Gad Guard: Volume 3 - Persona Review
With Gad Guard slowly beginning to unravel its various complexities over the course of the first two volumes, here it almost comes to a grinding halt as the potential story arc is thrown to one side in favour of several episodes that do little to further the plot and aid any of the characters significantly. The four episodes included on this disc act as stand alone efforts that feature comical, dangerous, and haphazard scenarios, some of which flesh out characters ever so slightly but not enough for us to have any more idea of where the series is going. So let's see how things stand in Volume 3.
We open up with an episode that is entirely devoted to Katana and Sayuri. Katana goes off to search for his old friend Radigue, who is a mechanic as he needs a replacement arm for Zero, when they finally meet up again their memories come flooding back and here we learn a very small portion about Katana's life three years ago.
First off I like the step that Gonzo have taken to pay so much attention toward its "Baddie". It is great to see that we have some insight into how Katana thinks and that just maybe he might not be such a bad guy. Clearly he is after something but maybe it is staring him in the face, perhaps what he seeks isn't just the Gad stones but a way to fulfil his own being and these notions come about during this episode when he interacts with young Sayuri and his old friend. We begin to see more passion come from him and although he tries to hide his true feelings his actions are often transparent to those around him who know him too well. Katana seems to be fearful of letting his guard down both emotionally and physically so to gain so much from him here is most satisfactory. Sayuri on the other hand is hinted at, with nothing about her character being given away. Every time someone mentions her family she laughs it off without answering, she is still as much a mystery as ever before.
Things begin to take a bit of a tumble for the next episode that sets out to impress with its deliberate and chronologically challenged story. This is perhaps the first and strangest episode yet that feels entirely out of place in the series due to its obvious attempt at trying to be suspenseful. What starts off confusing ends up being disappointing as by the end the story just isn't worth caring over. It seems that the writers took a back seat from writing the story, that or they just don't have enough material to fill a 26 episode run, which is a little worrying considering there are four volumes left. The final two episodes pretty much run the same way, with the third offering another story involving an Atechode and the other being nothing more than a comical piece to round things off that has no Techode action whatsoever.
There are still a couple of moments that open up characters a bit. We finally learn about Hajiki's father and what happened to him, this affected Hajiki in a big way as we begin to realise that he may once have had the same ambitions as his father but decided to put them behind him. Now that he has Lightning he wonders if it is destiny that brought them together, realising he may have more of a purpose and impact on the world around him.
There's something about Hajiki's character that begins to trouble me though. During the day when he's a normal lad, making deliveries he comes across as a much better person but by night when he dons his aviator's costume to ride with Lightning we see another side of him, one that is more grown up and supposedly mature. I say supposedly because he acts like he is an adult when he's dressed up like a superhero, something which Katana addresses in one of the episodes. Katana has a point and Hajiki fails to see it. I can't say that I buy into the sudden change in character in this respect.
The only other person we get to know a little more about is Arashi. It looks like the writers are going for a romantic paring between her and Hajiki, while nothing much happens the signs are beginning to show. Aside from this Arashi seems to be aimlessly wandering, still trying to teach Hayate to fly and generally not providing much of interest.
Something which struck me later on in this volume was a scene involving Hajiki and Takumi. At one point Hajiki approaches him with Lightning and begins to talk to him before pulling off his mask and announcing his true identity. Likewise Takumi does the same and they both learn who each other really is. Now I found this moment to be unintentionally funny. I cannot understand for the life of me how these two characters never knew about each other before now, in fact I already assumed that they did know as it was so glaringly obvious. Either this means I haven't been paying enough attention to the series and have missed something here or the storytellers actually think that this device has worked up until now, which I have to say it didn't and as such comes across as being a silly twist.
Aside from this there is the occasional family scene, involving Hajiki's mother and his sister, who is always referred to as his sister and never owning a name for the series will continue to remain so anonymous throughout. The only real focus on her is her interest in dancing, otherwise she doesn't play any significant role.
Volume 3 features the following episodes:
Episode 9: Snow Melts the Heart
Katana and Sayuri head out to Unit Grey in search of Radigue, a mechanic who might be able to help in giving Zero a new arm. Radigue is tracked down by a detective who was aided by an unknowing Sayuri and soon a deadly confrontation occurs.
Episode 10: Bundles of Bills in the Setting Sun
Unit Blue's two top police officers, Mary and Chris begin to chase Hajiki and Lightning through the Night Town streets. Hajiki has wound up with a bag belonging to an unknown man who asks him to deliver it to a woman, honouring this Hajiki sets out to find her. Katana learns of the bag and immediately sets chase, meanwhile Hajiki runs into his former classmate Melissa, who is in search of adventure.
Episode 11: No Returning to Rainbow Town
A war between two rival crime families is sparked off when an investigator is found dead in the Night Town river. Hajiki is asked to deliver a small package to a criminal gang, who are residing in an apartment block. Shortly after leaving the package explodes and Hajiki realises that his delivery has caused the death of several people. Takumi has a hunch that Katana may be involved and so the pair set out to find the true suspect.
Episode 12: Blue Bird
Hajiki is given a huge delivery - to deliver a hundred wedding invitations around town. However things don't go too well as Hajiki is plagued by a series of unfortunate events. Meanwhile, Arashi is searching for her cat, Andromeda, who has run away. Andromeda is important to her as she brought to her the Gad that became Hayate and thus Arashi feels that she is a big part in this. Due to delivering so many letters Hajiki learns that his school report is late and punishment looms in the air.
In the same tradition as the previous volumes, Geneon provide us with a clear amaray case complete with reversible sleeve. This time we see Arashi grace the cover with a silhouette of Hayate behind her. On the reverse side we get Hajiki in his superhero outfit, riding atop Lightning.
Gad Guard's standard of animation continues to shine on in this well presented disc. Much like before the only thing that detracts from the overall score is various traces of digital artefacts in the form of banding and aliasing. I'm not sure if a show produced in this way could ever look as good as it does here unless a new format capable of handing these better comes out. Despite these shortcomings the image is vibrant, crisps and compliments the series well.
We get a choice of Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital and likewise for the English track. Both tracks are free from major problems and offer a good listening experience. Volume 3 in the series doesn't require much in terms of effects as much of the action takes place without Techodes'.
It’s a bit of a shame that not more effort was put into these.
A nice but small collection of artwork from the series.
Trailers for other Geneon titles: Space Pirate Captain Herlock, Requiem from the Darkness and Burn Up: Scramble.
There is also a hidden outtake feature which I can't find, if anyone can then please let me know.
The third volume of Gad Guard has been somewhat of a disappointment, showing little sign of progression. I can only hope that for the next volume we see some kind of development toward the story arc and begin to get some answers for the questions that are being raised.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 10:57:58