Generally speaking, the genre of mecha drama is often too dependant on (mindlessly) awesome action and swoon-worthy (and milquetoast) bishonens to sustain interest. Generator Gawl, on the other hand, fits the bill of good drama for it is both thoughtfully conceived and sensibly executed.
Starting from the basics of the plot, the structure of each episode seems cast straight from the mould of "one monster per episode". This is a dangerous formula to follow if the protagonists become too engrossed with "individual enemies of the day", effectively weakening the links between sub-plots and undermining the creation of a substantial story on a macro level as in the case of Weiss Kreuz.
In Generator Gawl, the clash in each episode does not seem to be the chief focus of the series. In episode 4, the mecha fight is so carefully integrated into Ryo's dream that it serves as an engine for plot and character developments rather than a climactic end per se. By episode 4, I realise that each episode is more concerned in revealing a little bit more of the sinister conspiracy and the apocalyptic doom hinted at in the first episode rather than deliver blistering action sequences.
And it is this technique of gradually unfolding the events that makes Generation Gawl an interesting, gripping experience. Intrigue figures strongly, for Generator Gawl does not allow other elements of action and masculine histrionics that pervade other anime to overshadow the plot. The production teams have got their priorities right, and in their hands, the greater scheme of things emerges like a landscape gradually disclosed as a morning fog burns away.
Yet Generator Gawl is not all suspense and intrigue. For example, mystery takes a comical turn when Masami decides that Gawl's totally untalented behaviour deserves investigation. Episode 4, however, is different in that there is no comic punctuation in its segue exploration of Ryo's traumatised psyche.
Up till now, Ryo's characterisation has been bland, comparatively. However, his nightmare in episode 4 breathes life into his past and its effects on his character. His blind enthusiasm in his cheerful dismissal of Gawl's sulky withdrawal, the guilt upon realising the consequences of his experiment, the shock at having to destroy his own creation, all of these are given powerful impact through a bizarre series of surrealistic footage. Initially perceived as handsome, polite and brilliant, Ryo seems frighteningly perfect - he has the intelligence that Kouji possesses, as well as the human sensitivity that his icy comrade does not. Episode 4 draws Ryo closer to us, for he too, is human enough to experience guilt and failure. Admittedly, his rebuttal against Dr Takuma's near-insane verbiage that upholds scientific progress at all costs is certainly a weighty speech in philosophical and emotional terms that many will consider maudlin. Yet it is painfully real, especially when I recall the end of the battle scene in episode 1.
As part of Ryo's disturbed introspection, the flashback sequence of episode 1 is repeated in episode 4. With increased footage set against recent revelations of Ryo's background, we are now in a better position to understand what the three protagonists went through then. In this sequence, Ryo starts to cry, and Gawl, who is back in his human form, gently draws Ryo into his arms. Ignoring his injuries, Gawl whispers as he painfully closes his eyes, "Let me shoulder all pain, horror and guilt...please do not cry anymore". Despite Kouji's apparent detachment from the emotional outburst of the other two, a close shot of his quiet expression paradoxically defies this assumption, after which the 'camera' pulls back to include all three in a single shot - each assuming a different standpoint yet sharing the same tragic burden. Effective cinematography captures the emotions of the moment; blurred figures shrouded in darkness are symbols of despair, shame, guilt and pain, as well as loyalty and tenderness. These emotions, slowly and subtly developed as the plot unfolds, are brought sharply into focus in episode 4.
Although the BGM consist of a couple of stock tunes, they do contribute to the mood. The more light-hearted scenes are complemented with simple melodies that are refreshing without being unnecessarily syrupy or rinky-dinky. These are nicely juxtaposed with the rich-sounding, chilling suspense theme that heightens the terrifying visions in Dr Takuma's lab. I am, however, starting to get irritated with the ending song, which is unsuitably bright. Complete with child-like crayon drawings, this song should belong to Kareshi Kanojyo No Jijyo not Generator Gawl, even if each episode does close on a lighter note.
Generator Gawl starts off well with volume 1. A promising plot, fairly engaging characters, and competent technical qualities make this worth viewing.
- JW, 2001.03.26