"Gad Guard" Volume 1: Egad! It's Good!
gad n.: A strange stone that transforms into a techode (giant robot) when a person makes a bond with it.
Gad Guard opens with a jazzy theme, entitled “Boomerang Boogie,” performed by Pe’z, and a shot of the gads. The first thing that comes to mind is Cowboy Bebop, but that impression is fleeting. The music may be a light and peppy jazz, but the life of our protagonist, Hajiki Sanada, is anything but. He is a young kid who is working to support his small family, and the series begins with him coming across a mysterious stone, which turns out to be a gad.
At the beginning Hajiki seems to be the main character, but soon it becomes apparent that the series won’t revolve solely around him. Katana, Aiko, Takumi, and Arashi are all emerging as main parts of the series. Aiko and Takumi already have techodes and Arashi wants one after seeing Hajiki’s. Katana is the bad guy of the series, the only thing on his mind thus far is destroying Hajiki’s techode. It’s hard to pinpoint where Gad Guard is going from here but two things are obvious: lots of people are after gads, and everyone is using their gad for a different purpose. Hajiki so far has used his to help search for other gads. Takumi has used his to fight for justice. And Aiko is struggling to decide on the direction her life will take her, and uses her techode to escape from that decision.
The characters themselves are very complex and interesting. The incidental adults and other background elements are more realistically designed, while the kids, most of them main characters, have a more stylized, anime design: cleaner lines and more emotional eyes. The show’s color palette is muted, giving everything a gritty look and reminding us that the slum Hajiki lives in, Night Town, has an electricity shortage. The brightest colors are seen in the better-off part of the city called Day Town. Overall, the color scheme works amazingly well, and adds depth to the characters and environment. Gad Guard‘s animation is beautiful and fluid, and the action scenes are the most impressive, as it seems the camera flows through the shots, capturing all the excitement. In case you can’t tell yet, I really like the opening. At first the music didn’t seem to fit the visuals at all, but with each episode the opening just gets cooler and cooler, sliding in behind the characters.
There are several characters I haven’t discussed yet: namely, the techodes. Their eyes and silhouettes are possibly an homage to Astro Boy. One interesting thing about the techodes is that, once transformed from a gad, they have no operator, at least not controlling them with buttons and levers. It seems as though they are operated by the will of the person who hatches them.
The English dub casting is adequate. None of the voices seem out of place and the acting is good. I don’t have particuarly high standards on dubbing, but I do have one criterion: if I can watch the dub without being completely annoyed by one of the voices (the voice is wrong for the character or the lines don’t match up) then it’s a good dub. Gad Guard has a good dub.
There aren’t too many extras on the DVD, just the non-credit opening animation, an art gallery, and some Easter eggs. These hidden extras are viewable if you select the non-credit opening animation from the extras menu and then hit enter when the white silhouette of Hajiki and Lightening (his techode) appear. The reward is some outtakes from the English dub that prove to be fairly amusing. The DVD cover is reversible and comes in a collectors box that contains a replica of Hajiki’s gray hat with the series title emblazoned on the front of it. The box art is very cool, a stylized version of the series art, and the hat is quite warm and comfy!
Gad Guard is thus far a good series, one with lots of potential. The story still has a lot of room to grow, as there are many questions to be answered. But if it continues at the quality level of this first DVD it will prove to be a series that many would enjoy.