Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Project Arms

Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #4

By Luis Cruz     March 10, 2005
Release Date: March 08, 2005


Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #4
© Viz Media


What They Say
The "Arms" have decided to break into the business... of kidnapping. Even with Arms specialist Dr. Tillinghast under lock & key, the "Arms" discover that it'll take more than a good cup of tea to make this British-born scientist talk. To make matters worse, they now have to contend with Karunagi Kou, a human killing machine, and the turncoat forces of the Drakkan Battalion!

The Review!
A volume that focuses more on reflection proves to be an entertaining calm before the next storm.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 and rusty reds 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.

Packaging:
The entire ARMS crew is posed on the front cover. Placement of logos, volume title, and other text remains consistent with previous volumes. 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.

Menu:
Viz has shaken up the menu design for this volume. 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 in the upper left of the screen with a still image of the Jabberwock in the bottom left. Rather than the menu items displayed as various US highway signs, the menu item layout is more flat and less creative. However, it fits in with the rest of the design changes for the menu and is still a usable and eye catching menu system.

Extras:
Your extras storyboard galleries for each episode, and a gallery of character designs. With a new ending theme, it was disappointing to see that no clean version was present on this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At times, a series needs to gather its breath and move the pieces into place for the next major arc. While it can be a lull in the action, it can still be entertaining and provide a good build-up in tension for future events. The latest volume of Project ARMS manages to succeed for the most part as pauses from the recent battles to catch its breath before heading back into the fire.

The ARMS group decides it is time to start taking the fight to the Egrigori and begin by kidnapping one of their leading scientists, Dr. Tillinghast. However, Tillinghast proves to be a bit more than they can handle; he knows that his information is important to them leaving and cannot hurt him. So, he begins to make demands on them before even beginning to think about telling them anything. Rather than the captors having the power, the hostage in this case seems to be wielding all the power.

There is little time to persuade the good doctor to reveal his secrets, as Keith Green unleashes Kou Karunagi on the group. Karunagi is totally human but possesses inhuman strength and speed. He takes out Hayato and Takeshi in a matter of seconds leaving Takeshi in a coma. The group beats a hasty retreat in order to get Takeshi medical attention.

Hayato blames himself for not being strong enough to protect Takeshi; his whole heart and mind are out of balance leaving his ARMS power useless. Deciding that he is more of a burden in this condition, he leaves the group and wanders the city alone. He seems headed for an untimely end at the hand of some common street thugs until a wandering salaryman comes to his aid.

Takatsuki Iwao, Ryo's father, enlists Hayato to help him fight a Mafia gang that has been terrorizing the town. Through the battle, Iwao manages to help Hayato reconnect to the fire within his heart but couple it with being as fluid and reflective as water. The battle reinvigorates Hayato's spirit, and he heads off to meet the rest of the group without ever learning the identity of his mentor.

This first bit of reflection for the group certainly feels like a rip off of any number of kung-fu shows and films, and this plot line has been done before in this very series using the same mentor. However, it manages to work within the context of the series. We have seen Iwao help Kei connect to the leader within her, so the series has established that Iwao is looking after the kids and providing them with the right push at the right time.

Having him help Hayato during his spiritual crisis does not feel forced upon the characters or the story. Having a few decent comedic moments in the story also helps ease the fact that this is essentially a rehash of Kei's story line earlier in the second season.

We move quickly back into the Karunagi plot, as he seeks to finish the job he started. He quickly decimates the Blue Men guarding Takeshi's refuge and comes close to finishing Kei off. Hayato picks that opportune moment to come to the rescue and show off his reborn fighting spirit. He makes short work of Karunagi and also triggers a mysterious change in Takeshi.

The group is startled to find Takeshi encased in a bizarre cocoon; not even Dr. Tillinghast knows what will emerge from it. But there is still no respite from the battle; a new group comes to challenge Ryo to a fight. The Drakken group is a splinter cell of the Blue Men and was originally Egrigori test subjects. They have come to test whether or not the ARMS, particularly Ryo, are worthy enough to fight alongside.

Ryo's doubts about being able to contain the growing power of the Jabberwock make him decide to not fight the Drakken. They take this the sign of weakness they expected and refuse to fight with them. Hayato takes it upon himself to physically slap some sense back into Ryo and make Ryo realize that he and the others are there to help him shoulder the burden. If Jabberwock goes out of control, they will all be there and will die trying to stop him.

Again, this reflective moment works and does not work; Hayato had just come straight back from his own spiritual awakening and enlightenment. Having him come up to Ryo and confront him like this feels like the pot walked up just to tell the kettle that he is black.

Yet, it does make sense given the current situation; Takeshi cannot do it since he is sealed away in a cocoon. Hayato is the only one direct and blunt enough to penetrate Ryo's thick skull and get the message across. It is a believable scene, but the audience does have to stretch a bit to feel comfortable with having the two spiritual renewals come so close together.

To an extent, this could be considered a volume to skip, but there are some decent action sequences, a few new clues to the mysteries of the series dropped, and some great visuals that allow the series to pause and then begin to build up more steam for the final push to the end.

In Summary:
While not the most exciting entry in the series, this volume provides enough action and new clues to the mystery to make it worth watching. With the action having been intense and non-stop for quite some time, this group of episodes allows the plot to take a step back and begin building some new momentum for the final push. The character moments in this volume are previous plots rehashed, but they manage to work just enough to keep one's interest level up.

This series has been a delight from the beginning, as it refuses to be pigeonholed into a specific genre or a set of stereotypes. I have been eagerly awaiting every new volume of this series, and this volume has not lessened that feeling one iota. It does not hit the mark as well as previous volumes, but it comes close enough by teasing more revelations soon to come.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

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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