Jason checks out Manga 2.5, a new service offering fully-voiced and kind-of-animated manga series including Detective Loki and Otogi Soushi.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jan 8th 2003
Getter Robo: Armageddon
DVD 3: Ascension
The Super Robot Army continues their search for the Shin Dragon, a powerful entity whose powers can either be used to save or demolish Earth. Along the way, the Shin Getter team must also fight the Invaders that stand in their way. Whenever things look bad, though, a black robot appears to save the day, and his identity is finally revealed, much to the surprise of the Shin Getter team.
Twenty-five years after Getter Robo entered the anime stage, Go Nagai is back again with Getter Robo: Armageddon. Released in the United States by ADV Films, the robots are stronger than ever before, and they're ready to save the fate of mankind. The third DVD contains three episodes, as well as a few extras. Included as extra is a section with the original LD inserts that accompanied the Japanese release. This extra is especially fun to look at, as it features random sketches and notes written by the animators. The comments are fully translated, and are humorous to read. There's also an extra that features a behind the scenes look at some of the English voice actors, with interviews with a few characters. Amongst those are also textless opening and ending themes, which are somewhat nice to see, as the songs are fun to listen to. Starting with the disc content itself, ADV did a wonderful job on this release, making it a truly entertaining experience.
Go Nagai is known for his grotesque artwork and storylines and like the earlier Getter Robo, this series is no different. The episodes are filled with blood and gory scenes at every turn, and although they make viewers wince or look away in disgust, the blood content gives the series the edge that complements the dark nature of the series well. There is a particularly disturbing scene where a large clump of humans is brutally killed, amidst agonizing wails of pain and helplessness. This scene is perhaps the most revolting one on the entire disc, but does not dampen the viewing experience past the initial feelings of sickness that some viewers may have. The storyline itself is simple, but fascinating to watch, as every episode is filled with action and suspenseful fighting. With the hardships that the characters go through to attain victory, and the heavy sacrifices that are made, it is easy for viewers to feel compassion and sympathy for them, enhancing the drama of the battle scenes. The only downside of the series is the emphasis on fighting, and the resulting downplaying of character emotions. Dramatic scenes in which near relations are killed are cut off abruptly, as the characters continue their lives as though nothing had happened. While this doesn't make the series bad in any way, much potential opportunities are lost that would make the series much more powerful than it is.
Matching the atmosphere of the series, the artwork is equally brute and sometimes crude. The exceptions of this are the female characters who retain a look of serenity and innocence. An interesting aspect of characterization done by Nagai is his use of physiogeny, portraying the protagonists as either well-groomed individuals or rugged heroes, and the antagonists as hideous messes of wrinkles and sheer ugliness. The animation is decent, though not incredibly smooth. The oddity of the series is black Getter and its pilot, as laws of physics seem to have not been considered when they were animated. The pilot wears a scarf that is frozen in a position of perpetually being wind-blown. This is almost disturbing to watch, as it looks ridiculous and absurd to have a character with his hair and clothing frozen to the side even indoors. While this doesn't degrade the art in the series any, it is a glaring distraction that is likely to make some viewers pause and scratch their head in confusion.
The music in the series is wildly energetic and matches the constant fighting well. At times, the illusion is given that a piece was written especially for the use of one scene, and enhances the action element of the series. While the music fits the scenes well, they falter when placed by themselves, as they are nothing extraordinary. Instead, they are perfect for their purpose of simply emphasizing the action sequences in the series. The opening and ending themes are catchy as well, providing the “Go get 'em!” feeling that is characteristic of such shows. There is an especially beautiful song that plays only once on the entire disc, but does not show up in the actual episodes. Only to be heard in the background of the languages menu, it features a sweet melody sung by a woman, and does not appear in the episodes on the disc at all.
Another aspect of the series done well is the language tracks on the DVD. The Japanese voice actors perform well, with the gruffness and occasional angst needed for such stoic war-immersed characters. Another commendable feat is the English dub track, which ADV did a marvelous job on. The script is written accurately, translating the lines as closely as possible, which is surprising for ADV. The actors themselves do a fabulous job, with the grit and anger done perfectly for a series of this nature. The woman who played Kei did exceptionally well, as she gave the character the stubborn and furious nature that was demanded of her. A rare happenstance, both language tracks are almost on the same level of quality and prove that ADV does indeed deserve praise for the work they put into this release. An interesting change that ADV made to the dub track was to add in background sound effects, namely the screeching of monsters that was absent from in the Japanese dialogue. While usually chances of this magnitude are generally seen as tampering, it actually fits the series well, providing the hectic and almost cluttering sound that lends to the chaos in the scenes.
Without a doubt, Getter Robo: Armageddon is one of the best jobs that ADV has ever done on a release. The dub is done well, the audio tracks are mastered well, despite the changes made with the sound effects, and overall, this is a release worthy of watching over and over again. Fans of bloody violence, massive action sequences, and giant robots battling evil creatures will love this series. It may not suit those not well adapted to gore, but for those that love animated violence, this is a series that cannot be missed. Go Nagai is known for his disturbing and exciting series, and with Getter Robo: Armageddon, he certainly does not disappoint.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : C
+ Action packed series
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