Gunbuster Vs. Diebuster Aim for the Top! The Gattai Movie (w/figures) -

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Visual USA, Inc.
  • MSRP: 99.99
  • Running time: 190
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster

Gunbuster Vs. Diebuster Aim for the Top! The Gattai Movie (w/figures)

By Mark Thomas     November 06, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2007

Gunbuster Vs. Diebuster Aim for the Top! The Gattai Movie (w/figures)
© Bandai Visual USA, Inc.

What They Say
GATTAI means "combine"—and just like the fighting mecha of the heroines, two milestones from GAINAX, Hideaki Anno's Gunbuster and Kazuya Tsurumaki's Diebuster have come form The GATTAI!! Movie!
Each OVA series has been re-edited into two theatrical features—but new elements include a revised 5.1ch audio track on Gunbuster, re-recorded by the original cast, and never-before released scenes for Diebuster! The 12,000 year saga of friendship, heroism, hard work and guts achieves final victory in Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie!

The Review!
Content: A-Audio: A-Video: A-
Packaging: A Menus: B Extras: B-

Hideaki Anno provides two excellent movies telling one complete story that unfortunately just scratch at the surface of being something truly special.

Gunbuster and Diebuster are offered in Japanese with subtitles only, but are both given in 2.0 and 5.1. For this viewing, I listened to the 5.1 track on each movie. With Gunbuster being the age that it is (1988), most of the audio stays centered. The dialogue is center track only, while the music and sound effects come through the outside channels. However, there is very little directionality present. Diebuster being a much newer (2003) show uses the technology better. The dialogue still stays on the center channel, but there is some really nice directionality present with the sound effects, especially during the battle scenes. Regardless, the sound is very crisp on both movies, with good balance among the various channels. There were no instances of dropout or bleeding. A very solid effort for both movies.

As with the audio, the difference in age for both movies really shows in the video. With Gunbuster, there were some minor issues with blurring and distortion, though I attribute this to the age of the originals rather than issues with transfer. These issues are mostly negligible, though, and may not even be noticed unless looking for them. Otherwise, this transfer came through pretty well. The colors are bright, and the quality of animation is high. The actual look of the design is where this movie shows its age the most, though that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The odd thing about watching Gunbuster is the shift in animation. For the first hour or so (the first two ‘episodes’), Gunbuster is in full color and presented in full-frame, 4:3 ratio. For the last half-hour, it switches to a black-and-white, 16:9 anamorphic presentation. It’s is jarring at first, though once gotten used to, the final part offers some of the most beautiful animation. Interestingly, this portion of the movie was actually colored in a grey-scale rather than given the full color treatment and filmed with a black-and-white camera. This provides a different feel than most other black-and-white animation, as the colors (or lack of them) are much richer and diverse.

However, it is with Diebuster that the video for this set excels, again mostly because of it only being a few years old. Diebuster is full color and 19:9 throughout, and the animation is glorious. The opening scene in particular sticks out in my mind as Nono is running away from home in the middle of a blizzard. The snow effects and feel of the scene suck you right in. The space scenes, in particular the battle scenes, are just as nice. Technically, there were no issues to note. Diebuster is just a beautifully designed and transferred movie.

The one drawback to this set is that the subtitles have been done in white, rather than the now standard yellow. For the most part this is not a problem; however there were times where I had to rewatch scenes because I had trouble reading some of the subtitles, especially when the characters were speaking quickly. It was not a constant problem, but it was enough of one to be an annoyance at times.

The packaging for this set is really nice. The box itself is nice and sturdy and has a pretty design. One side has two wonderful sketch drawings of Noriko and Nono, and the flip side has a series of twenty-five images from each movie. The discs themselves come in two standard amaray cases, each with character sketches on the front covers and more images on the back. There is also a removable sheet that covers one of the sides when the package is still sealed with a complete summary, plus technical data and images, from both shows.

Where the packaging goes above is in the various inserts that come with it. Inside each amaray case is a full-color booklet for that movie containing definitions for important terms, character bios and a chart explaining their relationships to one another, and descriptions and images of some of the vehicles and robots from that movie. These booklets contain some good information and are a great supplement for each movie.

Also in the box are two other extras. The first is a test booklet with questions pertaining to both movies—questions about both plot and the creators. The back of the test booklet lists a page on Bandai Visual’s site where the answers can be input. There is no information on what might be gained from this, and the page was not up yet as of this writing.

The other insert is a package of twelve full color cards that are comparisons of elements from the two movies. For example, the first card compares Noriko to Nono. The rest of the cards compare other characters and the various vehicles that show up throughout the movies. The backs of the cards can be lined up to form one large, black-and-white image of many of the people and robots from the two movies. This collection is another nice addition to the overall package. These cards, in conjunction with the booklets, add a decent amount of background information and make a handy reference to help in following the movies.

The menus for both movies have the same look and feel. There is an image of the main protagonist for each movie, with selections for play movie, scene selection, language set-up, character and voice actor bios, and staff bios. The selections and cursor stand out well, making the menu easy to follow. They have a nice simple design, though nothing special that makes them stand out.

Aside from the previously mentioned pack-in items, there is very little offered in terms of extras. Each disc has bios for a few of the main characters, as well as bios and brief work history for their voice actors. There are also bios for some of the main production staff, in particular directors, writers, and some animators. Nothing here that is all that great, but interesting enough for a quick read.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Upon their initial releases, both Gunbuster and Diebuster were originally presented in a series of six OVA’s each, and were later packaged as one feature length title. With Gunbuster vs. Diebuster: Aim for the Top! The Gattai!! Movie, we get both Gunbuster and Diebuster in one package, telling a complete story that spans twelve thousand years of human history.

