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Gungrave: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 3
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 19, 2011
  • List Price: $54.98

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BestBuy.com:
Gungrave: The Complete Series (3 Disc) - Box

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:5/5]

Yasuhiro Nightow might have been known for his Trigun anime series and Gungrave more as a graphically innovative Playstation 2 game with generally lackluster gameplay, but this anime series trumps them all. This is one of those rare instances where a film or series based on a video game is actually good; no, not good, great! Gungrave is a gripping crime/action/sci-fi tale that combines Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America with Coppola’s The Godfather and elements of a John Woo action flick.

The story begins with Beyond the Grave, formerly known as Brandon Heat, risen from the grave through a technology developed to “necrolyze” the dead in order to use them as weapons. He has returned to seek revenge on the people who betrayed him and murdered the woman he loved, Maria. Gungrave then flashes back to the past and shows the story of Brandon Heat and his childhood friend Harry MacDowel, two orphaned neighborhood street toughs who rise from the ranks of the street gangs to eventually join the powerful Millennion mafia group after all of their friends are slaughtered by a mafia hitman.

The enigmatic, but deadly Brandon follows his ambitious friend, Harry, into Millennion, only so he can be close to the woman he loves, Maria, who has just been taken in by the group’s head, known only as “Big Daddy.” Soon, however, he is drawn further into the violence, crime, and betrayals of Millennion and into Harry’s dreams of eventually running the Organization. With all the blood on his hands, he no longer feels worthy to be with Maria, so instead becomes the Organization’s top and most feared cleaner. But, it will soon all come crashing down and betrayal will come from the most unlikely source.

Gungrave is gritty, violent, and heartbreaking. It is filled with anti-heroes that you will find yourself actually rooting for. A perfect action crime drama with just the right amount of anime sci-fi blended in, there really is no doubt why this is a classic.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Gungrave is a standard definition up-conversion to 1080i/60 encoded in AVC/MPEG-4. While it certainly shows some improvement over the DVD counterpart owing to more breathing room and less compression, it is not on the same level of a true, native high definition transfer at all. Colors look suppressed, there is color banding throughout, and many instances of aliasing around the edges of the animation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

I’m not certain about this, but I believe this may in fact be the first release from Funimation that offers DTS-HD Master Audio rather than Dolby TrueHD for its soundtrack options, at least as far as I have seen. Both English and Japanese tracks are in 5.1 and I used the Japanese track with English subtitles engaged as my point of reference. While the mix is hardly aggressive, it is quite enjoyable nonetheless, with a good amount of atmospherics in the rear channels, natural sounding highs, and nicely extended lows. Dialogue is clean and the occasional front-to-rear/rear-to-front panning of discrete sound effects keeps things interesting.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Supplements are thin here, making for a rather barebones offering. Only Textless opening and closing songs and some promotional videos are included.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

I’m glad this has finally arrived on Blu-ray in a complete collection as it is one of my all-time favorite anime series. Even though the upgrade over DVD is very slight, it is still quite worth it to me. Gungrave is a wholly fascinating and intriguing piece of work with a well thought out story arc, superb character development, and excellent animation. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product]B004TP55PM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Gungrave: The Complete Series (3 Disc) - Box

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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