ADV Films // 2002 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // September 23rd, 2004
If it was stolen from you...Don't get mad...Get it back!
Ban and Ginji are the Get Backers, retrieval experts whose business motto is simple: "If it was taken, we'll get it back." They're the men to call if anything of value -- be it animal, vegetable, or mineral -- has been taken from you. No case is too small, and no fee is too big.
The first five episodes of the Get Backers series are presented on this disc. When we meet them, Ban and Ginji have already established their livelihood, although it doesn't appear they've had many clients. They're living in Ban's compact car, and mooching food from a local restaurant (which also doubles as their office). They are soon hired by a high school girl who lost a precious trinket when she stumbled upon a crooked cop involved in an illegal business transaction with some members of the Yakuza. They are able to retrieve the item, and during the course of this episode we learn of each man's special ability: Ban is a Jagan, a person momentarily able to cloud the minds of others with terrifying visions; Ginji, much like an eel, can generate concentrated amounts of electrical energy.
It was at this point that my mind began to wander. I started thinking of better ways for people with such talents to earn money, and I also began to infer that pretty much every episode would involve the two being hired to retrieve something (but only after Ban initially refuses each job, then reluctantly changes his mind), meeting the villain, using their powers, and returning the lost item (read: McGuffin) to their employers, all the while somehow managing to remain destitute. After sitting through all five episodes, I'm now positive this is the case. Okay, so the final three episodes actually constitute one story, but the basic formula is still the same. The concluding installments provide some back story for Ban and Ginji, revealing a few moments from their first meeting, and clueing us in on some of the shady dealings in Ban's past, but it wasn't enough to overcome the tired nature of the plot. I watched all five episodes in one sitting, and this might have influenced my feelings, but I really don't think spreading out the episodes would have helped, as that wouldn't change the rote dynamic of the series. The ending of the fifth episode contained a twist I didn't see coming, but it was too little, too late. The choppy, repetitive nature of the stories kept bringing the Charlie's Angels movies to mind, and I don't mean that in a good way.
It's too bad the contents aren't better, as ADV has done a really impressive job on the technical end. The widescreen transfer is stunning; edge enhancement has been kept to an absolute minimum, the colors are vivid, and the blacks are incredibly deep. I was unable to detect any jagged lines or motion artifacts during the numerous action sequences, and the source elements used were obviously in pristine condition. The original Japanese stereo mix does its job, although like most anime soundtracks there isn't much separation in the sound field. The 5.1 English dub carries a wider field up front, but don't expect much surround or subwoofer activity. The voice-over acting in the English track is pretty much what I've come to expect: the actors are too ebullient (and in some cases their voices come across as too mature for their characters), and their voices are mixed a little too forward.
Extras consist of ho-hum commentaries by members of the English language crew on two episodes, rather dull interviews with some of the American voiceover talent, credits sequences with the text removed, and ADV's ever-present previews.
I cannot recommend this title to a non-fan of the series; it's ultimately too, well, average. If you are a fan, and simply must pick up this disc, I don't think you'll be disappointed with audio or video.
ADV Films is, based on technical merit, allowed to go free; with the understanding they will choose their future releases more wisely, of course.
Review content copyright © 2004 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* ADV Previews
* Behind the Scenes Featurette
* Clean Opening and Closing
* ADV Title Site