Gunbuster - Top O Nerae! Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Bandai Visual
  • MSRP: �5800
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster

Gunbuster - Top O Nerae! Vol. #1


What They Say
It is the future, a future in which mankind has progressed to the point of a sustained presence in outer space. Earth is threatened by a swarm of gigantic stellar life-forms. To fight this threat, mankind brings forth an invincible robot weapon. Its name: "Gunbuster".
When her potential as a Buster pilot is spotted by Coach, Noriko undergoes strenuous training, overcoming a rival in an impassioned fight, to make it into space. And what she finds there will leave its mark on her forever...!

The Review!
Released by Gainax in 1988, this 6-part OVA series marks the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion). Inspired by Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", it is considered to be one of the finest anime series ever created.

"The fiery hot-blooded friendship hard SF space science courage guts hard work sexy invincible robot epic spectacle!!!!" - Gainax Network Systems

This enthusiastic recommendation accurately depicts the ambiance of the series: a heady mixture of romance, tragedy, parody, and fan-service. Pretty young girls, lightly-dipped in uniforms, piloting giant robots against invading alien hordes. An orphan who must overcome adversity and opposition, who is refined by the fires of suffering. A reluctant heroine who becomes a saviour of mankind.

All the hallmarks of quality that we have come to expect from Gainax are apparent. Character art enhanced by subtle body-language. Scenes finely crafted for aesthetic and dramatic impact. Characters with tangible personality that entice the viewer to emotional attachment. An epic score that evokes the proper sense of valour, solidarity and inevitable destiny.

Despite these strengths, the series has received some criticism for occasional lapses into melodrama and absurdity. It may be best to regard such moments as deliberate parody, rather than flaws, given the nature of the work. Even so, it could be said that the series entertains numerous in-jokes and tongue-in-cheek references to the point that originality has been compromised.

Video: B

This release is sourced from analog tape and has a number of problems that are commonly associated with analog formats. These include smearing of white objects across the screen, most apparent in credit sequences, and a slight shimmer, or interlace effect, on all outlines. As this is an OVA series, it seems unlikely that a higher quality source was available.

The picture is detailed and solid, although the black levels seem a little higher than normal (taking into account that the Japanese standard for NTSC is somewhat brighter). Many elements expected to be black are actually dark gray. Color saturation is natural, with no trace of bleeding. The picture is not as colorful as we have come to expect from more recent titles. Minimal chroma and luminance noise are apparent, especially in areas of solid blue.

On the whole, the quality is very good considering the source. There are no obvious compression artifacts during normal playback, with the exception of a couple of scenes. The inevitable Gibbs artifacts (curly shadows) are barely present in still-frame and cannot be seen when the picture is in motion.
However, these artifacts do become more prominent in busy scenes, and there are one or two places where severe picture breakup is apparent, most notably when the RX-7 Machine Weapons use their lightning staff weapons. Such incidents are rare and will probably not be noticed by the casual viewer.

The rating indicates that the source material is flawed, but the transfer is almost the best possible quality that the DVD format can be expected to provide. Overall, this disc gives the impression that serious effort was put into creating a reference quality release for the series. Even the extras are compressed with best-possible video quality, in contrast to some US releases.

Audio: B

The audio for this release is solid and clean, with satisfactory stereo imaging for some of the background music. The Dolby Digital symbol on the packaging is misleading, as the only soundtrack available is PCM stereo.

The rating indicates that the audio is as good as can be expected, given the source. It is pleasant to listen to, has no objectionable flaws, but lacks the presence and imagery of modern recordings.

Menu: B

The menu is unsophisticated by R1 standards, yet provides practical, straightforward access to all features. Each episode is divided into 5 chapters, including credits. When the disc is allowed to play from beginning to end, the playback order is somewhat unsatisfactory. Specifically, the science lessons are excluded and the episode previews appear at the end of Episode 2.

Packaging: B

This title is packaged in an Amaray keepcase that seems to be constructed from heavier and more rigid plastic than the US equivalent. The transparent cover is perfectly flat and flawless: No heat-wrinkles, squiggles, or bulges to spoil the cover art. There are no warps to compromise the locking mechanism and the disc clamps are unusually precise and responsive.

The cover slip has new artwork that appears to have been created specifically for this release. Some collectors may be disappointed that the style is not in keeping with the original.

Japanese Language (PCM Stereo),Promotional Trailers (2),Science Lessons (2),Episode Previews (2),Production Artwork Gallery

Review Equipment
29" Toshiba Dramatic-V, 28 System (multi-standard) television; Pioneer DV-626D; Playmaster Series III amplifier; Mission 725SE speakers with XLO-Pro cable; Monster Video-3 (S-video) and Interlink 400MKII (audio) cables.


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