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. #07
By Chris Beveridge
December 21, 2004
Release Date: December 14, 2004
Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #07
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
Arriving in a grand ship from across the sea of time and space comes Dai Shogun. Only he can referee the battle between Bakunetsumaru and the evil Ashuramaru, to ensure that the fight is an honorable one. Bakunetsumaru receives words of encouragement and is warned about the dangers that lie ahead.
Meanwhile, the Dark Axis forces from Lacroa have invaded Neotopia! Knight Tallgeese, accompanied by two deadly new warriors, has come to reclaim the Spirit Egg! But when Tallgeese traps the Gundam Force and begins his battle with Zero, Fenn reveals his true nature. But will it be enough to save everyone?The Review!
Before the Lacroa arc can start up again for the first season to finish with, the big fight must happen between two warriors seeking honor.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:
Not looking quite as cel shaded this time around, the cover here lets the Dark Axis types have their day in the sun again with a lot of heavy dark grays and blacks that accentuate their other colors nicely. It's a dark looking cover that fits well for the characters if they weren't actually so bad in action. 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)
Whenever watching this show, you really do have to place yourself in the right mindset for it. While I can understand why it draws the ire of Gundam fans that have been around for ages, it's something that just completely amuses my kids. And it's something that they can grow with as well. It's easy to watch this now but in a couple of years they'll be able to take in G-Gundam properly. And after that, move into Wing or the UC material. They'll have grown up with some form of Gundam in their early years that they'll come back to think about much later in their lives. That's one way to build a fan base.
While most of the show has definitely been pretty simple and well tailored for young kids, there are still plenty of things within the series that older fans can enjoy as well. This volume has some interesting episodes that are done very stylish. The opening episode goes to resolve the conflict between Ashuramaru and Bakunetsumaru as they meet once more on the railroad bridge over the canyon. The others of the SD Gundam Force are there to watch so that the two can fight with honor for what they believe in. Of course, the Dark Axis figures that this is a good opportunity to put down some goodie goodie types and they launch an attack on it. But their plans go awry when the Dai Shogun arrives on the scene. Though apparently not seen for years in the land where these two warriors come from, the Dai Shogun is considered the highest warrior in the lands and he commands complete respect.
With such an amount of honor at stake between the two combatants, the Dai Shogun creates a traditional encampment for samurai where the two may fight to their hearts content inside of, while everyone else gets to sit alongside it and watch. There is so much of the basic traditional elements brought in here from the screens to the clouds and more that with the way it's digitally created and painted it just looks stunning. This is one of those moments where it steps away from its cartoonish nature and really looks like something fascinating to watch and engaging to look at. With the setting established, they get down to having the fight that's been brewing for awhile and all is good with it. While not one of the best fight sequences, it's one that's done well for the target audience.
With that element of the series put to rest, at least for awhile until Bakunetsmaru presumably goes home to save his land, the show goes back to focus on the problems Zero has with Lacroa, or more specifically that spirit egg that ended up manifesting itself into the form of Fenn, the white fluffy thing that floats around. An amusing incident gets the little thing set off and upset that nobody is paying attention to it and before you know it, it's floating around shooting flames from its mouth at everyone. Zero's able to calm it down like usual but in doing so, the two connect in an interesting way and Fenn suddenly grows into a massive blob of fuzziness that can squash people pretty easily.
This signals that it's a good time for a new kind of attack and we go back a ways to bring Tallgeese back into play. But unlike before, he's got some interesting help this time in the form of the two Gundam types that were encased in rock back during one of the previous arcs. These are the advanced models from the Gundam Wing series and while the two aren't terribly over used here, they bring a fun new piece into play and their form in this kind of animation is pretty cute and fun to watch as they get into the rough and tumble of it. With Tallgeese and Zero, the magical elements of the fights get to be pretty nicely done and the digital animation allows for some creative battlegrounds to be had. The setup for what's presumably the next round of episodes as we get closer to the end of the first season is looking interesting with what we get here.In Summary:
The conclusion to Bakunetsumaru's arc is nicely done as they bring in something new from their world and then layer it with some beautiful cel-shaded style. This sets the stage for the next big arc that gets us back to the world of Lacroa and takes a number of plot elements from earlier episodes and starts to bring them all together. As usual, we're not talking high entertainment here but it is fun and it is amusing to its target audience and there is still plenty of bits for the more hardcore fans to enjoy as well.
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.