Gun Sword Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gun Sword

Gun Sword Vol. #1

By Bryan Morton     March 16, 2007
Release Date: March 12, 2007

Gun Sword Vol. #1
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
On the planet of Endless Illusion, a lone man adorned in a tuxedo roams the wild and lawless frontier. Armed with a shape-shifting sword and a powerful Armor, Van's sole purpose in life is to find the mysterious clawed man who had murdered his bride.

After saving a town from vicious outlaws, he reluctantly takes on a travel companion: the young Wendy Garrett. In exchange for his help in finding her brother, she offers herself to Van as a bride, but that's the least of his worries as more deadly enemies await!

Episodes Comprise
1 - Tuxedo Blowing in the Wind
2 - Funny Stream
3 - Heroes One More Time
4 - And the Rain Kept Falling

The Review!
Gun Sword, featuring a girl with a gun and a man with a sword. Of sorts. Wendy Garret and Van Insert-Name-Here (it seems to change every episode) are both seeking the same person " a man with claws, apparently " so Wendy decides to tag along with the man with a mecha. Sensible idea, but it takes a while for Van to learn to live with her...

Unusual set of audio options with this release, with Japanese 2.0, 5.1 DTS and English 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks provided. I went with the Japanese DTS option here for the best possible experience. There's a lot of action in Gun Sword, and the fight scenes make the most of the available soundstage to place dialog and effects pretty much where you'd expect them, and to give explosions that all-around feeling. Very nice indeed. Spot checks of the other tracks didn't turn up any problems, either.

Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format, and is one of the best-looking releases I've seen in a while. The world of Endless Illusion is well-realised, with a lot of detail put into the background scenery helping to create the setting, while the quality of the animation and character designs is very good indeed. Good use of colour also helps bring the show to life. Add in that there were no obvious problems with the transfer, and you get one very happy reviewer.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

The menu on this release is a nice, simple affair - a static image of Van in an action pose, with a background of gunsmoke. A snippet of the opening theme plays throughout. Direct access to the episodes is provided from the main screen, and submenus are provided for language setup & extras. There are no menu transitions, so it's all pleasingly quick & easy to use.

There's a decent batch of extras here " creditless versions of the opening and closing scenes of episode 1 (which don't use the usual credit sequences), an art gallery with 11 pieces of promotional art, a set of 8 promotional TV spots for the show (although you'd have a hard time spotting the differences between a lot of them), and the highlight: two episodes of the "Gun Sword-san" shorts, running for 7 minutes total. These are little comedy skits in SD-style, featuring Wendy and her pet turtle in a variety of situations that usually end up with the poor turtle being variously cooked or eaten. Good stuff.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
When travelling (and hungry) Van reaches the town of Evergreen, he finds a town in fear - a group of bandits known as the Wild Bunch have set up in the area and set out on a killing spree, and the remaining townsfolk have barricaded themselves inside the town's shopping mall while they try to figure out how to deal with the bandits. When Van saves young girl Wendy Garret from the clutches of the Wild Bunch, the town's mayor asks Van to deal with the bandits - and there's food and money in it for him if he agrees. At first Van refuses, but when he can't get the local bar - as occupied by Lord Luck and the Wild Bunch - to serve him a glass of milk, he decides maybe it's time he did something...

One thing you can't help but notice about Van is that he never gets involved with any battle until it begins to affect him personally, but that once that tipping-point is reached the smallest thing will have him stepping in and sorting things out. It's a side of his personality that Wendy will find hugely infuriating as the series goes on.

Van's not your average outlaw type " with a sword made of a strange flowing metal and the ability to call a huge mecha (or Armor, as this series calls them) down from an orbiting station when the need arises, he's quite a capable little trouble-shooter. His aim is to take vengeance for the death of his fiancé, who was killed by a mysterious clawed man. Van's Armor is the impressively-powerful Dann " dropped to the surface from orbit whenever Van calls on it, Dann's capable of turning any battle into a one-sided walkover, although Van tends not to call on it until it's absolutely necessary.

The same mysterious clawed man seems to have been responsible for the disappearance of Wendy's older brother, so when Van proves his fighting skills by saving Evergreen from the Wild Bunch, Wendy decides he's her best chance of tracking down her brother and tags along. Van's initially reluctant to let her, but she's a persistent wee thing and over the course of the first four episodes he begins to get used to her presence. Wendy's not much use in a fight " she may carry a gun, but it's only got one bullet and she's never had to use it yet " but she fills the role of the voice of Van's conscience very well, as well as being quite useful for other, more domestic reasons.

This first volume feels a lot like the early episodes of Trigun, to be honest, as Van and Wendy travel from town to city to village across Endless Illusion, their home planet, looking for clues to the location of the clawed man and invariably running into a string of problems along the way. The tone of the story is generally lighter, though (episode 3 pokes a lot of fun at the sentai / Power Rangers genre, for example, while episode 2 features an army of villains with living moustaches), although Van himself has the feel of someone whose past is weighing him down, and who has had to pay a price for the power that being able to call on Dann gives him.

The series is capable of throwing more serious stories into the mix, too, especially when dealing with the clawed man, and the final episode on this disc begins to touch on that side of the story a bit. Van and Wendy aren't the only people searching for the clawed man, and someone else is on the trail and following closely in Van's footsteps. It's still early days yet, but depending on which aspect of the show the series goes on to focus on " the comic or the vengeful " there are some interesting possibilities for how the story could play out. The Trigun comparision comes in again here, in the way the humour drained out of that series as Vash got closer to Knives " I can see Gun Sword going down a similar route, and that probably would be no bad thing.

I have to say a bit about the way Endless Illusion is portrayed on screen. In many anime series, you take a world away from Earth and it's given a single look " jungle, desert, whatever, there's often very little change from one location to another. In Gun Sword, every location has its own unique hooks, and a lot of effort seems to have gone into creating the visuals. The character designs have also been very nicely realised, and the end result is a show that is a real visual treat.

In summary:
Gun Sword looks the part, and while the story has its roots in other shows it's done in such a way that it's got a feel that's almost its own. Van and Wendy make a good mismatched couple, while Van's ability to call on his Armor means that any battle is a treat for mecha fans. The series relies more on execution than originality to make its mark " there's a lot here that will remind people of Trigun, for a start " but make its mark it does. I had great fun watching this, and it's definitely worth a look.

Japanese Language 2.0,Japanese Language 5.1 DTS,English Language 5.1 DD,English Subtitles,GunĂSword-san Episodes 1 & 2,Creditless Opening & Closing for Episode 1,TV Commercials,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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