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ADV Films presents
Gasaraki #6: Fires Of War (1998)

"For the moment, all we need to do is intimidate, and for that, our TA units should be enough."
- Akahiro Hirokawa (Shingo Hiromori)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: October 26, 2001

Stars: Nobuyuki Hiyama, Mami Kingetsu, Seiko Fujiki, Chris Palton, Monica Rial, Laura Chapman
Other Stars: Yugi Takada, Sho Hayami, Isshin Chiba, Andy McAvin, Jason Douglas, Brett Weaver
Director: Ryosuke Takahashi

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+ for animated violence)
Run Time: 01h:13m:41s
Release Date: September 25, 2001
UPC: 702727005725
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

After what seems like another eternity, disc number six in the Gasaraki series finally reaches our screens with another three installments. After the relatively slow pace of the previous disc, things pick up a bit here, and the plots that have been stewing up until now begin to come to a boil. One problem I find with this series is keeping track of who the different personalities are, with such long breaks between viewing episodes, especially in the Gowa family, as the character designs for the older brothers aren't distinct enough to differentiate in casual viewing, and it is important to remember what each person's agenda is. This is a series that will greatly benefit from being watched in its completion, which fortunately is but a few discs away.

New allegiances form as Yushhiro (Nobuyuki Hiyama) saves the life of a gang member, when he and a now silent Miharu (Mami Kingetsu) find themselves in the Asian Vein, a lower class slum in the midst of a fierce turf war. Here they meet Won, who is fighting a street battle with rival mafia forces intent on invading their territory. Still on the run from the Gowa corporation, Yushhiro asks to keep undercover in their midst, while taking up a job to pay for the lodging provided to the two kai. Meanwhile, his eldest brother is preparing for an upcoming announcement (the premise of which comes somewhat out of the blue) by American interests, which are predicted to incite panic and unrest in Japan. As conspirators put their plans in place, the web of deceit runs deep, as do the shifts in power that are aligning. The TA team is put on tactical alert, as the SDFF continues its search for the young Gowa. At the same time, Symbol uses its connections to locate their kai, as the countdown to the event that will rock Japan continues. The pawns are in place, and the walls that have harbored Japan are set to crumble, with their new masters vying for position in the wake.

Mention has to be made of the superb artwork and the musical score that so substantially empower this production. The visuals are a feast for the eyes, while the music envelopes the viewer with an immersive atmosphere. There is a degree of action in this set, but as has been the case in recent episodes, the underlying exposition of the story continues to be the prime focus. I'm not really sure where this is all headed anymore, as I'm sure I'm being set up for some major plot twists just down the road. The style of the series is still its greatest asset, even when the confusion of what is going on becomes distracting. With only two more discs to wind everything up, I'm looking forward to where this will all end, and am hoping that all the threads which have been bared up until this point begin to form a more cohesive story as things unravel. While this will be a moot point once the series is fully available, as the pace starts to pick up, the wait for the next volume becomes even more painful. Enough has occurred so far that we know something major is about to happen, and all these meetings we have been witnessing will congeal into its outcome. The suspense is intensifying, the powers in place. Now all we await is how the Kugai fit into the whole picture, and what the fate of Japan will be. Hurry up with the next disc already, this series is great!

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The look of this series continues to be a strongpoint, and one that is heightened by the strength of the transfer. Colors are rich and bold, with full, deep blacks for contrast. Only the occasional interlace "jaggy" taints a perfect presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Sound design continues to play an integral part to the feel of this show, and is again delivered in a grand fashion. Enveloping and atmospheric, both Japanese and English tracks continue to be present, and are free of any noteable anomalies. I wish all anime sounded this good.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Arc The Lad, Slayers, Legend Of Crystania, Gunsmith Cats, Blood Reign, Samurai X
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview excerpt with character designer Shukau Murase
  2. Production notes and glossary
  3. Behind the scenes
Extras Review: Extras run along the same lines as previous discs, with different content.

An interview excerpt with character designer Shukau Murase is included this time, the remainder of which can be found at ADV's website.

There are more production sheets, featuring another three screens with elements from the show. These provide some interesting background into characters and equipment, and are pretty much spoiler-free if you've watched the episodes.

Don't know what a toukai is? Find out this and more in this installment of the glossary.

It is easy to take for granted the planning involved in creating a series as complex as Gasaraki, and this installment of the behind-the-scenes goes through many of the concept drawings required for the guest appearances in the three episodes on this disc. Everything from character and vehicle design to the look of firearms and containers is covered here, showing the extensive work that is required to bring this to the screen. This feature basically has someone paging through the drawings and offering a commentary on what we are looking at. The detail and scope are pretty amazing. This feature isn't time coded, but runs 14m:49s.

The menus continue to feature nice animation, background music and transitions, in style with the rest of the series, though I would mention that on my Toshiba player, the menus on this disc were painfully slow, with delays from 10 to 20 seconds when engaging any button, making navigation a nightmare.

Trailers include: Arc The Lad, Slayers, Legend Of Crystania, Gunsmith Cats, Blood Reign, and Samurai X

The inset booklet this time gives us the layout of the Ishutar cockpit.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Although the plot is moving slowly, the atmosphere and hints of what are to come still make Gasaraki an interesting watch, though the series will be much better to absorb once it is available in its entirety. I would strongly recommend reviewing earlier episodes before plunging into this one, as it can be disorienting very quickly. The extras again add a larger dimension to the disc. This still remains a highly recommended series for those who like complex political dramas with a good assortment of military mecha.


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