Thanks to ADV, anime fans all over North America can now experience the morose magic of Gasaraki, a series unlike any other. In the seventh volume of the series, this description still holds true. One of the most unique aspects of Gasaraki is the deployment of economics as the main catalyst to the plot. Although there are humans manipulating the economy, it's the actual rise and fall of the market that drives the people of the world into riots, mass hysteria, and fear. In fact, there are frequent news reports played softly in the background while the main characters are speaking which are, conveniently translated through the subtitles. In most cases, the reports discuss the state of economy, mentioning the market prices of grain, the comparison of grain holds compared to FOA standards, and other small points of interest. This shows the viewer that the script was carefully thought out as many of the reports were cast in accordance to what might happen in real life should the grain market fall through; even though the reports couldn't even be heard most of the time, the translation through the subtitles show that every small nuance in the plot was well thought out in advance. It's a pity that the audiences in Japan most likely couldn't detect the expository details permeating the series because it was intended as only background buzz, unless they too had subtitles rolling underneath. It's interesting to examine how something like the economy can lunge a nation into chaos and eventual disintegration. An interesting parallel can even be drawn from the situation in Gasaraki to the Second World War, though that would be considered a stretch by some. Incidentally, near the end of the volume, the viewer is confronted with the fact that the United States and Japan are ready to go to war.
In addition to three episodes, the disc also includes a load of extras to entice the buyer. Among the extras is an interview with the mechanical designer, which gives insight into the TAs and other mechs seen in the series. Also included is a section devoted to production sheets. The section presents a few of the sketches from the series along with brief descriptions about the subject or interesting background tidbits regarding the usage of that person or item in the series. The disc also has a glossary that defines certain terms used in the series, such as mecha capabilities or terminology used to describe world market economics. An especially amusing extra is a chapter entitled "Behind the Scenes." It features brief clips of a recording session with English voice actor of Yushiro. It's interesting to see how the actors time their lines with the Japanese track playing in the background, and also the ways the script is tweaked so the timing fits the animation. In addition to all the above-mentioned extras, another bonus is the DVD insert, which includes a detailed illustration of a TA cockpit. The drawings are aided by brief descriptions of how certain parts work. In fact, it reads much like a manual, with even a small notation as to how one goes about getting into the cockpit. With all these extras on one disc, they're almost as valuable as the series itself.
One element of the series that deserves individual recognition is the character design. Rare in many anime series, the characters actually possess hair that's within the scope of normal human coloring (with the exception of Yushiro and Miharu). As an added plus, most of the Asian characters actually look somewhat Asian instead of absurdly Caucasian. Those points aren't, of course, a major factor in anime; it's just an interesting tidbit that one might notice while watching the series. Amusing to note was the perfect Japanese spoken by the President of the United States, although small things like that can't be helped.
As already mentioned before, the purposely inaudible background news reports were thankfully translated by the subtitles. In fact, the subtitled track warrants much merit and admiration. Nothing was left untranslated and the depth that the background exposition lent to the series was astounding. Although it's hard to read multiple lines of subtitles at the same time while comprehending an additional dialogue subtitled above it, the viewer always has the option of either ignoring the background commentary, or reading one dialogue at a time and reading the other one after a second run through. Conveniently for the viewer, the commentary and the dialogue are presented in two different colors so they can be easily separated and identified. If the viewer doesn't want the nuisance of going back numerous times to read the different tracks, there's always the possibility of listening to the dub with the subtitles on to knock both tasks off at the same time.
It is no surprise at all why Gasaraki gained so much fan support in Japan. The various plot levels are more reminiscent of a literary masterpiece than an animated show. In fact, it's possibly one of the most complex series to come out of Japan in recent years, rife with literary elements like symbolism and allusion. Gasaraki has many elements in it that will most likely appeal to almost everyone. Fans of the series will definitely want to pick up this volume, and the people that haven't seen it should seize the opportunity and step into the world of Gasaraki.