A Great Idea Brought Down By Poor Execution
Chon-ny | 06/04/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Gasaraki premise is unique and intriguing: only two people--young Yoshiro Gowa and Miharu, both opposing "pilots"--are blessed with the ability as "kai" to summon the Gasaraki, a powerfuly, mysterious, but extremely destructive force. As kai, they are also endowed with wonderful physical abilities, such as extreme endurance, and the ability to raise and maintain their pulse rates at exceeding two to three hundred beats per minute, a quality that makes them ideal pilots of battle-ready robots thrown into the mix in a middle-eastern war.A 3.5 star rating would be more appropriate for this series which seems to show so much promise. The art is of a newer sort that promises to be the medium in which all subsequent anime will follow: cleaner, flatter characters, drawn more thickly and with less of the lines that make some anime attractive. The main characters, Yoshiro and Miharu are extremely inviting and well-developed characters. The battle scenes are fluid, and the designs for the kugai (as the legend goes, the kai perform a Noh Dance to summon the Gasaraki, which takes or kills the kai, leaving a kugai--a primal, predator-looking giant robot in the Eva mode) are spectacular. The movie moves at a good consistent pace, with few slow spots, and the important section flashing back to the history of the kai in ancient Japan is extremely compelling, and could survive as a show on its own. Yet how does it fail?The biggest culprit is in its ambition. The plot is extremely heavy and disorganized, loaded with plenty of philosophy, politics, legend, and politics. And politics. This would have been okay if it had the background story and character development to support it, but other than Yoshiro and Miharu, the characters are all given fluctuating levels of importance, with little or no exploration of who they are. There are so many characters anyway that doing that would be impossible. To better muddle through Gasaraki, separate characters into these groups before watching:
Yoshiro and Miharu, the kai/pilots; the Gowa corporation, Yoshiro's family, which basically rules Japan; the Symbol corporation, most noted by its CEO; Yoshiro's squad mates on Japan's battle mecha team; the US, Japan, and another Middle Eastern countries as separate entities; and a side group that includes Yoshiro's younger sister, mother, and Noh dance teacher.Understanding that these groups exist and that they each have their own motivations will hopefully be helpful. It's a good watch, but requires plenty of patience. The ending is almost a side note to the climactic section on the kai flashbacks. It's an ending, but not a satisfying one. A decent watch, and a questionable addition to your collection."
Gasaraki, a unique mecha anime
Joel Jankiewicz | Dauphin, Manitoba Canada | 05/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had read the reviews about this title, and I've wanted to get this series for a long time. Did this anime meet my expectations? Yes, it met them all the way!Through the series' 22 episodes, we get that 'everything is not as it seems' feeling, which keeps the viewer guessing as to what the outcome of the anime will be. Gasaraki's story is deep in plot, and the use of realistic political threats set in today's world gives you a fresh feeling, compared to other animes where the main characters fight aliens, monsters from outer space, etc.The mecha themselves are realistic in nature, and the theories mentioned in the story will make you believe that one day such machines will be real. But this is where the anime is different from other mecha titles. Only about 40% of the anime has mecha combat, but when it does get to a fight, it's put to good use.The character development is top notch, and is crafted well. The main characters, Yushiro and Miharu are very believable, and you can feel for these characters.I was VERY impressed by the dub cast, as I found very little flaws in them. While you may think that there is a voice or two that could've been better, it's nothing to really complain about, as it's near perfect to the way the characters are. I actually enjoyed the dub more than the sub. As a plus to this, you can enjoy more of the animation and not worry about reading subtitles. But the DVDs come with japanese vocals with subtitles, for those who prefer it that way.This is truly a great series, and shouldn't be missed, whether you're a mecha fan, or a person who likes a great story. This DVD set is also well worth it, as buying each DVD separately by themselves would cost more.Let the summoning begin..."
Starts off strong but goes nowhere slowly
C. Chow | Leesburg VA | 02/07/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As far as overall review: not worth paying for. (but watch it on TV or borrow it from a friend)
`Gasaraki' starts off slowly but has a nice narrative hook. A very original universe. The UN sends in troops to stop ethnic war in a Bosnia type country. A real life universe! (with only the names changed) But American armored units, Abrams Tanks and Bradley APCs (for those of you not up to date in war news, Abrams and Bradleys are light years ahead of any other tank) suffer a drastic defeat at the hands of enemy mobile suits. That's right, real life mobile suits!!! In a real army!!! In a real war!!!
Fortunately for the UN a giant Japanese corporation Gowa has been developing giant mobile suits for just such a war. But now Gowa has its sights set on more than just being soldiers for hire. Gowa wants to AVENGE JAPAN'S LOSS IN WWII.
The plot is further complicated by the mobile suit pilots' digging further into the Gasaraki mobile suit program. It turns out that mobile suits are not entirely the result of science. They are the result of conjuring Japanese demons and giving them physical form.
`Gasaraki' starts off with some very original concepts, what if mobile suits really did exist? Would evil dictators try to take on the UN and fear no one? Would global corporations fear no one? And most importantly, with enough power, would the Japanese ever try to avenge WWII? These are the burning questions which kept me interested throughout `Gasaraki'. It was very realistic; I recall only one joke during the entire series.
None of these questions are answered by `Gasaraki'. The story slowly goes nowhere. There is no war, there are no battles. `Gasaraki' degenerates into a boring mindscape into the human soul. If Cartoon Network ever runs this, it might be worth your time but `Gasaraki' is not worth your money.
I strongly recommend `Full Metal Panic.' It's a similar story, except a comedy. (and the same voice actors)
I must not get this one either...
Michael Gmirkin | Beaverton, Oregon, USA | 05/26/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Some folks liked it, some didn't get it. I guess I fall into the "didn't get it" group. Started very slowly, ending was, well, confusing and unsatisfying...
So, I guess this one and Serial Experiments: Lain I'll have to pass on. They just didn't much make sense...? Maybe it was the translation, maybe it was just good intention and bad execution. Who knows. If you don't "get" anime, or the super-complicated storylines and jumbled philosophical logic that doesn't end up making sense, you might want to skip this one too...
Addendum: Okay, I re-watched Gasaraki again, more completely this time. It wasn't "as bad" as I made it out to be. There was some decent action in it. The philosophical mumbo-jumbo was still a bit much and left a slightly bittertaste in my mouth since it didn't really go anywhere. "The dance" didn't really do anything for me either. But that may simply eb a cultural thing I'm completely unfamiliar with. So, I'd perhaps give it a 3-star rather than my original 2. I'd still rather watch "other" mecha animes like Mobile Suit Gundam Wing - Complete Collection 1 & 2, Mobile Fighter G-Gundam 1 & 2, Rahxephon, Martian Successor Nadesico, or cyberpunk like Texhnolyze or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex..."