Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Video Backlog: "Gunbuster vs Diebuster - Aim for the Top! The GATTAI!! Movie"

Publisher: Honneamise (Bandai Visual USA)
Format: Region 1 DVD Box Set, NTSC, Japanese Dialogue with optional English Subtitles
Length: 195 mins (total time)
Production Date: 2006 (1988 - 1989, 2004 - 2006)
Currently in Print (as of writing): Yes (Subtitled Japanese Blu-rays)

Story Outline: 2023 AD. Teenage girl Noriko Takaya has entered a robot training school on Okinawa, but her skills as a pilot are rather bad. Even so she idolises the talented Kazumi Amano, by far the best pilot in the school. However with the arrival of the new coach, Kouichirou Ohta, decides that both Amano and Noriko are to be chosen for mission into outer space. This of course ruffles quite a few feathers with both Amano and Noriko questioning Coach Ohta’s decision to pick Noriko. Especially when you consider Noriko is the daughter of a captain who was lost in a space battle, and Coach Ohta was on board the captain’s last mission. However though a lot of trial and error, Noriko becomes equal to Amano and both eventually pilot the super robot Gunbuster to defend the Earth against as huge army of aliens called space monsters.

Several thousands of years later, a young pink haired country girl named Nono, decides to become a space pilot after idolising Noriko. Though she doesn’t really get all that far and becomes a waitress as diner near the space port. After being saved by a woman named Lal'C Melk Mark from a couple of rough customers, Nono begins follow her, much to Lal'C’s annoyance. However an attack from a space monster shows that Nono isn’t an ordinary girl and she drafted into the elite band of pilots called the Topless, of which Lal'C is a member. The Topless continue the fight against the space monsters using their Buster Machines to defend the Solar System.

Mini Review: As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of compilation movies. The first movie here, “Gunbuster”, is severely truncated from its original 6 part OVA format. The material concerting Noriko’s struggles has been removed almost in its entirety. The moments with Smith Torren, Jung Freud and Reiko Kashiwara important to the plot are gone, which makes interaction between the characters seem strange (when viewing the movie in isolation the OVA series). But episodes to 4 to 6 are mostly left intact, and you really get a feel of how great this OVA series is. However the film is still highly inferior to the OVA series. There’s no added material except a remixed soundtrack, so I think the film is pretty much worthless.

The “Diebuster” movie on the other hand is excellent. First of all it can be viewed in isolation to the OVA series and is really well paced and flows naturally. There are also a couple of redone or new sequences which make the film really worthwhile. “Diebuster” contains a five minute “countdown” intermission before the feature starts. While this would have worked well in the cinema where both films were played back to back, it seems to be a really stupid to leave it in here and would have been better as a bonus feature. This box set reminded me how good “Gunbuster” was considering it was initially a robot parody of a 1970’s shoujo tennis drama, and that I should re-watch the OVA (especially to pick up more of the sci-fi references, like the posters of “War in Space” and “Message from Space” in Noriko’s room), but also that generally compilation movies blow. One can only wonder why Gainax felt it necessary to add the original OVA series in a truncated form to the “Diebuster” movie. “Diebuster” stands up on its own without any help at all. Though that final scene in the OVA and movie might not make any sense unless you hadn’t seen “Gunbuster” (I give full points for Gainax for that clever and amazing ending). Overall, it’s a decent package together, but the “Diebuster” film is a far better film, even though I really prefer the “Gunbuster” OVA over the “Diebuster” OVA (though the latter is an excellent OVA in its own right, just not a classic like “Gunbuster”). The “Gunbuster” movie really dragged the final overall score down for this one. 6.5 out of 10.

Remaining Backlog: 19 months (it's much easier this way than listing the number of discs).

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