I remember a recurring dream I had when I was a child that always terrified me. I'd be in a lecture, and I'd be asked about something I'd studied, but I'd missed the important parts that were quizzed. I knew all the basics, but the most vital stuff I'd missed somehow in class. Obviously, this was a major embarrassment, and I'd wake up with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. At times, Garzey's Wing reminded me of that dream. Garzey's Wing has a lot of potential that is squandered, particularly when it forgets to fill in the details of the story. It's very much like an adaptation of a manga series where certain gaps exist because the viewer is supposedly familiar with the story; in this case, though, certain logical gaps give you that same feeling that gnaws at you deep down.
At the beginning of Garzey's Wing, we are introduced to Chris, a young half-Japanese teen who's riding his motorcycle back home to meet up with some friends after a bad experience taking the college entrance exams for the second time. As he passes by an ancient temple, part of his spirit is stripped out of him and taken to the world of Byston Well. He quickly finds himself in the midst of a revolt, as the Metomeus tribe is trying to escape the clutches of the Ashigaba tribe that has enslaved them. As he fights, the tribe realizes that he is the legendary Garzey's Wing, a mythological hero of legend that is supposed to be able to help free the oppressed. As the group takes flight, Chris finds that a part of him is still back in the real world, and the two halves of him can communicate telepathically. But what happens to one happens to the other, and as Chris' spirit self battles evil, his being in the physical world is taxed to the limit. Will he be able to survive as he struggles to bring freedom to his new companions? You betcha.
The one thing that strikes you as you finish watching the three episodes of Garzey's Wing is that there is a lot of potential involved. Garzey's Wing does certain things very creatively; although the "young person swept into another world to save the day" is an anime cliché, splitting Chris' persona into two and keeping him in both worlds is a smart, unique move. Meanwhile, there are hints at a fully developed universe behind the show, and some of it is genuinely interesting. The show moves along at a quick pace once you get past the first episode, and when you're finished, you don't feel like you've completely wasted your time. However, the show's execution is botched several times. First off, though the character designs are reasonably good, they look genuinely unattractive in the first episode; by the second and third episodes, they toned some of the bad line work down, but the look was still very functional at best. Meanwhile, the secondary characters have virtually no personality. What's worse is that relationships are hinted at between characters, but all that interaction appears outside the show, leaving you in the lurch to decide why the characters are acting the way they are. Finally, although the show wraps up one plotline, most everything else is left completely unresolved, which is thoroughly disappointing. At every step along the way, it becomes more and more certain that Garzey's Wing would have made a fine TV series or even a six episodes OVA set, but as it is now, it's rushed and feels that way from the animation to the plotting and everything in between.
Garzey's Wing is actually a part of the Aura Battler Dunbine universe, though you wouldn't know it from the packaging or virtually anything printed in the US. Though the American anime companies don't think that fans would make the connection, since Dunbine has never been released here, it wouldn't have hurt to make the connection. This story apparently fits in the timeframe as a prequel to that series, as Dunbine is a mix of fantasy and mecha...the first is obviously involved here, but not the second. It's not particularly clear how the two fits together, but it is obvious that it is the same world (by name) and that certain characteristics (such as fairies) exist in both. Perhaps they didn't want to connect the two in case Dunbine ever did make it to the West--this might turn off potential buyers.
Is Garzey's Wing a bad anime? No, but it's barely competent. It's much like getting a tub of popcorn at the movie theatre--it tastes great at first, but it gets stale the further down you go in the box, and you crave a more filling meal as soon as you leave the theatre. You can do worse, but you can do a lot better too.
Garzey's Wing -- violence (some graphic), brief (male) nudity, profanity -- C+