Gungrave Vol. #6 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gungrave

Gungrave Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     April 28, 2005
Release Date: May 17, 2005

Gungrave Vol. #6
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Grave's unstoppable assault shakes the Millennion organization to it's corrupt core and Harry's iron grip on the mafia organization begins to slip as its executives begin to plot and scheme. However, the orgmen execute those who fail to conceal their activities which prevents an open rebellion and Grave has a critical weakness - Mika. Lee sets out to exploit that weakness by kidnapping Mika from Grave's allies while Bear chooses to protect his own daughter at any cost…

The Review!
With the penultimate volume of the series, old loyalties bring about some of the biggest fights yet as the various agendas keep everyone on track.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Our listening experience was greatly enhanced as all the language tracks available here are in 5.1 format. Even better for me, there's the inclusion of a Japanese DTS 5.1 track which doesn't seem to have gotten any sort of release in Japan and is a real rarity when it comes to a TV series. While there doesn't seem to be too much difference between the DD and DTS tracks, the 5.1 mix in general is pretty solid. This isn't the most enveloping 5.1 mix out there but the growing number of them is a plus and hopefully as it becomes more the norm we'll see more actively mixed releases from the start.

Originally airing in 2003, Gungrave is presented here in its original widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show itself is a dark and murky piece and that is beautifully presented here. With a heavy accent on shadows and the dark nature of it, there's no visible breakup or issues with solidity levels. It just looks fantastic, especially when they start doing the various flashbacks and we get the style used for it with the grain. When we do get the few moments of vibrancy with the colors, they're sharp and spot on. The opening episode is probably one of the more fluid areas of this particular volume since it's the hook episode and it does stand out quite well. All told, this is a very enjoyable transfer and a beautiful presentation that helps the mood.

Using the artwork from the Japanese release, the darker nature of the episodes is reflected well here with a shot of Bear in full color in the center as he wears his kimono and wields a sword while Brandon and Bunji facing opposite of each other. This is done up in a nice silver foil that really continues to accentuate the mood of the piece. These covers would make gorgeous posters. The back cover provides a couple of small strips of shots from the show with the episode numbers and titles listed between them while above there are two brief summary paragraphs that give away a little that isn't actually stated in the show yet. The discs features and clearly listed and we get the usual array of production and technical information. The insert is a simple piece with the shows logo on the front. It opens up two a two-panel spread that has the front cover artwork a little bit brighter and clearer while the back side has just the episode numbers and titles.

Another striking and immersive design from Nightjar sets the mood for this show with various clips playing obscured through the center of the menu while it's surrounded by the kind of dark and near-realistic artwork that Nightjar is consistent with in their menu design, such as chains and scratches and the like. All of this is set to some of the instrumental music from the show in 5.1 with a decent length loop time to it. Access times are nice and fast and moving back and forth to the submenus is quick. On the downside, our player presets were not kept when playing the show.

The extras included are pretty much par for the course and likely all we'll see for most of the volumes of this series with a few pages worth of conceptual artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the cast of characters continues to whittle down as Grave makes good on his promises to defend Mika from those that are hunting her, Harry and those close to him also seek revenge for the deaths of their comrades. The vicious circle simply continues as the blood flows and everyone follows their own code of honor in order to be true to themselves.

We don't actually get a whole heck of a lot of plot with this volume and the drop down to three episodes. While Dr. Tokioka goes off to find some materials from old connections so that he can understand and build something that will help defeat the Superiors, he leaves Brandon and Mika with a couple of Brandon's old friends. It's been fifteen years but we still get to see how Gary and the old Boss have made out. They'd apparently cut their ties or were forced out some time ago as the races had themselves manipulated electronically and didn't need people on the ground anymore so they ended up staying together and living in the house where the Bosses mother had lived. They're more than happy to watch Mika to pay back for what they've gotten from Brandon though they're still quite shocked to see him alive.

Brandon though has more to do and has no intention of sitting idle. The orgmen continue to be nothing to deal with for him for the most part as he's got the right weapon for it and the skills as a sweeper to handle large numbers of them but it's the Superior's that start causing him problems. What's most surprising is that all of the top executives closest to Harry have had to undergo the process as a form of loyalty to him. Balladbird Lee is the most dangerous with it though and with him being apparently even more mentally unbalanced than before and filled with a thirst for vengeance against Brandon for killing Bob Poundmax, their eventual fight sequence in a darkened subway station is brutal and vicious but very well played out.

The important battle here, as evidenced by the cover, is the one with Bear Walken. Bear has kept with his loyalty to Millennion over the years and to Harry, though you can conceive of it being for his daughter since she fell to Harry's web. This goes back to an old dilemma that he and Brandon had to face years ago with the executive whose son had crossed the line and the father had to pay the price. Bear finds himself in a similar position but he has to keep it simple and personal so he ends up dissolving the Over Kills and making sure that no one goes after Brandon until he has his chance with him. The honor between these two brings us to what is initially a very tense and well laid out sequence, but with the way that Bear has to shift up to Superior mode to take on Brandon, the design and execution of his special abilities just looks really cheesy and was disappointing.

In Summary:
Gungrave continues to be a solid series but some of the things that have bothered me since shifting to the orgmen and the superiors continues to stand out here and does take away some of the enjoyment. I knew it was coming since it was obvious from the first episode but I just ended up so enjoying the mafia arc that it's hard to shift back to it. Just like before though, this series has no issue in eliminating characters as it goes through the final arc of its story to bring Brandon's tale as Grave to a close. This is still a lot of fun but it makes me want for a lot of the earlier episodes all the more.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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