Project Arms Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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 Vol. #2

By Luis Cruz     July 16, 2003
Release Date: December 10, 2002


Project Arms Vol. #2
© Viz Media


What They Say
The ARMS boys are back... and this time they're on home turf. The Egrigori will stop at nothing to get their hands on ARMS, and now they're pulling out the big guns. Meet the Chapel Twins - young, intelligent, deadly. With the help of their ultra-powerful cyborgs, Plus and Minus, the Twins convert the high school into their private gameboard. Now, Ryo Hayato, and Takeshi must find and rescue Takeshi's sister from the cyborgs... before the cyborgs find and detroy them. CONTAINS EPISODES 4-6: Intercept, Counterattack, Flash.

The Review!
The "ARMS" boys get quite a workout as the Chapel twins play a deadly schoolyard game with them. Some decent action sequences coupled with good story development makes for an enjoyable second installment of Project ARMS.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. With the action picking up in this batch of episodes, there was considerable action across the front soundstage. The audio did not suffer from any noticeable problems and provided crisp dialogue.

Video:
The video transfer continues to impress and remain trouble free. Colors are rich and provide a lot of detail. The show goes from light, outdoor scenes to shadowy scenes quite often, but nothing suffers in the transition.

The subtitles were white and small; fortunately, Viz switched to a more standard font sparing my eyes from an uncomfortable adjustment period. They are large enough to be readable but small enough to not distract from the action on the screen. Whatever timing issues were present in the first volume were cleared up for this volume; there were no noticeable lags between dialogue being spoken and subtitles appearing.

Sadly, the video score is dragged down from what should easily be an "A" grade. Viz consistently removes the original Japanese credits from the opening and closing of show and replaces them with English language versions that are placed directly onto the video. If they want to have only English credits, that is fine, but please make them subtitles that I can turn on or off.

Packaging:
Hayato gets to show off his "ARMS" on the front cover while a mysterious villain fills the background behind him. I found this cover more striking than the previous volume as the colors and images blend very well together. Absent from the front cover is an indication of what volume number this disc is.

On the back cover is the episode titles listed above the standard boilerplate description of the show. The right-hand side of the back cover contains a collage of screenshots while the remainder of the cover is dedicated to the disc specs and production credits.

The "16UP" sticker was again plastered directly on the case with the security label pasted on top of the sticker. Fortunately, the now ripped sticker covers mostly dead space and only partially obscures one of the screenshots.

Inside the case is a one-sheet insert that contains the chapter listings on one side and a portion of text from Through the Looking Glass on the other.

Menu:
After a quick animation, the main menu loads up; the left side is taken up by a nice series of clips from the show itself. To the right are menu options letting you play individual episodes, enter an episode?s scene selection menu, setup the languages, or view the extras. An ominous piece of background music captures the tone of the series and provides a final, fitting touch to the menu

If you have seen one Viz menu, you have an idea of what this one is like. Episodes are listed with a "Play" option along with a "Scene Selection" option. Rounding out the main menu are options for the language setup and for the extras.

Extras:
Once again, the extras consist of textless versions of the opening and ending sequences sans lyric translations, a line art gallery of character designs, and a line art gallery of storyboards. This seems to be the standard set of extras for a Viz disc which draws no complaints from me.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Intercept picks up where the last volume left off. Maya has been captured by a mysterious set of young twins. They send the "ARMS" trio a message informing them that they must find her on the school grounds. After revealing that he was adopted, Takeshi is reluctant to help Ryo and Hayato find her. Ryo and Hayato set out without him, but they do not realize that the twins are playing a deadly game with them.

Al & Jeff Bowen, collectively known as the Chapel Twins, are two young boys that possess intelligence that far exceeds most adults. This intelligence allowed them to build indestructible cyborgs known as Plus and Minus; it also garnered them scorn and derision from their peers. The twins decided that their game to capture the trio should include a way to vent their adolescent angst. They plan on blowing up the school with everyone in it.

Ryo and Hayato manage to thwart this plan but end up face to face with Plus and Minus. Hayato quickly learns the hard way that the cyborgs are equipped with an electroshock device that can temporarily disable their "ARMS". To further complicate things, one of them has Maya strapped to their back. As the episode draws to a close, Takeshi appears after conquering his fear and realizing that Maya is more important to him than running from his fear.

Counterattack and Flash continue the action as the trio must find a way to free Maya and defeat Plus and Minus. These episodes have a great balance of action and exposition. We learn that the "ARMS" are constructed of 70% living metal that can learn and evolve. The action comes to a full boil as the volume closes out with Keith appearing before the trio and the twins.

What impressed me the most about this volume was how the characters behaved, especially Takeshi. He spends most of the volume mustering his courage only to find it wavering in the heat of battle; it is a nice contrast from the typical ?accept your fate and fight on? attitude that most anime characters seem to have the action genre.

Hayato continues to be impressed by Ryo?s intellect and is slowly accepting him as the leader of the trio. And anyone who has been picked on in school for being smart can readily identify with the twins. While their intellect is great, their emotional maturity has not developed at the same rate; it is this flaw that has Keith making an appearance. This is the smartest set of character treatments I have seen in this genre in quite some time.

While there is plenty of action, there are some lengthy portions of exposition that can make the episode drag a bit. However, these scenes deepen the mystery surrounding the trio and the "ARMS" project, so it is not a total waste. If the series continues this pace, this might be my sleeper series of the year.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 7:20:00 PM

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