GUNBUSTER 3-DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 4, 2008 by  




DVD INFORMATION: 3DVD’s, NTSC, 190 minutes, 4:3, Final Episode in B/w image and in letterboxed widescreen format


The directorial debut of acclaimed director Hideaki Anno, Gunbuster is a legendary anime fan favorite that casts pretty girls and giant robots into a moving epic of insterstellar naval war. Newly translated and re-mastered in HD 24P format, Gunbuster has never before been available on DVD in North America…until now!

2015: Earth’s first faster-than-light ship, the Luxion, is lost, attacked by unidentified space monsters in the Perseus Arm. Six years later, Noriko Takaya, daughter of the Luxion’s commander, enters the Okinawa girls’ Space Pilot High School, vowing to be a pilot and follow her father’s trail to the stars. But is she prepared for the intense training to become a member of the elite Top Squadron? Noriko’s fight has just begun-and the fate of all humanity depends on her meeting the challenge!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 20 years when I first discovered “Gunbuster”, the awesome mecha anime that has won the hearts for anime fans since its first release back in 1988.

The year was 1992 and I discovered this awesome series through an anime club meeting and I was just enamored by the series so much that I purchased the English subtitled VHS videos which contained two episodes for like $35 through Books Nippan. In fact, when the VHS was re-released in 1996 by another company, I had to buy that because the video tapes have been viewed too many times and started to lose its quality.

It’s really interesting how many people I converted to anime fans through letting them borrow my video tapes. “Gunbuster” is one of the few rare series you will find where each episode is well written, gripping and you just can’t stop after one episode. You just want to watch the whole series completely throughout.

What I really enjoyed is how the OAV series fluctuated between parodying other anime but also its attention to light speed travel, black holes and warp factor.

Of course, back in the 90’s, not only did you have a knock out punch with beautiful animation, a well written storyline but you also had the top voice actresses from a popular anime series that was so big among American anime fans at that time. You had Hidaka Noriko as the main character Takaya Noriko (note: Hidaka is known for the voice talent of Akane from “Ranma 1/2”), Sakuma Rei as Amano Kazumi (note: Sakuma was the voice talent of “Ranma 1/2” character Shampoo) and then you had the “Active Heart” theme song by then-pop idol Sakai Noriko.

The series would feature a lot of references and then at the end of each episode, fans were treated with “Science Lesson” episodes featuring chibi versions of the characters featuring even more references.

But as much as the anime references to other anime and scientists, “Gunbuster” also worked as a fun parody with its use of the title “Gunbuster! Top o Nerae” (Aim for the Top) which is a parody of the anime and manga tennis series “Ace wo Nerae!” and the hugely popular Western film “Top Gun”.

Of course we know that director Hideaki Anno went on to be known for his creation of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and the “Science Lessons” director Tsurumaki Kazuya went on to direct “FLCL” and “Gunbuster 2”.

Here we are 20 years since the original OAV’s were released in Japan, six episodes all on DVD featuring Noriko as she pushes herself to become a formidable pilot, watching her as the weak girl who would cry a lot but push herself and train herself to become one of the best pilots from the squadron.

There is so much to love about the anime, not just about the oh-so-good feeling of an underdog showing everyone that she can do it and accomplish things and prove them wrong but also how science is used in this series. Each time they go light speed into space, each minute that goes by, three months has gone by in Earth.

So, what could be complex is actually well written and explained in the anime series as each time Noriko arrives back to Earth, her schoolmates are much older than her and have children.

I guess you can say that with each episode, you get much more than what you would expect. That’s how I felt about “Gunbuster”. Fulfilled, excited about the next episode and wanting more.

Also, for the guys wanting a little “H”, “Gunbuster” does have it’s share of nudity scenes.

As for the DVD, inside the box, you will find a folding case with three DVD’s featuring artwork of the cast of “Gunbuster” and the “Gunbuster” mech itself.

Also included is a booklet featuring character information, “Gunbuster” Gainax behind-the-scenes information plus information on each episode

The episodes are presented in its full aspect ratio with the final episode being black and white and letterboxed. The animation looks awesome even for it being 20-years-old, I really enjoyed how this anime was remastered.

The sound is offered in Linear PCM 2.0 which is a higher bit rate for audio.

There is no English dub, all vocals are Japanese and for subtitles, you can choose to have it on or off or on with the signs translated as well.

The menus are clean with selections of each episode (two episodes per disc) and the Science Lesson Chapters.

As for extra features, there are a few.

Disc 1 features “Good Morning OGH!” which was the promotional trailer produced back in July 1988. This is featured in 2ch, 5.1ch and 5.1ch (dialogue off). There is a quic intro explanation how the trailers were saved on to a VHS tape to a super hi-8 tape and thus the quality is not great. But you start to see how the quality between the DVD versus a promo tape are.

Disc 2 features “Cosmic Battle Space” in 2ch or 5.1ch which features another perspective (from episode 4) of the fight between the squadron and the alien monsters.

Disc 3 features the “Sizzler Project” in 2ch or 5.1ch. This is a promotional trailer produced in 1989 and actually features character Jung Freud learning about the new Gunbuster mechas being created. This was very interesting to see and similar to the first promotional trailer.

“Gunbuster” has remained one of my top 3 anime that I will forever treasure in my heart. It’s a series that shows guts, determination, happiness, sadness. It’s literally an emotional rollercoaster that has made me smile, cry…

It’s well written, features really awesome scenes and interaction between the characters. Well-acted, well-animated and just one of those rare treasures that have come along that you just don’t see as much these days from a lot of anime.

Especially with a storyline managed to be complete in six episodes, I’m impressed.

I know that there is a region 0 disc that was released with a fourth disc that featured a rough episode five and unmatted episode six with a few other features but sure, as much as it would have been nice to have that in the US release, I’m not actually losing sleep over it either.

For a great price, you get all six episodes on DVD. For the boxset is the price I paid for one VHS back then. And I know for dub fans who don’t like to read subtitles, it’s going to be hard to recommend it to you to begin with.

But if you want quality anime that still looks very cool now as it did 20 years ago and also to watch one of the best, well written sci-fi/mecha anime OAV series ever released, then definitely check out “GUNBUSTER”.

I highly recommend the “Gunbuster” anime DVD box set. You won’t regret it.

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  • James

    Cool review! I am also a big fan of the series and actually didn’t know it was released on DVD in the US until I read the review (I haven’t really followed anime for a few years but a big fan of the classics). I’m definitely going to have to pick this one up.