Project Arms Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Luis Cruz     July 30, 2003
Release Date: April 22, 2003


Project Arms Vol. #4
© Viz Media


What They Say
Things are really starting to heat up in Abumisawa. The ARMS boys finally gain entrance to the Egregori lab, but once they’re in, the wisdom of an old adage "Be careful what you wish for..." suddenly becomes all too horribly clear. True, the mystery behind their creation is revealed at last, but how dearly will this information end up costing them?

The Review!
Billed on the back cover as "the latest, profane-est, most violent-est volume yet", one would expect three episodes of material that concerned parent groups point to as "the cause of moral decay among our children". Whoever wrote the copy for the back cover must not have watched the show much. What we get are three more episodes that combine action with character development and a good plot; Project ARMS continues to captivate me more than I thought it ever would.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. There were quite a few action scenes and explosions giving the front soundstage a workout. The show continues to sound great and contain no noticeable flaws.

Video:
The video for the series also continues to impress as Viz provides another solid transfer for this volume. One would be hard pressed to find a flaw during playback. Another item that keeps me coming back volume after volume is the animation; the style goes from detailed battle scenes to creepy effects at just the right moments. The writers and animators are really in synch with each other giving the series a sense of style that I did not expect to see.

It goes without saying that Viz has replaced the Japanese credits in the opening and ending. In their place are English language versions placed directly onto the video, and there are no credits for the Japanese voice actors. However, I will continue to state this point until this practice is altered or eliminated.

Packaging:
Gracing the front cover this time is some woman along with a pink, female-looking android in the background. It is a simple but striking cover; the episodes contain mysteries, and the front cover continues to mimic this. Its mystery is just what volume you are holding as there is no clear indication of this on the front cover or on the spine.

The back cover contains the standard "episode titles, synopsis, screenshots" format that has been used for the previous volumes. Inside the case is a one-sheet insert that contains the chapter listings on one side but nothing on the other. This was quite a surprise as the back cover states that the "Lewis Carroll Alice connection is indelibly established". With a statement like this, one would expect to find an appropriate quote from Carroll’s work.

Menu:
As with other Viz series, the menu style does not change from volume to volume. The menus fit they style of the series while being quick and functional. Transitions between menus are minimal allowing one to get setup and into the episodes quickly.

Extras:
And the extras rarely change from volume to volume as well. Clean versions of the opening and ending sequences are present but still have no translations. Rounding out the extras are a line art gallery of character designs and a gallery of episode storyboards.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Jabberwock opens, our heroes are once again facing the Crimson Triad. In the secret lab beneath the Abumisawa church, Dr. Mary Katz is leading a team of scientists in a revolt against the Egrigori. She has downloaded all of the project files and plans on telling the ARMS the truth about their past.

While the ARMS boys are fighting, we learn from an exchange between an Egrigori lackey and a higher-up that the ARMS boys all have a code name and a distinguishing feature. Takeshi is called "White Rabbit" and can leap 300 meters in the air. Hayato is known as "Knight" and possesses a wide range of bladed weapons in his ARMS. Keith is known as "Gryphon"; everyone is named for a Lewis Carroll creature.

Ryo is the most aptly named as he bears the code-name "Jabberwock". Just as the Jabberwock is a mysterious creature in Carroll’s mythos, Ryo’s ARMS is an unsolvable mystery to the Egrigori scientists. His ARMS is capable of powerful and potentially limitless transformations.

The trio manages to defeat the Crimson Triad and come face to face with Dr. Katz. The episode ends as she unveils the truth to our trio. Evolution is an aptly named episode as each ARMS boy must evolve in some way to accept the truth of their existence. Ryo’s evolution is the most dramatic, but saying more spoil your initial viewing of this episode. Most of the plot turns in this episode are predictable but still manage to draw you in.

The volume ends with Beat; two weeks have passed since they have learned the truth in Abumisawa. Ryo is still trying to come to grips with his evolution and the demons associated with it. While it does have some action, the focus is squarely on Ryo’s internal struggle. The episode also ends with a twist providing a good hook to get one to pick up the next volume.

It is a shame the Viz marketers decided to tag this as the "most violent-est volume yet". Yes, there is more violence in this volume than the previous ones, but the series is still focusing on developing a good plot rather than just tossing about a lot of blood and guts. The trio continues to evolve not only their ARMS skills but also their perception of who they are and how that relates to the technology implanted within them.

They also learn that another group called the Blue Men (I always knew they were up to no good!) had a hand in their ARMS creation. Whether this group will be their ally or enemy remains to be seen. This series continues to blend character growth, action, and conspiracy quite well.

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small. The pill called Project ARMS continues to pique my interest and draw me further down its rabbit hole.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Behind-the-Scenes featurette, Line art, Storyboards

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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