ADV Films // 2003 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // August 24th, 2006
The ultimate marriage of man, woman, and machine.
Goh, just shy of 30, is somewhat of a lapsed "top gun" pilot for the Donnar mecha. His wife, 17-year-old Anna, is a student learning the ways of warfare and her first serious relationship. Earth is repeatedly attacked by the Mimetic Beasts, leaving Goh and Anna to defend it in their battle mechas. Problems have arisen between the pair, since Goh lost a beloved partner on the same day he met Anna five years earlier. Anna's mother, a brilliant scientist, runs the defense program and tries to run Anna's life. Past and new relationships, invasions and vows collide in Godannar, Volume 1: Engage and Destroy. The DVD features five episodes with storylines set to carry on in other volumes.
Godannar, Volume 1: Engage and Destroy ranks amongst the more interesting anime concepts I've come across in some time. The subject matter is no different than much of what's come before -- giant robots and the people who ride and love them defend Earth from aliens/robots/menaces -- it's how the anime deals with the concept of marriage and its affects on a tried-and-true formula. Very gutsy, I think, to skip the usual and overdone "will they/won't they" cliché and go with protagonists that have already committed to one another for the long haul. Add the notion of loved ones lost and alive to the mix and the relationship appears that much more interesting. Goh's struggle to work with a new partner is overshadowed by the difficulty of having to work with his barely-of-age wife. Anna's eagerness and need to prove herself clashes directly with her mother's agenda and her husband's need to keep his wife protected. Thankfully, all the character machinations (no pun intended) play out well. I'm curious to see how these character progress in future episodes of this series.
The downside to the series is its failed sexuality. Almost every female character featured is a pneumatic wonder of gravity-defying anatomy displayed in cheesecake poses. I understand this is a standard practice for this sort of show, but it detracts from everything else this show has going for it. Maybe if the sexiness were successful, I'd feel differently. It just doesn't work. Really, who wouldn't prefer the real thing?
Also, I couldn't shake the creepiness I felt whenever I'm reminded Anna's a 17-year-old girl married to a 29-year-old man. I can't pretend to know how this plays out in Japan but, personally, it weirded me out a bit.
The voice acting was better than I'd expected. I've often been let down by dubbing, but not so this time around. The humor in the English versions of the episodes left something to be desired. Luckily, the bad attempts at being funny never affected the performances.
Godannar, Volume 1: Engage and Destroy contains a healthy number of extra features. Clean versions of the opening and closing animation, character and mechanical profiles, Top Secret case files and key words are included. As someone who is relatively unexposed to Japanese animation, I appreciated the files and key words. Also included are interviews with the cast and crew. Look for these on the DVD's inner sleeve.
As always, ADV delivers a clean picture and quality sound. There is some choppiness between the 2-D and 3-D animated sequences, but nothing that overall detracts from a good presentation.
Godannar, Volume 1: Engage and Destroy is a nice, light departure in the world of animation. Ignore the weak attempts at sexiness and you've got yourself a nice quintet of married cartoon goodness.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean opening and closing animation
* Character profiles
* Mechanical profiles
* Top Secret case files
* Godannar key words