Gravion: Divine Steel

By combining five special Gran Diva vehicles, the six Gran Knights can form the super robot God Gravion and defeat any Zeravire that attacks planet Earth. However, each pilot has a different reason for being here. Eiji Shigure has come to the castle of Klein Sandman in search of his older sister Ayaka who sent him a letter asking for help. While searching the castle, Eiji gets dragged into piloting the Gran Diva G-Attacker and joining the team until his sister is located. Created and directed by Masami Obari (Angel Blade, Virus Buster Serge) and animated by GONZO (Vandread, Kiddy Grade, Gate Keepers) comes Gravion: Divine Steel from ADV Films. 

DVD: Gravion: Divine Steel
Release Date: 5/25/2004
Release Studio: ADV Films
ADR Production: Industrial Smoke & Mirrors

MSRP: $29.98, DVD with Box $39.98
Audio: English 5.1 DD, Japanese 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English, Signs-Only
Episodes: 5
Runtime: 125mins
Extras: Clean Opening and Closing, Design Sketches, Japanese Trailer, Foldout Insert, Four Static Cling Stickers, ADV Previews

Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.

The first two episodes set the stage for introducing the characters and mecha with the standard Obari touch of heavy fanservice and quick push to the action. Klein Sandman, an eccentric billionaire with a largely unknown past, has invited various leaders from the Earth Federation Alliance to attend a gala party at his castle. Knowing that the Zeravire are coming very soon, the party is really a chance to debut his secret weapon in front of these world leaders. However, one guest doesn’t seem too concerned with the party. Eiji Shigure’s missing sister sent him an urgent letter claiming to need help and he is at the castle to find her. After slipping away from the main room, Eiji starts to explore the inner castle while being watched by Sandman’s female security team. As Eiji starts to enter places he shouldn’t be, the girls go into action. While trying to duck his pursuers, Eiji finds himself a bit further off the map than he intended. Inside a large room stands a giant of a machine. As Eiji approaches, a boy his own age steps out. Toga Tekuji is rather amused and surprised to finally find another boy. While this reaction is odd, Eiji doesn’t have time to decipher its meaning before he falls and lands next to what he believes to be an airbike to use for his escape.

The Zeravire have already managed to destroy the EFA bases on Mars and Jupiter with Earth as their next target. Landing in a populated city, the Zeravire disperse the smaller units to attack while the main unit (resembling a cross) hovers like a great monolith waiting for a challenger. Sandman advises the EFA president to leave this battle to his forces, but the president doesn’t take this into consideration. Knowing the EFA will fail, Sandman orders the Gran Knights to engage the enemy and what Eiji thinks is an airbike is really the controls for the G-Attacker jet. Eiji has just been elected the G-Attack’s new pilot and sent into battle against his will. Toga controls the Gran Kasier humanoid robot, Mizuki pilots the G-Striker jet, Luna and Ena work together in the G-Driller, and an unknown figure controls the G-Shadow that resembles a stealth bomber. The Gran Divas manage to tear apart the smaller forces, but Sandman knows the main Zeravire is going to take something more powerful. Klein gives the order to combine and Toga calls for the team to enter Elgo Form.

The five Gran Divas combine to form Super Heavyweight God Gravion—a larger and more powerful version of Toga’s Gran Kaiser—with the various G-units forming the new arms, legs, and chest plate (think Voltron if you don’t watch many Super Robot series). The EFA president has his military fire a particle projection cannon shot at the Zeravire, but it has no effect. It’s up to God Gravion to stop the Zeravire. Eiji tries to ditch, but the girls scream at him so much that he sits down and shuts up. Toga still controls the main functions of God Gravion and attempts to subdue the oversized enemy are unsuccessful. After a series of thrashings from the Zeravire, God Gravion loses gravity communication and the super robot separates. At the castle, Sandman gives a brief explanation of his Earthgertz organization and admits he tricked Eiji into coming to the castle by faking a letter from his sister Ayaka. As the G-units are repaired at the castle for a second attack, the Zeravire hovers over the city and forms a cocoon to evolve into a more powerful enemy. Eiji refuses to join the battle, but when the team calls him a coward Eiji suits up and takes command of the G-Attacker of God Gravion once again to finish off the Zervire forces.

