I have come across a great deal of animes that have left a bad taste in my mouth during my early adventures into the medium. Never in my life have I come across a series that felt like a torturous ordeal. This my friend, is the anime known as Gasaraki. It does not help that director Ryounosuke Takashashi was involved in this series, since he also worked on Armored Troopers Votoms. I heard Votoms was a great series, so I thought that there was a bit of hope for this show. Unfortunately, that beacon of hope blew up in my face as I started to watch the first episode.
Join me after the jump as I do my best to protect you from the deadly grasp of Gasaraki.
Gasaraki Complete Series Collection (DVD)
Gasaraki's premise is actually a huge mess of things. Instead of establishing a setting and a main cast, the show throws you into a segment that feels like a news coverage about a random war that is going on in the Middle East. During the fighting, we are given a couple scenes with a few people having a discussion about some sort of huge plan (Doesn't really matter because the series failed to give the viewers a reason to care.). There are also various other things going on, but in reality none of it feels very relevant.
In other words, Gasaraki fails to establish its story during the early episodes of the series. Instead, you have to wait until episode six to get an idea of which characters you are going to follow throughout this mess of an anime series. You can also tell that this show is one of those series that came out during the era when everyone was trying to be like Evangelion. In this case, it is more of an insult to this series. First of all, the abstract things flashing in the viewer's face early one feels very inconsistent and out of place, and none of the characters are fleshed out to where you want to have a reason to follow their journey. Which is probably because the series assumes that their viewers are under the influence of drugs and alcohol (Alcohol will only slightly reduce the pain.).
How can one care about committing to a series if one doesn't even know what to expect out of the plot? Where is the motive, and where are the interesting characters? This people is how not make a series, since you have to establish something early on to draw in the viewers. Based on what I picked up, there are two factions facing each other. One similar to SEELE, and another one that is kind of like NERV. Both sides have these mechs that inject some sort of special liquid into the pilot when they fight, and there are a handful of ulterior motives going on between both groups. The two main characters of the series are some sort of special humans that are a key factor in both factions' major scheme. Either way, none of us care because of the poor execution that lies within the show's writing.
So Gasaraki has a poorly crafted storyline, does it have at least a good art and animation direction going with it? When the show looks kind of decent, the style shows off that the animators had a bit of influence from Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's style. However, there are times when the show features many off model designs in which the characters eyes shrink in size, or the shape of the faces seem very strange. You can expect these inconsistencies to alternate between each episode. While the mech designs are what you can expect out of real type designs, none of them stand out in this series. In a way, they come off as poorly made creations from the Armored Core series of video games. Wait, that is going a bit too far, since Armored Core still has some good designs, regardless of the combinations that you put together. Perhaps it is a bit blander than Lagrange's mech designs. Or you could say, imagine if the mech designers of Lagrange did designs for Armored Core, which is probably one of the best ways to describe the show's robots.
Since the dub was done by ADV Films back in the days, most of the lines seem to come off a bit unnatural at times. By unnatural, I am talking about the voices not having enough emphasis into the lines, along with voices that sound a bit exaggerated (Basically, most of the issues that plagued most dubs back then.). If you think that the story was ruined for me because of the dub, then you are in for a surprise. Even in the original language, Gasaraki still feels like a force that aches at your body from within as you are trying to sit through every single episode. In terms of translations, the subs were fine. However, there were some moments where you encounter a few grammatical errors. For example, there were some parts where certain punctuation marks and words were misused during the certain lines. As I said earlier, these errors happen rarely, but they do stand out when they appear.
To top it all off, the series has one of the worst opening and ending themes that I have heard in a long time. One of them is cluttered with horrendous Engrish, and the other starts off with an ear aching high pitch verse. If you manage to survive the entire health threatening ordeal, there are also some extras in the form of concept art along with a feature about the making of the series.
What better way to have an abomination of a series by having a package design that inflicts frustration upon the viewer as they try to reach out for the right DVD to pop in. First of all, you don't have DVD slots that overlap on top of each other in a package. This makes it a bit of a hassle when you want to pop in a certain DVD, since you have to pull out two at once. A true design either has an individual thin case for each DVD, or they have individual DVD page holders within the case. If companies continue to have an issue with the packaging, then they should hire someone to test the convenience of taking out each disk and popping it into a player.
I am not sure what audience was taken into consideration when Gasaraki was made. Something tells me that it was just a cop out to please those fans who have not grown up from their experience with Evangelion (I am referring to the obsessive fans that see it as the next coming of Christ.). If there was one good thing about the series, it would be the previews for the animes that Nozomi was advertising in the DVDs.
It is very hard to classify this show as an anime series. In reality, I would label it as a subliminal torture device that attacks the viewer's inner organs. On the bright side, at least Sunrise has never resorted to doing another series that evokes the same level of suffering.
For the sake of all things good and pure, please avoid this series at all cost. If you plan to ever check it out, you might experience some minor pains in the chest area along with the urge to throw up during each scene. If anything, this show is more effective as a weapon against your foes, instead of a form of entertainment.
2.0 – Painful. 2s are so bad that they barely even count as movies. It's rare that you ever find a movie this bad in your entire life. You can't forgive it, and you'll never forget it.
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