Ongoing Investigations: Case #154

We received a copy of Nozomi’s re-release of Gasaraki. The story follows a war between the Americans backed by the Japanese and the fictional nation of Belgistan. Both sides have bi-pedal robots with main pilots possessing odd connections and powers. It is worth noting that I have tried to watch Gasaraki before, many moons ago and didn’t make it very far. I wanted to give it another chance but this time around I was only able to get one episode further. Despite people’s assertions that this show is a realistic depiction of mecha, I just can’t find it anything but slow and uninteresting. Also my thoughts on what is realistic must be different because this show has Noh dancing magic. . . . In any case, a good portions of episodes revolve around people talking, typing, or staring at screens. Talking heads and computer screens can be made interesting (just ask Evangelion) but Gasaraki fails to put passion or facial expressions into its scenes. This also makes the dub doubly painful since at least the Japanese put some inflection in their voices. The battles are compelling in moments but they are too short or interrupted by looking at screens. The show didn’t capture me in any way.

If I have nothing else kindly to say about Gasaraki I will say that it tried to do certain things that most mecha shows don’t often attempt. Ryousuke Takahashi tried for a more realistic version of modern mecha combat and politics while mixing in some magical elements to spice things up. The fact that there are only two types of mecha in the whole show and the commentary on the Gulf War make the show stand out. The only problem is the show is so amazingly and mind numbingly boring. It takes the tedious parts of part of war and magical conspiracy and focuses on the most mundane aspects of each to the to the point where only the most hardcore fans of realism will find the show interesting. Ryousuke Takahashi showed that you can do a more realistic mecha show like Armored Trooper Votoms and make it compelling. But this swings so far toward the nitty-gritty details as so suck away any enjoyment. They even focus on the boring aspects of the shadowy magical conspiracy behind the mecha action in excruciating detail. When the plans of the magical cabal feel like a run down of someone’s tax audit you know something has gone horribly wrong. I will say that this show has a reputation for a completely magical ending that comes out of nowhere but as far as I can tell the freeky deeky occult aspect of the show is apparent from the first episode. I admit that the few actions scenes are the only parts of the anime that are easy to stay awake so that makes them the most memorable pieces but there is unmistakable and unnerving mystical element present in the show from the beginning. Like Narutaki I watched this show years ago and I wondered if I could come back to the show as a more mature fan and gain a greater appreciation for a show I had disliked in my early fandom. But this show still deserves the infamous reputation it gained with me and other fans so many years ago.

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