What They Say
Love – the one force that simply won’t be denied! Walking through the park, aspiring rock star Shuichi’s latest lyrics flutter away and land at the feet of a stunning stranger that takes his breath away. The stranger happens to be the famous novelist Eiri Yuki, who completely crushes the young singer by telling him he has “zero talent.” Now, Shuichi’s so annoyed that he’s managed to finish his song just so he can find and confront Yuki! But, are his actions really motivated by anger, or has he fallen in love? Includes both the entire 13-episode TV series and the complete 2-episode OVA series!
The latest release of Gravitation contains both an English and Japanese 2.0 tracks as well as a newly created English 5.1 track. For the purpose of the review the original viewing of the title was done with the Japanese 2.0 track. This 2.0 track is rather lacking even as 2.0 tracks go with the sound for the television episodes presenting as noticeably quieter than the OVA ones and neither have any center speaker presence. Despite this volume difference the tracks are both free from dropouts or distortions.
This latest release also adds a brand new feature as Nozomi has gone back into its sound vaults and created an all new English 5.1 track. The track is a welcome addition to the series as it helps add a spark of depth with the presence of the subwoofer and back speakers to add richness to the audio presentation. While the 5.1 track does suffer a little from the rather basic building blocks that the original leaves the sound designer to work with they still manage to create a rather sturdy structure anyway. The basics of the Japanese effects and score track don’t allow Nozomi to produce what many would consider a true 5.1 with directionality varying between the various front and back speakers. Despite this the use of the back speakers and front to help fill in the environment makes for a great addition for helping establish a more realistic and encompassing picture for the presentation while dialogue is mostly shifted to the center speaker. This is a truly valuable upgrade, especially for a title about the music industry with a variety of music to be found within.
The OVA series was created in 1999 and the TV series was created in 2000 and both are presented in their original 4:3 format. Sadly the video for the TV episodes could use some work being cleaned up as jaggies, noise, dot crawl, color blur and some minor ghosting can be seen. The OVA on the other hand is a bit worse in the video department as it contains the same issues as the TV series though the aliasing is worse than the TV series. These problems thankfully don’t take away from the ability of the series and OVA to show off bright colors or solid blacks though.
The series contains four discs that are in their own thinpak DVD cases and are housed inside of one of the thick cardboard boxes that have become Nozomi’s specialty. One of the sides of the box contains an image of Shuichi in his stage outfit with the left part of his chest exposed as Eiri hangs on him. The other side features Eiri and Shuichi lying down as Eiri has his sunglasses held in his teeth, a playful look on his face and a book in front of him while Shuichi is reaching forward. Both covers are done in a style more like the manga then the character designs found in the animation and the series title present on both sides. The end of the box contains a picture of the pink stuffed rabbit Kumagoro from the show as well as the series title and little blocks on both the top and bottom with the company name of Nozomi and Rightstuf.
The first thinkpack cover features Shinichi standing in front of Eiri while holding a mike stand in front of him. The image is in the style of an ink print against a white background while the edge of the front cover is in red. The back of all the TV discs are similar in that the edge color carries over while the back features six stills from the episodes contained on the disc, a black, white and grey image of an audio equalizer pattern and the episodes and extras on the disc listed as well. The second cover features a similar ink print of the three members of Nittle Grasper in their stage outfits with a green edge and the third cover features the three members of Bad Luck in their stage outfits with a golden edge. The final case is for the OVA and is the same as the original OVA cover release with a color picture of Shuichi and Eiri snuggling next to each other on the front. On the back there are images of Eiri, Shuichi, Eiri’s younger brother as well as Eiri and Shuichi sharing a tender moment with the copy and special features listed on what looks to be a stack of pages. All of the disc labels are ink and white images that are the same as the respective images from their DVD covers.
The menu for the first disc contains the image from the front of the slip cover. The selections are play, episodes, bonus and set up and a track from the series plays a small sample in the background. The episode select screen is gray with a purple screen for the menu and episodes that are selectable and images from those episodes as selected while one of Bad Luck’s songs is sample and the same track from. The bonus screen has Eiri holding Shuichi close with the equalizer image behind them. The setup features the equalizer image and the three language tracks that are selectable. The second screen’s main menu features the image of Nittle Grasper from the cover, and the episode screen has a green color replacing the first discs purple color. The image on the bonus and setup are the same as the first disc and the music tracks are the same as the first discs. The third disc is similar in set up as the others with the image of Bad Luck against the gold background and all the other menus are the same as the first disc but with a gold coloring.
The OVA main menu has the image from the cover with a green background as one of the songs plays briefly in the background. The episode screen features an image of Shuichi on a poster with stills representing the chapter choices on it and Eiri leaning up against the poster and smoking a cigarette as an instrumental track plays in the background. The bonus screen features an exaggerated image of Bad Luck’s manager standing in front of a pole that has arrows facing different directions with each placard holding a different option while an instrumental track plays and the setup screen features a close up of Eiri also while an instrumental track plays in the background. The menus all use a variety of symbols to indicate what option has been highlighted though all are clear as to what is chosen and all the menus are quick to respond to changes and to initiating selections chosen.
