Gad Guard: Volume 2 - Corruption Review
With several Techodes' running about the city and more Gad stones to be discovered, life is pretty hectic for Hajiki and pals. While Hajiki still struggled to decide what to do with Lightning his new friend Takumi was self labelling himself as a defender of justice, Hajiki realised that these machines can and should be used for good and much like Takumi and Thunderbolt he too wonders if he should protect the city with Lightning and quash statements that they are nothing more than destructive beasts capable of tearing down cities single handily.
There will be some spoilers in this review, some of which are unavoidable I'm afraid as I discuss several of the characters
Volume 2 in the series sets out to address several more characters, human and otherwise and slowly begins to build upon the mystery surrounding the Gad stones, introducing new facts about them but without yet explaining in detail how it is they exist. We learn that the heart of one person can cause a Techode to materialize from a Gad but as yet we don't exactly know what a Gad is and what its name stands for. Did anyone create them or did they simply come into being from the owners own fantastical ideas? At this stage it might not be worth wondering but I can't help but feel that this may be overlooked in future volumes. Right now the best I can assume is that Gad is a shorter way of saying Guard. If you take the name Gadrian you'll see it almost sounds the same as Guardian. For these four episodes little effort has been made to divulge these questions and instead a slightly different route is taken.
In this volume we learn that in another place there are mechanical monsters known as Gadrians. Gadrians are in fact Techode warriors but in Unit Cobalt they are known for being harbingers of destruction. This revelation comes into place later on in the volume when two new characters are introduced. Seikai and Isa have been hunting down and putting Gadrians out of commission - revenge for their city that had been levelled in the aftermath of a Gadrian's visit, also resulting in the death of Seikai's younger brother.
Despite the rather gloomy premise Seikai and Isa are the two freshest characters to enter the fray. Both of them are amusing with a good relationship and are instantly likeable, even though their cause is to eliminate every Techode on the planet, something that we, the viewer should be against. But it is an interesting aspect to the storyline that is beginning to show how the minds of others work in relation to what is going on. It seems that fear and the uncertainty of Gad technology is what prompts these two hunters to overlook the good that might come from them and focus on destroying every one - they'll happily parade around in daylight in Heavy Metal armoury and have no shame in what they do.
It is nice to see that while more characters are introduced the already established ones are given more of a workout. First I'll get out of the way Hajiki's mother and sister. These two seem to have been relegated for now although I presume they will make an appearance again in future. They give us an insight into Hajiki's upbringing and why he works so hard for them and we do get to see the fruits of his labour that he wishes to save so that he can take his family back to Day Town. There are some subtle moments where we hear his father's name but nothing is given away. I'll take this to mean that either his father was hardworking and provided a solid income but his passing away left his family in poverty and that is that, or that he plays a much bigger role in things to come. This wouldn't be entirely surprising as it is a tactic employed often in anime shows, where the lead character's fate and family upbringing leads him to a life he never dreamed of. Of course this is all guess work so I'll be interested in seeing where things go from here.
Arashi is given more time in this volume. We learn that she once came from Day Town and moved away at such a tender age. She gets a new job helping to put up billboard signs which begins with a very amusing scene as she works her way through the interview for what appears to be a far more sleazier job. This goes back to what I mentioned previously about the adult tones that surface now and then but are often employed with such playful humour that they're easy to take in for a show of this type, the writers know when to draw then line and for the most part it is charming. Arashi now dreams of owning her own Techode after seeing Hajiki, Takumi and Aiko fly around in theirs. Later on Arashi's dream comes true when another Techode appears as she is accidentally flung from a building. Just how many Gad stones are in existence is unknown at this point as the writers clearly have no problem in introducing them.
Two more characters who have been very mysterious and continue to be getting more attention are Sayuri and Wanda Woman. Sayuri made an appearance in the previous volume, she turns up in places where you wouldn't expect her to, she appears to be an orphan girl, no family is mentioned and all she seems interested in is making friends with Katana. This places Katana in an awkward position as he doesn't know what to do with the young girl. She constantly re-appears in the junkyards and develops a fascination with his new Techode, Zero. Just what her purpose is supposed to be has yet to be explored but she seems to serve almost as a conscience figure for Katana, she opens his eyes from time to time and although he won’t admit to it he knows that she can be right on occasion.
