This double feature comprises of Gunbuster and Die Buster (aka Gunbuster 2) condensed them into a single theatrical release told in two parts with a musical intermission in between. The first part, Gunbuster the Movie, condenses the six episodes of the original OVA into a 95-minute movie featuring a new 5.1 audio remix and a redub by the original Japanese cast. If you haven’t picked up by now, I love blu-ray, especially anime on blu-ray. The blu-ray transfer just screams gorgeous visuals and the addition of the third Blu-ray disc featuring lengthy interviews and footage from the movie premieres just makes this Blu-ray box set a must have for any Gunbuster/Diebuster fan!
In the very near future, a race of huge, insect-like aliens is discovered traveling the galaxy. These aliens seem dedicated to the eradication of the human species as it takes its first steps away from the solar system, and they are getting closer and closer to Earth. Humanity has responded by developing space-going battleships and giant fighting robots (original idea there). These robots are piloted by the best and brightest of Earth’s youth, picked from training schools around the world. Our story begins in the year 2023, not long after the first battles with the aliens, and centers on young Noriko Takaya. Diebuster, on the other hand, is set tens of thousands of Earth years after the events of Gunbuster. Space monsters still prey on humanity, but humanity has become more adept at fighting them off, and has even safely spread out through the galaxy. The team responsible for protecting humanity is a group of psychic pilot teenagers known as Topless who summon mecha with the power of their minds. They will do this not only in space, but in the middle of a restaurant, on a ship, you name it. Doesn’t matter if there’s actually any room for a twenty foot tall machine, they will make room.
Gunbuster marked the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno, who later went on to direct the widely popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” series. First created in 1988 as a six-episode original video animation (OVA) series, Gunbuster was re-released to Japanese theaters during 2006. The series was edited and abridged to shorten the running time and create a film-like flow. Diebuster is the sequel to Gunbuster, and was created in 2004 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Gainax animation studio. As you can see, there is quite the history behind this series and has a bit of a cult following. I enjoyed Gunbuster from a nostalgic standpoint. The film is often campy, and it became almost comical to watch Noriko overcome the space monsters in ever growing numbers every 20 minutes. Though the plot lacks sophistication, the many emotional moments in the film are handled with grace.
At first glance, Gunbuster looks like just another giant-robot war story with a bunch of good looking kids piloting fancy mechs, fighting aliens, all against the backdrop of a huge-scale war for the survival of mankind. In fact, it is almost exactly that, but as the story progresses it moves from a semi-parody of girls’ sports anime to an increasingly introspective war drama. The video quality of Gunbuster & Diebuster on blu-ray disc is delivered in a decent 1080P transfer. Diebuster demonstrates a noticeable improvement in the video department. The AVC CODEC is again utilized, and the bit rate is similar to the first film. As with Gunbuster, the source material is accurately represented, but in this case, we are dealing with a film that is only 4 years old, so I can afford to have higher expectations. Overall, I was very pleased with the video quality, and any shortcomings are a result of the animation and not the transfer.