Wild Arms Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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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
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Wild Arms

Wild Arms Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     July 09, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003


Wild Arms Vol. #5
© ADV Films


What They Say
Sheyenne hasn't found his body yet, but he has found Laila. The trouble is she's in the hands of an evil cult who thinks she's the reincarnation of a goddess. To make matters worse, someone's posted a huge reward for Sheyenne, Kiel and Issac. Is five million gala enough to make the girls turn on them? Plots are unraveled, justice is paid and everyone gets their just rewards in the final action-packed volume of Wild Arms!

The Review!
The final installment of the series pulls a few rabbits out of its hat and manages to completely capture my attention by doing what many solid classic SF novels do.

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 no 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 background design continues here allowing all five volumes to look quite good together. The character imagery this time around brings in the male focus by having Sheyenne as well as his original body and a new character who plays prominently in these final episodes. The back cover provides a couple of small shots from the show and a brief summary of these episodes. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed as well as the features and extras on the disc and some of the basic production information. The series is also nicely labeled when it comes to the volume number, making it easy to figure out which one you have. The insert has a shot of the adult Sheyenne set next to the episode selection guide while the reverse side has a nice group shot image done in a near-sepia style.

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 really nice extra here is the “continuous” music video, which uses footage from the series to sort of recap the relationship between Sheyenne and Laila. Definitely do not watch it before the episodes on this disc though. The video has two subtitle tracks, one for romaji lyrics and the other for the English translated ones. More of the model sheets are provided as well as another round of the Japanese DVD previews. The dub outtakes also get another round, with just under two minutes worth of goofs and other silly line deviations.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final five episodes of the series, which does a nice job of pretty much telling one strong storyline, brings in elements from a number of classic science fiction tales to add a nice twist in addition to revealing the why’s of the world that we’ve been exploring with the cast. Since this is the final volume and there’s a lot of revelations, expect this part of the review to be pretty filled with spoilers.

Sheyenne, Kiel and Isaac are all getting close to their destination of the city of Fatarite, but an amusing delay causes them to shack up at a little house of someone they met. They’ve also brought a guest with them as Sheyenne has come across a woman who looks identical to Laila but has no memories of that name or anything associated with it. Sheyenne ends up working with the woman to try and figure out what’s going on, and we start to learn more of the tale about the Goddess and the Evil King from the world’s mythology.

The people who are after this Laila lookalike end up finding out where she is, so they start to come after her. This brings about the classic standoff shootout, but it’s very well done as we’ve spent the better part of the episode getting to know the man who lives there, Golgol. Or, as he calls himself once during a drinking binge with Kiel and Isaac, “Golgol Thirty”, one of the best snipers ever. There’s some really good injokes here from this, but it also segues into a really strong episode with lots of small revelations and bits that flesh out the cast even more.

This eventually leads to some changes, as the woman is returned to the group who was holding her before, and she apparently has regained her memories as well, now calling herself the Goddess Laila who has come back to the world. Sheyenne and the group end up heading into the city of Fargaia, where they find themselves with a five billion gala bounty on their heads. The commander of the city, Valeria, has set a high price to have them captured. This guy fits the bill as the typical pretty man who is in real power, complete with elegant uniform. Valeria is also a manipulator of some skill, as he’s apparently the one who has been working the Laila woman into being the goddess who will ensure his power for generations to come, once she endorses him.

Laila isn’t the only one to come back from the past as the Evil King Kianu has been revived by the same secret organization and they’ve used Sheyenne’s adult body for this. Kianu, who has essentially been programmed with all the myths and legends, starts working his own plans for control of not only Laila but the world in general. So when Sheyenne and company finally start getting involved, all sorts of things get revealed – so much so that Kiel actually reveals some surprising true colors and we learn a lot of the world.

The mythology is the beautiful part for me. As is said by Jerusha at one point, all myths are the leftovers of a contorted history. The story of the Goddess and the Evil King who battled has definitely been distorted. So much of the history of that time ten thousand years ago has been distorted. Through a number of sources, we see the story unfold of how this world is actually a colony of Earth and that Laila was actually the Commander of the Earth Forces while Kianu was a rebel leader on the planet. The terraforming process had gone horribly awry and the planet was deemed unfit for full colonization. The Earth Government felt otherwise having invested so much, so sent Laila to subjugate the world.

But her love of Kianu caused all sorts of problems with it and a romantic misunderstanding brought her near the point of insanity, causing her to lay waste to large portions of the world, as well as eventually unleashing the Twilight Venom in the recent past. Using technology available on Earth, she manipulated things so that she and Kianu would be revived ten thousand years later and they could pick up their romance where they left off. But so much has gone wrong that it’s impossible, especially since Sheyenne, who is the reincarnation of Kianu, has had his brain transplanted into the body of a boy and his adult body is now controlled by a programmed force of evil.

The parceling out of this information is extremely well done over the course of the five episodes, never just dumping it all at once, but rather from various sources in small chunks that goes back and forth with previous imagery to bring the storyline out fully. These revelations work out very well and as I said, reminded me of a number of older science fiction novels and short stories where near the end, it’s revealed that the otherwise normal storyline is much more “SF” than you originally ever thought.

After finishing out these five episodes, I continue to find Wild Arms to be one of the more underrated series I’d seen recently. The show has a great sense of humor about it, lots of fun gunplay action, amusing interactions between the men and the women, as each group causes the other more problems than they expect and a real sense of warmth and love that manifests itself in Sheyenne’s quest to find Laila. It may be easy to write this off with an episode or two at the start, but as an overall series, this was highly enjoyable. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Model sheets,Original Japanese preview,Outtakes,Music Video

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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