GUNBUSTER 2 Vol. 1 (OAV Episodes 1 and 2) (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 17, 2008 by  




DVD INFORMATION: 54 minutes + 30 minutes, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, English Subtitles


A young girl named Nono has left her home behind, to come alone to the big city. She has a grand dream of becoming a space pilot. But reality is harsh, and she spends every day instead at the diner near the spaceport where she lives and works. The one day, while being harassed by one of the regular customers, a real-life “Topless” pilot named Lal’C comes to her aid.

Nono, who is deeply impressed, starts on her own accord to call Lal’C “One-sama,” and volunteers herself by saying “I want to become a space pilot like you”.

The original “Gunbuster” series ranks as one of my favorite anime OAV series of all time.

So, when it was announced that a second Gunbuster would be released in Japan (known as “Top o Nerae 2 -Diebuster”), fans went crazy.

With a contest where artists and fans could submit to have their own creations used for the series and just the buzz surrounding the new anime OAV series added to the much deserved hype.

Where the original “Gunbuster” OAV series had Anno Hideaki directing, the new series would feature “FLCL’s” Tsurumaki Kazuya as the original planner and director, Enokido Yoji writing the screenplay and character designs by Sadamoto Yoshiyuki. So, that alone had people guessing how three of the people behind “FLCL” would do in creating “Gunbuster 2” would definitely be interesting.

For episode 1, we are introduced to Nono and Lal’C. Lal’C is part of the group know as the “topless” who are Gunbuster pilots and members of the Anti-Space Monster Interception Squad of the Fraternity. For Nono, she wants to be like the historic pilot known as Nono-Riri. And her first meeting with a “topless” has made her want to become a Gunbuster pilot even more. But what was revealed is that Nono is not your average type of person. She is a robot that happens to have some special abilities.  You also start to realize that the space monsters are still there and ruthless than before.

For episode 2, the story continues as Nono meets the other topless and calls Lal’C her “One-sama”. Something that Lal’C does not want to be. But of course, Nono is determined to stick it out with hard work and guts and to do what it will take to become a Gunbuster pilot.

During my first viewing of “Gunbuster 2”, I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go. Because, truthfully, to come up with something of a sequel or a storyline after a series that was so successful and well loved, that’s really hard to follow up.

With “Gunbuster”, part of the allure was to watch Noriko prove to herself and to the other pilots that she deserves to be a pilot and with each episode, it was well-written, well-animated and had that special feel good feeling of watching someone looked as an underdog persevere and prove people wrong by her sheer determination.

Not only that, the original series was also an interesting parody that is filled with so much pop-culture and anime reference that made it fun for the viewers.

For “Gunbuster 2”, again… A very hard act for director Tsurumaki to follow and this is what made me appreciate this DVD so much more was the inclusion of a segment called “DIEBUSTER TV”.

“DIEBUSTER TV” is one of the special features included on this DVD that features an interview with the voice actress of Nono (Fukui Yukari) but also an interview with director Tsurumaki Kazuya.

You learned that by working on “Gunbuster 2”, because of his work on “Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “FLCL”, how things were impacted from episode to episode.

By working with screenwriter Enokido and character designer Sadamoto and Buster Machine designer Izuna Yoshitsune, they were able to create a new atmosphere, a new storyline that would continue to show someone who still is determined to become a pilot and be somewhat better, to still continue to have the “One-sama” but most of all, to do something different and for people to look at it differently and not compare it to the original.

From why he made Nono to be a klutz to the use of gags in the first episode, it was because of his previous works and wanting to achieve something different.  Instead of explaining a back story or slowly explaining “why” for each character, to go with the flow of the storyline and the viewer will start to  learn more and more as the story develops.

So, in this series, Gunbusters are not just machines that are piloted by humans. They are machines that now have their own artificial intelligence and react to only certain types of “topless” (pilots).

To make things even more interest, the pilots of the Gunbuster machines are typically young teens who lose their “topless” ability when they turn 20.