The release contains a cornucopia of extras rarely seen in R1 these days. The extras are the U.S. trailer, textless opening and closing, liner notes, art galleries and character profiles on the TV DVDs. The OVA DVD has liner notes, art gallery, anime vs. manga comparison, sneak previews 1-2, clean opening, clean alternate closing for episode 1 and soundtrack-only audio channel with lyrics.
Shuichi Shindou is the young singer of the up and coming band Bad Luck which he formed with his best friend Hiroshi Nakano. The two were inspired by Shuichi’s idolization of the group Nittle Grasper and particularly its lead singer Ryuichi Sakuma. Shuichi has patterned his vocals after his idol though in the time since Bad Luck formed Nittle Grasper has split up and Ryuichi left for a solo tour in America as the other members resumed their lives. Now Bad Luck is in an enviable situation as they have signed with N-G Productions which is a major label whose president Tohma Seguchi was one of the three members of Nittle Grasper and whose company is a powerhouse on the music scene and Bad luck is in the capable hands of producer/manager Sakano.
The problem is that Shuichi is currently suffering from writers block and with the deadline for the finish of their new single just days away the pressure is intensified. With their manager in super stress mode and the company president unwilling to help Bad Luck as he is actively working with the group A.S.K. it appears Bad Luck’s dreams may end before they truly start. Hiroshi suggests that Shuichi find himself a girlfriend to help him deal with the slump which Shuichi thinks might be a good idea. Things take a twist though as Shuichi is walking through the park that night staring at the sheet where he is struggling to put his new lyrics together. The wind catches the paper and delivers it to the feet of a handsome guy who picks it up and coolly declares that Shuichi has “zero talent.”
Suddenly Shuichi has found his muse in the form of this brooding writer who goes by the name Eiri Yuki and has managed to instantly capture an unsuspecting Shuichi’s heart. The problem is Eiri doesn’t care to have it as he is a man who keeps his distance from other people. This might have been the end of the story for anyone else but Shuichi plows through life with incredible determination and more than a touch of stupidity. He is not about to let Eiri toss him aside though his world is becoming a turbulent and fast paced dash as his talents are opening his horizons.
Shuichi will face challenges as he clashes against the president of N-G Productions declaring that Bad Luck needs a change, jealous rivals in career and love, the possible breakup of his band, the return of his idol as industry rival and even more powerfully a secret of Eiri’s that may force them apart for the sake of Eiri’s life. Through it all Shuichi will need to rely on his own sense of self as well as his friends to help him through the high and low swings of his personality as he tries to cope with his life and cling to his love even when it seems like the world is determined to pull Eiri and him apart-even more so when Eiri is pushing for their separation. Viewers will see that the OVA takes place chronologically in the series after the TV series but it was actually created before the TV series and is closer to the original manga so there are a few differences in story set up but for the most part the heart of the story remains and it carries over well.
Gravitation is a fast paced tale that’s central story is about the relationship of Shuichi and Eiri and the series is equal part love and over the top comedy. The comedy is often taken to the absurd extremes with exaggerated expressions and activities that underline the pace of the show. The story never gets to the point where it takes itself overly serious while at the same time walking a careful tightrope of still showing respect for the characters and emotions that they have built along the way. At times the story does cut a corner or two and skip over a possible bump while seriously pushing the bounds of believability to those who have not bought into the style that the series is building. Some of the secondary characters get developed but left hanging a bit as the series was developed from an ongoing manga series and so the writers did the best to bring the series up to as much of a climactic end without forming a definite conclusion.
Gravitation is a tale of love and the various forms it can take set against a backdrop of the music industry. The series follows the path two people will walk as they travel from strangers to lovers while dealing with the trials that life and society will throw at them as well as the past that has weighed so heavily on one of the character’s life will be laid out. Gravitation can tread between incredibly serious and absurd comedy with a deft touch that few other series can pull off and stay credible. While the comedy elements may not work for everyone and some others maybe initially put off by the romantic relationship of two men, those who are willing to give the series a chance and can become attuned to the world it is creating will find a fantastic mix of friendship, pain, and love set against a great soundtrack and colorful characters. Highly Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English SubtitlesTV Series Extras: U.S. Gravitation debut trailer, textless opening and closing, liner notes, art galleries, character profilesOVA Extras: Liner notes, art gallery, anime vs. manga comparison, Gravitation Sneak Previews 1 & 2, clean opening, clean version of Episode 1 alternative closing, soundtrack-only audio channel with lyrics track
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A+
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: January 4th, 2011
Running Time: 385 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.