Gunbuster -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: F-
  • Extras Rating: F-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Other
  • Running time: 165
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunbuster



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

The Review!
The Press Release says it all � and for once, it�s completely true! Gunbuster was the first work of Hideaki Anno (of Evangelion and Kare Kano fame), and was released by Gainax in 1988 as a 6-part OVA.

Hailed as a classic by fans and critics alike, Gunbuster is one of the best giant robot series ever made. While conforming strongly to the traditions and formulae of giant robot series since time immemorial, Gunbuster transcends its archetypes by virtue of its clever script and occasional tongue-in-cheek attitude, becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

Being such a venerated classic, it was with no small trepidation that I saw this disc released by Kiseki. Kiseki, is of course, a hissing and a byword among anime fans, and are infamous for their low-quality productions of classic titles. Did Kiseki shake off their sordid reputation and redeem themselves with this release? Sadly, no.


Let�s get the bad stuff out of the way at the start. Firstly, this disc is HARD-SUBBED. Secondly, it appears as if it has been mastered from TAPE. Thirdly, (as if that weren�t enough), it has been EDITED.

To rub salt in the wound, the subbing is of generally poor quality. Translations are not always appropriate, and a great deal of inconsistency is present. Most noticeable is the lack of translation of the term �Oneesama� (Big Sister) that Noriko uses to address her idol and senior Kazumi throughout the first 3 episodes. What is most jarring is the sudden use of this term throughout the last 3 episodes, a move which makes no sense, and in which is in fact worse than not using the term at all.

On to the second bad point, the video transfer is decidedly below par. Judder, rainbows and soft scenes plague the entire disc. In one scene, I even saw a quite obvious tracking artifact run across the screen, telling me that this disc was mastered off a tape.

Lastly, the tape has been badly edited. The most obvious case of this is in the bath scene in Episode 2. In the original, we have a view of Noriko, Kazumi, and Jung in the bath as Jung invites the two girls to her birthday party. There is some full-frontal nudity in this scene. This scene was edited out, but the dialogue was left intact. To make up for the lost footage, Kiseki edited in a segment from a later view of the RX robotic suits floating in space outside the bathroom. To make the sequence last as long as the dialogue, they decided to play it back at 5 frames a second, making it VERY obvious that this was most decidedly a hack-job. Even more mind-bogglingly, there are ample (if you�ll excuse the pun) displays of nudity immediately preceding and following this scene that are untouched, making the decision all the more questionable.

In addition, Kiseki shows an absolute lack of care and respect for the source material by presenting the Omake (bonus) sections haphazardly around the series (The Omake were originally aired at the end of each episode).


The only available audio track was the original Japanese track, remastered in DD stereo. No issues were encountered in this department, as dialogue was clear at all times and the amazing score emerged unscathed.


The back of the packaging advertises Extra Photos, Exclusive Reviews and Biographies. It is all a load of hogwash. The �Extra Photo� section consists of 3 low-res pics, two of which we have already seen in the packaging and none of which are significant representations of the series. The �review� and �biography� section is basically a set of episode synopses and cast credits buried in a long spiel about why the author likes Gunbuster very much. This is a disgusting example of false advertising, and Kiseki should be widely censured for it.


In my opinion, Gunbuster is one of the best giant robot shows ever made. Set in the near future, the humanity has expanded to the stars, but is now threatened by a hostile alien race of giant space-faring insects reminiscent of the aliens in Heinlein�s Starship Troopers (the book).

Noriko Takaya is the daughter of Admiral Takaya, the first man to encounter the alien species. Following the death of her father, she vows to become a mecha pilot and fight the aliens. Her idol at the Academy is her senior and star pupil Kazumi Amano, who is the object of admiration for the entire school. However, things in Noriko�s life take an epic turn when the school coach starts looking for two students to pilot the latest weapon of Mankind, the Gunbuster�.

Gunbuster is a series of epic scope while at the same time exploring the very personal aspects of Noriko�s life and her relationships with the people around her, especially her �Big Sister�, Kazumi. The series itself displays this characteristic dichotomy between the grand and the miniscule, from the storyline to the art. The story is very engaging and at time heart-rending. Due to constant traveling at near-relativistic speeds, time passes more slowly for Noriko and her crew than it does on Earth. The series explores the hardships that Noriko endures as a result of seeing her friends back on Earth age and die before her eyes.

Meanwhile, the story arc of the alien threat is handled in a manner that is truly epic, with the fate of humanity and the galaxy itself called into question. The characters in the series question the costs of their survival and whether humanity has the right to inflict this course on the Universe. The matter of how humans are only able to deal with epic events in the scope of their limited existence is one that is handled here very intelligently by Anno, and something that he will go on to explore in Evangelion.

From an artistic point of view, there is a lot to like about Gunbuster. Being an OVA, the animation quality is very high, but what propels the series into memorability is Anno�s characteristic consideration of how mood is conveyed by colour and sound. While not as exaggerated as in Kare Kano, entire scenes are shot in colour cast or made up of sketches. The last episode itself is done entirely in black and white, a decision that may not appeal to everyone, but I must say it was certainly well done.

Part of Gunbuster�s appeal also lies in its sometimes irreverent treatment of anime conventions. Over-the-top transformation sequences, gratuituous fan-service and of course the ever-present �Gainax bounce� pepper the series. However, they strike such a fine balance that it never draws the series into the realm of parody. Also, the series pays much homage to science fiction in popular culture, from space stations drawn directly from Arthur C Clarke�s 2001 to a spaceliner that is a near-replica of the Fireflash seen in the very first episode of Thunderbirds to other anime themselves (there is a poster featuring an upside-down Space Cruiser Yamato, for instance).

Crafted by a team of very talented people, yet even greater than the sum of its parts, Gunbuster is required viewing for any fan of anime. Aim for the top! Unfortunately, this disc looks like it was aimed squarely at the rubbish bin.

Author�s Note:
Manga Entertainment holds the rights to Gunbuster in the US, and there is apparently a dvd in the works. Hopefully, it will be better than past Manga releases and especially this dud of a disc.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles (HARD-SUBBED),Advertised "Extras" - please see review for details

Review Equipment
Kenwood DVF-3030 Multi-Region Player, Grundig Xentia 16:9 82cm Flatscreen TV, Sony HTK-215 DTS & DD 5.1 sound setup


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