being a bit perverted with Nono, a dark skinned female stops them with some...unique force. Nono is in shock and in awe as she is introduced as a Topless, a real special pilot compared to the has-beens at the bar. Nono immediately christens her as her 'onee-sama' which confuses the female incredibly - the hints from the first Gunbuster however already show with Nono's reference to a 'Nono-Riri' and then when a space monster shows up the female known as Lal'C and Nono somehow team up as Nono shows incredible strength and also the obligatory English speaking attacks as the two join up to defeat the monster. It's soon found out Nono isn't quite human as Lal'C, who seemed so serious, wonders what she has got herself in for.

With it being a 6 episode OVA, the episodes need to get through quickly to showcase what this sequel is about. Straight on, we are introduced to the main Topless - first Casio, a technican and guardian of the Topless...with a perverted nature. Then there is Nicola, who is actually male and the only male member of the main team, but concerned that due to his age, his expiry date of being a Topless is almost over. Lastly, Tycho - a young girl who has a one-side rivalry with Lal'C over the top hit kill score of Topless and originally sees Nono as an annoying rival. The key though is the relationship between Lal'C and Nono. In the 2nd episode, she specifically says not to call her onee-sama and that she isn't part of the Topless group despite the displays of power and ability she showed in the 1st episode. Lal'C has a big reputation but because of her nature many hirer-ups seem to disregard her advice, this is critical when more space monsters defeat a military team in the 2nd episodes despite Lal'C's warnings that only the Topless can defeat the space monsters - a combination though of Nono accidentally stuck inside Lal'C Machine Diz-Neuf and Lal'C conscience listening to Nono to help the people rather than Nicola's advice of saying to focus on the monster directly shows what is yet to come between these two girls.

Whilst only a few episodes, they each all lead to something - I mentioned the similarity in looks to FLCL - the structure of the 6 episodes are similar in how it focuses on one of the characters mainly in the first few episodes before the plot really begins to start in the last 3. Tycho gets her moment to shine in the third episode as the different philosophies of being a Topless between Nono and Tycho cause Tycho to remember the past and why she hates the fact she can't save everyone, yet Nono is able to bring her round and Tycho is able to pilot the new machine (Quatre-Vingt-Dix), the only real problem with a series this short is of course that most of the characters get sent mostly to the background in favour of Lal'C and Nono so whilst Tycho's moments are strong, as it's only one episode she's focused on, it loses it's appeal later on in the series. And the big plot twist of Nono actually being a Buster Machine HERSELF in episode 4 as well as Lal'C acknowledging Nono as her first real friend both strengthens and strains their relationship as a true space monster kills many of the pilots and Topless - they begin to overshadow everyone else. The final two episodes symbolise this, when Nicola, depressed over his 'retirement' attempts to assault Nono to gain her abilities much to Lal'C horror, and a lot of storytelling and flashbacks in the minds of Lal'C visiting Nono's home, the significance of the original Gunbuster in Nono's mind and the plan to stop this ultimate space monster by using Nono as a sacrifice - when Lal'C tries to join her, Nono rejects it - seemingly abandoning her best friend and the Topless, but in the gripping finale, re-emerging as Diebuster, the verbal reunion between the two, the emergence of the true form of Dix-Neuf and the sad finale between the two girls (not to mention the epilogue 10 years later with Lal'C and the references to the original Gunbuster) showcases that the series was definitely more on the focus of their relationship as it was about the excellent battles that were going on.

Gunbuster 2 maybe suffers in the eyes of many as trying to be too different from the original Gunbuster. A lot of parody and references to other series (the final Lal'C/Nono scene screams Evangelion) are included and it's definitely on the fan servicey side as well when it didn't need to be. Little niggles for me were that much of the Japanese on-screen text were not translated to English whilst watching it with Japanese subtitles selected, as well as no English dub, plus you have to pay a bit more than normal to watch what is essentially a sub-only release. However, niggles aside, the wonderful animation and music creates a fantastic atmosphere which draws you in - the characters themselves sadly fall due to the shortness of the series...except for Nono and Lal'C - and their interaction is what makes this series a real gem. It's definitely one part hot blooded action scenes and one part exploration of friendship, so whilst most of the cast do get shafted, the main two keep it going and make this OVA extremely watchable.

In summary:
For fans of the original, it can be hit or miss - however for someone going in blind it's a very enjoyable show that doesn't require the original to be seen (aside from the Nono-miri references) - with a top quality realise animation and audio wise, combined with the one-two combo of Nono and L'Arl making it one of the better character driven OVAs I've seen, it's a real treat to watch. The lack of dub, the higher price and niggling issues with the subtitles along with that most of the cast were relegated to minor appearances causes this show to not be a top level release for me, but it's still very much worth giving it a try. As Nono would say, with guts and effort - you should make an effort to watching this. Recommended.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Interviews with Yukari Fukai (voice of Nono); Kazuya Tsurumaki (director) and Yoji Enokido (Script Writer),Textless Opening and Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV - Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers - Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM

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