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un-checked Comedychecked Mechschecked Drama
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Running Length:24min x 25 episodes
Description:An intense mecha drama with involved politics and spirituality. It tells a story of a young man in the middle of scientific experiments, a war in the middle east and the development of warfare with bipedal robots.

Vote Highlights Vote
Bipedal robots are always the last line of defence.

Before watching Gasaraki I had heard a lot of things about it. Unfortunately most of these seem misleading. Some people may draw similarities between it and the Gainax series Neon Genesis: Evangelion, but to my mind the similarities were few and far between.

Gasaraki is a story about political upheaval. A middle-eastern crisis is the platform for the first field tests of a new form of weapon, bipedal armoured robots, and in the mean time a flagging clan in Japan struggles to regain the political power it once held over that country's government. The writers of the series seem to have struggled to remove the cheese from the derivative and dated (or some would say classic?) giant robot genre. They strive to tell a story of political intrigue, duty and spiritual awakening.... to my mind, they fail.

From start to finish, Gasaraki seemed to me to be a story told more for the benefit of the storytellers, than the audience. The plot, for some, seemed difficult to understand and get into and for others (myself included) moved painfully slowly. It surgically removes the melodrama and ridiculous premises that have been associated with mecha series in the past. However, it seems that in an effort to capture realism the audience gets bogged down in waves of military jargon, combat strategies and unexplained scientific mumbo-jumbo. It is unfortunate that there is very little exposition, because most of the theory is very sound, just not very interesting.

The movement of the story suffers from pacing that had me on many occasions literally falling asleep. It is only when I compare this series to other serious animé such as Jin-Roh or Grave of Fireflies that I realise what generally makes a purely serious show worth watching; the characters.

Unfortunately Gasaraki has very few characters that an audience can really relate to. The plot is so cerebral that characters seem to act more as plot devices than people, and you seldom understand their inner workings beyond a few basic desires. In ways it seemed that there were parallels between Neon Genesis and Gasaraki when it came to the inner struggles of the mecha pilots, but I felt there was no real sense of growth and change. I found myself craving a dramatic epiphany but was left wanting. It was interesting to note that the motivations for many of the characters were so superfluous that it made little to no impact on the storyline when their dialogue and motivations had, in places, been completely changed from the Japanese version to the English dub.

The art in the series was lovely. I liked the character designs, which were simplistic and yet fairly easy to differentiate. The colours were well done and the animation was fluid. CG components were integrated well. Personally I find bad CG integration spoils the look of animé but in Gasaraki the CG at least was the right colours to work with the traditional animation.

The only gripe I had with the soundtrack of this series was the familiar soundbites for all the computers (which reminded me continually of video games I had played). For a series with such high animation quality I find it surprising that they didn't seem to have time to record new beeps and buzzes for their computers, electronic doors and machines. Otherwise the soundtrack is brilliant. The music is memorable and the only thing that kept me conscious in some of the more bogged down moments. I think it worked, though in places it felt like the music had been written for a slightly more stereotypically melodramatic series.

In overview, I think anyone with grounding in sciences and military drama would probably get a little more out of the series. I found the storytelling was boring and the pacing was slow. It was interesting that there was a section of the story told in historical flashback, but some of the animation from this section was cheap and needlessly artsy. I was left feeling somewhat disjointed from the plot as there is no clear indication of the beginning and end of the flashback. The whole experience felt like an exercise in self-gratification on the part of the writers. It was more like they were playing with their own ideas than trying to convey a story to an audience. For the most part however the plot was believable, except for some glaring plot holes at the end of the story. If you feel like watching the series, do so with friends... they can prod you if you fall asleep.

Overall Rating: 5
Animation:7 Plot:4 Humor:3 Sound Track:7
Weight: 40 (Reputable Vote)
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