ADV Films presents
Dai-Guard #4: Red Tape and Proud Hearts (1999)
"To leave the company in the hands of such a man, will sooner or later end in bakruptcy, and hundreds of employees will become jobless."- Nishijima (uncredited)
Stars: Kentaro Itou, Akiko Hiramatsu, Shin'ichiro Miki, Masashi hiroshige, Ken'ichi Ono, Takaya Hasi, Joey Hood, Lana Lesley, Steve Metz, Mick D'Arcy, Edwin Neal
Other Stars: Michikio Neya, Yukari Tamura, Hiro Yuki, Mayumi Shintani, Katsuyuki Konishi, Makoto Higo, Shoji Izumi, Christa Kimlicko Jones, Larissa Wolcott, Lane West, Shaneye Ferrell, Michael D'Alonzo, Michael Kranes, Corey Gagne, Dan Dietz, Jennifer Haley, Martin Burke
Director: Seiji Mizushima
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+)
Run Time: 01h:32m:34s
Release Date: 2003-02-18
DVD ReviewAfter setting up a coup in the previous few episodes, the board of civilian 21st Century Defense Security Corporation has overthrown its leadership, which introduces a new mind set and characters, whose presence will disrupt the workings of the Dai-Guard team, and the lines of who is in control of the robot central to the story. Disc four of Dai-Guard, the show that promises even a salary man can defend the peace, brings us to the start of the second half which, like a number of other series, means we are in for a recap episode to lead off the four installments here.
With a new company president, Oosugi Haruo, supervisor of Public Relations Division 2, makes his presentation on the state of affairs within the corporation. Summing up the events to date, the recap does highlight a number of the large ensemble cast with refreshers on who everyone is, and set the framework for what is to follow. While handled from a creative angle, this is probably the dullest entry so far.
With the new year come changes at 21st Century Defense Security Corporation. The lack of accountability to the shareholders is a major sticking point in the seemingly single handed management of Dai-Guard. Nishijima, the new company president, delivers a scathing report on his predecessor, Mr. Ookouchi, including a stunning revelation about his involvement in the first Heterodyne attacks twelve years prior, which left countless dead. The shakeup at the top is beginning to trickle down to the rank and file, as the costs of operating Dai-guard are put under the microscope, and the new management wants a much lower budget in place. Enter Saeki Toru, a young protégé from Shirota's past, who is brought in as the new liaison with the military, who is granted powers equal to his former mentor. Saeki is unpleasantly surprised by the changes he sees in Shirota, putting aside the iron hand he used to weld for a more practical, fly by the seat of your pants approach, and attempts to circumvent Shirota's authority with his text book theories. First on the list is disbanding the civilian Dai-guard crew in favor of trained Army pilots, whose time in the simulators has given them an inside edge on operating the defence robot. Next is scuttling the entire Public Relations Division 2, redeploying its workers across the country. But all does not go as planned.
While they may have their combat training down, the new Dai-Guard crew is caught by surprise in their first encounter with a Heterodyne, which presents challenges they weren't expecting. Meanwhile Akagi and the rest of the team converge on Momoi Ibuki's neighborhood when the Heterodyne threatens it. Now unable to directly combat their enemy, Public Relations takes on the role of helping civilians flee the threat. After the embarrassment of their first mission, the Army pilots are eager to show their stuff, but when a new Heterodyne is discovered, Akagi steps forward to fight to stop its destruction.
Despite the slow start on this disc, Dai-Guard continues to entertain in its own style. There is enough complexity to the scenario to allow numerous paths in the storyline, and the character development continues to build on its cast. For instance, Saeki's presence solidifies Shirota's role, while Akagi gets a lot more fleshed out when it comes to understanding what his team's real purpose is. There hasn't been a whole lot in the romance department other than office gossip, so I'm not sure whether anything will develop down that road, but the closeness of the PR department gets highlighted as their paths appear to be diverging. Action is moderate in these episodes, with more attention being paid to the scope of the Heterodyne threat, and the options to defeat it. This results in some unusual directions, which add interest to the future possibilities for confrontation. I still wouldn't classify Dai-Guard as a "must-buy," but it still has some surprises up its sleeve that I've enjoyed quite a bit.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Things look pretty good on the image quality front. Colors are solid and punchy, as are black levels. The image is clean, with only minimal aliasing present. It is hard to find too much to complain about here.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
|DS 2.0||Japanese, English||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is well presented in both original Japanese and English dub. The soundstage is reasonable well utilised with directionality during the more action oriented sequences, and with subtlety otherwise. Dialogue is clear and distinct, and easily discernable. No technical issues, other than a minor difference in volume levels between the audio tracks, were noted.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Noir, Wild Arms, Rune Soldier, Farscape: Season 2, You're Under Arrest, Sakura Wars TV
9 TV Spots/Teasers
Extras Review: Clean opening and closing credits return, and the line-art galleries expand by another 23 images, broken into three groups. These cover more character designs and locations.
A collection of nine Japanese TV ads (03m:47s) for Earth Defense Enterprise Dai-Guard are included. While there is a fair amount of repetition between them, they announce the series premiere, then follow through with mid-series commercials. Presented in Japanese with subtitles.
The trailer section includes Noir, Wild Arms, Rune Soldier, Farscape: Season 2, You're Under Arrest Mini Specials, and Sakura Wars TV.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsEntering its second half, Dai-Guard ups the ante as the new management's efforts to cut costs bring a new set of challenges for the Dai-Guard team. The show continues to entertain, with a nice combination of action, humor and corporate politics. The recap is a bit slow, but the remaining three episodes hold up well in the balance, and offer some new directions for the show to follow.
Jeff Ulmer 2003-02-19