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. #09
By Chris Beveridge
December 31, 2004
Release Date: January 04, 2005
Superior Defender Gundam Force Vol. #09
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
Commander Sazabi, the leader of the Dark Axis forces, has appeared on the battlefield. Now that the opposition has nearly been destroyed, he is confident his troops will win. After all, Captain Gundam is inoperative, and Commander Sazabi possesses his Soul Drive.
Left with no other choice, Shute confronts the Commander... alone! As all of Neotopia looks on, Shute stands up to the commander. This gives Zero and Bakunetsumaru the chance they need to stage an attack!The Review!
Tired of getting the beaten up every time they have a plan, the Dark Axis brings out the truly heavy guns this time and launches an all out attack on Neotopia.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:
Similar to the last cover, the artwork here isn't in the same cel shaded style but more of a regular illustration that looks okay but not the best of Bakunetsumaru and Ashuramaru going at it with their swords, which really doesn't fit this volume in any way and is out of place for the episodes here. 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)
With all the ups and downs of the last several episodes and the sheer number of stories that have been touched upon, the last volume finishes things out with the concluding two episodes to the Dark Axis' final assault on Neotopia. Yeah, two episodes. Someone really dropped the ball on the layout of this series in having not only nine volumes for it but also having two episodes on the last volume. This series shouldn't have been more than six and each volume past that has felt like a really bad marketing plan.
With the way things had left off, it was definitely a dire moment for Neotopia and for the heroes in general. With Commander Sazabi now in this dimension and calling the shots, he's managed to acquire Captain's Soul Drive for his own use and began turning many of the city's inhabitants into stone and causing many of the robots and other Gundam's to start going offline. Taking over Neotopia Tower and combining the Dark Axis horn with it, the dark gloomy skies that moved in only added to the grim nature of things. This is definitely the darkest things have looked in this series and the way it all got that way was done quickly but well enough.
Naturally, in order to save things they know they need to get the Captain's Soul Drive back and to get him up and running, so those that are still able to function help by sacrificing their energy for him in hopes that he can gain enough strength to fight past what he's dealing with so that he can help defeat the evil. With almost everyone down for the count, things turn to Shute for these last critical moments and we get to see him all riled up and basically an unhappy camper. As a result, the last two episodes turn towards the epic battle that's been promised since we first learned about the Dark Axis wanting to take over Neotopia and it kicks off with Shute riding his rollerblades onto the tower to challenge the Commander himself.
Thankfully it doesn't take all that long for Shute to be forcibly removed from the scene and it turns into the big battle between the Captain and the Commander and we get a fairly entertaining slugfest in the tradition of a real fight, not just constant guns and beam weapons, but rather down to fists and a bit of strategy. The series has managed to really work well with its dark feel at the end here but still maintaining the same look it's had since the start. The quality of the cel shaded work has definitely improved as it went along and with the Commander's appearance in these episodes it's culminated into a decent three part ending storyline that brings some sense of closure to the first season of the series.In Summary:
While the series itself has concluded in a satisfying way, considering who the show is aimed at and the level of writing that they've wanted to use for it, the last volume suffers from buyer's remorse from the moment you get it. With it being priced the same as the rest of the releases – a price that was already five bucks too high in my mind – and having one less episode than the previous eight volumes, it just goes by too fast and doesn't feel like it was worth it. The series has been fun to watch and I've certainly enjoyed it as a kids show and watching it with my kids, but the release in general was just done wrong on a couple of different levels.
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.