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ADV Films presents
Gunsmith Cats: Bulletproof! (1995/1996)

"Hey, are you trying to blow up the house?"
- Rally Vincent (Neya Michiko)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 07, 2001

Stars: Neya Michiko, Araki Kae, Ohtsuka Yoshitada
Other Stars: Ikemizu Michihiro, Gohri Daisuke, Hisakawa Aya, Soumi Yoko
Director: Takeshi Mori

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for language, violence, adult content)
Run Time: 01h:30m:01s
Release Date: March 27, 2001
UPC: 702727006722
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A B-

DVD Review

In 1995, Kenichi Sonoda, who gained a reputation as a character designer on Gall Force: Eternal Story and the Knight Sabers of the original Bubblegum Crisis, was trying to come up with a new concept for a series, after Riding Bean, which was produced for Youmax in 1989, was cancelled after only one OVA. The origin of the main Gunsmith Cat, Rally Vincent, was born in the Riding Bean OVA, though she had blonde hair and fairer skin, and was actually named Larry, but due to the translation became Rally. Sonoda has a fascination with firearms, which are illegal in Japan, and also wanted to feature high speed car chases, which wouldn't work in a native setting on the crowded streets of Japan. Like he had with Bean, he set the story in Chicago, and gave his lead mistress a boss muscle car in a blue, 1967 Shelby GT 500. As a weapons otaku, she also dons her weapon of choice, a Czech Model 1 CZ75, a piece revered by gun collectors. This isn't your everyday anime.

Rally Vincent (Neya Michiko) owns the Gunsmith Cats weapon repair store, which features a staggering array of rare and exotic firearms. She is an expert marksman, though business at the store also means she hires out as a bounty hunter with her partner, 17-year-old "Minnie" May Hopkins (Araki Kae) who has a fascination with all things explosive. As the show opens we find our heroines at work capturing the fugitive John Washington, who is wanted by police on drug charges, and we get a taste of just how much May likes her grenades. When Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent Bill Collins (Ohtsuka Yoshitada) shows up at the shop with news that Washington was found clean, the girls also learn that he is wanted for weapon peddling, and they are asked to help in a sting operation. Wanting no part of it, the pair refuse, until Collins reveals he has the goods on the girls, and knows they are missing some necessary licensing for their mutual collections. Reluctantly, they are drawn into the operation, which leads to a number of perilous situations involving lots of gunplay, high explosives, and of course, car chases in Rally's Cobra. It takes a while, but we are also introduced to Becky Farrar (Hisakawa Aya), the third Gunsmith who works, for a price, as the girl's information agent, and things really begin to get sticky when Russian assassin Radinov Yar (Soumi Yoko) enters the picture.

Although only three half hour episodes, Gunsmith Cats packs high octane action, and the storyline actually has a conclusion, unlike many shows which end up unfinished. Attention to detail was high on the list of priorities for Gunsmith Cats, and it really shows in the end product. The production crew used location scouting in Chicago to establish the feel of the setting, and background detail is exceptional in the OVAs. Also, the vast number of weapons seen in the show are meticulously rendered, adding to the realism, as the carefully crafted sound design, which used the real elements, including a Shelby GT 500, for is folly effects. With the higher budget OVAs provide, the animation is fluid, and the frame composition is also interesting and impressive, with odd angles when effective. As for fanservice, so as not to disappoint anyone, our girls are also inclined to find themselves onscreen in less than their full attire on more than one occasion, and there is gratuitous presentation of the weaponry and vehicles used in the show as well. Violence is moderately heavy, and some profanity in the form of grafitti would make this recommended for more mature audiences. For anime without magical girls or a pretty boy who can't decide which girl he should be involved with, Gunsmith Cats is a fun way to spend an hour and a half. Just don't mess with these girls!

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: ADV have done a great job on this transfer. The full frame image is near perfect, which really shows off the extensive background work used in the show. No rainbows are present in the feature, colors maintain their intended drab look, and blacks are solid throughout. There is a minor amount of grain line noise and some aliasing in places, but nothing that really detracts from the presentation. This looks really good.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Original Japanese and dubbed English are available in stereo. The soundfield is well utilized, and the presentation here shows off the authentic sound design. Dialogue is primarily center stage, with music and effects widening the field. Nothing to complain about here, though the Japanese track does have a lower level than the English, which contains substantial rewrites to the dialogue.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dirty Pair Flash, Blue Seed, Blood Reign, Gasaraki, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Samurai X
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Making of Gunsmith Cats documentary.
Extras Review: Wait a second... I put the disc in, and aside from three corporate logos, I am transported straight to the menu. Is something wrong? This is an ADV disc! There are no forced trailers! What happened? Well, ADV have been listening and on Gunsmith Cats the six trailers (Dirty Pair Flash, Blue Seed, Blood Reign, Gasaraki, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Samurai X) are all accessable from the menus this time, which I definitely prefer. I normally don't comment on menus, but in the case of Gunsmith Cats, they deserve mention. ADV has used elements and music from the show to great effect here. Response is snappy, despite the animations used. I like it.

Since this OVA series is only three episodes long, ADV has also added a 40-minute featurette on the making of the show, which, although a little slow in the editing department, gives a lot of cool insight into how Gunsmith Cats came to be. We have interviews with Cats creator Kenichi Sonoda, character design overviews, background into the locations and props, plus a visit to the sound stage where the voice actors add life to the animation. For Gunsmith Cats, the production team actually scouted locations in the show's setting, Chicago, to enhance the realism of the show. We see them touring gunshops (unheard of in Japan), a police academy and many locales that give the Cats its gritty realism. This is the type of behind-the-scenes content I wish was on more of these anime discs.

Textless opening credits and the show's three original trailers are also included. It also looks like ADV has standardized their spine packaging now, which I applaud them for. These one-off collection will now look uniform on the shelf, which is a big plus to me.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Fast, furious and funny, Gunsmith Cats should appeal to many anime fans for its high quality production, decent storyline and decidedly different theme. ADV has included the complete OVA series here, and the making-of documentary is worth the price of admission alone for those interested in how a show like this gets created. There are no silly love triangles, and no mid air transformations, but we do get broads, bombs and a boss car, plus guns, guns, guns! I liked it!

 


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