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Godannar Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

14 min read
When couples dominate a series, the dynamic is so different and engaging that you can let silly stuff slide more.

When couples dominate a series, the dynamic is so different and engaging that you can let silly stuff slide more.

What They Say:
Five years ago, Goh, the pilot of the giant robot Dannar, rescued Anna Aoi as the monstrous Mimetic Beasts attempted to wipe human life from the planet. Now the Beasts are back, but Goh’s not going back into battle alone. Not only does his new bride-to-be Anna have a mech of her own, but their “his and her” giant robots are designed to mate together to form the ultimate in alien-smashing technology, the mighty Godannar!

Unfortunately, while they may have the perfect partnership on the battlefield, things aren’t running so smoothly on the home front and when “the other woman” from Goh’s past suddenly returns, the rifts that are opened may be wide enough to put the entire defense of mankind in jeopardy! Can an international supporting cast of the wildest giant robot pilots ever hold the line until Goh and Anna can come together in the cockpit, join interlocking parts and create the perfect marriage of man, woman and machine?

Contains episodes 1-26.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release gets a nice boost going from the Dolby Digital we had on the DVD sets previously to now getting a DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has the Japanese track in its original stereo form while the English language dub is in 5.1 form. The series is one that even in stereo form works very well since it uses the forward soundstage well with the dynamic action effects and dialogue being brash and loud where appropriate. The 5.1 mix reworks the action well and gives it more impact and the characters have an even larger than life feeling here. What helps is that with many scenes where the pairings are together and working in concert, their scenes were dubbed with them in the booth with each other for the most part and that allowed it to flow better and feel tighter. The show holds up well with its dub and the original Japanese track is solid, both of which had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-six episodes are spread across four discs in a nine/four/nine/four format that gives it plenty of room to work with. The show was animated by OLM and AICA ASTA and it’s a welcome addition to Blu-ray after originally being solicited as an SDBD before getting the bump up.
With the color palette used for this series and the high frenetic energy and action of most of the scenes, the transfer here comes across practically sparkling. The colors are bright and vibrant throughout and maintain a really great solid level. The blues, in particular, are gorgeous in a lot of sequences when there is both water and sky in the same shot. The downsides to the encoding is that some of the flaws in the source are more visible. There are a few areas where you can see some rainbowing in the material in the backgrounds that shouldn’t be there and there are a number of very soft areas. They’re not out of focus soft but you can tell the difference from when it shifts to something that’s not suffering from it. It’s not a dealbreaker but it reminds you of the age and source material quality of the show. It has a lot of highs but there are several mid and low points as well.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us the four discs on two hinges inside a thicker than standard Blu-ray case. We get a good bit of artwork with our two leads together along with the mecha in the background that’s bathed in some great oranges and yellows. It’s distinctive and you get a good sense of the tone of the show in a good way here. I like that it’s a bit more minimal than some of the busier covers we’ve had with past iterations. The back cover is a lot busier as we get a pretty solid summary of the premise along the top with an action-mecha mode piece while the second section breaks down the copious amount of extras and six great shots from the show that set the mood well. The episode and disc count is clearly labeled and the production information breaks everything down accurately and clearly. No show related inserts are included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu layout for this release is a nice update as we get the static screens for all four discs that changes out the character artwork along the left. These use familiar pieces with the characters paired with their mecha and it’s appealing with its bright colors and curvy designs. It’s placed over a white/blue techno-style background that gives it a lot of pop. Especially combined with the navigation along the right that’s done up in theme to the panel designs within the show using triangles and the like. It’s done with blues and whites that look great and makes it fun to check out both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback. Everything loads quickly and easily and submenus are a breeze with the setup for language options or navigation the extras.

