Saturday, September 1, 2018

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Anime Review

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Suisei no Garugantia
Viz Media
Complete Collection - 2 discs
330 minutes - 13 episodes + 2 OVA episodes
$69.98 (2014) DVD/Blu-Ray 4 discs
$44.98 (2014) DVD only
ISBN 782009243571
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kazuya Murata
Studio - Production I.G

Synopsis: Humanity has left Earth behind and traveled to the stars, but conflict has followed them. The human race is in dire battle with a formidable alien species called the Hideauze (called the whale-squids).  The Galactic Alliance is sworn to eradicate the aliens to keep humanity safe, but the aliens have shown no quarter. Ensign Ledo is a Machine Caliber pilot during a massive assault on a Hideauze space stronghold. The human forces fall into disarray as the Hideauze unleash a powerful weapon. During the retreat Ledo and his battle suit "Chamber" are pulled into a wormhole.
The Galactic Alliance suffers a difficult defeat attacking the Hideauze home planet

Separated from the fleet and awakening on a strange planet covered in a seemingly endless ocean, Ledo discovers he has been in stasis for six months. A group of native scavengers have found him and taken him back to their floating city called the Gargantia.  He considers them primitives, but realizes he's been stranded light years from the fleet with no way to rejoin them.  He joins the ranks of the Gargantia in order to survive and mostly due to the brave, beautiful girl Amy who befriends him.
Chamber, controlled by Ledo, appears to the citizens of the Gargantia

Ledo's status on the Gargantia is elevated due to controlling Chamber who possesses tech light years beyond that of the natives' crude mech suits. They scavenge the underwater depths to find tech left behind by a lost civilization. A great mystery begins when Chamber alerts Ledo to the fact the ocean planet is actually humanity's birthplace - Earth! What caused humanity to leave this planet behind for the stars? The stakes become high when Ledo discovers a whale-squid lurking among the waters. What is their terrible secret and how did they find Earth? Ledo and Chamber are not alone on the planet and are headed for a desperate showdown for survival! Can even their formidable might save the Gargantia and the remnants of humanity?
Amy becomes Ledo's guide and first friend on the Gargantia

Pros: Really nice animation and character designs, some interesting science fiction plot concepts - especially the twist near the end of the series, very likable characters, the OVA episodes are included, Ledo's character development was well done, Chamber (the mecha Ledo pilots) is another good character, some very mild fan-service (particularly the pirate captain Lukkage)
Ledo struggles to find his place on the Gargantia and away from his mission

Cons: Characters are all fairly one-dimensional and simple, situations and plot devices are fairly simple, ending could have been more severe with heavier casualties - it tied up a little to neatly, fan-service seems out of place in this series which develops into a post-apocalyptic mystery, no second season = no more answers to dangling plot points at the end of the series
A diving suit is destroyed when a nest of whalesquids are disturbed

Mike Tells It Straight: Gargantia is an original release from Production I.G and directed by Kazuya Murata, best known for his work on Code Geass and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos movie. Story concept is done by Gen Orobuchi who is a well-known series creator and writer (nicknamed the Orobutcher for some of his darker series). He's best known for being the creator of Psycho-Pass and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. He also scripts the first and last episodes here.
Ledo and Chamber go wild when they discover whalesquids exist on Earth

I enjoyed watching Gargantia for the slick visuals and casual science fiction. The plot is a fairly straightforward riff on the 'stranger in a strange land' storyline crossed with the 'hero's journey'. The characters are definitely the strong point for the series. Ledo is a great main character who grew up in a sterile outer space society too busy churning out soldiers to fight a desperate battle with the Hideauze.  His immersion in Gargantia's emotional human society begins a journey of soul-searching and eventual transformation into a hero.
The pirate captain Lukkage and Pinion are captured by a mysterious cult fleet

The other Gargantia crewmembers were fun to watch and Amy was a plucky supporting character slash love interest for Ledo.  You can tell the chemistry between the two early on and especially when Amy's friends try to cozy up to the new alien boy.  Chamber is awesome as a mecha and as a character.  More than just a robot suit, it ('he') is a genuine character.
The cult fleet rules with a Machine Caliber Striker which is very familiar to Ledo