In 2021, Earth finds itself embroiled in an intergalactic war with space monsters, a war Earth is slowly losing. Using advanced technology, the military creates giant robots capable of battling these monsters. At the forefront of this technology are the Buster Machines.

Gunbuster shows the first war and the formation of the original Buster Machines: Buster #1 and Buster #2. Two classmates, Noriko and Kazumi, are chosen to go to space and join the Top—a group of the best pilot’s chosen to head up the fight. Kazumi is chosen because she is the best of the best; Noriko’s selection is initially seen as odd because she is anything but the best of the best. The worst of the worst might be more apt. However, it is soon revealed that she is picked because she is the daughter of Admiral Takaya who was killed in battle, and she is seen as having the natural talent necessary to pilot the Busters.

Diebuster takes place twelve thousand years after the evens of Gunbuster. Nono is a young girl who runs away from her rural home to the big city to follow her dream of becoming a space pilot and joining an elite force known as the Topless. Her dream is given a boost when she happens to meet and befriend Lal’C, the best pilot the Topless have to offer, and is admitted as a trainee pilot. However, Nono does not have the innate ability Topless pilots are born with, and thus she is never properly accepted by the rest of the Topless fraternity. Yet, she is determined to succeed through hard work and guts because of the memory of her hero, Nono-Riri—a mysterious Buster Pilot nobody has ever heard of before.

The first thing that should be noted about these movies is the very hard, sci-fi nature of them. While the booklets that come with the DVDs help explain some concepts, this show can get confusing at times if certain physics/astronomy theories such as Relativity, Black Holes, and Singularity are not previously understood to a certain degree. A PhD in Astrophysics is not necessary for getting everything out of this show, but knowledge of it is since the show does not stop to explain any of the concepts used liberally throughout. While total understanding may not be necessary for enjoyment, it can be off putting at times.

In both movies, humanity is threatened by a vast, seemingly invincible horde of monsters, and the heroines have to risk everything they have lived for in order to protect the Earth. In fact, most of the scenes for each movie are either the setup or the follow through of some great battle. This leads to some nice, action packed mecha scenes throughout, especially in Diebuster where the modern techniques and technology allow for some truly special effects.

However, the meat of both movies comes with the background action of these battles. Unfortunately, this is where each movie stumbles a little bit as well. In Gunbuster, Noriko and Kazumi are forced to accept that their constant travelling at sub-light speed makes them age much slower than their contemporaries. Noriko returns to Earth from her first battle to find that her best friend, Kimiko, has now become an adult, married, and has a child, and yet Noriko feels as if she had only been gone a few weeks. This is an issue with each mission that they go on, especially the last one.

The problem with Gunbuster, though, is that it never looks very deeply at this issue. When Noriko is given a letter from a now middle-to-old age Kimiko, and she is still her seventeen year old self, she gives in to a moment of vulnerability, but just as quickly the issue is forgotten. It is apparent that the movie wants to explore the more human nature of the situations Noriko and Kazumi find themselves in, but it brushes past them and continues on without looking back. Perhaps that is part of the strength of the characters, but I found it puzzling.

With Diebuster, the big issue consists of Nono trying to figure out how she can fit in with the Topless. Early on, it is discovered that Nono is an android rather than a human, and therefore it is impossible for her to develop the powers necessary to be a Topless. This does not dampen her spirit in anyway, though. In fact, if anything, it makes her more determined to succeed than before, and it is not long before she discovers a hidden power of her own.

Diebuster does a better job of exploring the human side than Gunbuster does, especially when it is discovered that Nono’s abilities far outstrip those of the Topless, and they become essentially useless. However, the movie loses points with me during the final climactic battle. Nono and Lal’C once again join forces to take on the main space monster, but events lead to a conclusion to the battle that was a bit too far afield for my liking.

What Diebuster does really well, though, is tie the two series together without being overly obvious about it. For starters, the main conflict in Diebuster is borne from the end result of one of the battles in Gunbuster. While the result of that battle looks to be nothing but a net positive in Gunbuster, Diebuster does a good job of explaining why it was a good short term fix, but was ultimately a disaster in the long run. And perhaps I was being a bit blind, but the very final scene in Diebuster was a welcome surprise that really tied things up. Many times, a sequel can screw up the continuity set up by the original, especially a sequel written so far in the future, but this sequel brings everything to a close really well.

In Summary:
For the most part, this set has something for everybody. Good action, compelling story, and enough questions about the morality and emotions of the girls involved all add up to an excellent way to spend three hours. The constant barrage of physics concepts might be intimidating to some, and a certain level of understanding of those concepts is necessary to fully grasp the nature of the issues these characters face, but the series can still be enjoyed even if concepts seem completely foreign. I would have liked to have seen both movies, especially Gunbuster, deal more with the non-battle issues that the characters face, but that is probably more of a personal preference than anything else. That aside, what is here is a great story, and despite my issues with the final battle in Diebuster, the whole thing comes together in a really good way when all is said and done. Recommended.

Japanese 5.1 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,8-page Gunbuster booklet ,8-page Diebuster booklet,Gunbuster certification exam,Gunbuster design file with combination cards,Combine! Dieposter,Special Action Figure "Miracle GATTAI!! Noriko & Nono"

Review Equipment
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32” TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System


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