Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

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. #2

By Luis Cruz     November 16, 2004
Release Date: October 26, 2004

Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #2
© Viz Media

What They Say
The Chapel Children are just an average bunch of kids – except that they're not. A hundred times smarter than normal adults and a thousand times more vicious, they've decided it's time to run away from their "Egregori Lab" home and form their own evil organization. With the help of the elite Hound Battalion, they plan to persuade the "Arms" to join them – even if it means killing them first.

The true origin of the "Arms" chip is finally revealed when the gang discovers a highly evolved alien life form. The time has come to get one step closer to the truth.

The Review!
The ARMS group faces more Egrigori troops and another revelation about their powers in the latest installment of Project ARMS.

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.

Yugo in a gas mask points a gun at you from the front cover while the Azazel meteorite floats behind them. 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.

A brief animation featuring a snippet of dialogue from the English dub runs before the main menu loads. A piece of the opening theme loops in the background, and clips from the episodes play on the left of the screen. The menu items are 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 is not as polished as the one used in recent Inu Yasha releases, but the trade-off is getting more drawings onto the disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Each volume of Project ARMS impresses me with its ability to weave a complex mystery with action, and the eleventh volume is no exception. While Kei, Ryo, and Hayato plan for the next assault by the Hound Squad, Al is shown the origins of the ARMS project and the Egrigori's plans. Back in 1946, a meteorite was discovered where Gallows Bell now resides; this meteorite was found to be a living, silicon colony of organisms. From this meteorite dubbed Azazel, the Egrigori are dedicated to fusing the alien DNA with human DNA to create a new form of life. The fruits of their labor were the Keith series and eventually the ARMS children.

The battle with the Hound Squad results in the realization that the Egrigori is the common foe that the Hounds, the Chappel children, and the ARMS should be fighting together. This realization comes just as Keith Silver begins to surround the town with the elite Epsilon forces. Another fierce battle ensues throughout the Chappel's underground lab and costs many lives. Unable to bear the loss of any more lives, Ryo nearly succumbs to his hatred and begins to tap into the power of the Jabberwock.

This awakens the long dormant Azazel and feeds it with the full power of Ryo's hate. Yet Azazel craves more hate and attempts to flame Ryo's hatred further. Azazel's power begins to grow uncontrollably to the point that Knight and White Rabbit are calling for Takeshi and Hayato to kill Ryo.

However, Yugo manages to dive deep into Ryo's mind and bring him back from the edge; she makes him realize that hatred will not stop the destruction. Only by being true to himself will he save those he loves. Ryo regains control of his emotions, and Azazel feels Ryo's sorrow through Yugo's telepathy. Azazel sacrifices itself so that his ARMS "children" can live.

There is no rest for the weary though as Keith Silver orders another wave of attacks against the group and joins the hunt for the Jabberwock himself. As the volume draws to a close, Ryo, Kei, Hayato, and Takeshi must hold them off long enough for the children and citizens of Gallows Bell to escape via an old, underground river system.

There are three reasons why I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy this series. First is the character development and interaction. The writers have made this a true ensemble adventure; no one character is more important than the other. They have grown to be almost their own family, something that is apparent in nearly every aspect of the series. The best example of this is the growing brotherly relationship of Hayato and Al.

The pair are constantly insulting each other with Hayato adding the occasional injury to Al for good measure. But the interaction between the pair is what one would commonly see between a younger and older brother in real life. They started out as enemies but have grown quite close though they will never admit it. This volume is littered with Al and Hayato's sibling rivalry bringing a number of chuckles and smiles to the viewer.

This volume also shows just how important each character is to the story; Ryo may possess the nearly limitless power of the Jabberwock, but it is the frail Yugo who saves Ryo from despair and by doing so saves the lives of everyone in Gallows Bell. Ryo cannot face the challenge alone but is fortunate to have friends to trust and rely on for help.

The second reason is that no matter how many pieces of the puzzle are revealed, there are still plenty left to uncover. While we learn that the Egrigori began their plans from the DNA of Azazel, it only serves to raise new questions that the group must find the answers to. The third reason is that the action helps drive the plot to reveal the mysteries. The result of each battle is predictable, but each battle reveals more about the characters and the mysteries surrounding them. Rather than being breaks between plot elements, the battles are tied into the plot itself and move the characters closer to the truth.

All three of these elements are present in this volume and keeps the high energy pace of the series flowing. If it were not so predictable, this series would rank among some of the best I have watched. The best stories do have predictable elements or plot elements but manage to keep the audience guessing and in suspense.

The ultimate end of Project ARMS remains a mystery, but most of the plot elements can be guessed as they are unfolding. The story still holds many twists and turns, but most of what happens can be easily deduced. But, the series is quite entertaining, well-written, and is easily worth watching.

In Summary:
At times predictable, Project ARMS always manages to be entertaining. This volume continues to blend elements to make a more action-oriented, animated version of The X-Files. It is a shame that this series does not seem to be getting more attention; it has the ability to appeal on many levels to a wide audience. The series has yet to disappoint or bore, something that is rare in animated or live-action works. Highly recommended for action fans and those looking for a large, conspiracy based plot.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Ending,Production Art Gallery,Character Art GAllery

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable


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