The series does a great job balancing serious themes with lighthearted moments. Overall it stays on the light side and I think that serves it better than going too dark. Fans of Orobuchi may be disappointed with the ending if they're expecting a major bloodbath. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of heavy moments as the mysteries get revealed, but it's not overwhelming.
Striker is controlled by Ledo's superior Kugel who also was stranded on Earth 

The plot twists and characters keep you engaged throughout and it's a decent series.  I didn't think much of the series when I first watched it, but somehow it ended up in my collection.  I think the science fiction elements reminded me of why I got into anime in the first place and that's what I really liked.
Ledo finds a second home with Amy and the crew of the Gargantia

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dragon Half Anime Review

Dragon Half
Doragon Hafu
ADV Films
Complete Collection - 1 disc
50 minutes - 2 episodes
$19.95 (2014)
$19.98 (2007) w/Puni Puni Poemy
$19.98 (2004) Essential Anime
$24.98 (2002)
ISBN 702727008825
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shinya Sadamitsu
Studio - Victor Entertainment

Synopsis: Mink is a restless teenager who has a major crush on the singing dragonslayer, Dick Saucer (yes, that's his name).  Her father is a swordsman and her mother is a red dragon who can take human form.  When her father was sent to slay the red dragon he fell in love with her instead and Mink was the result.  That makes Mink half dragon and very powerful.
Mink is pretty tough and she sprouts wings and a tail
when she powers up
Mink's problem lies in the fact that her love interest, Dick Saucer, slays dragons and he'll reject her because she is part dragon.  She learns of a special potion that can rid her of her dragon half and turn her into a regular human so she can score with Dick.  Simple right?  Nope, she has to defeat Azetodeth, the Demon Lord, to get the potion.  Azetodeth is a short little runt, but commands all the creatures on Demon King's Island.
From left to right: Mappy (top), Pia, Lufa, and Mink!
Not only must Mink defeat Azetodeth's minions just to face him, but she also has to deal with Princess Vina who wants Dick all to herself!  Then there's the wizard Rosario who keeps trying to get her and the dunce swordsman Damaramu.  What's an incredibly powerful girl to do?  Fortunately Mink has some help from her friends Lufa the elf, Pia the dwarf, and Pia's pet fairy mouse, Mappy.  Good luck, Mink!
Dick Saucer is ready for the tournament on Demon King's Island!

Pros: Some funny moments (like when Damaramu accidentally impales himself in the head with his own sword), Mink is a kind person and has good friends, the guy is named Dick Saucer, one very brief moment of fan-service/nudity
Cons: Oh where to start! The dub voices are really annoying, way too much cutesy super-deformed scenes, the plot is ridiculous, the jokes are totally lame (that Dick Saucer joke gets old fast), the villain is an ineffective loser
Azetodeth turns Dick Saucer against Mink by telling him
she's an evil dragon half!
Mike Tells It Straight: This short two-episode OVA was originally planned for four episodes, but stalled out after a lack of interest.  That pretty much sums up the quality of the show.  It has very little plot, weak comedy, and a terrible dub.  Based on a manga by Ryusuke Mita published in Monthly Dragon Magazine.  The show reminded me of Slayers although the quality just doesn't compare.
Rosario the sorcerer has it in for poor Mink
The show pokes fun at anime cliches such as super deformation (where characters turn all little and cute), but they beat the jokes to death with overuse by having the characters turn SD practically every minute.  Just totally distracting.  Okay, we get that the guy's name is Dick Saucer and that's kinda amusing.  Not funny when his name is said twenty times per episode.  There's just not enough going on in this anime and it was a mercy killing to cut the episode count at just two.  You can probably find this disk for very cheap, but resist the urge.  Go pick up Slayers or Fairy Tail instead.
Wardrobe malfunction during the big tournament!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays from DubSub Anime Reviews 2015!

Happy Holidays 2015!

From DubSub Anime Reviews!

We hope everyone has a great holiday season with their families and gets some much-needed time off to watch their favorite anime series.