Project Arms Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Saturday, April 09, 2005
Release Date: Monday, December 01, 2003



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ryoji Minagawa and Kyoichi Nanatsuki
Translated by:Katy Bridges
Adapted by:

What They Say
Hayato Shingu must confront the horrors of his past as he, Ryo, and Takeshi return to his village, which was destroyed by Egrigori ten years ago. Subsequently, Egrigori has turned the entire village into a nanotechnology research lab used for human experimentation. But before they can find out any more, the ARMs kids have to survive a battle against The Crimson Triad, a high-tech super-agent group known for their ruthlessness and fierce bloodlust.

The Review
Packaging:
Cover art is from the original Japanese release which features a somber looking Ryo and Katsumi, covered up by what look like silver rip marks across the book. The English logo is presented at the top of the page with the Japanese katakana translation above in smaller font and the English volume subtitle underneath. A small black bar with the Viz action logo streaks the top while another black bar streaks the bottom with the creators' names and volume number. There is a volume header, followed by the table of contents with the story summary on the flip side. Chapter headers are included and at the back of the book is a page about the creators. The print job is done very well, with all the tones looking very sharp without any fading or bleeding.


Art:
Minagawa’s artwork continues to impress me even if the characters are not the most attractive. The one complaint I have about his character designs is that sometimes they can get a little off model. Minagawa does a great job at getting across perspective by adding in lots of detailed backgrounds and striking action sequences. If someone is pinned down in a small room fighting for their life, I am able to feel what that character is feeling. His artwork conveys a lot of the intense emotions from the story, which makes it that much more enjoyable to read.


Text/SFX:
SFX are left untouched with a glossary in the back of the book with page number followed by the romanji text and the English translation next to it. The translation and adaptation is nicely done, although I question some of the phrases that just feel out of place (“Holy Mother of Pearl!”). It’s not an overwhelming problem however. This volume has a lot of technological jargon as the experiments on the ARMs are explained, which comes across very clearly and without confusion.


Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The three ARMs, along with Al and Katsumi, go visit Hayato’s village of Abumisawa, which was supposedly destroyed when he was a child. When they arrive, they find out the village is alive and looks as though the struggles of the past never happened. Not long after they arrive, Egrigori makes its move by sending out a trio of genetically-altered assassins called the Crimson Triad. The ARMs group is also followed by a police detective, and while in the village he recognizes one of the villagers as a convict that should be in prison. What everyone figures out is that Abumisawa is now a giant lab experiment run by Egrigori, where they have placed mind control devices in convicts and continue on with human experimentation.

Project Arms maintains a great sci-fi horror mood as the ARMs fight their way through the Crimson Triad and come across startling revelations about their past and the experiments done by Egrigori. Although I found the Crimson Triad to be a bit boring, the battle with them does not drag on too long and offers a nice look into how far Egrigori will go with it’s nano-technology experiments.

Around the middle of the volume, we learn of an Egrigori scientist named Mary Katz who sabotages the Egrigori base lab in Abumisawa. It seems she was expecting the ARMs to come and has been waiting for the day when she would betray her masters in order to get the truth out. The pace during this section felt a bit off, as it seemed to be a place for major revelations and discussion, but instead it was breezed over leaving me with more questions.

The end of this volume features a turning point in which the true secrets behind the ARMs’ powers are revealed as Ryo suffers quite a tragedy as they group are trying to make their escape. The tragic event is pretty much telegraphed, but it is an emotional moment that will most likely change the dynamics of the story in future volumes. I can’t wait to see how it pans out.

Comments
Project Arms continues to quench my thirst for dark and violent sci-fi action stories, something that I feel seems to be lost amongst the types of titles being released these days. The plot continues to move forward as we learn more and more about Egrigori and who were possibly behind the ARMs experiments. There is a whole lot of action in this volume, all building up to quite a heartbreaking moment that will no doubt affect the story to come. The Lewis Carroll references are interesting and I hope that becomes more clear in future. The pace is a little rugged here, as it seems to want to rush the story into the next stage, but the story is enjoyable nonetheless.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 214
ISBN: 1-59116-101-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left