Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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. #5

By Luis Cruz     June 21, 2005
Release Date: June 07, 2005

Project Arms: Second Chapter Vol. #5
© Viz Media

What They Say
One of the most popular Animé series of all time, PROJECT ARMS is an action packed sci-fi conspiracy series. Ryo has discovered that his arm, reconstructed during childhood after a serious accident, has astonishing martial powers. However, this discovery makes him a target for the secret organization known as the Egrigori. In PROJECT ARMS SECOND CHAPTER, Ryo and his allies, a group of similarly-powered individuals called the Arms, have decided to stop running and battle the Egrigori on their own turf. But the sinister cabal has a group of superpowered agents of their own, leading to a series of epic, violent battles. VOLUME FIVE features four episodes of the popular Animé.

The Review!
The origin of Alice precedes the start of the final assault on the Egrigori in another action packed four episodes 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 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.

Hayato, Knight, and the March Hare are posed on the front cover. Placement of logos, volume title, and other text remains consistent with previous volumes. The back cover features the usual layout 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. Also included is a brief preview of the Fullmetal Alchemist graphic novel.

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. The use of US highway signs for the menu items has been replaced by a layout that 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 clean looking menu system.

Your extras are storyboard galleries for each episode and a gallery of character designs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the previous volume allowing the characters to mentally recuperate, this volume fills in a number of the gaps in the back story and provides the
characters with the information and motivation they need to begin the final battle. Dr. Tillinghast decides it is time to face his past and reveal to the ARMS the whole truth about the origin of Alice.

Gathering everyone together, his story begins with Alice being born as the very first Chapel Child and the first human to be implanted with living metal. This combination made her the most intelligent human on the planet and allowed her to form a very strong bond with the alien life-form Azazel. Through this bond, Tillinghast and Keith White, the "fathers" of Alice, learn that Azazel has observed humanity and desires to learn and experience the "heart" of humanity.

Alice teaches Azazel about human happiness but is unhappy with White's constant pressure that she is the hope and future of mankind. As she attempts to flee from the compound, White's actions causes Azazel and Alice to fuse together and also form the four core components that are implanted in the ARMS.

Despite Takeshi being in a coma and unable to help them, this new revelation emboldens the ARMS crew into a plan of action that will take them directly to Azazel/Alice. Alice is now a supercomputer that resides in Karion Fortress, the very heart of the Egrigori empire. While the ARMS team is en route, Keith Green's love for Katsumi overrides his sense of duty to Alice and her plans.

A quick physical and mental beating from Brother Black ends Green's defiance and begins Black's final plans for Project Jabberwock. Takeshi awakes from his coma through the help of Alice and learns that when Azazel and Alice fused, her personality split into two distinct pieces -- one that hates humanity and one that still loves it.

The final pieces are moved onto the game board as Hayato and his Knight protects Ryo from Violet and her March Hare on the bridge to Karion. The Blue Men have finally declared all out war on the Egrigori. And the President of the United States enlists the help of Ryo's father to stop the Egrigori threat. However, Keith Black has plans for them all and begins by splitting up the ARMS team within the fortress.

While the volume is entertaining, there is one minor complaint to get out of the way. Most of the episodes begin with a rehash of the events from the previous episode. It is always annoying to have these recaps in any series; if the events of the prior episode cannot grab my attention and stick in my memory the first time, why would a rehash of them lend them any more weight. It gives the impression that the writers and producers are stretching things out in order to meet a certain number of episodes.

However, this is a minor complaint as the rehashed material is kept brief, and the remaining content continues to balance action and character/plot development with the same level of skill the series has shown throughout. The reveal of Alice's story fills in a large number of gaps in the mystery and helps flesh out why the Keith and ARMS characters have their varying powers. Each one represents a facet of Alice and Azazel's fused and conflicted emotions.

The conflicted nature of Alice's will is also shown quite well in the exchanges during Hayato/Knight and Violet/March Hare's battle. While Hayato may seem like he is going against Alice's will, he shows Violet that the true heart of humanity is to be free to make its own choices and destiny. Hayato also gets to provide some amusing comic relief during the various narrative pieces. With science and high theory being the root cause of their current situation, Al's techno babble explanations elicit a number of amusing comments, facial contortions, and head smacks from Hayato.

There are also a number of other small touches that make the buildup to the final battle more than just an extended narrative broken up by a fight or two. The series continues to weave the narrative of the story into the actions of the characters preventing the narrative to slow things down. While there will likely be a few final revelations at the end, this volume fills all the holes in the story necessary to move everyone in place for the final showdown.

In Summary:
In this volume, the series is starting to gain the momentum needed to make for an exciting final act. Alice's past dominates the episodes and provides a solid understanding of the motivations that have led the various characters to this point. While not heavy on action, the narrative weaves itself into the episodes seamlessly and does not slow the pace down. Despite some rehashed material at the beginning of each episode, this volume makes me eager to see how the final act unfolds.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Storyboard 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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