Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2005



What They Say
Packed with anger and strength, the “Arms” are ready to take down the Egrigori. But they quickly learn that breaking and entering is not as easy as it sounds, especially when it comes to the impenetrable sight of the Karion Fortress. Facing an army of unimaginable strength, can Ryo and the rest of the “Arms” find Katsumi and the path to Alice?

The Review!
The final assault on Karion Fortress holds many surprises in the latest action packed volume of Project 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:
Ryo and the Jabberwock are posed on the front cover. Placement of logos, volume title, and other text remains consistent with previous volumes. The back cover features the usual layout 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 in the upper left of the screen with a still image of the Jabberwock in the bottom left.

Extras:
Your extras are storyboard galleries for each episode and a gallery of character designs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end game for Project ARMs is nigh, and all of the players have assembled on Karion Fortress for a final showdown with the Egrigori. Ryo and Hayato fight their way through the forces of Huey Graham known as "Next". Having shed their emotions, the members of Next are cyborgs that continually have their memories archived granting them eternal life through body swaps and memory restoration.

Meanwhile, the rest of the ARMs crew is dealing with the machinations of Dr. Dewey Graham, Huey's father. Dr. Graham has shed his flesh as well and has placed his consciousness in the fortress itself. To reach Alice, both groups fight through the traps Dewey and Huey have prepared for them.

With the battle raging outside, Takeshi attempts to help the invading Blue Man group. Most of the initial force is destroyed, but Li and Ralph manage to survive. They find themselves pinned down until Detective Kabuto brings the Drakken cyborgs in as reinforcements.

The various Keith's are keeping busy as well; Violet frees Green from Black's imprisonment and delivers a sermon on how their lives and destinies are their own. Green decides to take his destiny in hand by attempting to save Katsumi. He is impaled for his efforts but reaches an important conclusion. Even though Katsumi will never love or forgive him, he can do one human thing in hopes of some redemption; he can reunite Ryo and Katsumi.

Throughout these events is a familiar running commentary on what defines humanity and the nature of achieving perfection. Each group holds their own opinion on what sort of perfection humanity should achieve. For Next, this is the immortality afforded by cybernetics and the ability to copy one's memories. Emotions are nothing more than garbage data to be discarded.

For Al and others, humanity is defined by the futile struggle to achieve perfection; it is emotion that drives us to expand our knowledge. This theme has been present throughout the entire series, but it continues to use clever turns of phrase or imagery to examine its facets. It never slows down the actual story with these musings but uses them to propel things forward.

There are numerous other touches in the dialogue the move things forward; Li and Kabuto's reunion is especially touching and humorous. The most memorable exchange is Keith Black's musings on why hope was contained in Pandora's Box -- because it is the cruelest things one can inflict upon humanity.

All of these elements are designed to accomplish one goal in this volume; they are designed to push Ryo into utter despair in order to fuse him with Alice. Keith Black, who is revealed to be Keith White, does just that in a predictable fashion; despite this, the moment that pushes Ryo over the edge is powerful and believable.

As a gigantic Jabberwock towers over the entire island, there appears to be no happy end in sight for Ryo and the other ARMs. It is going to be difficult to wait for the final volume to resolve this final conflict. This volume built up an exciting and thought provoking opening to the end game.

In Summary:
Nearing the end of the series, Project ARMs continues to provide the great mix of action, dialogue, and character development that has made it a pleasure to watch over the past fourteen volumes. This volume manages to explore the nature of humanity without becoming a drawn out monologue; while it is not new territory for the series, the way it is seamlessly integrated into the action makes it seem almost fresh. There are some great bits of dialogue adding just the right touch to each moment. This exciting volume sets up the final battle for Ryo and the ARMs team, and it will be far too long of a wait for the final volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Storyboards,Character Design Gallery

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: A-
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