Project Arms Vol. #3 - 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. #3

By Luis Cruz     July 18, 2003
Release Date: February 11, 2003


Project Arms Vol. #3
© Viz Media


What They Say
The ARMS boys are getting their act together... and they're taking it on the road. After a busy day at school they head home to regroup with young Al Bowen in tow. Ryo is reunited with his mother, Misa, and Hayato returns to the far less tranquil existence he shares with his grandfather.

But Keith's cryptic invitation to visit Abumisawa has left the boys with an uneasy feeling, and so they decide it's time for a road trip to Hayato's hometown. Little do they realize that they aren't the only ones interested in a trip to the country... or that the country may have a few more surprises for them than they bargained for.

The Review!
Ten years ago, Hayato’s village Abumisawa was burned to the ground by the Egrigori… or was it? After adding Al Bowen to their team, the "ARMS" trio, Al, and Misa head to Abumisawa and find the village rebuilt. However, the village is not what it appears to be, but there is no time to investigate as the Crimson Triad present the next hurdle to clear to learn the secrets of their past.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. The audio did not suffer from any noticeable problems and provided crisp dialogue. The action sequences provided some great front soundstage effects. Overall, this was the best audio mix of the series so far.

Video:
There is not much to say about the video transfer as it keeps up the high standards of the previous volumes. From day to night, the colors match the scene perfectly and provide some great eye candy.

My only complaint comes from the subtitles. This volume seemed to suffer from an inordinate amount of “dotted subtitles” for lack of a better term; basically, a line of dots appeared under some of the subtitles. It was a minor annoyance but one that should not be present at all.

Without fail, Viz replaces the Japanese credits in the opening and ending. In their place are English language versions placed directly onto the video. No way to remove the credits and no crediting the Japanese voice actors equals a poorer video rating than what this disc deserves.

Packaging:
The best front cover of the series to date has Takeshi leaping into action with his "ARMS" enabled legs. A green computer background and an odd monster are behind him. While the volume title Eyes of Flame is placed on the front, it lacks an indication of what volume it 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.

Much to my delight, the "16UP" sticker was replaced by a small "Suggested 16 & Up" statement on the back cover. Inside the case is a one-sheet insert that contains the chapter listings on one side and a portion of text from Jabberwocky 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:
Let’s see what extras this volume has up its sleeve… textless versions of the opening and ending sequences sans lyric translations, a line art gallery of character designs, and a gallery of storyboards. Nothing new is present, but it is still a good set of extras. All that is missing are translations for the theme songs.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Keith kills Jeff leaving Al and the trio to learn the meaning of the episode’s title Trust. The trio’s attempt to protect Al makes Keith laugh; he decides to let Al live for the moment and gives the boys a piece of advice… pay a visit to Abumisawa.

Before they leave, Hayato takes them to his grandfather’s house to ask his advice. The grandfather decides to test them to see if they are strong enough to face whatever awaits them at Abumisawa. During the battle, Ryo’s ARM decides to act on his own. Grandfather stops the ARM with his bare hands and tells the boys that they should travel to Abumisawa and nothing more.

Ryo confides to Grandfather that he is frightened by the lack of control over his ARM. It seems to act independently of his will, and Ryo fears that he will injure someone because he cannot control the power.

Strangers brings the trio, Al, Misa, and a police detective who is tailing them to Abumisawa. Much to Hayato’s astonishment, the village is intact. But the people do not recall the incident ten years ago and act very cold. While resting in Hayato’s old house, Hayato goes off on his own to find proof of the attack ten years ago, and Ryo hears a voice asking him if he wants power. There is no time to contemplate this question as the villagers attack the group.

After a quick escape and another Ryo ARMS flare-up, Al informs the group that the villagers are under a form of mind control. The team splits up; Al and Misa hide in a tree nook while Ryo and Takeshi attempt to find Hayato. They find Hayato but also find Bee, Mr. Face, and Gasher – the Crimson Triad!

The trio square off against the deadly cyborgs known as the Crimson Triad in Illusion. Ryo faces their leader Gasher and appears to be beaten until Ryo’s ARM activates and increases its power ten-fold. Ryo’s worst fear is realized though as the ARM refuses to obey his commands. Gasher retreats in order to regroup and literally re-arm himself.

By this time, the detective has caught Ryo’s display of power and is in a daze as everyone assembles. They quickly learn that the villagers are all criminals or missing persons and that the village church bell is controlling them. The trio set off to destroy the source of the mind control and hope to learn more about Egrigori and their past. But the Crimson Triad stands in their way once again…

Volume three is another solid entry in the series as the conspiracy deepens a bit more. We learn that the Egrigori are a worldwide conglomerate and have been conducting human experiments to push the limits of man-machine interaction. The addition of Al brings some new character development and interaction to the group. Hayato and Al fall into a big brother, young brother relationship as Al continually insults Hayato’s intelligence earning him a thump on the head from Hayato.

It is also good to see Ryo displaying some fear; he keeps himself level and clear-headed but still has uncertainties about his abilities. His fear boils to the surface as his ARMS continues to evolve even though his control over it is not evolving at the same pace. It provides a good balance to his character and helps him avoid becoming an action hero cliché.

The series continues to draw me into the larger story, but it is getting a bit repetitive. Boys go searching for some answers and end up facing the big, bad villain(s). Despite this standard action formula, the series keeps me coming back for more.

Part of this is the larger storyline; the other part is the way the trio is handling the growth of their powers and a conspiracy against them, both of which are larger and more powerful than they can conceive. I am three volumes in and still enjoying the ride.

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.


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