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Gravitation: Complete Collection
Right Stuf // Unrated // January 4, 2011
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Gravitation is a shounen-ai anime. I'm no expert at understanding the Japanese language so this had to be looked up after viewing the series. It means 'boy love'. That means Gravitation is a homosexual anime show. Of course, I knew that after viewing the whole thing anyway. The truth of the matter is that had I realized this was a show aimed at women and homosexual men with a plotline that revolved around two characters, both men, perhaps falling in love... well; let's just say I probably wouldn't have been so eager to check it out. You might be wondering why I even bothered reviewing this show then. The reason I gave the show a chance is because I had heard good things about it, and I am now glad that I did as Gravitation easily surpassed and challenged my expectations.
That is not to say I find something wrong with gay themed films. In fact, the auteur Gus Van Sant is one of my favorite film-makers and his man-love masterpiece My Own Private Idaho is one of the best examples of cinematic art. It's just that I found it unusual to think of shounen-ai anime as even existing. The thought never occurred to me before as I had never seen such a thing. I don't fall into the target demographic this series is aiming towards because I am a straight male. That knowledge probably helps to explain my ignorance of this genre and the pivotal role it plays in anime.
Let me explain the plotline. Gravitation is much more than simply a boy-love series. The series revolves around an aspiring rock musician by the name of Shuichi. He's a very feminine man who also acts somewhat ditzy throughout the course of the series. At the start of the show, we find him losing the lyrics to a song he has written. These lyrics fall into the hands of Eiri, a famous romance novelist. Unlike Shuichi, Eiri is quite masculine and not flamboyant in any regard. Their chance encounter demonstrates just how different these characters might seem at first glance. They seem to feel nothing but agitation at each other's words and actions from the very beginning. However, as the series progresses, something continues to push them closer to one another. Could it be love? The main storyline of the show is about whether or not a romance can exist between Shuichi and Eiri. At the same time, a great deal of effort was put into focusing on the music group Shuichi's in and the pitfalls of trying to become successful as musicians. This element leads to a lot of comedic moments and a surprisingly high number of enjoyable side characters that added some extra whimsy to this comical romance show. These ongoing plotlines actually feature some surprising twists as well, especially one concerning a mysterious past to Eiri that is unknown to even the character himself. I enjoyed that element of mystery in the show and found that it could even keep me on the edge of my seat occasionally.
If there is one detractor to this box-set it is the included OVA. The animation is nowhere near as good as what can be found within the full series. The storyline is also disjointed and the writers expected viewers to already be familiar with the characters. I started with the OVA (which was produced prior to the show). That was a huge mistake. New viewers unfamiliar with these characters and their journeys should view it only after completing the main story. Nonetheless, I simply found it to be excruciatingly boring in comparison to the actual series. I would only recommend that serious fans view it as supplemental material.
The series is presented in its original Japanese language with a 2.0 soundtrack. The vastly inferior English dub track is included and features a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. The surround usage is kept front-heavy and will not sound especially superior to the original audio. This should make the decision to watch Gravitation in its original language easier. The clarity is strong for either option. English Subtitles are provided for the Japanese audio and on screen text translations.
Gravitation is presented in its original aspect ratio of 4:3. Viewers can expect a DVD transfer that is faithful to the source material. The series itself looks crisp and features strong colors and appropriately smooth animation. The series looks pleasing overall. The included OVA: Lyrics of Love featured muted colors and a disappointingly dull image. I would rank the video even lower for its inclusion, but the series is the main draw of purchasing this set.
There aren't that many extras. The only really interesting feature was the ability to look through detailed descriptions of the show's characters. It should help fans become more familiar with the material should they so desire. Also included with this set is the first US trailer for Gravitation, art galleries, anime vs. manga comparisons, clean opening and ending credits, and notes that help explain some of the cultural in-jokes and nods the series makes.
The reason this show seems to work on so many levels is the excellent writing and direction throughout. I certainly never felt like there was a dull moment with the show. Gravitation also did a better job of developing its characters than I had initially anticipated. While I am not familiar with other shounen-ai (boy love) series I can certainly recommend this one for its surprisingly high entertainment factor. The only downside to the set is a disappointingly lackluster OVA and a general lack of extras. Recommended.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.