Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #1 -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project Arms

Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #1

By Luis Cruz     November 16, 2004
Release Date: August 24, 2004

Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #1
© Viz Media

What They Say
Meet the Keith series, the top brass of Egregori. They are five cloned siblings with terrifying powers who can only agree on one thing: the ?Arms? must die! When they learn that the targets of their ?hospitality? have come to America, a little welcome party is planned. Meanwhile a small town called Gallow?s Bell turns out to be another top-secret Egregori breeding ground. Not only is it the home of the super-enhanced, cyborg solider ?Hound Battalion,? but it also harbors the Chapel Children! Could this be the Arms? own OK Corral?

The Review!
The second chapter of Project ARMS features new locations, new villains, and the same great, action-filled plot.

It should come as no surprise that 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.

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 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.

Ryo and his ARM are the feature of the front cover. Placement of logos, volume title, and other text remains consistent with previous volumes. The one change is a more prominent volume indicator and a bit of text wrapped around it indicating that this is "The 2nd Chapter" of the series.

The back cover features the usual suspects 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.

While most of the release remains consistent, Viz has given the menus a new look; while a piece of the opening theme loops in the background, clips from the episodes play on the left of the screen. The menu items are now displayed as various US highway signs. This is a perfect touch that mirrors the movement of the plot from Japan to the US. Viz continues to produce quick, usable menus that reflect the style and content of the series nicely.

Once again, your extras include a clean version of the opening and ending themes, a gallery of production art, and a gallery of character designs. For the character designs, you can now use the "Back" and "Forward" buttons on your remote to view close-ups of the character designs. The interface for it is not as polished as the character design section on their recent Inu Yasha releases, but it is a nice touch.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the more enjoyable yet underrated releases over the past year has been the first series or "chapter" of Project ARMS. Over twenty-six episodes, the series managed to create a dark world where four youths are part of a vast, global conspiracy by the name of the Egrigori. The Egrigori have been performing genetic experiments on mankind for ages and have implanted Ryo, Hayato, Takeshi, and Kei with powerful, weaponized nanotechnology. After being hunted and facing the darkest parts of their nature, our heroes emerged into the light and found a clear course of action other than running away.

This course of action leads them to America to bring the fight directly to the Egrigori. Before we get into the action though, the first fifteen minutes are given over to a recap of the first chapter. Rather than being a dry rehash of past events, the recap is done through the eyes of the four Keiths; it is through the "report" we watch that allows the audience to get up to speed with how the four Keiths differ in mood and attitude. With the recap out of the way, our heroes find themselves right in the thick of things again.

After arriving in America, the ARMS team along with Yugo, Al, and now ex-Office Kabuto rent a Winnebago and head to a small town in Arizona known as Gallows Bell. The town is less than friendly to the group, but the group is there to meet a Blue Man agent not to make new friends. Things go horribly wrong; the entire town is an Egrigori laboratory, and the main experiment is the Hound Battalion.

The Hound Battalion quickly captures Takeshi, Kabuto, and Yugo; the Hound Battalion was created by a group of child geniuses called the Chapel Children. Al was a member of the Children and finds himself back in their fold. Kei finds herself awakening slowly to her memories and her latent ARMS power but questions her leadership ability. She meets a salaryman, one who just happens to be skilled in ninjitsu, in the desert who helps her find the path towards being a true leader.

So begins the second chapter; while the setting has changed, the tone and style of the series has not. It still retains the core elements that made the first chapter enjoyable. The original cast of characters still remains interesting, and the addition of the four Keiths only add to this. Each Keith has its own distinct personality and attitude towards the ARMS group. It is adding a new dynamic to the character relationships, and each Keith is a unique personality.

A noticeable change has been made in the character designs; the characters seem softer, less angular in design. It is a bit unsettling at first but manages to feel right; the group is out of the darker portion of their lives. They are no longer being hunted, searching for answers, or trying to gain control over their internal demons. The weight has lifted from their shoulders as they now have a clear purpose and target. Overall, the second chapter is shaping up to be as entertaining as the first.

In Summary:
The second chapter of Project ARMS is coming out of the gate strong. The addition of the four Keiths to the cast adds a new and interesting dynamic, as each of them have a different opinion about the ARMS crew. There is still plenty of action to balance out the character development and keep things entertaining. While the series is taking a new direction in a new location, all the things that made the first chapter a delightful surprise is present in this opening volume of the second chapter. Highly recommended, the next volume cannot arrive soon enough.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.


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