Gungrave Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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. #4

By Paul Jacques     November 08, 2005
Release Date: October 17, 2005

Gungrave Vol. #4
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Episodes comprise:

13. Betrayal
14. Die
15. Harry
16. Letter

The Review!
After a 2.5 months hiatus, the Gungrave series continues once again- and I’ve been missing it.

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. Though 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 static with a background image of Harry. 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 10 Production stills of the characters from this volume, plus trailers for Tsukihime and Trigun.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Episode 13 has Brandon and Harry looking for a possible traitor within the family over the arms deal that went wrong. Of course certain other parties (Randy) within the family view Harry as a possible traitor for siphoning off Millennion money. And so a deadly game of cat and mouse is fought behind the scenes as the two opposing parties scramble to find enough incriminating evidence to have the other killed.

In this episode we really begin to see how Brandon and Harry view their new lives; Harry is all about the power, the money and getting what he wants by ANY means; Brandon is focussed on preserving Big Daddy’s “one family” values, with no strings attached. It’s a split that has consequences for everyone around them as they climb the ladder of power to the top.

In the next episode we learn that Maria and Big Daddy are an item and Brandon seems to be OK with this fact! Harry calls him a “baka”, and rightly so.

As Big Daddy is looking to settle down and raise a family he decides to call a family meeting and appoint his successor. And the winner is… Alzac Tino- certainly not what Harry and Brandon were expecting!

After the big announcement Big daddy explains to Brandon that he’s sure that Harry will make the top spot one day, but that he has a nagging doubt about Harry’s true motives. Brandon assures Big Daddy that not even Harry is beyond his retribution if Harry becomes a traitor to the organisation. Harry, who is listening in, is shocked to hear his best friend make such a declaration….. isn’t Brandon supposed to be loyal to him, no matter what?

There is a pivotal scene towards the end where Harry informs Brandon that Alzac has been taken ill, and is not expected to live. It’s obvious to Brandon that Harry has made this happen; it’s obvious to Harry that Brandon isn’t comfortable with this treacherous act. Only this is Harry testing Brandon to see where his loyalty truly rests. Brandon responds by asking Harry to go with him to visit to graves of Kenny and the other members of their old gang- it’s a test from Brandon to see if any of the old Harry still exists.

Next on their reminisces is a visit to their old orphanage and a remembrance as to what it was that first brought them together. What makes this episode so good is to watch both of them desperately try to find assurance that other is still to be trusted, that the other is still their childhood friend who follows the dream.

In the end it’s the ride up elevator, to the top of Millennion, where the final decision is made and childhood dreams are ended. Brandon cannot let a traitor live, and Harry cannot forgive Brandon for choosing Big Daddy over him. Only one person survives to step out of the elevator, and that person has just killed his best friend.

Episode 15 has Brandon buried and Harry making his final move to take over Millenion. The only thing left in his way is Big Daddy who knows that Brandon isn’t the traitor Harry is making him out to be. But Big Daddy is not part of Millennion any more and there is the pressing matter of Maria’s baby to be considered.

Harry now seeks to consolidate his position, and so heads off to his secret lab to check on the necrolyze program. En route to the lab Harry stops off to help a kid, only in doing so all the resentment and guilt he has been suppressing over Brandon’s death comes to the surface.

Back in the Millennion’s secret lab, Dr Tokioka has perfected the necrolyze system and can now re-animate any dead body without the side-effects. Only something goes wrong (sabotage) and the entire facility is destroyed, but not before we discover that Brandon has become part of the necrolyze program.

The final episode on the disc finds Harry and the boys examining the wrecked lab. Only out of the rumble steps Laguna Glock an R&D guy of Dr Tokioka, with an interesting proposition for Millennion on how to improve necrolyze by using live subjects.

Big Daddy receives a posthumous letter from Brandon and goes to see the dormant Brandon tucked away in Dr Tokioka’s secret mobile laboratory. After seeing Brandon in his living death Big Daddy vows to let him sleep, but events over take him.

Maria discovers that Harry killed Brandon and goes to Millennion to find out why. Luckily Big Daddy intercepts her before she can do anything stupid. And in order to make her feel better he tells her that Brandon is alive and will come to her aid should she ever need it. Big Daddy then goes up to see Harry and bring him to book for his crimes…

In summary-
This volume is just a perfect example of how to do good characterisations. We get real motivations, which produces the before, during and after effects of any plot decisions. And this is what engages the emotions when you watch it; you know why Brandon can’t kill Harry; you know why Harry can kill Brandon. And you understand what each means to the other.

Although not as much action as previous volumes this disc nonetheless moves the story along in leaps and bounds, almost bringing us up to date with the first episode.

It just keeps getting better with every new volume release… I want more!

Japanese Language DTS 5.1,English Language DD 5.1,Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Subtitles,Production Art

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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