Gun Sword Vol. #5 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • 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. #5

By Bryan Morton     October 30, 2007
Release Date: November 05, 2007

Gun Sword Vol. #5
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Familiar friends and new allies band together alongside Van and Wendy to take down the Claw; however, other conflicts are already in motion. Dissenters within the Claw's own organization stage a coup d'etat, forcing "Original Seven" member Michael Garret to make a fateful decision that will affect entire lives.

Meanwhile, a sneak attack in an underground tunnel pits Van, Pricilla and the El Dorado Four against rogue Armors and two of the most unpredictable Armor riders from the "Original Seven," but when the cold-blooded Ray Lungren is drawn into the fracas, it's a savage battle to the death as everyone's a foe!

Episodes Comprise
17 - Follow the × Spot
18 - Prayers are for Saudade
19 - Prayer's End
20 - Wonderful Universe

The Review!
The more you see of the Claw, the more you realise that he’s just a little bit unhinged. When you learn the details of his plan to “save” Endless Illusion from itself, that little truth just becomes even more apparent. Yet who’s the crazy one – the madman, or his followers who remain loyal even after they realise just how far gone their Comrade may be..?

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 disc.

The menu on this release is a nice, simple affair - a static image of the girls in their Missoghi-issue swimsuits, fronted by Wendy who’s desperately trying to keep herself covered. Definitely a nice shot. 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.

This volume serves up another two episodes of the Gun Sword-san shorts, and the original TV version of episode 17 – this has nothing different story-wise, but humorously covers up any dubious material with a donkey’s head. It’s fun for about 30 seconds, then you want to go back and watch the uncensored version. An art gallery rounds out the collection.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The process of integrating Michael with Saudade continues, and not entirely smoothly - he's just too tense most of the time for the process to work as it should. He's also not quite getting on with some other surviving members of the Original Seven. Meanwhile, pressure is growing for the Claw to announce the full details of his plan - even those within his organisation don't really know what he's up to, and the lack of information is beginning to cause dissent in the ranks. He may be planning to bring peace to the world, but what if his method is simply massacring the entire population? One of the lab technicians, trying to learn more, has analysed Saudade's functions, and that seems to be its sole purpose. When Michael learns of this, he's got a decision to make...

From the moment the Claw made his first on-screen appearance, there was the distinct feeling that he wasn’t quite all there – his easy-going, friendly persona didn’t mesh at all with the image of the ruthless killer that both Van and Ray presented of him. With this disc, you get confirmation that that’s true – both from his first on-screen killing & his reaction to it, and through hearing of his plan to bring peace to Endless Illusion, which is a prime case of the cure being worse than the disease. You also begin to learn that Fasalina may have more influence over events than you would think, especially when Michael begins to show his doubts over the Claw’s plans. Think of it in terms of the Claw’s organisation being a cult of personality – it’s been said that the most successful cults use sex as a way of control, and that’s what Fasalina turns to when Michael begins to ask too many questions. And it works.

What that means is that episodes 18 & 20 are wonderfully detailed episodes, with plenty going on both in terms of revelations, issues for the characters to deal with, and moving the plot forward towards a conclusion It’s Gun Sword at its best, and engrossing viewing. The further I’ve gone with Gun Sword, the more the show has surprised me with how thoughtful it can be in places – this isn’t just an action show, although that’s of course a large part of the mix. Some thought has also gone into how it all hangs together to create a series that’s better than you’d think from just hearing its description.

The remaining episodes are two very different beasts. Episode 19 is another “villain-of-the-week” type, as Van faces down another two of the Original Seven and dispatches them with the usual disdain, despite Ray’s unexpected intervention – it’s the sort of story that’s been seen several times already over the course of the series, and this replay of the idea doesn’t stray too far from the formula set by other Original Seven encounters. Episode 17 is the highlight of the disc, in terms of fun and enjoyment value. In an attempt to raise some money, Carmen persuades the gang to take on the job of trying to capture the Queen of the all-female city of Missoghi - which, if you’re listening in Japanese, you’ll know means “swimsuit”. Guess where this is going. It’s not an episode you can take remotely seriously, but as a fanservice breather before the story heads into more serious territory, it’s hard to beat.

In summary:
The more I see of Gun Sword, the more I like it – on top of the great presentation, there’s just something about the characters and the way the series is telling its story that hooks you and won’t let go. Yes, it does have its moments were it plays to a formula, but there are also some great moments, both on the fun side of the scale and the thoughtful, and the result is a very entertaining package. Well worth watching.

Japanese Language 2.0,Japanese Language 5.1 DTS,English Language 5.1 DD,English Subtitles,Gun×Sword-san Episodes 9 & 10,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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