(see review text below)
All right, I would like to start this review off by saying that I like this anime. Honest. It's a good, decent and likable anime. It is also, however, short of being the brilliant and amazing series that it could have been.
The good: Visually, it was beautiful, especially the last volume. Backgrounds, mecha battles, everything, especially the girl, was VERY well done. There was a noticeable animation focus on the mecha battles, as in they got a little more detail than anything else in the series, but that's expected and even welcome, giving the mecha battles a crisp, clean, and attractive look to them. The basic storyline is interesting, and the characters go though a good amount of development throughout the series (yes, in response to a former review on this site, you do get to know the difference between all the Gowas). It has an attractive lead girl (short blue/green hair is never a bad thing.... well, in anime anyway) and the sounds and music are all fairly appropriate, though there is a noticeable lack of background music during common conversation/etc. scenes.
There, with the good out of the way, I will now get to why it's not an EVA, as I'm sure that all of you have been wondering:
Even though it is a mecha-centered anime, it's not an "action-heavy" series. Much more like the Patlabor movies, it prefers to let action take a back seat to plot, and though this in itself is not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned (I am a huge fan of the first Patlabor movie) it does present a problem when combined with this one, singular, devastating fault: It's plot it stretched way too thin between twenty-six episodes. Basically I think what happened is they had about thirteen episodes worth of good, condensed plot that they then tried to spread over an entire twenty-six-episode season. *shakes head sadly* Now, this can be done, if you have something active that will act as a plot filler and still keep people interested (like a huge, exciting mecha battle!). However, without that you end up using a lot of common-action filler (walking, etc.) seemingly meaningless conversations, mind-numbing "tutoring" in the specific aspects of the machines and events that are occurring, and weak plot catches (when they hint in the first disk that something happening "eight years ago" you almost don't care at that point what did happen because you're so bored) that just generally put your audience to sleep. Now, the plot catches probably wouldn't be so weak if there weren't so few of them per episode, or if they were contained in a few episodes, a la most other series right now, but, they're not, so you get stuck with one or two weak plot hints per early episode with an increase in both quantity and quality later in the series. As a matter of fact, I should also give fair warning here that the series doesn't pick up until about halfway through, so the beginning is very slow with few pickings besides some mecha battles and the introduction of the Kugai ritual, which, at that point in the series, means nothing and is quite boring (if you watch it, feel free to yawn and MST3k it with friends. I did). I cannot promote enough however how good this series is at the end though, so to sum up this review:
Yes, it gets a lot better near the end and does pick up in pace significantly, the first bit is the only part that you feel like you're dragging though. Yes, if you can get it for cheap (I picked up the collection off of Rightstuf.com for only $55) or watch it on the Anime Network, I do recommend it, it's beautiful, and fairly well thought out, if not well executed. However, do with this series what you see fit (watch it, don't, whatever) after all:
"You only have one life, live every moment to its fullest, because that's all you'll get." ~ Gowa Yuushirou
Add another star for Volume Eight - artistic, interesting, ahh - so nice, if only the whole series were like this disk. — Isaac Cynova
Recommended Audience: Teens and up, due to violence and some adult themes.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Gasaraki © 1998 Sunrise / TVO
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