GUNPARADE MARCH (2003)

 

Format: 12 23-minute episodes on 3 DVDs

Rating: PG-13 (AC, AL, GV)

Type: Sci-Fi (mecha)/Romance/Action/Comedy/Drama

American Production: Anime Works

English Dub Production: ??

Japanese Production: JC Staff/Rondo Robe/TBS

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

B-

Writing:

B

Character Design:

B

Mecha Design:

B-

Animation:

B

Artistic Merits:

A-

English Dub:

C+

Musical Score:

B

Songs:

B

Opener:

C

Closer:

B+

 

 

Humor Content:

C+

Action Content:

B-

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

C

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      On an alternate Earth, an alien buglike species called the Genjyu started rampaging across the world in the wake of World War II. By the end of the 20th century only Japan remains as a hold-out against the Genjyu, primarily because they have HWTs (Humanoid Walking Tanks) capable of fighting off the Genjyu and special bombs with the yield of a nuke but not the long-term radiation poisoning that follows. The lengthy war to stave off the Genjyu has taken its toll, however, for the country is short enough on manpower that it must depend heavily on teenagers organized into school-based units to operate the mecha and PBEs (a new class of weapon as powerful as a nuke that lack secondary effects such as radiation poisoning). The story focuses on one such school group, which forms the combat and support personnel for the 5121st Platoon, as they deal with combat, personal issues, and school life.

 

The Long View

      Based on a cult hit video game, Gunparade March has a lot going for it: its artistry is top-rate, its character designs (with a couple of notable exceptions) are appealing, and its action scenes are well-handled if unoriginal. The writing is occasionally brilliant, particularly when depicting the protracted death scene of a major character, the fallout over the incident, and the resolution of the series’ key romance. Use of a fable about a princess and an evil wizard, which pops up several times throughout the series, to illustrate various points is a nice touch. The main problem with March is that it has difficulty achieving a proper balance. It wants to be a story about the lives of a teenage platoon set against the backdrop of a war against rampaging aliens, but never finds quite the right balance between battlefield elements and the slice-of-life, humor, and romantic scenes. Another problem is that the foes Unit 5121 must face are very generic, though if the point was to keep the viewer from being distracted by something potentially more interesting than the characters then the design succeeds quite well. Too many questions are left unanswered about this enemy at the end, though. In fact, the war used as a framing device feels forced, various circumstances about it don’t add up, and it seems to have no impact on public life in Japan despite the fact that Japan is supposed to be the last bastion of humanity left. (And Japan apparently rebuilt itself remarkably well after WW II despite the Genjyu threat in this alternate reality.) The presence of Nonomi, the little girl character, also seems forced, as are the reasons why she’s with this unit. I suspect she was inserted because otherwise the series has no cuteness factor.

      As stated before, the technical merits of Gunparade March are not at issue. The English dub is serviceable but uninspired; I was particularly unimpressed with the performance of whomever did the part of the little girl Nonomi; it sounds too clearly like an adult trying to do a child’s voice. The musical score is eclectic but generally good, and the opener is flat and unoriginal. The closer, which features Mai standing on a bridge waiting for someone as a love song plays, is much better and ends with one of the happiest smiles you’ll see anywhere in anime. Make sure you watch through to the end of the closer for the final episodes, which finally shows who, exactly, Mai was waiting for in the closer for earlier episodes. (But it shouldn’t be a surprise by that point.)

      The graphic content is for violent content, a couple of incidences of harsh language, and some scenes too harsh for younger audiences. (The handling of the aforementioned death scene is intense.) The series has very little in the way of true fan service.

      So is Gunparade March worth seeing? Probably, although this isn’t a shining example of anime’s best storytelling..

 

DVD Extras

      All volumes have trailers, but only the first two volumes have the other extras listed below on the DVDs themselves. The third volume does have an interview with the two principle seiyuu in its liner notes, however. The menu for the DVDs, though neat, is odd in that it does not include the title of the series.

·  Productions Sketches

·  Textless Opener/Closer

·  GPM Theme Song – This is not the theme song played during the opener or closer or during the series, but rather a separate American-styled rock song which sounds like it might have been made by Rage Against The Machine or a clone group.

 

 

Principle English Voice Actors

      Unfortunately, most information about which English voice actors played which role is not available.

 

Role

Voice Actor

Atsushi Hayami

 

Mai Shibamura

Deborah Sale Butler 

Nonomi Higashihara

 

Matsuri Katou

 

Ginga Kurusu

 

Seika Mori

 

Miyo Mibuya

 

Haramotoko

 

Youhei Takikawa

 

Maki Tanabe

 

Keigo Toosaka

 

Sarasa Uichita

 

Nobuaki Wakamiya

 

Haruka Yoshino

 

Tadataka Yoshiyuki

 

 

 

 

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