Gunsmith Cats - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 14 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 90+35
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gunsmith Cats

Gunsmith Cats

By Chris Beveridge     February 04, 2002
Release Date: March 27, 2001


Gunsmith Cats
© ADV Films


What They Say
THEY'RE HERE! Chicago's most lethal ladies have finally made it to DVD. Join the pistol-packing Rally Vincent and her partner, grenade-happy Minnie May Hopkins, as they infiltrate a gun running operation at the "suggestion" of the ATF. Burn up the highway in Rally's Shelby GT-500 as she chases down a psychopathic Russian assassin who's kidnapped Minnie. And then watch the bullets fly in a duel to the death with a cache of illegal weapons as the prize. The Windy City will be blown away when the Gunsmith Cats hit the street!

The Review!
One of my earlier anime experiences was with Riding Bean, a title by Kenichi Sonoda, whose work I had enjoyed in the original Bubblegum Crisis. One of the characters, a Rally Vincent, was eventually used in an almost throwaway manga, which eventually evolved into Gunsmith Cats.

Gunsmith Cats, as evidenced by our ratings above, is goooood. We like. Very much. And after buying VHS and laserdisc editions, the DVD version is the pinnacle of goodness for this show.

Did we mention it's good?

audio:
For our primary review, we listened to this show in its original language, Japanese. Though this show is indeed only stereo, the audio side of it was given a lot of attention. The musical side was done by Peter Erksine, and the mixing done at Fox studios. A great deal of attention went into getting the Shelby GT-500 sounds recorded in California as well as the punching sound of gunfire from various weapons. All are faithfully reproduced here and sound great. The gunfire in particular sounds very different from many other shows. Dialogue itself is generally through the center channel, and the music makes ample use of the left/right speakers.

Video:
In addition to good production values on the audio side, this three part OVA series from 1995-1996 has some good production values on the video side. The transfer used here is excellent, though it does bring out a few source material problems. Those problems are pretty much limited to bits of dirt and specks here and there, most noticeable during the first episode. After that, there's hardly anything to quibble about. The show is pretty faithful to the slightly run down look of the parts of Chicago they inhabit, so there's not a lot of flair or vibrancy in colors, sticking more with "real" tone coloring. Rainbows are non-existent and only a couple of minor instances of line noise. This was a really great looking presentation for the show and one I'm really psyched to finally have in my library.

Packaging:
I really like the style used for the cover, with the bold green/purple mixed with the black and white backgrounds and the character animation. The logo takes the unusual near-middle position but works really well with the design. The back cover follows the odd design as well, with angled text and the double point type in a few areas. The back cover is very nicely laid out. The insert provides another shot of the two main characters and the car, which is also featured as artwork on the disc itself. A fully fleshed out package.

Menus:
The menus follow the same art style approach as the covers yet keep things minimal with animation and music, which means snappy looking menus with great access times. Episode selection is right off of the main menu and as only ADV's DVD's continue to read my player preset preferences, no fiddling around with the remote.

Extras:
Folks are going to just love the extras included here. While the creditless opening will always go over well, it's the Making Of special, which runs nearly 40 minutes, that will make people grin. Seeing the creators tour Chicago's streets, police academy, shooting range and even an actual gunsmith store is a real treat and their own excitement in doing so shows through. Seeing Sonoda, who is still one of my favorite creators, talk through the origins of the 'cats and their evolution is quite enjoyable, as well as seeing everything else that went into the design of the show, especially in terms of the audio. Much like Club Escaflowne, this is one of those rare extras that U.S. fans usually don't get to see, but absolutely adore.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gunsmith Cats is the story of two lovely ladies. Much like other anime that focuses on lovely ladies, there's lots of explosions, guns and bombs around them. The story is set in "modern" Chicago, seemingly in the early 90's. Rally Vincent and "Minnie" May Hopkins run the Gunsmith Cats store where they work on weapons of all kinds. They also do bounty work to help their incomes out.

The show opens with Rally and May taking down a bounty on the run for drug charges. Though he provides little real challenge, his story is the opening to a larger picture. The bounty, John Washington, was actually dodging the baseless drug charges so he could move a huge stash of weapons.

This brings in your friend and mine, the ATF, or the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. They send in one of their agents to get Rally and May to help out when Washington escapes again. Well, they use their powers to threaten Rally and May into helping by dangling their licenses to run this particular kind of business. Suffice to say the money sensitive Rally doesn't take kindly to this and only grudgingly helps.

From here the story leads deeper into a series of politics, gun running and former Special Forces agent in the Russian military. That's not to say that those you'd normally expect in Chicago don't show up, and we do get a lot of run ins with the local police.

The show does focus mostly on the primary characters of Rally and May and their plucky friend Becky who helps out with cases. ATF agent Bill works "closely" with the group, though they can't do enough to get away from the trouble he causes, and the Russian assassin makes sure she gets a good amount of screentime in as well.

The show is pretty well paced and plotted, though there's a few moments that drag by a bit, but overall add a lot to the show in full. The three episodes, all that was ever produced, does bring the main story to conclusion so you're not left hanging. The animation is of good OVA level quality with some great fluid animation in areas and a consistent look of quality, especially to those who actually live in areas shown here will attest to.

Is it just me or does the opening sequence remind anyone else of the Cowboy Bebop opening?

Gunsmith Cats was just a sheer joy to watch. We've seen a wide variety of shows over the years and this has always been a favorite for working in a genre that often gets overlooked both in Japan and in US acquisition. The attention to detail that went into the show is high and it shows in the episodes. Gunsmith Cats provided us with 90 minutes of great escapism with style and action that should leave most people happy.

Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Making of Gunsmith Cats Special,Credit Free Opening,Original Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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