Project Arms Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Release Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Ryoji Minagawa and Kyoichi Nanatsuki
Translated by:Katy Bridges
What They Say
The X-Army is the latest group of super-agents that are after Ryo and the other Arms kids. Up against these agents with powers of super strength, super vision, and twisting telekinesis, it looks like the Arms kids have more than they can handle.... That is until the raging and out of control Jabberwock comes out from within Ryo. Will anybody be safe?
Cover art is from the original Japanese release which features Ryo in the midst of an explosion of sorts, covered up by what look like silver rip marks across the book. It’s not really a cover that will grab your attention. 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. Once again the print job looks really nice, getting across all the tones very clearly.
Minagawa continues to really impress me with being able to properly convey a scene and make the reader a part of it. The action artwork and panel layouts are superb. I could hear the explosions and feel the rubble and cars being thrown around by Cliff. The background art is very detailed, which helps with gaining a good perspective on the scene and feeling like I’m a part of it. I also noticed quite a few full page panels that look fantastic. The character designs aren’t the most pleasant, but the facial expressions do a great job at getting across the intense emotions and agony in a scene.
SFX are left untouched with a glossary in the back of the book. The dialogue is clear and concise without any spelling or grammar errors. Cliff is somewhat of an intellectual, and the dialogue feels appropriate for his character. In fact, all the dialogue feels appropriate for each character and really flows quite smoothly. The best translation job yet.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Ryo must save his captured friends from the clutches of the X-Army, a group of genetically engineered super-humans that have been abandoned by their masters, Egrigori. The leader of X-Army is Cliff, whose strong telekinesis powers allow him to move or destroy just about anything at his will. The entire volume is Ryo versus X-Army, but unlike previous fights, this one has a bit more substance and meaning behind all the explosions and fisticuffs.
The X-Army crew is an interesting bunch. Each one seems to have a specialized power that feels like it is part of a whole. Cliff has his strong telekinesis, Yugo is a telepathic, Kyklops has x-ray vision and can phase light and emit it as a strong fire blast, Carol’s telekinesis powers allows her to twist her opponents to pieces, and Volf is ultra-strong. These members of the X-Army were early test subjects that have since been declared useless by Egrigori. In order to prove their worth to Egrigori, Cliff has setup Ryo in order to awaken the Jabberwock. If Cliff and the X-Army can defeat the Jabberwock, then maybe Egrigori will see their worth and let them back into the fold.
There is enough background and development of the X-Army that turns them from a flat, forgettable opponent into a tragic story about wanting to belong and the misuse of one’s own powers. While it might feel the fight is drawn out, it is because of this slow pace that we are able to see the human side of the X-Army and see their tragic story and not just blow them off as another Egrigori assassin team. I thought this battle was handled much better and more effectively than the storyline with Al & Jeff in the earlier volumes, and it helped that X-Army was a much more interesting opponent.
The real battle though is within Ryo himself. He is trying his best not to let his hate and fear take over and allow the Jabberwock to awaken and take over his body. Ryo is holding on dearly for his humanity, his own free will. The Jabberwock is as Yugo calls it, “evil incarnate”. It lives off destruction and death. When the Jabberwock is awoken, there is nothing that can defeat it, except for Ryo’s strong will.
Another great volume of Project Arms, as it provides 200 pages of pure sci-fi action bliss, but it is the great development and characterizations during this long battle that makes it enjoyable. The X-Army story is a tragic one, even though it does not start off that way at first. The time given to breathe life into the members of the X-Army allows them to become more than cookie-cutter opponents that we’ve seen previously.
Even more enjoyable is the great dichotomy of Ryo and Jabberwock. Ryo’s internal struggle is the real battle going on here, and it’s only Ryo’s will that can keep the monster Jabberwock from reeking destruction on the world. Project Arms continues to fill that void that I feel is missing in the current translated manga market. A dark, violent, rich sci-fi story that is filled with fantastic action sequences and strong character conflicts. Very recommended.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left