Wild Arms Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Wild Arms

Wild Arms Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     January 01, 2003
Release Date: February 04, 2003


Wild Arms Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
ARMS - mysterious, ultra-rare weapons of almost unbelievable power. So how did Sheyenne Rainstorm come into possession of one? More importantly, how did this twenty five-year-old gunslinger end up in the body of a five year-old boy? These are questions Dr. Kiel Aronnax would like to see answered. Sheyenne just wants to find his original body. On the other hand, fortune hunters Loretta Oratorio and Crimson Noble Mirabelle are only interested in treasure. So why, with the whole wide, wild west to travel, do they keep bumping into each other? They'll dodge gunfighters, con-artists, dragons and crazed librarians in search of clues to solve the riddle of the ARMS. Don't miss the first action-packed volume of Wild Arms!


The Review!
Start with a manga, convert into a Playstation game and then shift to an anime that’s just based in the same world and you can scare away half of fandom with just that little bit of information.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the episodes there was a solid if somewhat unexceptional stereo mix. There’s a bit of directionality throughout, but not enough to really raise expectations for much of an immersive track. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and we noted not dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in late 1999 and early 2000, Wild Arms budget looks fairly average, but they managed to milk it fairly well, resulting in some decent looking animation that comes across quite well in this transfer. Colors are fairly muted for the most part with the backgrounds and the general western feeling, but there’s several areas of much more vibrant colors that shine through nicely. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent here and we only saw some minor aliasing during some panning sequences. A solid transfer overall.

Packaging:
The front cover here uses part of the Japanese 2nd volume cover with Sheyenne striking a pose and looking sharp while set against the moon image. The back cover provides only two animation shots and a lengthy summary explaining the shows premise. The volume numbers, appearing on the spine and the front cover, are accentuated with the episode titles and numbers being listed on the back alongside the discs technical features and production information. The insert provides a great shot that has the cast acting as if they’re actually shooting the show while the reverse side lists the episodes and chapters.

Menu:
Done in a similar layout to the front cover, the menus features different character artwork in each location set against the shaded brown western motif of the series. Setup and features are quick and easy to navigate and access times are nice and fast without any transitional pieces to deal with.

Extras:
The opening volume to the series gets some good extras. The opening and ending sequences are provided in textless form here and there’s also a preview of the second Japanese DVD release. The model sheets segment is a video gallery that runs about a minute with some black and white artwork accompanied by some music while the dub outtakes section, a first for an ADV disc I believe, runs under a minute and only has a few very minor gaffes, not the usual fun and hilarity we get from Bang Zoom.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the potential bad things listed at the top of this review, plus the addition of an opening sequence and trailer that has been running for the past few months that didn’t inspire confidence, I certainly went into this show with low expectations. Whether that worked in its favor, I ended up finding the show rather enjoyable and providing quite a number of out loud laughing moments.

The story is set in an old west style world (no name, time or date is given for any of this, it just is) where we have the traditional cowboy style, high tech weapons and magic. It’s a mix that’s been seen before, especially in video games, but not too often in anime. We’re introduced right off to Dr. Kiel Arronax as he’s being tortured by a nasty prison warden who wants him to cooperate on some sort of project. The session is abruptly stopped as the warden is informed of some people trying to break into the prison that nobody has broken out of before. And before he knows it, Kiel has slipped away into the numerous tunnels.

On the outside, we get introduced to Loretta, a tall dark haired woman who uses magic cards to create diversions and other tricks and the shorter green haired Mirabelle. The two are breaking into the prison, a floating fortress of sorts, as their Weekly Treasure Hunter magazine indicates that it probably has something very expensive hidden deep inside. So they’re using their traditional thieving and treasure hunting skills to break in and find whatever it is. As luck would have it, they come across Kiel along the way, and after mistaking him for a prison official, the three end up working together. He helps them find the treasure, they help him escape from the prison.

The treasure, as they soon discover, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After breaking into the chamber where it’s located, they’re shocked to find that it’s just a young five year old boy floating with a blanket over him. The girls start looking around for something really good to get, but Kiel gets really curious. As the boy awakens and the prison officials find them and the gunfight ensues, we learn the mystery of the boy – he’s actually Sheyenne Rainstorm, one of the more notorious gunslingers around and someone whose been dead for a few years, never mind being considered the reincarnation of the Evil Race.

Sheyenne has a shaky memory of being shot, but he has no clue how his mind ended up in this five year olds body. He’s still got his main powerful weapon, the Batour though, but it’s almost impossible to use due to his size and frame. All of this discovery is done in a hilarious manner, as they all keep getting fired at while Sheyenne continues to talk and strut as if he’s a twenty five year old gift to the world. The disparity isn’t overplayed, but done just right so it doesn’t get obnoxious.

From there, the series moves into a more episodic feel for the next several episodes, allowing us to add some new cast members and to get a feel for the world. Kiel and Sheyenne go off in search of Sheyenne’s original body while Loretta and Mirabelle continue their hunt for treasure. One of the more amusing introductions comes in the form of Isaac, a small blue furry creature that’s thousand upon thousands of years old and highly intelligent. He’s a counter to Jerusha, a pink furred one that the girls have that helps them in their heists. As the two pairs of humans end up constantly running into each other, these two creatures provide some amusement as we learn their history together.

A lot of the humor in the show comes from Sheyenne’s situation. Instead of women drooling over him, they pinch his cute cheeks now. Since it’s not overdone and not a constant throughout an episode, it plays out well and provided some good laughs, something that’s few and far between with a lot of shows we’re seeing these days. The episodes themselves, when you skip the openings and endings, run just under nineteen minutes, so they play out fast and you feel like you get through a lot of it in a short time. With only twenty-two episodes in the series, we’re already a quarter of the way done and enjoying it a lot. I am surprisingly looking forward to more, something I did not expect to say prior to putting this disc in the player.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening,Clean closing,Model sheets,Original Japanese trailer

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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