New Getter Robo: Volume 2 - The Yin-Yang Master Review
Oni, Oni, Oni - so many Oni. More Oni than you can shake a sword at. With this many Oni beasts wandering around how can Ryoma and pals ever hope to clean up the world? Who knows, because they just keep a comin’. As the Oni approach the big lab thingy, Ryoma, Hayato and Benkei strike in the Getter. When they defeat the baddies more of them turn up, bigger and badder. When the Getter follows a nasty looking thing (that looks like a wormy bug) through a hole in the sky they wind up back in time, in the old Heian capital.
New Getter Robo is still plodding along, ignoring its own plot lines in favour of extensive blood letting - enjoyable bloodletting - but a bit much all the same. When opportunities present themselves for some background information, or as being subjects for some of the more mysterious elements in the series things just clam up. As such we don’t learn about what is underground, beneath the base; this is something that Ryoma asks Saotome about, to which he gets more of a grunt than an answer. In all likelihood this will be picked up on a later volume, but until then that doesn’t leave the series with much else in terms of plot. That leaves us with the odd banter between Ryoma and Saotome, when the professor tells him that he thinks he’s scared of going through the portal which soon shows up. Obviously Ryoma has to prove him otherwise though.
Episode 5 picks up on a familiar note; the Getter pilots are out fighting monsters, while another Oni excavation takes place. The only real development here is that we learn of a fierce battle that was waged between humans and Oni many centuries ago, and was never recorded in the history books. Of course this merely sets up the rest of the volume, which follows the series’ first real arc. After chasing a monster through a portal, Ryoma, Hayato and Benkei find themselves in the ancient Dark Heian capital in feudal Japan. Interestingly they have become separated, with each one having arrived at a different point in time. We discover that Benkei has been there for approximately two years and even has a woman, while Hayato has been wandering around for a month and Ryoma is off on the other side of the capital, befriending a samurai clan and killing loads of Oni. Furthermore the Getter has become legendary; being depicted in ancient paintings as a giant Oni; it now rests peacefully on a mountain top, waiting for the day to be rediscovered. Also, most puzzlingly, technology here has evolved out of sequence, with samurai carrying artillery. Why is this? Everyone wonders.
Naturally things aren’t too peachy at this point. It’s certainly an unexpected twist, which takes away from the norm. Once again New Getter Robo plays on a famous Japanese legend, this time introducing Seimei Abe. He was a famous Onmyodo practitioner during the Heian period, who dealt in the art of magic. He was also an astrologist and his teachings became well known. He later became a big part of Japanese storytelling, and throughout the years he has been reinterpreted on film and anime, to name but a couple of mediums. So naturally New Getter Robo places its own spin on Seimei as an Onmyoji and depicts him as a bit of a baddie. Here, Seimei controls the Oni (much like he does in most fictionalised tales) and gleefully sends them on killing rampages, which manages to put a nice big grin on his face.
That’s about it for the storyline. With only three episodes on this disc things finish on a climactic note, with the gang still stranded in the past while they face Seimei. I’ll correct now what I mentioned in the previous review however. The fight sequences, of which there are many, are now starting to get a little repetitive. Fortunately it’s mainly in the areas that involve transformations or axe wielding - classic recycling jobs. Other moments prove to shine, with some particularly pleasant animation that manages to take the Getter to new places: from an underwater encounter to battling Seimei himself. All of this is of course still accompanied by more rock anthems, that although cheesy are actually helpful in creating more excitement during each encounter. So arguably this continues to be New Getter Robo‘s greatest strength, as so far it has done very little to flesh out its characters and provide any answers. There are two volumes to go, although in all seriousness three would have sufficed. I’m starting to get a little fed up with series that involve occasional story arcs being cut off, without any resolution until the next release. For that I can’t say that this latest volume is value for money. Four episodes should be standard in my opinion, even though it’s probably Geneon’s way of making a little cash back from their license.
Episode 5: Oni-Fire
Saotome is keeping secrets from Ryoma and his friends as to what is underneath the laboratory. Meanwhile more Oni have been attacking and the Getter has been sent out to take care of them. Soon a mysterious cloud is detected over the lab; the Oni have been retreating through it. What lies on the other side? Ryoma is all too willing to find out.
Episode 6: The Mansion Where the Oni Dwell
Ryoma, Hayato and Benkei awaken to discover that they’re now in the Dark Heian period. They are now separated and must try to find each other. Meanwhile a master magician called Seimei Abe is overlooking their progress. Who is this man? And why does he strangle his women instead of doing better things with them? You will not find out.
Episode 7: The Yin-Yang Master
Seimei Abe now realises that Ryoma and pals are much stronger than he anticipated. He now looks forward to unleashing Oni hell against Ryoma and the Shogun. With Hayato and Benkei having found the Getter, things might just be looking up.
Volume 2 comes with a reversible sleeve, much like the first one. The A side features a more manga-like painting, with Ryoma brandishing a sword, while Seimei grins. Side B has Seimei grinning again, while the heroes look in different directions.
Things stay the same for this release. With that in mind I’ve decided to carry over my commentary for the previous release.
Geneon presents the series in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which holds up very well indeed. Go Nagai's style is bold, thick lined work that poses little problem here. The colour palette has been nicely rendered in CG and throughout the plentiful fight sequences the image retains detail without presenting too many problems in the way of digital blocking, though black levels do show a lack of depth at times. There's a small amount of noticeable compression in the way of mosquito noise but otherwise it looks fine. Brightness levels are a tad high, and when coupled with the less than deep blacks the picture tends to look a little washed out.
Despite offering Japanese and English 2.0 language tracks, the soundstage is often extremely dynamic with the front speakers picking up so much forward detail. The battles themselves are boisterous affairs with huge amounts of effects work and catchy music accompanying them, to make this series very impressive in the sound department.
Optional English subtitles are available. These are excellent, easy to read and well timed. There's a choice of enabling subtitles with or without sign translations - great for those preferring to stick with the English dub, which is an acceptable track in its own right even if it means I have to recommend the Japanese original once more.
Volume 1 had the clean opening, so volume 2 gets the decent closing. I do prefer this way of splitting the extras and making them a little different, as opposed to sticking the same thing on every volume.
Music Clip - “Roar”
The music for New Getter Robo is difficult to separate; it all sounds pretty much the same. Here we get another rock track, along with clips from the series.
Captain Herlock, Heat J Guy and Master Keaton trailers can be accessed here.
New Getter Robo has hardly improved since its first volume. It has managed to introduce a novel twist, but with little in the way of developments it’s left to carry itself with its lengthy battles and violent bloodshed. Take that as being good or bad; at the moment I’m still feeling very indifferent to it all.