Rescued from the RAC forum with permission from BT
images from amazon.co.uk
I have recently finished watching the first Gravion series (yay £1 ADV sale). The series comes in 3 volumes, which at the top of volume 2 proudly boast "From Studio Gonzo, Producers of Hellsing & Last Exile". I have not seen Last Exile, but I have seen Hellsing (which I thought was rubbish, but that's not the issue here), and this series certainly fits in with Hellsing in that you get lots of action and pointless speech, but very little emotional attachment. This isn't bad if you are just looking for an action anime, but is a point worth rising.
What is Gravion? It's mainly an action series about a giant robot fighting giant aliens, pretty much Power Rangers without the transforming into costumes before calling out the megazord (I think that's what it was o.O). Gravion is the name of the robot which contains 6 pilots, who each have their own "vehicle" which combines to make the Gravion Robot. The characters are pretty much your usual bunch. Eiji - loud mouth, "I want to fight", rush into any situation guy; Toga - quiet but polite, doesn't get out much, all the girls like him; Luna the loud mouth girl who always bickers with the loud mouth male character, but who also has a kind side hidden away; Mizuki is big breasts woman who does all the "naughty" things but who just wants to be loved (yeah, don't read that the wrong way please ); Eina the clumsy female with glasses who isn't very confident; and finally Leele who has a pet ferret, but she is also very shy and delicate. So with these characters you get your bog standard action show.
The episodes are also just as predictable. You have your "the main guy runs off in a huff" episode, then a super opponent appears, they need his help, he comes back, saves the day, the end. Or the "oh no we can't beat this enemy he's just too strong" episode, but somehow a super duper weapon just pops up and, oh, the good guys win.
There is a lot of pointless fan service in this series as well. You've got your larger breast woman, who of course has to show them in 1 episode. And the castle where they all live, the people (apart from 4) who live & work there are female maids who wear very revealing costumes. They also like to undress Eiji a lot, which is a bit creepy .
I think this anime might be more suited to a younger audience, but then with the large level of fan service it's quite difficult to work out who they are trying to aim this series at. I found the story very flat and predictable, with no real meaning behind anything. For example, Eiji we are told from the first episode is looking for his sister, yet when the writers feel like it they just drop this motivation, and then when it suits them they pick it up again. This leads to very disjointed characters and a disjointed story. By that I mean one minute he wants to finds his sister and doesn't care what the cost may be; the next he's completely forgotten and is off messing around at the beach. You could argue that "he's just taking a break" but the series does not convey this very well, it’s more a "we need a beach scene, so let's drop this motivation and create some fan service".
There is also very few recurring themes in the series. It's as if every episode just touches on a possible theme that could be used, but it's then completely lost by the next episode. One example of this is Mizuki is looking back on the past where she knew Eijis sister (and possibly loved her?). You get to see a soft side to this character, and Eiji gets to witness it. But sadly this comes to an end with a fighting sequence, and then you never hear anything of it again for the rest of the series. In fact you don't even get a hint of Mizuki being affected by it anymore. If she really did love this girl why has she suddenly forgotten and never shown feelings again.
There are some good points to this anime though. If you like pointless fan service you could watch this series happily, since there is a lot of it. Also if you do like this kind of action fighting series you might enjoy Gravion. There are points where I thought "yeah this theme could be developed further", but sadly it is usually interrupted by an alien attack, where the characters just drop everything to go into their all singing and dancing combination sequence (which can take up to 2 minutes, almost every episode argh ). Then once the alien is defeated it's as if they've forgotten everything before hand - add in a bit of fan service - run ending credits. The animation itself is good, with cute girls, although putting them in maids uniforms and "forcing" them to be used for fan service is a bit too much imo. What's wrong with normal clothes, or even male house keepers?
Some of the music used suits the action in the series. Although most of the time music is only used for action sequences, since that's really all this show has to offer. You won't get any slow moving, quiet music for a possible romance; or a mysterious musical score. The music used in the action sequences though does suit the mood; it gets you geared up for some alien bashing.
Oh and the character of Sandman (the multi millionaire who created Gravion) is voiced by the same VA who did the English Lord Ilpalazzo from Excel Saga; which made this character more enjoyable to watch. The thought of him ruling the world every time I heard his voice, to then have Excel burst in would have been great - but this did not happen . Though this has nothing to do with the series, more a side track that I personally enjoyed.
Each DVD comes with a little book with various arts. You get one with the Mecha drawings, and two with character drawings. They also contain a 3 part story (1 in each DVD), but I have not read these since the series wasn't that interesting. The DVDs also contain your usual clean opening and ending, design sketches and ADV trailers. There are also other little extras, but nothing worth commenting on.
In conclusion, Gravion is definitely a series for anyone who enjoys giant robot fights and action sequences. Also people who like to see anime females in maid costumes, this is for you . But if you are looking for something with more meaning, story and emotional attachment this isn't really a series for you. At £1 a DVD it's well worth buying; £20 a pop probably not worth it. I've only watched the series in the dubbed version, so maybe I would enjoy it more in Japanese or draw different conclusions from the series; but I'm not in a rush to watch it again.
[Not related to the review: The "more smileys..." option, how do you put them into a post propperly? I copy and pasted, but it came up with that blue linking border. Thanks.]
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