After eight volumes, the magic of Gasaraki
finally swirls to an end, answering questions that have appeared throughout the series in a breathtaking finale. In the preceding volumes, the viewer is led to believe that the plot is a relatively simple one; the grain market collapses and as a result the masses of Japan are torn into chaos, surging into riots to try to force security into their now unsafe worlds. As the Japanese nation is immersed in its own struggles, another antagonist appears in the form of the United States, and the two countries are soon led to the brink of war. However, simple as the plot may seem, the last volume reveals to a startled viewer that the entire concept of Gasaraki
has nothing to do with either the economy or a war between nations. Throughout the series, mysterious interludes were dropped occasionally to allude to a driving force behind the characters' motivations. Many questions were asked, few were answered, until the last volume. Suddenly, it seems glaringly obvious that the whole series was a puppet show, a façade put up to hide the truth behind the people or entities known as kugai, kai, kugutsu, and the most allusive of them all, Gasaraki
. This façade is, in fact, a direct parallel to the events in the series. The Japanese are led to believe that the economy is falling apart at the seams, although the crisis was orchestrated all along. As one watches the final volume, extraneous tidbits that appeared in previous volumes that produced only questions reveal themselves to be foreshadowing for the perverse ambitions of humans and the cursed spirit of Gasara.
Containing the last three episodes of the series on one disc, this volume is worth far more than any amount of money. Similar to the other Gasaraki DVDs, however, ADV has once again outdone themselves with the extras crammed in with the episodes. The disc includes an interview with the director and also the author of the original story. Also, there is a section full of production sketches. These sheets show drawings of some of the people and objects that appeared in the last three episodes, along with detailed descriptions of each that also provide interesting tidbits and background notes. Among the bonuses is also a section with all the clean credit animations for the themes. This section provides credit-less title sequences for every single episode in the series, including the ending theme and also the sporadic openings where the animation was changed. Unfortunately, this section is a little hard to navigate through, as there's no way to jump to a certain episode; instead, one has to slowly skip through each grouping. All that is needed is a little patience though, as the results yield rewards that far outweigh the problems. On the disc also is a glossary with terms used in the volume, which gives the viewer a quick education in some military terminology and other subjects. Another interesting addition is the DVD insert which has two sketches of the Kugai core seen in the last few episodes, along with interesting facts about it. Although the episodes are something that are not to be missed, the extras give the volume an extra kick that gives Gasaraki fans an extra reason to invest in the DVD.
Throughout much of the series, the background has been comprised of mainly sound effects, with the occasional stirrings of a few bars of music. In the last three episodes, however, the scenes are backed with much musical gusto. The scenes are almost all backed by sweeping ensembles, or quiet melodies that match well with the mood of the series. In fact, the music gives the episodes just the right touch of flair to heighten the emotional response of the scenes. Like the opening and ending themes, the instrumentals, and even choral chants, are foreboding and eerie, leaving the viewer with a haunting feeling after each passage.
Unlike the last volume, ADV doesn't bother to subtitle every little nuance in the script. Many of the background news reports and ethereal whispers heard within the Gasaraki are neglected, which is shame. Overall, the subtitling is still well done, but it would have been nice to have the various tracks subtitled like in the preceding volume. Fortunately, the small annoyances experienced at not being able to follow the mumblings in the background are quickly forgotten as the viewer is quickly entranced by the art in the series. Some computer graphics were utilized in the final episodes, but they blend well with the cel animation, providing a nice touch. The final sequences were especially breathtaking. The kai are seen floating amidst various rendered backgrounds inside the Gasaraki and the effect is astounding. As the spirit of the Gasara reveals its history, real life video sequences are blended with animated sequences, giving the scene an air of reality. Much like the parting shots in The End of Evangelion, the scene within the Gasaraki is a mind-blowing cinematic work of art, guaranteed to make the viewer watch it at least twice in a row to capture the full effect.
Although the storytelling was slow in some episodes of Gasaraki to give an air of reality to the timing, the last episodes are a fast-paced finale, giving a brilliant ending to an equally impressive series. Fans who have already started watching the series definitely have to make their way to this last volume. The effects of the last episode last long after the TV has been turned off, and the experience is worth far more than the DVD could ever cost. Fans that have yet to see Gasaraki are missing out on a lot; there is undoubtedly at least one aspect of the series that will hook almost everyone. The spirit of Gasara has finally been summoned-it's time for everyone to step inside and feel the lure of immortality.