Extras:
The extras for this release are copious and plentiful, using what we had seen before in the original release. A lot of it is various types of profile pages that are spread across it all, such as characters, mechanical, and so forth. Keywords are what you’d expect as a glossary, we get some good “case files” material that’s fun to read about the missions and there’s even a swimsuit gallery that I still feel guilty about enjoying. Add in the usual with the clean opening and closing sequences, the on-air versions and other little bits such as commercials and the like and there’s a lot to sink your teeth into with each volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally broadcast back in the fall of 2003, Godannar was one of those series that ADV Films picked up that just fit them to a T. The series was an original work for AIC that took the fun of 70’s giant robot action shows and pretty much married it to the world of fanservice and character. I’m still not a huge fan of the 70’s robot material from the time, though I can appreciate it, but Godannar was the kind of show that won me over because it didn’t take itself too seriously for the most part and just had a grand sense of fun and adventure about it as it wanted to tell a story. A story about the characters, really, and less about the invading aliens and what it all means. Hell, there isn’t even really a central villain for all of it and just the occasional monster of the week with a growing subplot along the way that involves a great twist for how the aliens could have won even in defeat.

Godannar provides us with a bit of a history lesson at first as we see in 2042 about the world being accosted by creatures called Mimetic Beasts. These things had seemingly lived underground for longer than anyone can guess but suddenly raised up and started wreaking havoc on the world. The world united to fight off this terror that destroyed cities without almost no warning by coming up with a creative design in the robots that we see called Dannar’s. Using the design of having the two robots combine into one and the pilots shift into the same cockpit to work together, it fostered the idea of couples being pilots. We see some of the battles that were focused around Japan and with a young man named Goh who is considered one of the best. While the beasts were defeated, Goh lost his wife in battle and never took on another partner.

In the five years since then, the Mimetic Beasts are still out there as not all of them were taken care of during the first round. Some have gone to ground; some are in transit around the world in different forms and others seemingly just surface out of nowhere. They continue to be a mystery and each of the beasts is considerably different from the others. One of the events we saw back in 2042 was Goh rescuing a young girl who got caught up in the destruction of a city and it appears that they became close. The pink haired young woman, now sixteen years old, is named Anna and she’s actually the daughter of Kiriko. She’s seemingly the commander of the Japanese branch that handles the Dannar’s there. While Goh and her daughter courted, they all kept it quiet so nobody would know. As Goh had lost his wife in battle he was unsure of making much of an issue of even dating again, never mind somebody fairly younger than he was.

So now in 2047, the two are getting (almost but not quite completely) married and the secret event goes badly when some Mimetic Beasts attack using the shell of one of Goh’s former friends Dannars’. While he races off to help even though he’s just backup at this point since he has no partner, the disturbance reaches the cliffs where the church and cemetery are and it unearths Okusaer, a female robot that combines perfect with Goh’s Godannar. Though Goh is unsure of what’s happening at first, Anna’s ease and familiarity with robots makes her an ideal candidate to use the Okusaer and she’s able to provide Goh the help he needs in defeating the beast that’s quickly taking down all of the teams Dannars. And even though she didn’t come out of the event unscathed she’s still very much interested in becoming a pilot, something that Goh is obviously against.

The series hits some expected notes throughout the first half as you’d expect for something like this. Anna goes through a series of training routines in which she ends up proving that she’s better than anyone else there, which of course her mother just nods sagely about with a certain smile, while Goh is convinced that he won’t let her ever pilot that Okusaer ever again. Along the way we get to see the surprisingly large cast that’s here, from other pilots – one of whom who has strong feelings for Goh and is shocked by his surprise wedding – to a very amusing and fun maintenance crew that reminded me of the ones from Patlabor. The command structure isn’t fleshed out much but we get a lot of interesting material and subplot ideas from Kiriko as she seems to be manipulating things in an interesting way based on what she finds during the first episode.

The series can play with some pretty standard fare here, but it throws some nice twists into it. Early on, when the pair are dealing with a Mimetic Beast, they end up discovering encased inside of it was Goh’s former girlfriend that died during the fight five years prior. While she can be revived, Mira is basically a child at this point with no memories of before. That’s an absolutely haunting thing for Goh to deal with and it’s near impossible for him to lean on Anna for support, though she tries to offer it to him. She’s intent on making sure he understands that she does understand and she even takes Anna in to live with her and Goh, who also have Goh’s younger brother living there with them on the base. Mira’s involvement is long and convoluted, and for a reason in the end, but it adds a lot of tension to the relationship at times since there’s uncertainty, especially in what’s really a new marriage/coupling.

