An intriguing series with an unexpected surprise.
arxane | Oklahoma City, OK United States | 11/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with the highly anticipated release of "Inu-Yasha", Viz also released several lesser known series, including a title called "Project Arms". Interested to see how Viz would handle more obscure titles at the same time with a publicized release, I gave the first "Project Arms" DVD, "The Claws That Catch", a spot in my anime collection. Then, with mixed expectations, I gave it a try. After watching all three episodes, I must say that this DVD left me very, very impressed.The story of "Project Arms" deals with Ryo Takatsuki, a typical high school student with an average life and a girl who's a friend (and who could be a girlfriend). But everything was suddenly turned upside down with the arrival of a new student, Hayato Shingu, who can transform his arm into a deformed and menacing weapon and who apparently wants Ryo's death for some strange reason. Things get even more bizarre when Ryo learns that he and Shingu, as well as two other people, possess what are called ARMS, and it's these ARMS that a mysterious organization wants to find and claim for themselves."Project Arms" probably won't win any awards, but that doesn't prevent this from being one hell of an anime series. Things happen at a very fast pace but move slowly enough for the viewer to understand what's going on. The story is easy enough to understand from the get go, but also hints at some upcoming complexity to enhance the overall feel. The mood is a crossbreed between happy-go-lucky and twisted, sitting on a borderline of easygoing and dark that gives the series a distinct feel. After watching the first three episodes, you're not quite sure what to expect, which is actually a good thing.Visually, the series can be called "cleanly unpolished." Make no mistake, the artwork is some of the best I've seen for an anime series, reminiscent of shows like "Cowboy Bebop", but it has something of a grittiness that serves to enhance the series' sinister atmosphere. Character models are very well designed and unique, and environments, while darkly colored, are very well detailed.The audio is just as impressive as the visuals. The opening theme really brings out the stark tone of the series, and the ending closes each episode on the right note. The music also fits the series very well. While the music doesn't contain the complexity of Yoko Kanno or the emotional impact of Wada Kaoru, its simplicity further enhances the down-to-earth feel the series already projects so wonderfully.But this is what truly impressed me. While the Japanese track is here and good, it's the English dub that unexpectedly yet gratefully shines. Viz, deciding to stick with the ever-reliable Oceans Group, brings some very familiar voices to the dub. Kirby Morrow (Trowa Barton of "Gundam Wing", Van Fannel of "Escaflowne") gives a remarkable performance as Ryo, and Brian Drummond (Zechs Merquise of "Gundam Wing", Allen Schezar of "Escaflowne") gives the raw, emotional performance that the character Hayato needs. Brad Swaile (Quatre Raberba Winner of "Gundam Wing", Nobunaga of "Inu-Yasha") also stars as the third ARMS, Takeshi Tomoe, and does justice to the character. Other characters also fit their roles wonderfully. The dub dialogue matches the original Japanese dialogue almost perfectly, and thankfully Viz did not tone down the language. In my humble opinion, the dub of "Project Arms" is one of the few dubs that can even come close to comparing to the almighty "Cowboy Bebop" dub; that's how impressed I was with this dub.Of course, nothing's perfect. The subtitles are colored white in a new font that doesn't blur in the background of the visuals (which is a good thing), but for some reason Viz chose to add more dialogue to each subtitle line and thus the timing of the subtitles with the dialogue can feel off in some places. Luckily, however, this isn't too distracting. The only other major complaint can be the episode count of three per DVD. However, considering that Viz recently switched from a horrible two-per-disc format, I'm not one to complain that much.Overall, "The Claws That Catch" left me astonished. I never expected such an obscure title to be this good, and never in my wildest dreams did I expect an obscure title to receive such a marvelous dub. It's just such a pity that Viz didn't give this series more exposure. Still, "Project Arms" has proved it's a gem not to be missed. If you can stand the three episode-per-disc count for a 52-episode series, then I urge to you to give "Project Arms" a try. It just may leave you as surprised as I was."