Judge Brett Cullum is actually a giant robot. No, seriously—he is. We've seen him in action. And he's really kind of uppity about it, to be honest.
The second season of Gravion is one big anime blender. The series is about a giant robot, so there are lots of mecha fights, like Transformers or Voltron. The ships that make the giant robot are piloted by two male fighter pilots who seem like little boys, and a battalion of big-breasted women dressed as maids. The show tries to be an action comedy with mecha and jiggle all thrown together. It's enough to send a horny robot-obsessed thirteen-year-old into a coma caused by sensory overload (which I surmise is the real purpose of anime—a stealthy plot to immobilize our youth). It's a fast-paced, crazy show that will test your patience as you watch a lot of dazzle without any plot. If you want something that looks cool and has little else to offer, then you're going to love the first volume of the second season, Gravion Zwei: Eye of the Storm.
>From what I can tell, the plot of this second outing of the involves a competition. Seems like everything's been all too quiet since the end of the first Gravion season, and our heroes are dangerously bored without any missions to keep them occupied. Sandman and his ragtag crew of misfits seem to be passing time by playing strip poker and engaging in some cross-dressing. Meanwhile, the government is attempting to reproduce Gravion technology, and has assembled a team to test out a new giant robot warrior that will be piloted by the elite G-Soldier Squadron. Their leader is an enigmatic ace pilot named Faye, who has some serious issues about being a female in charge of a military operation.
Suddenly the Zeravire attacks on Earth start up again, and the Gravion Earthgertz team is back in action. But before things get too hectic, Sandman decides his team needs some down time at a hot springs resort. Nothing like hot water and public nudity to lift spirits and boost morale! After this respite, it's back to work. The Gravion team investigates a mysterious attack on an underwater power plant, and pilot Toga and maid Leele end up trapped by a Zeravire force. There is some indication that both Toga and Leele are dealing with emotional problems that might surface later in the series.
The biggest problem with Gravion Zwei: Eye of the Storm is the excessive fan service—scenes inserted into the show to either titillate or excite viewers without moving the plot forward. I don't mind a little of that every now and then, and it's certainly an idea that has extended into mainstream moviemaking (the first two Star Wars prequels learned the anime lesson of fan service far too well). But what happens when there is too much of it? Answer: the plot is lost in an excessive amount of boobs and bombs. I even tried to make notes about plot points, and here is the best I could come up with:
Episode One—Hijinks lead to cross-dressing and we have a big robot
There's just not much to this collection of episodes, and I fear for what will come after them. Usually the first volume of an anime series hooks you right into the main conflict and sets up the whole arc of the show. But here, we see the new G-soldiers for all of five minutes, spread out over the four episodes in Gravion Zwei: Eye of the Storm. So far there is no conflict, only hints of it; and a hell of a lot of fireworks that do nothing more than offer a chance for cool explosions and peppy Japanese pop songs. For the undiscerning anime fan who wants a lot of flash this should be great, but anyone who turns to anime for smart, fantastic sci-fi dramas are going to want to slap themselves for getting this disc.
ADV does an admirable job with the transfers. The visuals are clean, and the colors pop. Sometimes the edge enhancement gets in the way, but on the whole this is another solid look for an anime series. The sound mix is appropriately aggressive. With this many explosions and songs, they've provided the full five speaker treatment for the English dub. The voice acting is top-notch, and the whole soundscape rumbles with terrific power from every speaker in the room. There is a simple stereo track for the original Japanese cast, and that's a real shame. As much as I like ADV's dubs, I also enjoy rewatching the show in Japanese to see if I can pick up different nuances and dialogue to make more sense of the plot. I wish they would punch up the Japanese tracks to give them more drama. Would it be that hard to do a surround mix when they've already made one for English?
Extras are plentiful in this first edition. We get clean openings and closings, character profiles and sketches, episode art, and original Japanese commercials for the show. Interestingly enough, a 16-minute featurette with "talking head" interviews of the ADV English-language cast is included, but not listed on the packaging. It's called "Inside the Actors Head"—which could very well be a scary place to be. It's funny to see these people who provide voices for the show, and see how they look like their character (or not). Greg Ayres, who plays Toga, has blue hair that matches his cartoon counterpart, and many of the cast share traits with their characters. Unfortunately, the actress playing Mizuki (the biggest boobs on the show) is rather flat and brunette, in contrast to the well-endowed blonde she plays on the show. It's a fun look at the ADR cast, but unfortunately they can tell us very little about the actual show, since they had nothing to do with its creation or development. Really, they just match lip flaps in a cold booth while watching cartoons.
In the final analysis I wouldn't recommend Gravion Zwei: Eye of the Storm unless you love fan service. It's a funny, fast moving show that ultimately goes nowhere in this volume. Perhaps we will get a hint of plot in the next set—but if this one is any indication, all we can look forward to are uplifting pop songs and uplifting bras, all inside a giant robot. It's a teenage boy's paradise, but a peculiar hell for everyone else.
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