The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Gasaraki

Title: Gasaraki
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Sunrise
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 4 Dec 1998 – 28 Mar 1999

Synopsis: In the wake of an economic depression, the powerful Gowa family has developed the powerful Tactical Armor mobile weapon. Backed by nationalist organizations, they intend to control Japan’s influence in the world. The oldest son, Kazukiyo, however, doesn’t just want to stop at that. Exploiting his youngest brother Yushiro, he intends on summoning the Gasaraki, a being which the Gowa Clan utilized to exercise their power 800 years ago.

The Highlights
Animation: Dull and insipid.
Characters: The supporting cast is far more interesting.
Attentiveness to realism: Surprising.
Drama: Underwhelming… until someone gets shot.
Presentation: Dryer than week-old Thanksgiving Day turkey.

I’m going to risk alienating a few people in saying that I didn’t really care for To Kill a Mockingbird. Not to say it’s bad. The book is well written, solid, and at times genuinely moving. Yet, I personally find the execution so uncaptivating to the point where I couldn’t get into it. The same goes for Gasaraki. In and of itself, the show has a well-developed story, but it is also a complete drag, hard to get into, and energy consuming. Now, I’m sure this is not made for the sole sake of entertainment, but all that it ends up having is among the driest presentations of any anime out there.

Gararaki honestly tries to be something special, but this ambition is ultimately meaningless when there’s no compelling story to hang on to. There are countless attempts to build up drama through dialogue. Unfortunately, most of these attempts are muddled up by unusually worded exposition and unbecoming (and possibly xenophobic) philosophy. It is really hard to care when uninteresting speeches are being presented by unsympathetic characters. It’s a real shame that the far more engaging side cast are left out and never really given a chance.

Action might play second fiddle to drama, but considering that the drama is unimpressive, Gasaraki needs something to take refuge in. It may have helped, but much like drama, it is absolutely boring. There is something to be said about trying to attain a level of realism; however, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the fight scenes lack good direction, are slow moving, and feature the kind of unimpressive color scheme that makes Gundam Wing so pitiful. Personally, once you add something like an 800-year-old demon into a show, the laws of physics can be thrown out the window.

Much like Tomino’s Brain Powered, Gasaraki suffers from post-Evangelion syndrome, where an attempt at a multi-layered story turns out to be a convoluted mess. It’s just overcomplicated to the point where it is utterly meaningless. However, to its credit, there are moments dealing with the SSDF and Japan’s economic crisis that are quite riveting. What is done with real world politics is absolutely uncanny, in a good way. There is something to be said when an anime’s highpoint revolves around the price of grain exports. But alas, these are not part of the central focus.

I have to say how disappointed I’m at towards the staff. Aside from just director Takahashi Ryouske (Armored Trooper Votoms), this series had the fortune of having an assistant director like Taniguchi Goro (Planetes, Code Geass), as well as mechanical designs by Patlabor’s Izubuchi Yutaka and Megazone 23’s Aramaki Shinji. The product that comes together overall shows signs of genius; however, it comes at the expense of the common viewer and even the mecha/action viewer in a strive for “realism.” The best thing to compare Gasaraki to would have to be a turkey. It is dense, meaty, and has good reason for you to bite into it. But it is so consuming and so stale that it is barely worth the effort.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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