Gungrave Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gungrave

Gungrave Vol. #2

By Paul Jacques     July 12, 2005
Release Date: June 13, 2005

Gungrave Vol. #2
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Harry's continuing thirst for power intensifies upon the arrival of Bob and Lee, the two newest members of Millennion. Brandon continues on as a sweeper for the organization until the mystery of Maria's whereabouts soon lead him to Big Daddy's villa.

5 years have passed, and the Millennion is stronger than ever. Harry's ambitions continue to seethe while Brandon continues as his loyal confidant. A grand garden party reveals conspiracies among Millennion's members while old friends, Bear Walken and Sid Geralde, face off to bring the murderer of one of their own to justice.

Episodes comprise:

5. Millennion
6. Big Daddy
7. 5 Years Later
8. Family

The Review!
Harry and Brandon are now in big league, and the big league requires big commitment.

I listened, cycling between Japanese 5.1\ 2.0 and English 5.1 audio as each episode changed. All tracks were excellent, although the DTS was very quiet (needed the volume turning up). All tracks provided clear sound with some light use of directional sound effects. Although it has to be said that the English track has the best gun sound effects. Although the English VA did a good job I’d recommend going with either of the Japanese tracks….. I think it’s just the way the Japanese VA’s manage to get more feeling into the words, especially Brandon’s VA, Seki Tomokazu. The narration from Seki Tomokazu for each episode’s prologue and epilogue is spell binding at times, you really feel the depression and bleakness of their lives.

Opening song is called Family and is a really good (sombre) track, very reminiscent of the lounge music you might find a modern Jazz combo playing. The closing song is called When The Sunset Turns Red and although it’s sung in Japanese (with a blue grass fiddle and Jazz funk guitar), you easily get the impression that it’s full of hope, with Brandon and Harry chasing their dreams in animation.

Quality of the transfer was top notch, with no artefacts or bleeding problems detected. The TV playback was perfect, and no problems detected on the PC this time round.

I still find some parts of the episodes a little light on the animation detail, and a tad ruff in places. There are plenty of visual elements and artistic touches to enjoy along the way. Sometimes the background are pure, other times they are grainy.

This is a promo only disc with no box.

The menus are plain with a static background image of Harry and Brandon. The menu links themselves were placed in the centre of the screen. All the links worked quickly and no dead-ends or slow responses encountered. Although I did find the Episode menu a tad confusing in the way it had been laid out, not too sure which link was for what episode.

We get a clean OP\ ED. A Production stills gallery of the characters form this first volume. The video game promo trailer, and that’s your lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Episode 5 picks exactly where episode 4 stopped, with a young Harry and Brandon outside the Millennion office, about to step into the office of the most powerful mob gang in town.

Randy (a Millennion Top Boss) puts our two protagonists into lowly positions, because everyone starts at the bottom and has to work their way up through achievement. As such the lads find themselves hustling bad debtors with menace.

Brandon is accepted once his fighting skills become apparent, but for the most part he is content with his lot. Meanwhile Harry is doing much better in his new surroundings, as his ambition drives him to start gathering “useful” people (Bob & Balladbird Lee), and so a new cadre of the young and ambitious begins to form.

Later, Brandon is sent on a mission to retrieve stolen goods, and while he is getting the jewels back he sees first hand what it means to cross the organisation. Then after organisational justice, Brandon sees the warmth and caring that exists within the people of the Millennion. Certainly Millennion is a family, and it’s a family that can hand out death or reward in equal measures, but the family is always watching each other’s back.

What Brandon does learn towards the end of this episode is that Harry is still watching out for him, even though the help may not be palatable, it is from the heart, from one friend to another.

The next episode Brandon continues to find some contentment in situations he doesn’t expect. He meets up with Maria again, and continues his cordial l relationship with her. Along the way he discovers some background to Maria’s past, as well as learning some history behind Millennion and it’s boss founding Big Daddy. And there is a connection. More importantly he begins to see that he not only has to protect his nearest and dearest, but also his new extended family as well. And to protect the one he loves he picks up the gun.

The episode closes on a failed assassination attempt, but in it’s execution the newly formed cadre of Harrys is given an unexpected chance to prove that they have potential for promotion.

Episode 7 finds Harry’s cadre 5 years down the line. And what a great 5 years it’s been for them. Harry has become a huge benefit to the organisation. Brandon has become Millennion’s No1. “sweeper” (a killer), under the tutelage of top executive Bear Walken. Both have risen to a level where others from outside the organisation see the possibility of making a profit from killing them both. And so Harry and Brandon go up against killer for hire, “Madness” Bunji, with a surprising outcome!

The final episode on the disc finds Brandon and Harry invited into Millennion’s inner circle, the circle that meets and reports to Big Daddy. This is the day that Harry has been waiting for, although for Brandon it has no other meaning than it makes Harry happy. Although joining the inner circle requires one cast iron commitment- never betray the family (aka Code of Iron).

At the garden party at Big Daddy’s mansion the lads meet Sid Geralde as well as Bear Walken’s daughter Sherry. We get to see a softer side to the Millennion family, a side of the family that really cares for each other. And you can feel the warmth oozing from every scene, that is until someone breaks the iron commitment! Then we feel the cold retribution.

In this last episode, disgrace has been brought upon the Millennion family and it’s left to Brandon to hand out, albeit very reluctantly, family justice to a family member. Bear Walken and Big Daddy remember the past, Harry looks to future, Brandon thinks only of the now, because the Iron Rule has no exceptions.

As episodes go this last one is particularly moving: You see love and retribution metered out in equal measures, and this really ensures you engage with the characters. And it (arguably) has the most moving execution scene ever animated (I’m thinking Jin Roh quality here).

In summary-
The first volume started very well, but this second volume shifts up into a higher emotional gear. The narrative is spellbinding, the characters engaging, the action is stylistically entertaining- what more do you need? I’ll tell you… volume 3.

Japanese Language DTS 5.1,English Language DD 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Subtitles,Production Art,Clean opening closing

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21” Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & headphones and a duck.


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