Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Superior Defender Gundam Force

Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #03

By Chris Beveridge     May 31, 2004
Release Date: April 27, 2004


Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #03
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Meet the Gundam Force, a team assembled to defend Neotopia from the evil Dark Axis! The Gundam Force has received a new instructor in the form of Gunbike, a gruff, tough guy who is going to whip the team into shape! And if that wasn't enough, Zero must contend with the fact that his homeland has fallen to the Dark Axis.

Bakunetsumaru, meanwhile, wants to return to his home, which is also under attack by the Dark Axis. But there is still evil to fight in Neotopia, and the Gundam Force must be ever vigilant if they are to succeed!

The Review!
The Dark Axis continue their attacks on Neotopia, attacks that remind one of the warriors of the fate of his own land.

Audio:
With this being an English designed production, the only language here is English in a solid sounding stereo mix. There isn?t a ton of directionality across the forward soundstage, but there are a number of notable areas throughout the show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, SD Gundam comes across rather well on our setup. The transfer here is a very good looking one with a very smooth feel with the vibrant cel shaded animation. The colors throughout here are vibrant and fully saturated without much in the way of noticeable cross coloration. There's some aliasing visible during various panning sequences, but it isn't too distracting in general. Regular anime shows would probably not work well in this format, but a show like this really takes advantage of the tools provided to it and churns out a great looking piece of work.

Packaging:
Taking center stage on this cover is Bakunetsumaru with his horse, both of them in an action mode. He?s set against a backdrop of flames and the symbol on his chestplate. The back cover is much lighter with a look at Neotopia in the background with a number of shots from the show scattered about. The shows premise and episode summaries are listed here alongside the episode numbers and titles. The usual array of production and technical information is easy to read and laid out as expected. The insert is basically another shot of the front cover and it opens up to a two page spread of Bakunetsumaru as well as a smaller picture of the Dom and all his armaments.

Menu:
The main menu is a simple static piece with the image of Bakunetsumaru from the cover set against a cityscape backdrop alongside the episode selections. With nothing here beyond the show, this is one of those very simple menus that works effectively but has no bells or whistles attached to it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout quick to use.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the main crew of the Superior Defender cast all set and in place, the show settles into a series of standalone tales that slowly give each of the warriors a chance to shine on their own as well as showcasing a bit of their background. The first one to get some real notice is the lead character of course in Captain Gundam.

While working with Shute, he reveals that his instructor is on his way to come visit and provide some extra training for the group as he's been assigned to help out in general. Shute's all excited about the new teammate and gets to make a number of really bad jokes about it. But young Shute gets put in his place pretty easily when the Instructor shows up and is in the form of a Gundam styled motorcycle named Gunbike. The bike is pretty advanced and looks really slick, filled with lots of missiles. Amusingly, Gunbike is given the gruff old sergeant voice and immediately puts just about everyone into their place. The best part was him riding roughshod over Shute about how wimpy he responds. It's like a cel shaded version of Full Metal Jacket without the swearing.

So naturally there's an incident since Gunbike has shown up and we get a few Dark Axis members that have slipped over to this dimension. They're hijacking a train and intend to slam it through a dimensional gate and into power plant and cause all sorts of mayhem. So the team heads off to handle the impending danger, but since it's still in the early stages of their formation, their teamwork leaves a lot to be desired. Gunbike rides them hard as well as the situation gets more and more dire. There's a lot of amusing pieces in this episode, especially with the Gundam's shooting at each other while the train races along, or the back and forth scenes with the Zako's and the tunnels. Gunbike himself doesn't impress too much but he fits the stereotype that they wanted to bring in.

What was surprisingly enjoyable is the episode that focuses around Zero. The episode opens with some more information about his past and what was going on in his world as the princess there was being turned to stone and he was being sent to another dimension to try and find a way to get some help for them. His anger and pain at being unable to do anything is the focal point for it and it's something that's lead to him being fairly grumpy while hanging around with the rest of the team. So he manages to get some away time and hangs out with Shute in a building where his friend Sayla is making a cake. The building is huge because the Gundam robots in there are cooking/building a massive replica of it there for the Mayor's birthday celebration.

In a strange turn of events, Destroyer Dom has showed some sense by deciding to make a move on Neotopia by himself since the Gundam team almost always has dealt with a large invasion group. Unfortunately for poor Dom, the two Zako's that were supposed to have his weapons in place didn't finish cleaning in time so he's ended up over in this dimension without any weapons. But the two Zako's are resourceful and find their way into the building where the cake is being built and start converting the larger pieces, such as candles and strawberries, into weapons. This sounds corny as all get out, but there's just this great image of Dom with four rocket propelled brightly colored candles on his backpack ready for launch with him holding a lance-like strawberry projectile. The pitched battle brings back memories of Lacroya and its demise for Zero as he helps Shute try to save Sayla from being turned to stone as well.

In Summary:
SD Gundam continues to be among the last of the shows that I watch in my pile of unwatched anime DVDs, but I will admit there's just something addictive and amusing about it once it's on. The Zako's are a real treat and these episodes featured less and less of Shute than the first batch, so things are balancing out. This is definitely nothing more than a simple kids show, but it's entertaining my kids pretty well.

Features
English Language

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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