Project Arms Vol. #5 - 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. #5

By Luis Cruz     September 30, 2003
Release Date: June 10, 2003


Project Arms Vol. #5
© Viz Media


What They Say
There’s No Place Like Home... Yeah, right! The ARMS boys have returned to Aisora City, but "back to normal" their lives are not. As Ryo, Takeshi, and Hayato try to come to grips with their devastating experience at Abumisawa, they face a new set of challenges.

The Review!
The latest volume of Project ARMS adds a few more pieces to the puzzle as well as a few more adversaries. However, the elements that have made the series interesting have been toned down in favor of building the plot with some melodramatic action.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. The show continues to have a solid audio track providing a great mix between action, dialogue, and music. Both audio tracks will not disappoint their intended audiences.

Video:
The video for the volume continues the series history of providing a solid transfer. The colors are rich, and one would be hard pressed to find a flaw during playback. The animation style continues to impress me with its use of color, shading, and framing of particular scenes. It gives the series a unique feel, one that is a primary factor in drawing me back volume after volume.

As with every other Viz disc I have reviewed, this volume replaces the original credits and title cards with English equivalents placed directly onto the video transfer. There are no credits present on the disc for the Japanese voice actors.

While this practice does not bother most, my preference is to have the original video intact from start to finish. As other company’s releases have borne out, DVD technology allows the original Japanese credits and English translated credits to coexist on the same disc. Viz is not utilizing this technology, and my video review grade reflects that.

Packaging:
Ryo, Ex Armis member Yugo, and the Jabberwock are displayed on the front cover. The placement of the text and logos remains consistent with previous volumes. Viz continues to provide no immediately visible indication on the front cover of what volume you are holding.

The back cover provides this information as it contains the standard "numbered 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 reverse.

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:
Viz remains consistent with their release of this series by providing textless versions of the opening and ending songs, character design sheets, and episode storyboards. The second episode on the disc introduces a new opening and ending sequence for the show; however, the textless opening and ending provided in the extras are the old versions. It is surprising that Viz did not choose to place textless versions of the new sequences on this disc.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blue Men opens this volume by introducing our trio to the fourth ARMS member. Kurama Kei, who bears a striking resemblance to the recently deceased Katsumi, has ARMS in her eyes; she is able to detect miniscule movements allowing her to anticipate any attack. She tries to forcibly recruit the ARMS trio to work for the Blue Men in their attempt to destroy the Egrigori, and she attempts to assert her role as their leader by forcing them to attack her. The Jabberwock quickly dispels her delusions of grandeur, and it takes all of Ryo’s willpower to prevent the Jabberwock from killing Kei.

Kei decides to adopt a different tact; she tells them that Katsumi might be alive. They follow her to a Blue Men base and find out that they intercepted an Egrigori transmission that contained orders to move Katsumi to a hospital. Naturally, Ryo decides to rush off to see if this information is true; Hayato and Takeshi follow him even though they realize it is probably a trap set for them.

The Blue Men attempt to detain the group, but Ryo refuses to be stopped. In a predictably melodramatic fashion, Ryo rips through the door in his way declaring that he will choose his own destiny and will try to save Katsumi if there is even a slim chance that she is alive.

The remaining two episodes provide some decent action as Ryo faces the next hurdle in front of him. Cliff Gilbert is the leader of Ex Armis, a group of individuals given unique abilities that include ESP, telepathy, and other paranormal powers. Cliff intends to take the Jabberwock for himself and prove to Keith and the Egrigori that his power is the superior one.

While the action was decent in this volume, it lacked the elements that drew me into this series. Up to this point, the series has done a great job of developing the characters as they struggle to deal with their powers and the conspiracy surrounding their creation. Both the plot and the characters grew with each other, but this volume seems to take the series in a different direction.

The series appears to be drifting towards the pattern of throwing increasingly more powerful enemies in our hero’s path. Add in a few new puzzle pieces about the conspiracy and then have the enemies defeated. Repeat as necessary. The internal and emotional conflicts are diminished in this volume; the only remnant is Ryo’s continual struggle to keep the Jabberwock from overpowering his own sense of self and free will.

Hopefully, this pattern will not become the norm for the remainder of the series. While this volume was entertaining, it just did not draw me in as much as the preceding volumes did. The interest to see where this series is going is still present, but this volume has caused it to wane a bit.

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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