Volume 6 - Erosion

Starring (voice): Tomokazu Seki, Kenji Hamada and Tsutomu Isobe
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 July 2006

Within the gangster mafia organisation Milennion two childhood friends Harry and Brandon must fight to survive. Harry fights to control the organisation while Brandon becomes one of their best hitmen. But ties of friendship cannot stop Harry's insane ambition and in a show down Harry kills Brandon. Now, Brandon has come back from the dead to destroy the organisation he once worked for and to exact the ultimate revenge by killing Harry...

Disc six of Gungrave, directed by Toshiyuki Tsuru, has only three episodes this time, the last three will presumably appear on disc seven. The DVD contains episodes twenty-one to twenty-three and picks up where the last disc left off. Harry is now in control of the gang and trying to wipe out any traces of Big Daddy's reign - including his daughter Mika, who fortunately is under the protection of the resurrected Brandon now known as Beyond the Grave, or Grave to his friends, of which he has few.

Episode twenty-one, Duty, finds Mika and Brandon taking refuge with Rich and Gary. With revenge still uppermost in Brandon's mind he stashes Mika with the boys before setting off to kick some arse. But as they say the best laid plans often go wrong and Brandon's use of Gary's car leads the Organisation and Lee straight to Mika. It's a bit of a so so episode and feels like the story is being spread a little too thin. On the one hand this is understandable as the obligatory fight scenes cuts down the available time for exposition, though even some of that is a bit odd. The discovery that Big Daddy set up a violent criminal organisation in order to protect his friends and loved ones strikes me as logically flawed and morally repugnant.

Episode Twenty-two, Remorse, finds Mika in the clutches of Lee and Harry, not a good situation for anyone to find themselves in; especially when Lee reveals that she is merely bait, bait that will be gutted in front of Brandon before Lee kills him. OK, so with Lee and 150 Orgmen after Brandon another fight is on, but can Brandon save Mika before Lee guts her? After the disappointing previous episode it's nice to see the show back on track with its trademarked ultra violence. The protracted fight scene between Brandon and Lee is most exhilarating, full of pumping 5.1 music and an excellently maniacal Lee. Mika continues, unfortunately, to be the weaker character spending most of her time either standing around with her mouth open or interrupting the fight scenes with her chat.

So, the last episode on the disc is episode Twenty-three, Daughter, and Harry is starting to have problems of his own. With dissent in the ranks it's time for a little house cleaning, Orgman style, very violent, very Godfather. Meanwhile, Bear gets all testosterone poisoned and decides to take on Brandon one-on-one, never a good idea. It's an interesting final episode, on the penultimate disc, which demonstrates Harry's gradual loss of power over the Organisation, even with the Orgmen to back him up. With pressure from within and without can Harry stay in power long enough to kill Brandon?

Set-up on the disc is the same as before with Japanese stereo or DTS, with subtitles or signs only, or the very acceptable English 5.1. Extras on anime releases continue to remain few and far between, but then they do not sell in enough units to provide the revenue for extensive extras. What you do get is fourteen pieces of production art, a selection of trailer for other anime shows and the DVD credits.

The show seems to be loosing a little of its quality in this disc, with some very strange animated characters who appear to have pin heads on huge bodies. Whilst, it may have been an artistic choice rather than a financial one, it's odd to have had such a change so late in the series.

Charles Packer

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