GANTZ Vol. 2: Kill or Be Killed
The story continues right where the last volume left off, and this time it actually gets pretty decent. The first 'round' of the game is at its end, and Kei and his companions are faced with tough decisions regarding killing and death. After the game, Kei and the others question the one person who seems to know anything about what's going on, but he becomes increasingly mysterious as he answers them...
This volume is just as violent as the last one, so if that's your thing, then you'll have no less enjoyment with it. Having only two episodes, the whole story is still very obscure, especially since much of the episode is groaning and crying, not to mention Kei's endless bitching about the whole situation. However, the second episode picks up and becomes far more enjoyable than anything before it. Since the entire show is mostly CG, the animation continues to be very mediocre, with tons of noticeable pixelation and distortion when the camera zooms and pans, definitely taking away from the enjoyment of the show.
Once again ADV has shafted the consumers with a two episode DVD. Sure, it's priced at $17.98, but the value is still far less if all of the DVDs of the series are added up at this price ($233.74, to be exact). The episode count also makes it harder for the story to progress as quickly as it should, which might make me lose interest if I have to wait a month between each release. However, some of this problem is made up for with the fairly lengthy interview with Kei Kurono's Japanese voice actor.
If you liked the first volume and don't mind spending so much money for so little, then you'll enjoy GANTZ Volume 2. --CI
Gravion Zwei Vol 1: Eye of the Storm
I had never heard of Gravion before, but the series sounded like a mecha show, so I decided to check it out. However, when I saw the cover, I was under the impression that I had just picked up something hentai. Instead of the mechs that I was expecting, there were lacy panties staring me in the face and underage-looking maid people in the background, sporting swimsuits. A bit nervous, I popped the DVD in, and lo and behold, two guys popped up, crossdressing across the screen. The mechs eventually did show up, but by that time, I realized this show was a little bit more than battles and aliens.
Gravion Zwei was pretty hilarious. It's a sequel to Gravion, so there were some things that I didn't understand, but this wasn't really a problem. I was too busy enjoying ping-pong matches with shoes, naked hot spring luge races, and drunken antics to care. In fact, the seriousness of some scenes seemed to take away from the overall crazy mood of the series.
This anime seems rather tailored to the male (or lesbian, *wink wink*) demographic, with lots of panty shots, and as the case advertises, gravity-defying breasts, but there's some stuff in there for bishounen lovers as well. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed watching this series which had escaped my radar, and may even consider getting the second volume when it comes out. --ML
Moeyo Ken: A Clash from the Past!
Moeyo Ken: A Clash from the Past! is part of ADV's latest product rush of anything remotely relevant in today's world of anime fandom. Ever since the release of the ultra-popular Rurouni Kenshin series, it seems that U.S. anime publishers have been in a mad rush to release shows of the time period of the Meiji Restoration, or somewhere around that. Moeyo Ken falls into this category.
Taking place slightly after the Restoration, the show follows three daughters of Shinsengumi men who protect the distraught villagers from its frequent demon attacks. To defeat said demons, they use very advanced looking technology for the era in which the show is supposed to take place, and the characters often end up destroying large chunks of the village themselves. With the length of this OVA, there really isn't any character development, or any true plot development. This is the main flaw of the show, and the main reason why I wouldn't buy it. The animation is decent, with the exception of the occasional mediocre CG that is thrown in during battles and such. A good aspect of the show is its character designs, which were done by Rumiko Takahashi of Ranma 1/2 fame. They look colorful and clean, and are fitting to the light-hearted spirit of the show.
For the actual DVD, ADV has done a decent job. The cover features various characters from the show with a somewhat plain logo and DVD title. The back is much better, with numerous screenshots and a nice description of the show. The booklet is pretty good, containing a bestiary of the oni from the show, as well as a background on some various references in the show to Japanese history and culture. One problem I do have with the packaging is that although the case is clear, there is no reversible cover! It may not bother others, but it certainly frustrated me.
Although mostly an okay show, I really can't give anyone a solid recommendation to watch this DVD. --CI
Saiyuki Requiem: The Motion Picture
If you've seen the series, then Saiyuki Requiem won't be anything new. Sanzo and his trio of demon misfits once again are faced against a difficult enemy, and use a combination of brawn and attitude to defeat him soundly. There's nothing particularly good or special about this particular enemy, so it seems as if the movie did nothing but show off some cool effects.
As a big fan of Kazuya Minekura's work, I was disappointed in the series, and the movie is no different. Besides the fact that her style doesn't transpose onto an animated medium very well, the DVD's production wasn't very good either. Whispers in the distance were louder than shouts in the front, and effects trumped dialogue in sound. Because of this, the audio was no fun to listen to in the Japanese track, although the English was a little better.
Some bonuses, like the two sided poster insert, and a bonus audio track with voice actor commentary, were interesting, but the movie itself fails to be half as stunning as the manga that it's adapted from. --ML
Stellvia Vol. 3: Foundation III
This third volume contains episodes 8-10. Only three episodes in this volume, but the series reaches a nice climax at the end of episode 10, as the Great Wave finally hits Earth. With five more DVDs, it's a mystery where the story will proceed from now.
This volume introduces Rinna Kazamatsuri, a twelve year old girl genius from Ultima who has decided to make Shima her rival. As the Second Wave nears the Sol system, six students are chosen to assist in the Great Misson: the four leaders of the school, Kouta Otoyama, and Shima Katase. With only hours to go, Shima is a bundle of nerves. Arisa tries to cheer her up, but it is a hidden letter from Mom in Shima's popcorn jar that gives her the strength to fight. Complications occur during the Great Mission, and Shima and Kouta end up saving the day with a giant robot, originally designed for planetary wars. I'll leave off on the plot here, as the ending is quite satisfying, yet it still makes me want to see what comes next in Shima's adventures as a pilot trainee.
Stellvia is still a favorite series of mine. There is a lot of CG in this volume due to the amount of spaceships, but it fit in well. The opening song is one of the few that I leave playing all the way through during each episode. Great stuff! --JC