Project Arms Vol. #7 - 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. #7

By Luis Cruz     January 19, 2004
Release Date: November 25, 2003


Project Arms Vol. #7
© Viz Media


What They Say
Ever get that feeling that the whole world is out to get you? After a less-than-ideal day at the park, the group heads back to Misa’s house, with the Ex Armis in tow. While they are considering their options, other anti-Arms factions are on the move... and trouble is really starting to close in.

Meet Gance Gall, one of the Egregori’s most decorated (and deadly) colonels. With 80 years of field experience packed into a sprightly, 30 year-old body, Gance has not just youth on his side, but also an elite team of soldiers called the "Red Caps," who put into motion the so-called "Snark Hunt" that has Ryo and the others running for their lives.

The Review!
The ARMS pick up a few new allies but cannot seem to pick up any breaks. The "Snark Hunt" begins with three great episodes.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. Another solid stereo mix has been provided balancing action, dialogue, and music very well. A spot-check of the English dub contained no surprises; the performance still feels a bit flat, and the dialogue just does not sit well with me. However, the minuses I find are usually pluses to the dub crowd, so the dub track should provide them with the same level of enjoyment I received from the Japanese track.

Video:
For the most part, this volume continues the level of quality seen in previous volumes. The transfer is solid with no noticeable defects caused by the digital transfer. However, there were a few scarce spots where the print itself had some
dust or nicks. The print defects are minor and not prevalent, but it is the first time in the series where there were any noticeable print defects. The subtitles were the same quality as previous volumes but did not contain any instances of the "dotted underline" syndrome.

As with previous volumes, the original credits and title cards are replaced with English equivalents placed directly onto the print. 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:
On the front cover, all four of our ARMS heroes are set against the skyline of Aisora City while Keith Red's eyes glare menacingly at them in the night sky. 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. One has to look on the spine to find any semblance of a volume number.

The back cover the standard "numbered episode titles, synopsis, screenshots" format 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:
Textless versions of the opening and ending songs, character design sheets, and episode storyboards are once again the extras provided.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After defeating the Ex Armis and Ryo's internal demon, the ARMs crew attempts to catch their breath. They are given little chance to do so as Aisora City is cut off from the rest of Japan in order to begin a "Snark Hunt". Gauss Gall and his elite Red Cap troops are using the city and the ARMs as a training exercise. The Red Caps make short work of the Ex Armis with only Yugo and Twister Carol escaping.

Gall will be a difficult opponent to beat as he specializes in psychological warfare. He broadcasts to the city that if they do not bring them all nine of our heroes before him by midnight, the city and all its inhabitants will be utterly destroyed. As the deadline looms, Misa splits everyone up into teams in an attempt to turn the hunters into the hunted. As the volume closes, zero hour is near, and the teams are in place for the final push against Gall and the Red Caps. But Keith Red waits in the shadows to battle the Jabberwock...

One of my favorite shows on television for the past two years has been 24. Each season focuses on a day in the hectic life of Jack Bauer, and each episode represents an hour of that day. This volume of Project ARMs manages to capture the flavor of 24 albeit at an accelerated pace. The hours quickly tick away bringing the citizens of Aisora City closer to death. This is secondary though to the more interesting wrinkle of having the citizens of Aisora turn against our heroes.

The writers seem to have done thorough research on the military application of psychological terror and warfare. Each element of the snark hunt is done with precision and with a calculated goal in mind. From cutting off all escape routes to using plants to keep a mob mentality ruling, Gall's plan builds tension as our heroes face overwhelming military odds and an entire city pitted against them. It is a scenario I have seldom seen, and it works perfectly as the next hurdle for the protagonists.

Another welcome plot piece was the use of Inspector Kabuto; we last saw him in volume four, and it seemed that he would become a minor and forgotten character in the story. However, he is brought back in a manner that is not contrived and fits nicely into the unfolding plot. He is the quintessential good cop in a corrupt department but manages to rally the troops to help out Ryo and the rest of the ARMs team fight back against the Red Caps.

The only letdown on this volume would be the melodramatic moments sprinkled throughout the three episodes. While some of them are used to further develop the characters and their past, they just felt trite against the backdrop of the psychological battle being waged. Despite these moments, all three episodes had my full attention and had me cursing Viz's low episode count per disc.

One last complaint would be with the translation Viz used for the subtitles. While it is not as loose as the dub dialogue, there were numerous instances of modern slang that was difficult to imagine modern-day Japanese teenagers would use. For example, Hayato calls the Red Caps "ass clowns" at one point. The translation has always felt a bit loose to me, but this was the first volume where it became a distraction. Despite the melodrama and the translation, this volume continues to build a series that entertains me more than I ever imagined it would.

In Summary:
Project ARMS continues to impress and surprise me with each volume. The snark hunt's use of psychological warfare is a well thought out plot device adding an interesting wrinkle to the story. A few melodramatic bits aside, I really enjoyed this batch of episodes; they managed to balance character development, action, and exposition to create quite the cliffhanger.

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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