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AKA: 超重神グラヴィオンツヴァイ (Choujuushin Gravion Zwei), Super Heavy God Gravion Zwei
Genre: Giant robot action / fan service comedy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 16+ (nudity, fan service, mild violence)
Related Series: Gravion
Also Recommended: Dai-Guard, Gravion, Love Hina, Puni Puni Poemy
Notes: This review is based the first DVD received as a screener from ADV Films. Thanks, guys!

Sequel to Gravion.
Rating:
 

Gravion Zwei

Synopsis

The Earthgertz organization, led by the billionaire Klein Sandman, has already saved the Earth from the invasion of the Zeravire, using the power of giant robots (and also perky girls in maid outfits).

Now the Zeravire menace has returned, but Earthgertz is not alone. The Earth Government has begun mass-producing Gravion units, employing the elite G-Soldier squadron.

Will the G-Soldiers steal all the glory from Earthgertz? Will the human race survive the relentless invasion of the Zeravire? And most importantly ... will anyone ever find out how Mizuki gets her chest to do that?

Review

First off, I should mention that I haven't seen the first series. In fact, I was pretty leery of watching this, because the director is none other than Obari Masami, who has brought us such spectacular failures as Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer, Battle Arena Toshinden, and Voogie's Angel. The ridiculously over-the-top box cover doesn't help with the first impression.

What gets forgotten in all the expectations of fan service is that Gravion is, first and foremost, a giant robot cartoon from the guy who also brought us Dangaizer 3. Each episode features at least one major transformation sequence, and there's a fairly decent amount of flashy Technicolor robot action here. With, um, maid outfits. Though not always on the people you expect ...

Gravion Zwei should be hilariously bad, but instead, it's hilarious. Choosing to focus on humor and action rather than taking itself seriously, this series manages to be far more enjoyable than it should be, by virtue of a suitably cheeky script and a cast that on both tracks genuinely seems to be enjoying themselves.

Granted, Gravion Zwei isn't going to be challenging any Oshii films for depth. If anything, the comedy in this show is so unsubtle as to be almost surreal. Sure, this is a sequel, but stacking the amazingly cliched tried-and-true "picnic" and "hot springs" episodes within the first volume is still pretty brash ... and yet somehow it works more often than not. The fan service is at times almost overwhelming, but it stops before getting too embarrassing to continue watching the series.

Of course, this being an Obari Masami work, there is always at least one character whose character design just boggles my mind, and that's Mizuki. Now, folks, I happen to know several women with rather large breasts, and from these experiences, I have to ask how Mizuki is able to walk around with boobs larger than her head, completely unsupported. That just ain't right. Sure, it's *boing*, but I just can't help but roll my eyes every time she *boings*, if not flat-out wince in pain. Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe I'm just being a cynical married man. (Or maybe it's Maybelline.)

Yet considering the amount of fan service on the cover, the actual show almost seems restrained in comparison. (No, not *those* kind of restraints.) The cover almost implies some sort of hentai material within, but the reality is that there are a few scenes of groping and some bare breasts, but this is far from the most fan-servicey anime in the ADV library. Pure fan service otaku would be better served buying something with a Jiggle Counter. (And leaving me to pop this DVD in again some more.)

Gravion Zwei does have quite a few flaws, though not nearly what I came into this expecting. The one major disappointment as of yet is simple : with all the talk about the "opposing team" (the G-Soldiers), you don't see a whole lot of them as of the first volume. There's also a fairly large cast that you're expected to know from the original series, but there's actually a bit of character development that occurs throughout this show to compensate for this. Unfortunately, the character scenes aren't quite perfectly handled, often breaking the flow and pacing of Gravion Zwei and leaving a feeling of unevenness. Not all of the jokes are winners, and the karaoke maid sequence in the third episode is a forehead-slapper rather than a knee-slapper.

Fortunately, my fear of this show devolving into a long pan of knock-kneed girls in maid outfits was laid largely to rest, thanks to the outstanding cast of characters (both in Japanese and English). Naturally, I end up gravitating towards the outspoken tomboy, Luna (played equally well by Ikezawa Haruna and Luci Christian), who combines just the right amount of innocence and brass. Mizuki is the adult of the team, and it's amusing seeing Asakawa Yuu in an actual (albeit comedic) femme-fatale type of role. Not that Kira Vincent-Davis does a bad job by any means, but I've got a bit of a soft spot for Asakawa, even with the embarrassing character design here. Ena is kinda weird -- honestly how does one become the head of the castle maids by sixteen? The whole "maid thing" in general has the potential to get annoying, but the best thing to do here is shrug, be amused by the ever-so-slight Minnesota accent Jessica Boone occasionally slaps on in the English track, and move on. Leele is apparently less of a cipher here than in the original series, which is good -- I happen to prefer Kuwashima Houko here, personally. The guys are also pretty amusing -- Eiji is a nice cross between traditional-hero and loser-hero, and has an effective foil in the usually gentle Toga. My favorite male cast member, though, is the beautifully daft leader, Klein Sandman, because you have to love a multi-billionaire world-defender who is so dedicated to giant robots that he names his horse after Dangaizer.

Obviously, this being the second series in the Gravion franchise, the actors have had plenty of time to get into character, and all of them have realized that this is most definitely a cartoon. The cast members seem to know how to inject the right amount of fun and energy to set the tone for everything else.

Everything else, in this case, meaning lots and lots of transform sequences, announced special moves, explosions, and heroic posing. Gravion Zwei is about as unapologetic as it gets when it comes to being a hero-team robot show, and thankfully, the animation team really brings out the big guns, coming up with some occasionally impressive material. (Of course, it's Gonzo, who are known for delivering quality animation.) The character designs are thankfully toned down from Obari Masami's usual too-sleek design aesthetic, thanks to Ehime Mikan (an obvious pseudonym) and Uno Makoto (Love Hina). The music is the usual Kageyama Hironobu material, very high-powered and fierce, but largely appealing to boys (or man-children), and not exactly fine art.

Of course, Gravion Zwei is anything but fine art. It is a juxtaposition of Love Hina-style sex humor with what is essentially modern-day rehash of Voltron. It can't be called a great show, or excellent, but unlike most Obari Masami shows I've encountered, it is actually quite entertaining -- as intended.

Figuring out whether you'll enjoy this is rather simple.

Do you like cute girls? Do you like giant robots? Do you like shows that don't require a whole lot of deep thought?

If so, then I'm certain you'll like Gravion Zwei.

Surprisingly decent, this show would undoubtedly further appeal to fans of the genre. The fan service and unevenness of the pacing may turn off some viewers, and anyone attempting to take this show seriously will be in for a disappointment. I recommend watching Gravion first, though it's not absolutely necessary given the simplicity of the material.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Teens and up.

So far, the main concern here is fan service. There's quite a bit of it, with a significant amount of nudity in the third episode. Not as unsubtle as the cover, though (except when Mizuki is on the screen). The action is fairly standard giant robot fare, and there is implied blood, but nothing explicit in terms of violence.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (4/12)
Gravion Zwei © 2004 Bari / Kazu / Gonzo / Gravion Project