And that is where things get a little technical. Where the first series goes into light speed travel and warping and utilizes science and technology, “Gunbuster” didn’t go to technology crazy in the science lessons but the new sequel does introduce you to new things.

The DVD comes with a 20-page booklet with character information, staff interviews with voice actress Fukui Yukari (who plays Nono) talking about her meeting with Gunbuster voice actress of Noriko (Hidaka Noriko) and her emotions when she watched the original “Gunbuster”.  Also, included is a staff interview with director Tsurumaki and you learn things from this interview as well of why he didn’t want the series to be so serious and how too many animators want to create realism because of a drama but since his work on “Evangelion”, he has been trying to get away from that and making the character more “manga-ified” than realistic.  And also his explanation of how though it is a sequel, at the same time it’s not.  But most of all, trying to create a series where the fans of the original will come to appreciate the series after watching it completely.

The booklet also features an interview with screenplay writer Enokido Yoji.  I found it very interesting that when taking on the project as screenwriter, how he was a fan of the original “Gunbuster” and wanted to be loyal but also making sure it’s independent work and thus the English title for “Gunbuster 2” is “Diebuster”.  And the concept of the “topless”, having their abilities when they are young was written in the viewpoint of today’s youth.  A lot of the things happen when you are younger, live in a fun world and demonstrate a lot of power.  But when one is about to lose that power, it becomes scary.

And once you get to see the mindset of Tsurumaki and Enokido, you start to open your eyes and get a better sense of understanding why things are the way they are and I started to appreciate “Gunbuster 2” even more.

Although “Gunbuster 2” does not include the science lessons that the original OAV had, the booklet accompanying the DVD does include the science lessons which go into detail of what a “topless” and “Buster Machine” is.  This is important because you start to learn that Lal’C’s Buster Machine, Dix-Neuf is the oldest functioning Buster Machine and was used in previous war against the space monsters.  Also, learning that because of the cost and materials to create Buster Machines, there have not been any created in decades (during Nono’s time period) and no machines are available at present.  Only those that the Fraternity manages.

The animation is nice and crisp and if you like the animation to “FLCL”, then you would like the animation to “Gunbuster 2”.  I do love the character designs and emotion from the original series much more but again, after watching the DVD featurette of why Tsurumaki didn’t want things to look so realistic, I can see his point of view an enjoying the series after knowing that and looking at this independently outside of the original “Gunbuster” OAV series.  Also, the video is presented in 16:9LB.

The sound ala Dolby Digital 5.1 was pretty cool.  Good use of the rear speakers and overall expected nothing less from a series created in 2003.  As for voice acting, Japanese voice acting was very well done on the series but similar to most Bandai Visual releases, there is no English dubbing.

As for special features, extra features include the textless ending and the awesome “DIEBUSTER TV”.

I know that there are people who may have only seen the first episode or two of “Gunbuster 2” but all I can say is watch it from beginning to the end, you won’t be disappointed.  If you are a fan of the original “Gunbuster”, I can’t say how important it is to watch “Gunbuster 2” and see how it ties into the original.

As for the DVD, I found the beauty of “Gunbuster 2” through the DVD series.  From the “DIEBUSTER TV” featurette and the 20-page booklet, you gain such an appreciation of what Tsurumaki and Enokido were planning for the overall series and made me love it even more.

That is one thing that I love about the release of DVD’s of how a featurette (or director’s commentary) can really be the ultimate eye opener of a series and literally boost your appreciation for it.  The inclusion of “DIEBUSTER TV” and the 20-page booklet was a great addition and I’m very thankful for Bandai Visual to include that.

All in all, a beautiful anime and the starting point for the series as it establishes character development for Nono and Lal’C, although not as serious or Noriko “Hard Work and Guts” style as the original “Gunbuster” OAV anime series, I still found the first two episodes enjoyable.  But definitely building up for big things to come.

And for a “Gunbuster” Gainax episode, not only do you get your mecha, the humor, your science and technology plus a little fan service in between , you also will get an all out, exciting, action-packed sequel that I definitely recommend getting.

Gunbuster 2… Check it out!

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