A somewhat pleasant dream.
What They Say:
Whether it’s a favorite stuffed animal, a priceless painting or even your last shred of hope, if someone’s taken it from you, Ban and Ginji will get it back. They’re the Get Backers, an expert “recovery” service. And they’ll retrieve what’s been stolen, no matter what it is or who took it. Of course, with Ban’s special “Evil Eye” and Ginji’s lightning strike capability, they’ve got a head start on the crooks. No job is too big, no job is too small. At least not until they pay off their tab at the local coffee shop. It’s 49 episodes of non-stop action. It’s the Get Backers Complete Collection—don’t let anyone take yours!
Each episode is presented in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. The sound quality was fine, but not spectacular. There’s no directionality, which is a shame given that this is a fighting show and the action sequences could have benefitted from that. Still, I was able to hear it just fine, and that’s what matters the most.
Each episode is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and the transfer is fine. The colors stand out well, the darker scenes are easy to see, and the action looks good.
Get Backers comes in a wide case roughly the size of two regular DVD cases, which actually isn’t that bad given that all 49 episodes are spaced out over eight disks. The front cover is dominated by Ginji in the foreground in what I can only describe as battle stance with his leg pulled back and his left arm bristling with electricity, raised to the sky. Ban takes up the background, standing in profile, looking at Ginji with his left eye and pushing his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose. Behind them is the city at night—little more than blurry smears of light. At the very top the DVD set states that it has all 49 episodes, contains both seasons 1 & 2, and it has 8 DVDs. Under this is the title, Get Backers, written in font that makes it look like it is rushing from right to left. In smaller letters under that is Complete Collection. The spine is largely taken up with the show’s title in the same font style as on the cover and a picture of Ban and Ginji, beaten up and bruised, but smiling and throwing the victory sign. The back cover contains a nice mix of text and still images from the show. Everything is slanted slightly to the left, giving it a feeling of movement. In large text it proclaims “If it was taken from you, they’ll get it back!” To the right of that, centered, is the show summary, and under that in smaller font are the special features. The technical specifications take up the lower third of the cover.
Inside the majority of the DVDs are held in a spindle with the exceptions of disk one and eight, which are anchored to the front and back of the case respectively. Each disk features two of the supporting characters, but Ban and Ginji are never shown.
Overall the packing is nice. It doesn’t take up too much room and the pictures, font style, and text alignment do well in representing the action-oriented nature of the show.
Each disk features the same basic menu setup. The background looks to be a piece of yellow lined paper. Written on each line on the right of the screen are the episode titles and under that are the language and special features options. The options are written in a clear, dark font and the cursor is very easy to see, which I appreciate. To the left is a picture of two of the series’ characters. In the case of disk one it’s the image of Ban and Ginji from the front cover of the DVD case. The show’s main theme plays on a five-second loop, which is a little annoying given that it stops just when the song gets going.
There isn’t much in the way of extras here, but I enjoyed the behind the scenes interviews. They didn’t necessarily provide me with any real insight into the show, but it was still fun to hear what the people that worked on the show thought about it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In general I have an ambivalent attitude towards Shonen titles. I watched Dragonball Z back when I was in college, and I really enjoyed Yu Yu Hakusho, but overall I tend to feel that the titles are far too bloated with filler to be that enjoyable. I typically enjoy the characters and the story idea, but too often it devolves into pointless episodes where enemies stare at each other, declaring their eternal hatred for each other and boasting that their fighting school’s style is superior. There’s simply so much posturing I can take.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that I approached Get Backers with a touch of hesitation, and while I did at times feel that the story could have been told in half the episodes, I must say that I did enjoy it. I liked the characters and the story conceit of Get Backing things that have been lost.
Ban Midou and Ginji Amano own and operate the Get Backers Recovery Service. No item is too big or abstract—if you lost it, they can find it. They boast a nearly 100% success rate and if they were other people this would mean that they had a successful business model; however, Ban and Ginji are as bad at getting/keeping money as they are good at recovering lost or stolen items. This means their already exceptional tab at the local coffee shop/restaurant where they conduct keeps growing exponentially. As they put it, they have bad luck with money.
