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ADV Films presents
Gasaraki #8: To Be A Kai (1998)

"After a thousand years, a kai and a kai are about to meet again."
- Phantom (Issei Miyazaki)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: December 31, 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: Ryosuki Takahashi

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+)
Run Time: 01h:14m:53s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 702727005923
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-B+A- B-

DVD Review

With disc eight, the Gasaraki series comes to a close. Despite how invoving it has been, with a time frame of 16 months between the first and last discs, viewing them as they have been released is not the way to take in a show as layered and complex as this one. Now that they are all out, it will be nice to revisit the series and pick up all the subtlety that gets lost with such huge time lapses between episodes. Gasaraki has been one of my personal favorites from the start, with its refusal to dumb itself down, and its scope of story—tying in elements of mecha, suspense, political intrigue with historical and spiritual elements—something it has done extremely well. Its cast has been somewhat hard to follow due to the release schedule, but for a pretty large cast, each player gets their own agenda and set of story arcs, which blend together in an impressive fashion. With such an incredible setup, I was wondering how the ending would hold up, and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it.

Tensions were high as we last left the series, with war looking imminent between the US and Japan. Nishida's plotting had him in a pretty strategic position, despite the short term downside Japan was facing. As expected, the US began to realize what he was planning, and their only option was to attack, though doing so would create a wave of negative political implications that were best not stirred up. So, the obvious alternative is to use the Fakes to try to pinpoint the source of Japan's power, and use that information for a quick and decisive blow.

However, this plan has unforseen complications, as Miharu is set to the task, but with Yushiro present, their combined kai energy is enough to open up the link to the Kugai, and also join them once again as the past and present merge.

The political situation comes to an interesting resolution, though I found it a little too clean for my liking, especially after the build up that we have gotten. The last episode resolves the story of the kai, and harkens back to the earliest episodes in their more spiritual and ethereal qualities. This too I found a little bit of a short sell, though it was a pretty interesting turn of events that initiate the final arc. I still feel strongly that Gasaraki is a great viewing experience for its intelligence, technical and production qualities, and it still gets my high recommendation. Perhaps it was the unexpected nature of the finale that has given me my current impression, and that may change when I get a chance to go though the series again.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The quality of the animation is still high, and colors are well rendered. Jaggies seem a bit excessive at times, but other than that there are no print defects or rainbows present. Pretty consistent with the rest of the series.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio continues to impress, with good use of the soundfield and a strong, even frequency response. The sound design is immersive, with soundtrack use appropriate. Sonically, the dub track is a near twin to the Japanese, although there are minor modifications to the script.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dai-Guard, Dirty Pair Flash, Sorcerer Hunters, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Evangelion, Burn Up Excess
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview
  2. Glossary
  3. Clean Credit Animation
  4. Production sheets
Extras Review: Extras again are similar to the rest of the series previous discs, with different content.

The interview excerpt this time out is with director Ryosuke Takahashi and Tohru Nozaki, the series storyline coordinator and scriptwriter. As with other interviews in this series, the rest can be found at ADV's website.

Another three screens of production sheets cover elements from the show. Many will be spoilers if you haven't seen these last episodes.

Another collection of glossary terms is available.

With the credit sequences being subtly modified every couple of episodes, here we are presented with the entire collection, which runs 32m:09s in its entirety.

The menus continue the same animation theme, background music and transitions, though response this time is a little better on the Toshiba.

Trailers include:Dai-Guard, Dirty Pair Flash, Sorcerer Hunters, Bubblegum Crisis, and Evangelion and Burn Up Excess.

The inset booklet this time features a spoiler, so skip it until you've seen at least the first episode.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

The final disc in Gasaraki brings this complex and intriguing series to a close. High quality animation, an elaborate, engaging and multilayered story, and great sound design combine to make this one of the best anime series I've seen. The ending seemed a little too neat after all the build up, but this may be because of the incredible length of time over which I've viewed the episodes. Now that the full set is available, this will be a definite rewatch to catch all the intricasies presented throughout. The extras set has been impressive, as has the overall presentation. I have no qualms about recommending this for any anime fan.


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