Gunparade March Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunparade March

Gunparade March Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 27, 2004
Release Date: June 29, 2004

Gunparade March Vol. #3
© Media Blasters

What They Say
The Genjyu step up their campaign of destruction as the dawn of the new millennium approaches. Tanabe is promoted to PBE supervisor, one of the most dangerous assignments in Unit 5121. If her tendencies to get caught up in bad situations don't cease soon, her tour of duty could be cut very short. Hayami and Mai find themselves in the spotlight when the news media takes an interest in Unit 5121's war against the alien menace. Things take an abrupt change when another HWT unit requests Mai as a replacement pilot. Hayami has until the clock strikes twelve to admit his feelings for her, or she'll be transferred out of his reach. In this war, it could mean forever.

The Review!
Gunparade March comes to its conclusion by deciding to be a character driven story instead of trying to balance the other two themes and plays out the end of the year tale of the 5121 group.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a good stereo mix with some solid moments of directionality across the forward soundstage during the combat sequences. There are a number of moments where you can feel some of the oomph coming from this track. Dialogue came across clean and clear as well with no noticeable dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the series has a very fresh looking transfer that takes the drab and dreary world that these characters inhabit and lets a lot of great details shine through. The bulk of the show feels somewhat dark and oppressive with lots of gray skies and burnt out ruins, so there are a lot of dull colors mixed throughout. These scenes look fantastic, which only makes the more normal world scenes stick out even more. When shifting between a battle scene and then one of a bright day of an ordinary Japan, the colors are strikingly vivid and strong. Cross coloration looks to be just about non-existent and aliasing was very minimal as well.

Giving way to the girls, this cover features the bulk of the female cast in their various uniforms together looking over some monitors. Much like the other covers, there's a lot of darkness to this that's made even murkier by the red light that's cast from the background as well as the overlaying of text and symbols in a light red. The back cover has a number of small shots from the show lined all over as well as a brief summary of the world premise and the cast we're going to follow. The discs features and extras are all clearly listed (though they omit the theme song) and the layout makes it all easy to fid. The insert continues the style of the front cover with the red layered material from the show and opens up to a three panel interview with voice actors Akira Ishida and Akemi Okamura.

The menu layout is very nicely done in-theme with some of the more rock-oriented music to go with it. Showing a large-scale map from a command center, the selections move across the area as targets with the cursor being the final aiming target. There are some brief transitional animations at the start-up but it wasn't too long or annoying. Access times are nice and fast and the menu looks great with it being as in-theme as it is. Unfortunately our player presets were not registered when the disc played and it defaulted to English. Even worse, it doesn't even default on the subtitle track for signs and songs for dub viewers.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the course of the twelve episodes for Gunparade March, we've hit a number of themes and had the standard mix of genres. We've got the military oriented show, we've got the school themed show and we've got the romance themed show. All of them have been blended together so that the story that's based around a video game can be told. At times, it's been awkward to tell what the real story is and which one should be the in the forefront, but it becomes clear when the last four episodes focus the bulk of its energy on the romance theme.

Before they get to the meat of the finale though, there's an interesting flashback tale of sorts that shows several of the characters and how they first made their way into the 5121 group mixed with how they are in present day. This allows for a recap of sorts of the cast (but not the story thankfully ? recap episodes in a 13 episode or less series should not be allowed and the directors beaten with a wet noodle) and some of their struggles in dealing with joining up. Of particular interest was just how unlucky Tanabe is when the train she's on ends up in an accident on the way to her first day at work there. The accident itself is enough of a problem but while on the phone to her boss telling her what happened, a gas leak explosion occurs and tosses her into the hospital for another two months. Thankfully she doesn't seem to have had quite as bad of luck in the time we've seen her in the series, but it really shows some of her character in a good light this way since she continues to try and try.

Once that's out of the way and you get a better feel for the supporting cast, everything shifts to the few weeks before the end of the year and the end of the millennium (hah, 2001. Gotta love that). The focus shifts towards the potential romantic feelings between Mai and Hayami and how everyone else around them knows what's going on but can't figure out why those two can't get it together. Mai and Hayami's scores in their tandem piloting training continues to go down and down, mostly due to their inability to work together while these issues are going on, and that only serves to make the situation even worse as it goes along. Add in the nosiness of their friends and co-workers and some of the gossip that gets started and it gets close to a boiling point.

As they move into the Christmas holiday and the end of the year itself, a plan is devised where they'll send the two out into the city to get goods and items for a Christmas party but instead work things so that they end up going on a date with each other without realizing it. It's a comical piece in a lot of places and it plays out much as you suspect for the bulk of it. But as it gets closer to the end of the episode, there are some very solid and great moments of honesty coming from Mai that almost seems to shame everyone who is listening in about what they were doing. It's a mix of aggravation about Hayami's own lack of confidence about the situation as well, but with the way Mai really speaks so tightly yet clearly about herself, it's easy to see why he shirks away.

There's a few other bits that get sprinkled through the last episodes with the relationships of other characters and Mai's own potential for being recruited into another division, but the real focus is heavily on her relationship with Hayami. His lack of experience and knowledge with women on just about any level comes into play often and the manipulations of others on the team only serve to aggravate things even more. But when you come right down to it, there's obviously only two ways that it'll go. Depending on how much you like the characters, if you were able to really identify with them over the course of the uneven episodes prior to this volume, then you'll like how this plays out. The two leads keep very much to character throughout this part of their relationship and it was good to see neither of them really going too far out of their norms.

In Summary:
After the way the two leads had their relationship change during the last volume when they were abandoned on the battlefield, I would have preferred a vastly different end to the series. Instead of the continued standoffishness of Mai and the inability of Hayami to articulate even a word to her, the time together should have given him the confidence since she revealed much to him and she should have felt easier in talking to him, unlike she was at the dinner where it seemed to be an effort to say much about herself. With the Genjyu and much of the military and school subplots being pushed to the side at the end here, it's almost felt like each volume of four episodes has been a different series. There are things I liked about it overall, but the ending felt like it just didn't use the tools given to the characters earlier in the show and kept resetting the relationship button instead.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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