Earth is under threat from invaders known as the Zeravire. When global military forces are brushed aside by the initial attack, a mysterious benefactor offers to defend Earth with a giant robot: Gravion.
A while back, I reviewed the sequel series, Gravion Zwei, so it was interesting coming back to the original in backwards order. While there are some rocky bits, mostly involving trying to do too many things at once, the original Gravion series is still quite watchable and good for a dose or two of dumb fun.
Gravion is largely the brainchild of Obari Masami, whose previous masterwork as a director was the Fatal Fury series. (I say "masterwork" here because much of the rest of his material has an average number of stars equal to that of the North Vietnamese flag.) This is a guy you normally don't want anywhere near a director's chair - thankfully, he delivers a largely fun romp through the tropes of giant robot action, with a bit of a twist.
Normally, you can easily tell an Obari flick by its character designs - overinflated, impossibly built girls; lean, rangy, impossibly built boys. Gravion tones that down a notch by running the original designs through the filter of first-timer Takaoka Junichi and Love Hina veteran Uno Makoto. (Takaoka is apparently replaced by "Ehime Mikan" in the sequel, and the designs are a bit sleeker for the tradeoff.) I'll tell you - while the costumes are still way silly, I've never seen an Obari girl look as cute as Gusuku Luna. Still, Tachibana Mizuki's design gets the "Chiropractor's Dream" award, but you get the feeling she's all a big joke anyway. (It's still painful to look at ... Mizuki, for the love of all that's holy, get a bra.)
And what about the story? Meh, it's not about the story! Once you get past the whole "we're in a medieval castle and we have maids and ohmygosh it's VOLTRON, with schoolgirls!" thing, Gravion ain't too bad. Mecha fights? Oh yeah, we've got mecha fights. Occasionally silly perverted humor? We've got that too. Over-serious exposition from the main character? Yeah, that too.
Unfortunately, Gravion, unlike its sequel, does get a little leaden at times, because it takes itself (dare I say it) a little too seriously for its own good. There is a serious disjoint between the comedy bits and the whole business with Eiji's missing sister, and since Leele and Toga take a while to develop, it's sometimes a bit frustrating dealing with a cast that's half cypher, half nutty as hell.
The music? Uniformly nutty as hell.
Still, to best understand and enjoy Gravion Zwei, you should get through Gravion. Don't expect the Great Japanese Animation Opus out of this -- but do expect to have some fun.
Best regarded as a rental. Not quite as fun as the sequel, but not a bad show at all. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Lots of fan service here (the camera really likes to linger along the bikini areas), along with some mecha violence and intense scenes. Safe for older teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (5/13)
Gravion © 2002 Bari / Kazu / Gonzo / Gravion Project
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