The third episode gives Eiji a chance to know Toga better as he explores the castle. Klein Sandman employs a sea of maids to see to most of the castle’s daily needs. One of these ‘needs’ is now Eiji, though he’s determined to do things—even the simple things like changing clothes—himself. Luna joins three of the staff maids to check on Eiji, but his determination to do things on his own ends up flooding the bathroom when he can’t get the faucet to work. With everyone soaked, the maids and Luna take off to change. This gives Eiji a chance to slip out the window and climb up the castle wall to start searching for his sister again. Of course, waiting at the top is the ever-present and friendly Toga. Toga tags along to help Eiji’s quest by searching the West tower where Ayaka was last seen. Toga has lived at the castle since he was a baby and has never been off the grounds or seen another boy before. The pair stumbles upon an open bath area where Luna is soaking after her previous drenching in Eiji’s room. Luna has taken up the habit of yelling at Eiji and this moment isn’t any different since he looks like a pervert spying on her. Toga explains the situation and Luna decides to assist in searching for Eiji’s sister. Naturally, Zeravire picks this time to show up again and only God Gravion can properly respond to the attack.

The final two episodes introduce the mysterious sixth member of the God Gravion. In the fourth episode, as some of the maids head back to their sleeping quarters one night, a ghost-like person crosses in front of them down the hallway. When the girls peer around the corner to look, no one is there. The next day the girls tell Eiji and he uses this as an excuse to look for his sister again. Eiji drags Toga along and the two wander aimlessly. They happen to find a ferret inside a suit of armor. As curious as this is, they also see a ghost-like girl walk past them. When the pair peers around the corner, they see the girl walk through a mirror. Toga and Eiji find out the mirror is a fake and follow her. Traversing a long stairwell, they enter into the South tower and find the girl alone in her room. Leele is soft-spoken but happy to see that her ferret Lolotte is safe. Before Toga and Eiji can ask many questions, Sandman knocks on the door. Leele hides the two boys in her closet to protect them from Sandman’s wrath, but another Zeravire attack interrupts Klein’s conversation with Leele. God Gravion is powerful, but it’s going to take a special attack that only Leele can perform to damage the Zeravire.

With the sixth member introduced, Luna sets up a picnic outing off the castle grounds so that the team can get to know their reclusive member. However, Leele has been living in isolation for a while and the combination of too many people and something that reminds her of a painful memory is too much for her to take. Leele runs off into the forest as another Zeravire decides to attack. Now it’s up to the team to find Leele, learn to support each other, and defeat the newest Zeravire.

Gravion is your standard Obari mecha title of robots, fanservice, and lots of over-the-top action. While Super Robot series tend to be a little overdramatic with the action and combination sequences, Obari seems to keep tweaking the idea just a tad more with each new series. It’s great to watch, but after five episodes we’ve barely moved the plot further than Eiji is sort of looking for his sister and the monster-of-the-week Zeravire keep attacking at the worst possible moments. I’m hoping we get a bit more plot as we move into the middle of the first series. Masami Obari’s character designs are, as always, a great bonus to watch in motion as girls wear revealing outfits, tend to pose just right, and any girl with large breasts shows off her cleavage and ability to bounce at the slightest hint of movement. The action sequences, while a little repetitive with the combination sequences, are also a treat with the heavy fighting and explosions. And with this being a GONZO title, the animation is nothing short of amazing the entire time.

The Japanese cast is a tad mixed for the first few episodes. Show Hayami’s Klein Sandman is rather interesting, but his right hand man Raven (Hikaru Midorikawa) is a bit stiff. Toga (Jun Fukuyama) and Luna (Haruna Ikezawa) are able to grasp their characters quickly. Kenichi Suzumura, on the other hand, still seems to be wrapping up his learning curve even at episode five. The English production by ADV’s Houston-based studio, Industrial Smoke & Mirrors, tends to be a bigger mess than the Japanese cast. While certain edits are always needed for lip syncing, the ADR script comes off more as a slice-and-dice operation attempting to be funny. Add some rather poor direction in how to approach a scene and you can already see how messy this has gotten. Chris Patton (Eiji) and Greg Ayres (Toga) waffle between so-so and poor for most of the five episodes. Jason Douglas makes for a fitting Sandman, but some scenes just don’t work out for the eccentric billionaire. Allison Shipp plays a very nice Leele with only a few misses. It has possibilities, but it’s not something I would be coming back to any time soon short of a Leele scene.

Gravion: Divine Steel has everything you need in a Super Robot show: big robots, lots of action, and plenty of fanservice. If I can get a bit more plot on the next disc, I’ll be sold for several volumes of the series. The video is clean and the subtitles contain no errors. The DVD extras include a clean opening and closing, design sketches, and the Japanese trailer. The DVD also comes with four static cling stickers (Luna, Toga, Gran Kaiser, and God Gravion) and a foldout insert with a side story novel and mecha design sketches. Gravion: Divine Steel has a lot of possibilities and ADV has put together a solid first disc. A DVD with Box option is also available with great artwork on the sides, but the box itself is a tad flimsy. Finally, two complete sets (first release, second release) have surfaced containing both Gravion and Gravion Zwei if you want to take the big leap already. Gravion is perfect for the Super Robot fan, but everyone else may want to hold out a little longer to make sure it moves past its monster-of-the-week formula.