As said earlier, the show isn’t quite about the Mimetic Beasts in a way, though they show up often and cause trouble between the physical attacks, the strain of training to fight them and some of the damage wrought. As well as that whole twist along the way. Because of the various Dannar bases out there, we get an array of other pairings that are all pretty diverse and they do get some standalone episodes to highlight their personalities, and they do mostly all come together at the end as you’d expect. The Dragliner one is the one I liked the most, but they are sadly mostly forgettable overall. More memorable are the support team at the main Dannar base the show operates out of as there’s a lot of couples and near-couples in the mix that keeps it lively and fun and makes it feel like the mechanics and more are truly a part of the team and show rather than just casual characters.

There is a lot of really interesting material here that managed to suck me in over the course of it. One is that they go with the obvious idea of there being no world armies anymore but rather a series of Dannar bases around the globe that will respond at a moments notice. We get see these come into play as English, American and Russian Dannar’s arrive during one of the emergencies and their differences are fun to check out. Even more interesting is that the expected rivalries really don’t surface. There’s some tension with one of the younger pilots but the usual bravado simply isn’t there. This isn’t treated like a lot of other events would be by these people. Maybe it’s the incredibly slinky costumes they wear…

The idea of having the pairs work together isn’t new but it’s really nicely executed here as we see the various types that are doing it. Some seem to be friends, others are related by blood, some are married but all of them have a connection with each other that allows them to place faith and trust in the other in the crunch time. Through the actions of the first episode we see that a Dannar by itself is effective but it’s much more so when there are two working in tandem or in combination form. Surprisingly, the designs of the robots didn’t bother me much either as they did in a few other recent shows. The combination maneuvers and the animation associated with it of course shows up every now and then but that’s a staple of this particular genre.

What was the best though and a very welcome change is that the lead couple is just that, a couple. They have some issues to work through at first as she wants to help fight against the Mimetic Beasts and he for obvious reasons wants her nowhere near any sort of fight. They both have to learn something about each other through this, him more so than her, as she’s the type that can’t walk away from a fight or from defending those who cannot fight for themselves. As a married couple though, that relationship just changes the dynamic entirely in how the rest of the characters deal with them and how they deal with each other. So much of a show would be based on the tension of will they or won’t they that by skipping it entirely and going right to this angle it provides something new and interesting. If there was any real disappointment in it is that they avoided giving the feeling that the pair ever consummated their relationship, which is why some of the tensions and worries feel more forced in some ways. I can understand it to some degree with Anna being in her final year of school and all, and supposed Japanese sensibilities, but it just feels off. Well, mostly, as it’s easy to see Goh as not being an aggressive type in really going after Anna.

The age difference as well gives it something to work through at some point. In addition to the points above, the other thing that got me is that Anna Aoi really managed to win me over with her character in total. From the acting to the designs to the way the character is scripted, it all just worked perfectly for me. She provides great fanservice, has the right attitude, doesn’t take crap and stands up to her husband when he’s in the wrong. Even better, she kicks off her training by wearing an outfit that’s strikingly similar to the ones worn in Gunbuster which only made me enjoy that entire segment even more. While I am very much enjoying the couple aspect of the show, she’s definitely the star to me in this series, especially with how she struggles so often to do the right thing even though it’ll hurt her in the end, because it’s for the betterment of someone else.

In Summary:
With the last edition of this that I saw being back in 2013, it was fun to revisit it again because I do have an honest and earned love for it. Getting it on Blu-ray for the first time is a delight overall even if it’s not as perfect as one might want but there will always be issues from this period with shows and how they were put together when it comes to bring it out in high definition. The great outweighs the problematic when it comes the video side while the audio makes out great across the board. Godannar features a really good story overall, some great characters, very well done voice acting in both languages and some sweet, sweet, fanservice-laden animation and character designs. The show doesn’t truly try to go big in a way because of how the villains operate, so it’s more about the cast themselves. There are drawbacks along the way and a few cringe-worthy moments, but for the most part it’s a pretty engaging series that does a whole lot right. It’s definitely a show I’m glad to see back in circulation and am glad Sentai Filmworks went from planning an SDBD to a full on Blu-ray.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Character Profiles, Mechanical Profiles, Godannar Key Words & Case Files, Production Sketches (Video), Moriloto & Hayashi Special Report, The Seven Mysteries!, Recording the Songs (Video), Swimsuit Gallery, Japanese Commercial Collection, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P 3D HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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