Mania Grade: C
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- 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. #06
By Chris Beveridge
November 20, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004
What They Say
The Dark Axis is in trouble. When they were defeated by the Gundam Force, their ship, the Komusai II, fell into the ocean. Rather than face an angry Commander, they decide to recover the lost. However, the Gundam Force wants the ship too and Chief Haro thinks it may help them discover a way to defeat the Dark Axis once and for all.
With the help of the new Gun Diver squad, the Gundam Force will have their hands full when Ashuramaru, an old rival from Bakunetsumaru's homeland, comes looking for a fight! Now, both Bakunetsumaru and the SDG base itself are in grave danger! What's going to happen!?The Review!
Continuing with the stand alone adventures, Super Defender Gundam goes for the merchandising angle.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:
One of the better looking covers of the series, this volume has the three lead hero Gundam's doing the standard team action shot from the center with the array of rainbow colors spread out behind them. Though they all continue to look just as cartoony as ever it's one of those standard shots that can make most shows look decent. The back cover loses its Neotopia look and now goes for a basic grid look with artwork of the Gundam's in varying forms as well as a few shots from the show. 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. Unlike previous volumes, no insert was included in this release and it really has no need for one anyway.Menu:
The main menu is a simple static piece with the image of the Captain set against a cloudscape 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:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Super Defender Gundam Force continues to take a bit of a break from its larger storyline in order to have a bit of quiet time with some stand alone episodes. The larger element of the Dark Axis continues to be touched upon though and each episode brings more of them to Neotopia and other places so that they can cause trouble. But that big picture idea takes a bit of a side seat so that some more personal issues can come to the fore.
The opening episode is the kind of one that you know was done purely for marketing and merchandising possibilities. The story's actually kind of decent in that the Dark Axis guys end up losing one of their ships into the ocean. So they don some underwater gear and head down below to try and salvage it and its secrets so that their emperor doesn't execute them all on the spot. It's amusing watching them under the water since they're just so darn playful, from the little Zaku's all the way to the team leaders this time. The ability to float freely and zip around is something that seems to appeal to them a lot and they take advantage of it.
Naturally, the SD Gundam Force wants the ship as well so they put together a team to try and handle it. Since it's underwater and some of them like Hero won't go down below to deal with it, the "mad" professor scientist brings in some of his latest creations, the Gundivers. The duo are equipped to handle the deep waters and can even transform into mini submarine style devices to help propel them along. They're pretty good and maneuverable underwater, so in conjunction with the Force and Shute tagging along in a regular submarine, the episode is a bit of fun with the underwater battles but it still screams it was done just to introduce yet another Gundam variant.
There is some good material on here though that plays out in the solid traditional storyline manner. The Dark Axis emperor has decided to take advantage of something that's come to him and introduces his minions to their newest ally, Ashuramaru. What's different is that he's not like the rest of them but rather a Gundam himself. He's originally from the same land as Bakunetsumaru and the two were foes in that place. Ashuramaru has taken his desire for vengeance far enough to join the Dark Axis now however and is using what they're giving him to try and eliminate his enemies.
Naturally, Ashuramaru is also being taken advantage of to some level as they have one of the other agents, Cobramaru, tagging along with him who will do the things that Ashuramaru finds goes against his sense of honor at some level. The other members of the Dark Axis aren't exactly happy with his presence, though they realize that they're generally incompetent when it comes to dealing with the Gundam folks even when they have more powerful weapons. So with some home that Ashuramaru will turn the tide, they go along with things. His presence is actually rather fun since his challenge to Bakunetsumaru is done rather well as the two of them fight on top of a railroad bridge over a deep canyon. It's done in a rather traditional manner that goes back to the old samurai style of fighting and some concepts of honor to it.In Summary:
Ashuramaru's presence in the show doesn't change the overall picture but it adds some fun new elements to it. Like Bakunetsumaru, he's honor driven and things actually mean something to him but he doesn't have that slightly whiny do-gooder edge that his enemy does. The downtime from the big picture plot has worked well for the most part, though the Gundiver episode was definitely a mixed bag of having some really low moments but some rather good moments as well. Super Defender Gundam Force continues to be a decent and comical kids show that has some fun with the Gundam universe and I'm sure continues to make some fans weep late at night. And I have to admit, part of me likes that.
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.