Hello all! The Azure Striker Gunvolt OVA is finally out, and I just thought I would give my thoughts on it. I'm going to be going in-depth in lots of categories, and hopefully give a good, well rounded review! Please do watch the actual anime before reading this though. Getting to the review:
The story is more or less an adaptation of the opening stage of the game, 1st Sumeragi. That's.... kinda the main plot. Have to say, I'm kinda disappointed. I mean, it's a GOOD adaptation, but I wasn't hoping for an adaptation, I was hoping for a side story of sorts, perhaps showing what happened during the six months after Joule's rescue. Now, there are some parts that do go into more depth than the game, like GV's leaving of QUILL, which was quite the powerful scene, as well as Gunvolt being rescued by Asimov. The main story though, was just more of the same, and if there is a second OVA, I hope it's its own original story. Or at least some interactions between Sumeragi adepts. You could make a whole show based on that alone.
Oh yeah, and Copen and Nori show up for a second. I guess to tease a sequel, but still, JUST A SECOND?!?
This anime has some damn fine animation that looks great on the 3DS screen. It's dark, stylish and detailed, bringing out the cyberpunk feel of the settings of the game, but on a better and bigger scale. The occasional break from the gritty and dark atmosphere (e.g Romeo's heart or Joule's sweatdrop) still seems to fit in well, despite standing out. Not to much to say on this, but good job to the animators.
The soundtrack seems to be a mix of tracks from the game, and new ones composed for the OVA. The ones from the game fit well were they are used, however, do feel slightly odd, perhaps because they were made for gameplay. The new tracks are good, smooth and do feel at place here. And those new Lumen songs? L.I.T! It would have been better if the entire soundtrack was original from the ground up, but hey, still pretty good on the soundtrack side.
The cast of Gunvolt have never failed us before, and this was no exception. These guys are giving their all for this, and it really shows. The scene where Joule's song is on the verge of killing everyone and the beginning of GV's flashback are especially powerful, in part due to the amazing work of the voice actors. Gunvolt is serious yet caring, Joule is shy and compassionate, Nova is calm and calculated. What else can you say but, encore.
The English dub on the other hand.... is slightly worse. Josh Keller could be a good Gunvolt, he has the basic voice down alright, but he needs to put in more enthusiasm. That Luxcalibur was.... bad. Same for Asimov. Maxwell Powers isn't bad, in fact, he kinda sounds like the Japanese voice actor, but he still seems stuck in trailer mode. A little variation in tone would be nice. Monique and Joule/Lumen are pretty good, but Zeno is.... ehh. That's it. Ehh.
The Sumeragi trio of Nova, Merak and Romeo on the other hand, are where the talent of the English dub shine for me. Chris Nelson does well of capturing the calm, knowing demeanour of Nova, yet still has a youthful feel to it, like Ayumu. Combining the dialogue and the way he talks, it sounds like a middle-aged man trapped inside the body of a teenager, something that suits Nova's character well. Vinay Murthy is good as well, capturing the utter laziness of the sin that is Merak. The guy is like a constantly tired nerd, yet can still show emotion when necessary. Romeo sounds like a sadistic transgender pedo who thinks that being incredibly obvious about that fact makes it seem as if he isn't a sadistic transgender pedo. It's very odd, but very fitting for his character. English dub as a whole: Not too shabby.
Oh yeah, and Peter Von Gomm is good too. For his one line.
Overall, this is a well made OVA. The sleek, dark animation, the good voice acting and music, it was just great watching this. I hope the flaws in its lack of an original story and soundtrack can be addressed in the possibility sequel. It would also be interesting to see if English dubbing becomes a thing. I'm actually kinda intrigued.