Most of the time Ban and Ginji succeed through sheer luck and tenacity, but it also helps that they are both exceptional fighters with amazing powers. Ginji, also known as the Lightning Emperor, can conduct electricity and send it out in powerful blasts. Ban possesses a powerful grip that can crush stone and bone and his Evil Eye, also known as the Jagan. If he makes eye contact with a person he can send them into an illusion of his own making. This occurs without the victim (or the audience) knowing that it happened. The victim is always surprised when the illusion bursts and he/she finds that the situation has completely reversed. Once they realize what’s happened, Ban always asks if they had a “pleasant dream.” Ban can only use it three times in a twenty-four hour period, so many of his enemies devise ways of making him use up his daily quota.
And they have many enemies. While their luck runs sour when it comes to acquiring money, the Get Backers seem almost supernaturally good at finding opponents. Some are new, but most of them are tied to either Ban or Ginji’s past. Many of them come from a place called The Limitless Fortress where Ginji once ruled the streets with his gang called The Volts. A typical source of conflict comes from hurt feelings over Ginji’s leaving the Volts to join Ban.
The episodes where Ginji’s past comes back to haunt them are what really drag down this series. Both seasons have Ban and Ginji return to the Limitless Fortress, and those episodes are really where the Shonen aspects of the show come to play. They drag on for far too long and take the show away from the aspect that I enjoyed the most in other episodes: Ban and Ginji getting something back. When they enter the Limitless Fortress the situation is always so dire that it takes away from the light-hearted fun of the rest of the series. I half expect Ginji to turn to Ban and say, “Do you remember when we used to go looking for kitty-cat charms and stolen Stradivarius violins? I miss those days.”
What saves the Limitless Fortress episodes is my affection for the characters—Ginji especially. While Ban sets himself up early as the leader, he can be a bit too cool for his own good, or perhaps it would be better to say that his perception of himself as being cool can be a bit tedious at times. Ginji, however, is open to the point of naiveté. He trusts in people and that life will always work out for the best. There’s a fresh optimism about him that’s infectious, which other characters remark on as well. He and Ban play off each other very well and complement what lacks in each other’s personalities.
The show also has a great supporting cast, my favorite being Natsumi Mizuki, who hired the Get Backers in the first episode and ended up staying around as a waitress at the coffee shop they frequent. Hands down the best episode of the series takes place in season two when she takes a recovery job from a sweet old lady while Ban and Ginji are off on a mission. Natsumi dresses in Ban’s shirt, Ginji’s shorts, and wears Ban’s sunglasses to get fit the role and enlists the aid of one of Ginji’s friends, Emishi to help. The episode was absolutely cute and hilarious and I wish that more of them were like that.
Overall Get Backers works best when it focuses on small one-to-three episode story arcs where Ban and Genji have to recover something esoteric or seemingly innocuous, such as the aforementioned kitty-cat charm, or the arms of the Venus de Milo. Those episodes present a nice balance of action, humor, and characterization without getting bogged down by the show’s mythology. When the series abandons those tales for story arcs set in the Limitless Fortress, the show becomes bloated and convoluted—far too full of backstory, posturing, and concepts that feel out of place with the mood established in the other episodes. The dichotomy between the Limitless Fortress and non-Limitless Fortress stories makes for a very inconsistent viewing experience. There were a handful of standout episodes—most notably Natsumi’s—but when the show drags it nearly comes to a stop.
Given that I’m not a huge fan of Shonen titles, my reaction to Get Backers should not be a surprise. There were some episodes that I enjoyed a great deal, and I feel that the series works best when it’s just Ban and Genji working to recover some seemingly innocuous or esoteric item. Unfortunately, when the series delves into its mythology and the characters travel to the Limitless Fortress, it exhibits the worst traits of its Shonen roots: overly long story arcs; excessive posturing and declarations of eternal hatred; and a convoluted, bloated backstory that weighs down everything. Get Backers is a fractured title in that when it works, it works very well, but when it doesn’t, it feels like things grind to a snail’s pace. I enjoyed the overall experience and I liked the characters—especially Ginji—but if I ever watch it again, it will only be for select episodes. Mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Behind the scene Interviews, Episode Commentaries with English Cast, Clean Opening Animations, Clean Closing Animations
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Running Time: 1225 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection