Geneon // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // December 9th, 2004
An army of zombies begins a war against Millenion.
This latest volume of episodes from the Gungrave anime series picks up shortly after the events of Gungrave: The Sweeper, and then quickly jumps forward in time. After several episodes of character and story development, these installments start to ratchet up the action.
Here's a brief overview of the episodes included on this disc:
* Episode Nine: "Dispute"
After serving an eight-year sentence, Blood War, a particularly nasty psychopath, is released from prison. Blood War quickly hooks up with his old friend Cannon Vulcan, who has recently become leader of the Lightning criminal organization. Vulcan is strong-arming a group of scientists into developing a life-regeneration process known as Necrolyzation. Cannon plans to use this technology to build an army of undead warriors. Blood murders his own men in order to provide fresh bodies for the Necrolyzation process. When their army is ready, War and Cannon plan to launch an attack on the Millenion crime organization.
* Episode Ten: "Conflict"
Blood War accosts Brandon and Bunji, letting them know he and Cannon Vulcan have declared war on Millenion. Cannon's undead warriors soon begin systematically attacking Millenion members and their associates. Brandon and Harry quickly realize they are dealing with a new breed of enemy, but do not know how to combat the threat. To make matters worse, Harry discovers one his closest associates is actually a mole working for Cannon Vulcan.
* Episode Eleven: "Heat"
Brandon, having tricked Blood War into thinking he'll join forces with Lightning, agrees to a meeting with the psycho. War quickly discovers the ruse and calls forth his zombie gunmen; Bunji shows up and a shootout ensues. Harry convinces the mole within Millenion to help him gain access to Lightning's Necrolyzation technology.
* Episode Twelve: "Hope"
Brandon's reputation as one of Millenion's most ruthless enforcers continues to grow. He and Bunji form True Heat, a small band of operatives brought together to carry out their crime bosses' most important assignments. Harry continues dating Sherry, Bear Walken's daughter; Bear discovers the relationship and forbids his daughter to see Harry. Sherry stands up to her father, saying she'll die for Harry if need be. Big Daddy, hoping to bring Maria out of the depression she has been in since her last encounter with Brandon, tells her he plans to name Brandon and Harry as his successors. Maria surprises Big Daddy by revealing her knowledge of the true nature of his business empire. Harry confronts Dr. Tokiaka, the man behind the creation of the Necrolyzation technology, and offers to fund the doctor's efforts in perfecting the process.
I'm glad the first episode of this series hinted at the some of the plot's more outlandish elements; otherwise, I think the introduction of the zombie army this late in the game could have derailed the proceedings. As it stands, though, the undead gunmen plot is handled with a fair amount of restraint (or at least what amounts to restraint when it comes to anime); the build up and execution are pretty matter-of-fact, and as a result we simply have another believable twist in already gnarled plot. As was the case with the previous volume, these episodes continue to deepen both the story and characters. I've been particularly impressed by the subtle ways this series conveys the passage of time; for example, as the characters mature, there are changes in their physical appearances, as well as in their patterns of speech. I continue to be surprised and impressed by Gungrave.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but no one beats Geneon when it comes to presenting anime on DVD. The transfer, once again, is absolutely beautiful; there's not a flaw to be found. The three audio options are all first-rate, but the Japanese DTS track once again comes out on top. Surround action is plentiful, and your subwoofer will be given a vigorous workout. (There's a really sweet scene in Episode Twelve in which Bunji fires his automatic pistols at a speeding car; his shots hit the driver, and the car careens out of control. The sounds of the car travel all around the soundstage, and the car eventually crashes in the right surround channel. Pretty cool.) As was the case with the previous volumes, extras consist of a gallery of conceptual art and previews for other Geneon titles.
Gungrave is consistently entertaining, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment. If you haven't done so already, give it a look. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Conceptual Art
* Official Site
* Volume 1 Review
* Volume 2 Review