Project Arms Vol. #04 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 214
  • ISBN: 1-59116-165-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Project Arms Vol. #04

By Jarred Pine     April 18, 2005
Release Date: March 01, 2004


Project Arms Vol.#04
© Viz Media


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ryoji Minagawa and Kyoichi Nanatsuki
Translated by:Katy Bridges
Adapted by:

What They Say
Ryo, Hayato, and Takeshi meet Kei Kuruma, the fourth Arms. Kei turns out to be an agent of an organization called "the Bluemen" and she's out to recruit Ryo and the others to join the Bluemen's fight against Egrigori. However, the Bluemen may turn out to be as insidious and subversive an organization as Egrigori is. All the while, Ryo is losing control of his Arms...or rather his Arms are gaining control of him.

The Review
Packaging:
Cover art is from the original Japanese release which features Ryo with the shadow of Jabberwock behind him, covered up by what look like silver rip marks across the book. The English logo is presented at the top of the page with the Japanese katakana translation above in smaller font and the English volume subtitle underneath. A small black bar with the Viz action logo streaks the top while another black bar streaks the bottom with the creators' names and volume number. There is a volume header, followed by the table of contents with the story summary on the flip side. Chapter headers are included and at the back of the book is a page about the creators. Once again the print job looks really nice, getting across all the tones very clearly.


Art:
Minagawa’s artwork continues to be really striking and works really well with the dark sci-fi action story that is being told. The action scenes are incredible, with lots of dynamic movement and great layouts. The rich, detailed backgrounds help with gaining a great perspective for each scene. Minagawa’s character designs will always be debatable, but there is no doubt that the close up shots with the strong facial expressions do a great job at getting across the appropriate emotions.


Text/SFX:
SFX are left untouched with a glossary in the back of the book. The translation and adaptation flows very nicely in this volume, and does a great job at capturing the change in Ryo’s character. All the technological jargon and terminologies come across clearly. There were a few spelling and grammar errors which was a bit unfortunate for a solid translation job.


Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
While the first three volumes are well packed with a lot of action, it mostly left a lot of unanswered questions and had some minor pacing problems. This volume of Project Arms keeps the intense action in place, but finally offers some answers while managing a nice pace that compliments both the action and plot movements quite well.

One of the highlights of this volume is the change in Ryo’s character. He hasn’t even returned home after the Abumisawa incident, sleeping in an abandoned hospital knowing that is the only sure way he can keep those special to him safe. His attitude is dark and has a thirst for revenge as he exclaims “I’m pure vengeance!” while fighting off some weak Egrigori cyborgs. Ryo always seemed like a character that just sort of goes with the flow, so it is nice to see him with a goal and a bit of a fire inside of him.

Finally making her appearance is the fourth, and final, ARMS member Kei Kuruma, codename Queen of Hearts and a member of the Bluemen. Her ARMS is located in her eyes, giving her the ability to analyze everything around her, making her quite a formidable opponent. In typical shounen fashion, she picks a bit of a fight with the three boys as she wants to decide the group pecking order. It doesn’t last long, and Ryo is about to give up and leave when Kei tells Ryo that Katsumi might still be alive. I have to admit that I was a little bummed when I heard this bit of info, as I think killing characters and bringing them back to life is a cheap-shot tactic, but it seems as though this not be as accurate as it is let on. Ryo and group follow Kei back to Bluemen headquarters, where the group learn about the 20-year-old war between Egrigori and Bluemen. The Bluemen want the ARMS’ help in destroying the Egrigori for good, but Ryo only has one thing on his mind, to see if Katsumi still lives.

As the group takes a few days to say goodbyes to their families, they come under attack by the Egrigori cyborgs. However, the cyborgs are stopped in their tracks by the X-Army, a rogue Egrigori group featuring some of Egrigori’s experimental subjects. The X-Army want to kill the ARMS, specifically Ryo, in order to prove their worth to the Egrigori. While on the surface this appears to be yet another Egrigori battle, the setup to this battle has more depth allowing some development to happen in which motives and intents are known. The X-Army are no different than the ARMS, experimental puppets of Egrigori who are fighting in order to be in control of their own fate.

Comments
So far this is definitely my favorite volume in the Project Arms series. The pacing is a bit tighter, Ryo’s change in personality is a welcomed one, action is intense, and Ryo’s mom is quite possibly the greatest action hero in all of manga. Without spoiling anything, the section of the story with her and Ryo is a definite highlight for me, providing plenty of laughs, action, and style. While there is another Egrigori battle starting at the end of this volume, it has a bit more meat to the underlining motivations that make it enjoyable.

Project Arms continues to deliver exactly what I want from it, with this fourth volume taking things up a notch. Exciting action, sci-fi storyline, striking artwork, and a dark and violent mood. Definitely recommended.

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