by Michelle Villanueva

Maids and mecha and tons of fanservice. If you take a gander at the cover art, Gravion Zwei makes a few promises in terms what it contains, and the anime doesn't disappoint. Before examining the anime any deeper, I have to make a confession. Although Gravion Zwei is a sequel to the extremely popular anime Gravion, I haven't seen the original series. Therefore, i won't be able to judge the series as a sequel to the original. Luckily, one doesn't need a ton of brain cells in order to figure out what's going on.

As far as can be glossed from the first few episodes of the series, the term "Gravion" refers to the vehicles and mecha built by eccentric millionaire hottie Klein Sandman. In order to battle an alien threat (and what mecha show worth its building-smashing skills doesn't involve an alien threat?) called the Zerafire, Sandman has created special technology which allows these vehicles to combine into Heavyweight God Gravion. Fans of older combining mecha series like Voltron or live-action sentai shows will recognize many elements of Gravion, from the rag-tag group of misfit pilots to the calling out of every attack Gravion does. It's fun. It's nostalgic. It's reminiscent of other recent series like Martian Successor Nadesico which both makes fun of and pays homage to the anime of the past.

As if the old-school mecha battles (complete with uplifting songs right in the middle of the action!) aren't enough, there's also the fanservice. Yes, Sandman is extremely eccentric and has populated the staff of his mansion and his battle fortress with young, amazingly attractive girls in maid outfits. Though most of the girls tend to blend into the background, there are a few who, er, stand out. The very well-endowed Mitsuki, for example, not only has nice, firm, bouncy assets. She also appears to have a leadership position among the maids.

Oh, those maids. Those perky, cute, almost-too-young-to-be-legal maids. Their duties include the usual cleaning up and cooking, as well as being backup and comm support for the Gravion crew as they beat back each Zerafire invader. It's somewhat bizarre to witness these girls dusting bookshelves one minute and then spouting out information about where the gigantic alien is attacking the next. Bizarre, yet oddly satisfying. But the maids aren't the only members of the support crew. The only male member is the always masked Raven, who apparently has taken a cue from Gundam's Char Aznable and decided no one should see his face.

But the Gravion crew isn't the only ones who are set to battle the Zerafire. The government has commissioned its own version of these gigantic transforming mecha and dubbed them G-Soldiers. In an inexplicable coincidence, some of the G-Soldier pilots end up meeting with the Gravion crew. Of course, this gives our heroes the chance to show off, not only through their mecha, but also through their ping-pong.

The combination of mecha and maid fanservice sounds like an epic train wreck, but Gravion Zwei manages to balance the two with great, over-the-top humor. Of course, we get the obligatory hot springs episode, but instead of the expected "male characters get an accidental peek of the women's spring," the viewer is treated to a situation so outrageous and so silly that it flips the whole generic hot springs plot upside down. I'm not going to share too many spoilers, but I can mention that I'm amazed no nosebleeds were involved!

You won't find profound ideas on the nature of humanity in this anime. Gravion Zwei never tries to be anything more than it is: a mecha/fanservice anime, but there are quite a few surprises along the way. Gravion Zwei is exactly like a big tin of caramel popcorn. You can indulge your sweet tooth, and you can eat up copious amounts of it without harm. But it's not a full-course dinner, nor does it try to be. Of course, if you love caramel popcorn, then choosing what to munch on is a no-brainer. Don't try to expect too much out the series, and you'll end up entertained and extremely amused.

Gravion Zwei Vol. 1: Eye of the Storm
BARI, KAZU, GONZO, Gravion Project, ADV Films
Distributed by
ADV Films
Release Info
Volume 1
Bilingual DVD
Dolby Digital 2.0 Eng./Jap.
Run Time: 125 min
Catalog #: DGV004

MSRP: $29.98
Street Date: March 8, 2005