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ADV Films presents
Gasaraki #4: From The Ashes (1998)

"Maybe this is hopeless, but I'm going as far as I can!"
- Yoshiro Gowa (Nobuyuki Hiyama)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 02, 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: JVC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+ for animated violence)
Run Time: 01h:14m:46s
Release Date: May 01, 2001
UPC: 702727005527
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

When reviewing anime titles and trying to determine whether to recommend them or not, it is important to consider the style of anime, which to those not familiar with the genre, can be confusing. Even within different classifications of anime, the tone of a series will appeal to different people; some prefer a more light-hearted approach with lots of comedic elements; some prefer a heavier plot and more detailed artwork over simpler styles and so forth. Others, such as myself, appreciate a great range of presentations, from wacky relationship-infused series like Martian Successor Nadesico or Tenchi, to the more serious titles like the futuristic Ghost In The Shell, the historical samurai based Kenshin OVAs or Ryosuke Takahashi's Gasaraki, which is set in the immediate future with heavy emphasis on politics and military hardware, with a tone that is serious in nature.

With disc four of Gasaraki, we reach the halfway point, and if you have been enjoying the series so far, this disc will not disappoint. The action hasn't died down, and more background information is emerging, as the plots get deeper and the relationships we've seen so far are further defined. No mecha show would be complete without ever-increasing amounts of armor, and more sophisticated TA units continue to get exposure here. Episodes 12-14, Ties, Unravel and Disembark, are included on this DVD.

After what transpired in the previous disc's The Kugai, more questions are being raised by all parties. The SSDF's secret experiments with their new enhanced TAs that utilize performance enhancing drugs, meets with disastrous results as they lose control of three units on the testing grounds. The TA team is called in for the rescue as the fourth unit threatens to leave the confines of the testing area. Meanwhile, both the military and the Gowa Corporation are on the hunt for Yushhiro (Nobuyuki Hiyama) who, after learning the truth about himself, is looking for answers by following the path of the kai. Yoshiro and Miharu (Mami Kingetsu) begin to realize their parallel duties and unique places within their respective organizations, and Miharu recalls her past during the Heian Period and her tenure as a test subject fo Symbol. As Kiyotsugu Gowa heads the team analyzing the remains of the kugai at the Gowa Volatile Test Subject Monitoring facility, a new conflict is arising within his family: the true reasons behind their development of the TAs comes to light in a showdown of wills. With the cards on the table, will the Gowa Corporation confirm its place in Japan, or are events conspiring that will shake the family to its very foundation?

We continue to be drawn further into the many storylines unfolding in this series, and the plot isn't getting any simpler; the more questions that are answered, the more that come to the surface. We do finally get some of the developments from the first discs tied up here, as alliances are beginning to be exposed, and some of the background information that has been hinted at gets fleshed out a bit more, through a series of flashbacks during the midway episode in the series. Gasaraki still works well on many levels, with plenty of detailed mecha action during the TA battles, a deep and involved set of subplots all moving forward amongst the many cast members, fueling the political backstory, which has been brewing since the first episode. There is also the more ethereal concept of the kai, which begins to be explored as the series moves on. As we make way for the final half of the show, there is very little filler, and just as during the first episodes, we continue to get brief clues about the past and future as the episodes unfold. Though the three episodes seem to pass by rather quickly, the content rating is still high for Gasaraki.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Image quality continues to impress in this series, as disc four maintains the level set in the opening discs of the series. The dark, earthy colors of the armed forces are well-rendered, and black levels for the most part are solid, though do seem intentionally light in some scenes. Artifacting is rare, limited to minor rainbowing during the opening credits on the line drawings; otherwise nothing glaring to complain about. This is fine looking anime.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Both the Japanese and English tracks are presented in stereo, and again utilize a nice, deep soundstage with well-executed directionality. Sound quality is extremely good, and adds a lot to the show's presentation. Extensive use of location effects and the show's excellent soundtrack is comparable on both language tracks.

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 Farscape, Shadow Raiders, Orphen, Arc The Lad, A.D. Police, ADV mix trailer
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview with Special Effects Production Supervisor, Katsutoshi Sugai
  2. Glossary
  3. Behind the scenes
Extras Review: Gasaraki 4 mirrors the feature set of the previous disc in the series. A collection of front end trailers for Farscape, Shadow Raiders, Orphen, Arc The Lad, A.D. Police and the ADV mix trailer. Press either your chapter skip to proceed to the next trailer or menu to go right to the disc's navigation controls.

As with the first three discs, this one contains the preface to an interview, which on this disc is with the Special Effects Production Supervisor, Katsutoshi Sugai, who oversees Gasaraki's many CG and photographic effects, and a video example is included with a description of how the effect was achieved. Like the other discs, the remainder of the interview is on ADV's website.

The production sheets section returns, featuring three more screens with elements from the show. More TAs and their crew, the canons used during this disc and background on Miharu are included, described via popup text boxes accessed by clicking on the text next to each item. Descriptions are educational and free of spoilers if you've watched the episodes.

More glossary definitions are also included.

While not quite as cool as the recording session on disc three, this disc once again features a live action behind the scenes section, running just over 11 minutes, which is a walkthrough of the production drawings from each episode that the artists use to maintain consistency in the animation. This involves flipping through the docets for each episode with naration explaining what we are looking at, and how the drawings are utilized.

The menus are consistent with the first three discs, featuring background music and animated transitions, in style with the TA displays seen throughout the series.

With the emphasis on detailed mechanicals used in the show, the inset booklet again contains drawings of vehicles seen in these episodes, including the TA command, transport and aerial reconnaisance units.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Gasaraki continues to get my vote as the series reaches its halfway point. The level of action and plot, with limited but well timed exposition make for an involving series with a good deal of depth to it. For those who enjoy mechanical action with political overtones, this series comes highly recommended.


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