Project Arms Vol. #09 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1-59116-733-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Project Arms Vol. #09

By Jarred Pine     August 14, 2005
Release Date: July 15, 2005


Project Arms Vol.#09
© Viz Media


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

What They Say
Ryo, Hayato, Takeshi, and Kei are Arms - kids implanted with nanotech limb enhancements that cause them to transform into grotesquely deformed and out of control superweapons.

The Arms Kids' quest to uncover the truth about their past takes them from Japan to a cowpoke town in Arizona called Gallows Bell. There, they come face to face with an elite group of special forces called Team Epsilon. Ryo and the others soon learn that this viciously wicked squadron hasn't earned its nickname "Genocide Force" for nothing. To make matters worse, enter a new enemy Arms called "The Mad Hatter" with powers that verge on the sublime.

The Review
Packaging:
Cover artwork features the same illustration of Ryo and I believe Yugo, who are unfortunately covered up by the scratch mark artwork. The English logo is again found at the top of the page. The covers for this series have never been a favorite of mine.

Inside there is a story summary as well as a quick bio about the two creators. The print job looks great, which makes me happy as it highlights the excellent tones and dynamic artwork.

Art:
I’ll keep saying it. Minagawa’s artwork impresses the hell out of me despite the ugly character designs. The depth and perspective of each panel is wonderful due to the excellent tone work. The action art is also really dynamic and explodes right off the page, which is great since this volume is almost all action. Backgrounds are very detailed and rendered perfectly to add more depth and perspective.

Text/SFX:
SFX are left untouched with a glossary in the back of the book. The translation is very solid, especially all the technical jargon surrounding the sciences of the ARMS. I did notice one error on page 172 were a text bubble was repeated, leaving the original text out of one bubble.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The gig is up at Gallows Bell. After failing to capture the ARMS on their own, the Chapel Children along with their Hounds now find themselves, as well as ARMS, surrounded by a secret, high-speed Egrigori combat unit called Secret Force Epsilon. The unit is led by one of the Keith series, Silver, and the troops are cyborgs equipped with supersonic speed abilities. Their goal is to kill off the castaways, capture the ARMS subjects, and make off with the highly classified extraterrestrial living organism codenamed Azazel. This being from another world was born at the birth of the solar system and crashed landed on Earth some 50,000 years ago. It is a silicon based colonial life-form that served as the basis for the creation of ARMS. Azazel is the Pandora’s Box that Keith Violet has warned about opening up.

The story still follows the same structure as we have seen before, this time with another Egrigori task force coming in to clean up the mess. As the Chapel Children and others are gassed to death, and Ryo’s friends get into trouble, once again Ryo goes into his little tirade about not being able to help others and thinking that he was only designed to kill. This rising hatred once again begins to awaken the Jabberwock. I believe this is at least the 3rd time in a row now that we have followed this formula where rogue Egigori lab rats try to capture ARMS, they fail, Egrigori Keiths step in to clean up, Jabberwock awakens, we find out some new info, and the team will probably move on to the next stage.

While it’s feeling very much like a tournament style manga, the science fiction elements and mysterious conspiracies pushing the story along do keep things feeling fresh. There is also quite a bit of new information leaked out to the reader to keep the interest level high enough. The power struggle behind the scenes between the Keith series is beginning to show. The most interesting piece of the puzzle revealed in this volume is Azazel, which transforms after being woke up by Ryo’s Jabberwock and ends up looking just like it. Azazel doesn’t attack Ryo and the other ARMS, but only the Egrigori. Azazel is able to recognize their shared elements and recognizes that they are sort of kin.

The cat is also out of the bag surrounding the purpose of Knight and White Rabbit, Hayato’s and Takeshi’s ARMS. Their purpose is to make sure that Jabberwock does not awaken his hate and become completely destructive. They will have to destroy Jabberwock once that day comes. Once Hayato and Takeshi learn about this secret from their ARMS, they decided to keep this to themselves. However, they might be forced with a tough choice very soon as Silver Keith has unleashed his Mad Hatter ARMS and is currently beating up on Ryo and destroying Gallows Bell with his ultra-powerful particle beam.

Comments
The story is still feeling quite formulaic at this point, but the surrounding sci-fi and secret conspiracies are so far keeping this ship afloat. With all the Alice in Wonderland references, I’m beginning to wonder if all this repetition is on purpose. The farther and farther down the rabbit hole you go, the stronger the enemies become and the ARMS will have to become more and more responsible for their own powers.

There is definitely quite enough new information and revelations here that keep the interests level high, but I’m really wishing that I had more of this title to read at once. The quarterly release cycle really breaks up the continuity of the storyline and I think would be much better digested in bigger chunks. The action artwork though continues to be superb, some of the strongest I have seen in a manga.

Overall, I’m still happy with what Project ARMS is providing me. A nice sci-fi spin on the shounen genre with cyberpunk appeal, great action, and filled with dark conspiracies. The book just goes by way too fast.

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