Case Number 05235: Small Claims Court

GAD GUARD: LIGHTNING (VOLUME 1)

Geneon // 2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // September 23rd, 2004

The Charge

Many people have searched for it, many have stolen it, and many will kill for it.

The Case

Gads are small stone cubes; they look innocuous enough, but they actually hold great potential. Whenever a Gad bonds with its chosen human counterpart, the small stone evolves into a Techode, a robot controlled through a psychic link with the bonded individual. Hajiki Sanada finds himself in possession of a Gad, and almost immediately the stone begins its transformation. He soon discovers he is not alone in his connection with a Techode; he also finds himself caught in a conflict with ruthless individuals who will stop at nothing to possess a Gad and the power it contains.

Yes, it's another boy and his giant robot story. Let me clarify that. It's another ho-hum boy and his giant robot story. Considering how many of these are churned out every year, it's to be expected that not all of them will be classics, but would it kill people to try a little harder? We've seen this before and we'll probably see it again, but there isn't a single noteworthy element to this story. The plot revolves around the appearance, disappearance, theft, recover, reappearance, and eventual transformation of a bunch of little blue boxes. It quickly became tiresome. When the story begins, the Gads are spoken of as items of great rarity and value, but by the end of the fourth episode it seems like everybody and his grandmother has one.

Hajiki is also a rather bland hero, although he's supposed to be brave and noble. He helps support his family (his father was seemingly killed in battle) by working as a delivery boy (which is how he first comes into contact with his Gad); he also attends school in a one room building where children of every age are taught by one teacher, which seems pretty far-fetched considering this story doesn't take place in 1935 rural America. The section of the city in which his family lives has its electricity shut off every night at midnight (yes, the whole section), although why this happens is never made clear. This hard life doesn't automatically make him endearing.

The design of the characters also proves annoying. The adults, for the most part, are rendered realistically, while the younger characters are drawn in such a way to make their ages unreadable. Hajiki's sister is younger than he is, but she looks like she's actually a few years older. A new girl arrives at his school and it is said she and Hajiki are the same age, but from her looks she could be six years older. This becomes a bit creepy in the last episode when a shot lingers on one of the female protagonists taking a shower; if I had to guess, I'd say this character couldn't be more than eleven or twelve. I was briefly reminded of the Rintaro/Katsuhiro Otomo adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis; that film contained wildly different design styles, but in that case, unlike here, it worked.

This leads me to another source of puzzlement. The plotting, characters, and design seem geared toward a juvenile audience, but some of the content wouldn't be appropriate for pre-teens. There's no real violence (although there is naturally a bit of action), but there are a few profanities and even a scene reminiscent of the famous carrot bit from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Throw that into an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! and let's see what happens.

Geneon has once again done a fantastic job on the audio and video. The picture is pristine, and the stereo audio, in both English and the original Japanese, does its job well. I did notice a few deinterlacing problems -- specifically some jagged lines -- when I first started my viewing, but I switched players and the problem was solved, so I don't think it was really a disc issue. Extras include previews for other Geneon titles, the opening credits sequence from which the text has been removed, an art gallery, and some Easter eggs.

I cannot recommend this series. It's simply too bland and unfocused. If, however, you are fan, the presentation should more than satisfy you. There is one possible upshot, though: At least now I have an idea what might have been in that box in Mulholland Drive.

The charges brought against Geneon are dropped due to technical merit. In hopes they will learn how this type of story should actually been executed, the creators of Gad Guard are ordered to screen The Iron Giant. Court is adjourned.

Review content copyright © 2004 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile
Studio: Geneon
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Non-credit Opening Animation
* Art Gallery
* Easter Eggs
* Geneon Previews

Accomplices
* Anime Info
http://www.animenfo.com/animetitle,1211,dceaih,gad_guard.html