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AKA: Wild Arms TV, Wild Arms
Genre: Science fiction adventure with comedic elements
Length: Television series, 22 episodes, 22 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 13+ (violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Arc the Lad, Trigun
Notes: Based on the video games "Wild Arms" and "Wild Arms 2: Second Ignition".
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars
 

Wild Arms - Twilight Venom

Synopsis

Deadly gunslinger Sheyenne Rainstorm was born with the rare ability to use the powerful weapons known as ARMS and with an unusual birth mark that caused some to believe he might be a reincarnation of ancient evil king defeated thousands of years ago.

Trapped in the body of ten year old body as a result of an ambush he can only barely remember, he now seeks to find his lost body with the help of the hulking scientist Kiel Arronax and the occasional inadvertent assistance of three female thieves.


Review

Ah, for what could have been. This show could have been so much better than it was. Now, Wild Arms isn't a bad show, really, but the last few episodes convinced me that it really could have been so much better overall.

This show is only twenty-two episodes long but still manages to mostly be filler. They toss a few plot episodes in around episode thirteen but otherwise the show is almost entirely filler until the last few episodes. Even after starting what seems like it is going to be the final sequence of plot episodes, they still manage to slip filler in. If this show is adapted from an RPG, you figure they would concentrate on the actual main plot of the game rather than what probably would have been in the game various random side quests to build up the characters' level.

Most of these filler episodes were entertaining enough or somewhat engaging and seem evenly spaced between the more comedic and the more serious. Though most of them also do little to really develop the characters or the world. I'm just puzzled why they seemingly stalled so much on actually getting to the main plot. When the plot finally does come, it does actually introduce a lot of interesting elements and ideas but ends up extremely rushed with many key events seeming distractingly abrupt. Considering the shorter length of the series and the fact that most of the filler isn't particularly all that important even in terms of character development (I suppose if it was it wouldn't be filler), I'm thinking they should have made this title about thirteen episodes and spaced out their central plot events a bit more evenly.

The rushed pacing seriously impacts the final dramatic impact of the show in addition to not allowing proper time to develop certain antagonist characters abruptly introduced toward the end. It was hard to get particularly worked up about the fates and actions of some of these characters when I hadn't seen them or even heard of them for the bulk of the series. Some of the final dramatic action show-downs near the end weren't as compelling for the same reasons.

Character development is decent but not outstanding. The main cast is fairly likable in their various quirky ways but besides Sheyenne the rest of the main characters don't seem much of a chance to break out of their basic archetypes that seemed based more on their video game class (card throwing sorceress, vampire-like girl) than anything else. The rest of the main cast does get at least one focus episode but they still end up seeming somewhat underdeveloped and their actions and attitudes repetitive. They were sympathetic characters but I found myself becoming a bit bored with their antics as the show progressed.

The lack of serious development for many of the side characters also highlights some of the background development problems this title also had. They introduce a lot of interesting concepts and groups with only the barest explanation of how they fit into the overall world. Even the very country they were wandering around in just didn't seem very well developed. Again, it wasn't until the last few episodes that certain facts are clarified. Everything ended up seeming very generic and interchangeable. Certain plot revelations near the end of the series would have entirely more impact if they had done a better job of realizing the world of Fargaia and bringing it to life.

In terms of the show's more technical aspects, the design work was decent, though I thought a lot of the design work tended toward more the more simple. There is a lot of action mainly related to gunplay in the show and that was generally adequately animated though not overwhelmingly impressive. I was, I admit, curiously bored in what should have been one of the climatic action encounters toward the end of the show.

The music was mostly adequate with the opening theme, though not overwhelmingly good, doing a good job of setting the general tone for the show. Most of the in-show music is fairly unobtrusive and honestly even though I just watched like eight episodes of this show a day prior to writing this review, I'm having trouble even remembering what any of it sounded like. Better unobtrusive, I suppose, than annoying like the ending theme.

While I have sounded somewhat harsh in this review, I did, overall did find Wild Arms entertaining, but just felt it wasted a lot of potential and time by focusing on so much filler. There aren't a tremendous number of "Western" anime, so I suppose people who are looking for something in that genre might want to take a look at this.

A decent enough Western adventure that might have been better if they focused a bit more on substance and plot rather than filler. While entertaining overall, it is hard to really say this show is anything but average. Jeremy A Beard

Recommended Audience: There is a lot of gun violence in this title and several people end up dying. None of it is particularly bloody with the exception of a few scenes toward the end. A bit of fan service here and there as well but pretty much no real sexual content. Overall, generally appropriate for teens and above.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (22/22)
Wild Arms - Twilight Venom © 1999 Sony Computer Entertainment / SPE Visual Works
 
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