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Stone Stage

Copyright: ©,
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: PG-13 Parental Guidance Advised
Format: Original Japanese Dialogue, English Sub, Dub (VHS, LD, DVD)


Tada hitotsu
Kainokaitaru akashinito
Ishinobutaini ashiuchitsukenu


Gowa Yushiro is a civilian who is involved in the military development of tactical armor or TAs. However, rather than working on the design aspects, he is in fact involved in the testing and handling of the TA, and in the process is himself subject to heavy monitoring. Just why he is involved and more importantly what the family clan is doing by monitoring him is very much a mystery.

Eight years earlier, a disaster befell the Gowa family during the traditional Gasara dance. What exactly happened, and the outcome of the event is unknown. But it's up to Gowa Yushiro to perform the ritual dance. However, in the process of performing the dance, an unknown girl appears before him and attacks. Who is the girl and why is she trying to stop Yushiro from performing the dance? And what is the horror that she doesn't want Yushiro to bring back?

capsule review:

Starting the story in what seems to be either a video game or a military simulation, viewers are literally dropped in the middle of the story. Left to one's own devices, it's up to the viewer to determine what's happening, what the story is about, where things are coming from and where they will go from here. However, not all is so straight forward, and the inklings of the story that are revealed and the way they are revealed hint at the direction and the way the story will unfold.

It is the direction that is so very important to this episode. If not for the strong direction, viewers would very quickly lose interest at the slow story development and the concentration on events which have no clear purpose. Combined with the strong hints of background story, viewers are left in the dark about so much. But, it is the hints of a much greater story and the flashback scenes of the previous ritual that act as very strong lures for keeping viewers intrigued.

Since information is revealed so very slowly and deliberately, younger viewers or those who are expecting an action packed feature may get bored with this episode and series. However, those people with the staying power to go through the story at the director's pace are in for a treat. So many hints of what happened in the past, yet so little information, it can be very frustrating at times! Many questions arise within the first half of the episode and yet when they will be answered remains a mystery.

Eight years. So often mentioned yet so very little information. The strong direction and the hints of story to come are not the only things which work to keep viewers attention. The soundtrack is also very strong at enhancing the overall atmosphere of the episode. With about half the episode devoted to the gasara mai, this episode draws heavily on traditional Japanese Noh dance and music. For viewers, this could be rather offputting or intriguing depending on their musical tastes. I have to admit, the more I watch the series in general, the more I enjoy the music. I wonder how the soundtrack will be on its own. The opening and closing themes are somewhat unusual in that they are not your typical J-pop boppy musical themes. But then, that wouldn't suit the overall mood of the feature. Rather they are much more minor in tone. The opening is a touch annoying in that parts are somewhat flat at times. Listening to the CD for the closing theme, it becomes so very clear how important voice can be in comparison to the harmony.

The animation is also quite nice and is very effective in portraying the scene at hand. From "static" in the picture due to poor signals and picture feeds, to some good detail in the characters themselves, the animation can be both rich as well as stark depending on the scene. My only peeve would be the opening scenes to this episode which has a certain "video game" feel to them. I couldn't determine initially if this was a game or some other form of simulation until the dialogue clarified matters.

And it is the dialogue and the background newsflashes which will provide so much of the information to be gleaned as the story progresses. From newscasters reading their stories to the various members of the Gowa clan, the Japanese seiyuu do a great job at portraying their characters. I have to admit, the hints of story, characters and their personalities and relationships, the music, animation and direction have me firmly entranced. And while I haven't been tempted to do a major Gasaraki fest per se, the story does make a strong impression.

So many questions and so few answers. This will never make action of the year and may well not become one of the more popular titles. The demands it places on viewer attention span and the deliberacy through which it slowly reveals information will easily lose many viewers. Yet, it has an incredibly suspenseful story for those who enjoy dramatic, suspenses.
- JYN, 2001.06.22

café rating (original japanese):


4 star

[4 / 5] - Lots of hints but very little is revealed. It is this sense of story more than anything that keeps viewers glued. Will the series deliver?


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Solid direction; viewers are left in constant suspense. The slow pace may well lose viewers who are not interested in a suspense story.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Solid effort as per usual for Japanese seiyuu. There is a muted sense to certain individuals, while others are much more emotional. All in all very well done.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Generally quite nice and crisp. While there are times when we're clearly aware that scenes are computer generated, overall there is some beautiful detail.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - The more I watch this, the more I enjoy the music. The background music is excellent and does a wonderful job at enhancing the overall viewing experience. For those who also like traditional Japanese music, the background for the Gasara mai is traditional Noh music.


[ N/A ] - based on the original Japanese version

Overall Rating:

4 star
[4 / 5] - As an introduction, it is both excellent and weak. While it can be very riveting, those who are expecting a fast paced story will be bored. Viewers are very much at the mercy of the director and the slow pace at which the story is revealed.

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Page last modified 2001.06.22