Nozomi Entertainment has been on a roll with their license rescues from other companies and one of the real surprises was when they announced that they were rereleasing Gasaraki. Made in 1998 by Sunrise and released by ADV Films, Gasaraki was Sunrise’s attempt to make something along the lines of the successful Neon Genesis Evangelion, that came out a few years prior. In order to do it right, Sunrise enlisted the help of Ryousuke Takahashi, who created the wonderful Armored Troopers Votoms in 1983 as the series director. Gasaraki, at the helm of Takahashi’s direction, is very much a real robot show, a sub-genre of mecha in which the aspects of the mecha are rooted in realism. It is because of these details, the dense, multi layered plot and the roots of Japanese culture that make Gasaraki much more than an Evangelion rip off and one of best entries into the mecha genre of anime.
The series follows Yushiro Gowa, a pilot in the JSDF and the youngest son in the powerful Gowa family. Yushiro belongs to a small elite group of soldiers that pilot Tactical Armor’s, or TA’s for short, that were created by the Gowa family as a means to sell and distribute for wealth and power. While in the middle of a ceremony to summon an ancient weapon of destruction, Yushiro sees a mysterious girl that begs him to stop. The girl that he sees happens to be Miharu, a girl that is a test pilot for TA’s conceived by the Symbol Corp, the Gowa family’s rival.
Where Gasaraki truly succeeds is its dedication to be rooted very much in reality. From the Tactical Armor’s to the use of media manipulation, Gasaraki sets itself apart from other mecha shows and proves that a down to earth approach to material can be just as fantastic as a lone boy in a robot trying to save the world. The plotting of the series is very intricate and makes full use of its entire 25 episode run, unlike most shows that have either the same amount or less than that squander the potential to tell an engaging story. While Gasaraki can feel quite sterile, both in its characters and its sensibilities, the show is so imbued with Japanese sensibilities, that it can feel off putting. There’s commentary on nationalism, Noh Performance and many other elements that are so demanding of one to understand or have some sentiment of Japanese culture, that one may be turned off or not as entertained while watching Gasaraki.
Nozomi Entertainment has rereleased Gasaraki in a single DVD case that spans five discs, as opposed to ADV Films 8 disc set. It sure does save some shelf space, but this new set doesn’t retain all of the special features from before. If one already owns Gasaraki, there’s no need to pick this up, but if you’ve never seen this show and missed your chance to own it before, you’d be doing yourself disservice not picking up Gasaraki.