Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #3 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Monday, January 17, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2005



What They Say
After facing off against the Hound Battalion and the Egrigori, there’s no other place for the "Arms" to go except down – down into a cavern to escape Gallow’s Bell. But, Keith Green awaits their return with a blood-soaked symphonic masterpiece, leading to the all-out apocalyptic activation of Project Jabberwock!

The Review!
The battles and revelations keep coming for our intrepid band of ARMs.

Audio:
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese audio track. The series continues to have a solid stereo track that utilizes the front soundstage very well during action sequences. Dialogue, music, and sound effects were balanced with one not overshadowing the other. There were no discernible dropouts, distortions, or other problems.

Video:
Viz maintains the high standard of video quality for the series; there were no noticeable original print defects or defects caused by the digital transfer process. From the dusty browns and rusty reds of the desert to the shadowy blacks of a dark city street, the colors are vibrant and capture the essence of the terrain. The original Japanese credits and title cards have been replaced with English equivalents placed directly onto the print. Songs remain untranslated having no subtitles during playback.

Packaging:
Keith Silver and his ultimate ARMS form dominate the front cover. Placement of logos, volume title, and other text remains consistent with previous volumes. The one change is a more prominent volume indicator and a bit of text wrapped around it indicating that this is "The 2nd Chapter" of the series.

The back cover features the usual suspects of screenshots, plot synopsis, and disc specifications. Inside is a one-page insert with the chapter listings on one side and an advertisement for the graphics novels on the reverse.

Menu:
A brief animation featuring a snippet of dialogue from the English dub runs before the main menu loads. A piece of the opening theme loops in the background, and clips from the episodes play on the left of the screen. The menu items are displayed as various US highway signs. This is a perfect touch that mirrors the movement of the plot from Japan to the US. Viz continues to produce quick, usable menus that reflect the style and content of the series nicely.

Extras:
Your extras include a clean version of the opening and ending themes, storyboard galleries for each episode, and a gallery of character designs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Project ARMs continues to be a great series, there is one complaint with this volume's content. The beginning of each episode falls into the recap trap; the first few minutes are given over to rehashing not the events of the entire series but the events that occurred just one episode ago. In some cases, it works well into the flow of the episode, but mostly it becomes a bit of an annoyance to see things repeated and take time away from the story.

With that small gripe out of the way, the volume manages to push a lot of action and information at the audience keeping the overall pace of the series flowing quite well. The action begins with Ryo still facing off against Keith Silver. Things look grim for Ryo until Takeshi comes to help him escape. Their escape is cut off though by Silver's Mad Hatter ultimate ARMs form.

With Takeshi cornered and facing death, the Jabberwock activates once more and evolves into being able to absorb Silver's beam attack. Jabberwock turns this beam attack into something more powerful and destroys Silver along with half of Gallows Bell. The resulting devastation and loss of radio signals allow the ARMs group and the residents of Gallows Bell to escape into the underground caverns.

Inside the caverns, the gang is given a chance to rest and reflect; after a long, dark journey, they emerge back into the light and into the Grand Canyon. Their joy is short lived, as Keith Green is there to conduct a hellish symphony that results in nearly the entire group being killed.

From there, the volume continues the battles resulting in Kei finally awakening to her ultimate ARMs power, revelations about Katsumi, and a new objective to find Dr. Tillinghast, the most knowledgeable man about ARMs technology. There is quite a bit packed into these four episodes, yet the pace is balanced very well.

The exposition does not slow down the story at all; it flows along allowing some great moments and exchanges between the characters. It also serves its purpose by adding on to the already large mythology of the ARMs world, answering some questions but adding even more. The battle sequences break up the exposition in just the right places but manage to also add to the plot rather than feeling like tacked on pieces.

There is a lot of style and substance to this series that it is a shame there is not more buzz around it. One great example of this style is the symphony of hell Keith Green conducts. With only an uplifting piece of classical music as the only sound, the images presented on contrast sharply as helpless people are mowed down by gunfire. The symphony ends on the resounding crescendo of the Jabberwock's scream of rage. It is sequences like this that make Project ARMs unique and entertaining even after thirty episodes.

In Summary:
Each episode of Project ARMs continues to entertain on many levels. While some of this volume's revelations and events are predictable, they are done so well and with such a unique style that the predictability fades into the background. With a number of great exchanges and moments between them, the characters continue to grow and become more enjoyable to watch. Kei's awakening powers adds a new wrinkle to the ARMs mystery giving the plot yet another twist to confound the audience but draw them into the story even more. There have been plenty of entries in the powerful youth genre like Project ARMs, but each volume continues to prove why it belongs on the top of the list.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Project Arms