Wanda is intriguing because she is the flip side of the coin. Wanda is a woman who is fuelled by greed and can get what she wants by flaunting her body. When she comes into contact with a Gad stone and accidentally swallows it her body undergoes a temporary transformation. It is here that we learn about Atechodes. An Atechode is born from a person's greed and becomes a hideously deformed machine, with only destruction on its mind. When it comes to Wanda this is what we learn about her character. She may not exhibit violent tendencies, in fact she seems very playful but inside she is troubled and spoilt.
Volume 2 of Gad Guard contains the following episodes:
Episode 5: And Then the Rain Will Fall
A Gad stone is being delivered to the Day Town museum and Wanda decides to make an offer to Katana, they both pair together to steal the stone. When Jack and his gang visit Wanda's place to take the stone for themselves Wanda accidentally swallows the Gad and in the town junkyard she transforms into an Atechode.
Episode 6: The Five Masks
Hajiki has begun to think more about Lighting and its potential. He knows that Takumi and Aiko use theirs for good but he can't yet decide how he should use Lightning, who he seems to treat more like a friendly pet. There is talk going around that a smuggling operation is taking place at the port area and soon after Hajiki and Katana arrive at the scene they witness a Gad transform into an Atechode. Hajiki and Katana must work together to bring the monstrous train to a halt before it destroys the city.
Episode 7: If I Could Fly
Catherine has asked Hajiki (in the best way she knows how) to steal a case from Baldarno, after a chase involving the police. Hajiki cannot find any Gad that was promised, leaving everyone a little confused. The case has a handle missing - could this be the Gad? Meanwhile, Arashi has got herself a new part-time job helping out a sign maker. One night while overlooking the cityscape she has a near fatal accident but it is when clinging onto a sign for dear life something amazing takes place. A new Techode is born and Arashi's dream comes true. As she soars through the sky she names it Hayate.
Episode 8: The Wandering Pair
Seikai and Isa have travelled the deserts in their Heavy Metals' searching for Gadrians to crush. They arrive at Unit Blue where they find the Gadrian/Techode, Thunderbolt and proceed to fire upon it. Their frenzy is interrupted when Takumi rushes to Thunderbolt's aid. Seikai and Isa can't believe what they are witnessing when they see Takumi talking with Thunderbolt, showing a bond between them. They believe that the Techode's have ulterior motives and try to convince their owners of this.
Like volume 1 Geneon provide us with a reversible cover, featuring some great artwork. This time we get Aiko and Takumi on the front, whereas the reverse shows Jack and Wanda.
Geneon show off Gonzo's animation brilliantly with yet another great looking disc. I find myself becoming familiar with several things that seem to regularly crop up on these digital shows. First off there is noticeable banding, though thankfully it is minimal. There is also aliasing present but for these I can't see myself detracting many points. Like the first volume the image is very clean, with lovely colours that have such a large range. The night time scenes, of which there are many hold up remarkably well and don't become too bogged down by the difficulties in transferring such scenes with varying light sources.
There is a choice of the original Japanese 2.0 Surround track and an English 2.0 Surround track. I failed to mention last time how great the series sounds. The punchy score comes through clear and makes for some very exciting action scenes, for which the speakers handle well. Once the frantic action takes place you’re in for a treat as steel collides, when it comes down to dialogue this again is mixed nicely, making it clear and pleasant.
There are optional English subtitles. These are bold and yellow, with a black trim around them, making them very easy to read. There are two subtitle tracks, the first of which just translates sign names etc, for those who prefer to listen to the English track. There are a couple of instances that seem a little suspect - one example being that Aiko's Techode, Messerschitt is translated in English as Messah Schmidt, otherwise not too many complaints.
Non-credit Closing Animation
I like this sequence as much as the opening one so it is great to watch it without titles. There is a nice blend of stylish hand drawn animation and subtle CG effects.
Another very short gallery that features concept designs and poster art. Some images just repeat themselves, sans background.
Trailers for: Gun Grave, Read or Die: The Series and Demon Lord Dante.
There are also DVD credits but I never include these as extras on a DVD release - except I just did.
Gad Guard is still entertaining, which is good. Volume 2 does a fine job in fleshing out some characters and introducing some memorable new ones. The plot is still up in the air with much more to be discovered in future volumes. In addition to the good character work there is plenty of exhilarating action scenes to take in, each one looking different to the last, keeping a unique flavour to them. I'm also being bowled over by some brilliant compositions throughout the series that really add to the atmosphere.