Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 650 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
The road to revenge is paved with ketchup, hot sauce, teriyaki and mustard.
In the planet known as the Endless Illusion, a man with a clawed hand has a strong belief that has compelled others to join his cause without even questioning his words. On the other side of the planet is a young man in a black tuxedo who prefers to drown his food with every condiment in the restaurant. This young man’s only mission is to kill the man with the clawed hand and believe me when I say that when these two people meet it will be epic. This is The Complete Series of Gun X Sword, a tale of revenge, loyalty and cute girls.
Gun X Sword’s 26-episodes have seldom a boring moment. In fact, you’ll find yourself drawn in by the characters that the story keeps things refreshingly fun even without the cool battles. We meet Van, the wanderer determined to find the Claw who murdered Van’s fiancée on the day they were going to be married. Since then, Van has been wandering Endless Illusion looking for some payback when he suddenly finds himself in the town of Evergreen where he meets another determined soul … a girl named Wendy who wields a big gun.
Wendy, we find out, is looking for her brother, Michael, who disappeared during a skirmish with some bandits. These are the same bandits the town’s people ask Van to fight and, after he does, it is Wendy who feels that they have the same mission. You see, Wendy believes the Claw kidnapped Michael so both she and Van travel together in search for them. Of course, she makes an interesting proposal to Van that is actually quite hilarious.
Together, the pair get into a number of dangerous situations such as the time they enter a bridge town where the Mayor has some dastardly plans for 300 women. In another town, Van encounters a crazy young couple who has heard of him and is looking to steal Van’s Armor. You see, Van is also what they call and Armor Rider because Van can call down an impressive mech from outer space. We find out the reasons why he has his own Armor later in the series and it’s an interesting story that connects Van with the woman he loved and a group that follows the Claw.
Along the way, Van and Wendy come across people that will come to aid them on their quest such as the sexy Carul Mendosa, AKA Carmen 99, as well as a group of old timers who operate an powerful Voltron-like Armor. They also meet a young man named Joshua who is the younger brother of an Armor Rider named Ray who is competing with Van to kill the Claw. Ray’s reasons for wanting the Claw dead are similar to Van’s but both men fight each another for the right to kill the man that murdered the women they loved. Later, they meet a competitive Armor Rider named Pricilla who joins them because she falls in love with Van and secretly becomes Wendy’s rival in love.
The closer Van gets to the Claw, the more we learn about him through the eyes of his supporters. You see, the Claw is known to these people as the Comrade who has envisioned a plan to bring happiness and peace to the planet. Everyone believes his plan is the right course of action, including members of a group called the 7 who use Armor to protect the Comrade’s vision. As they come to realize that Van is on a mission to kill their leader, the 7 begin their mission to try and stop him.
Van ends up fighting the various members of the 7, including an older man named Gadved who reveals the truth behind Van’s past and his connection to his Armor called Dann. One by one, Van defeats each member of the group while Carmen 99 focuses her attention on the 7’s female agent, Fasalina. We even learn about what really happened to Michael and his real connection to the Comrade and his plan.
While there are many lighthearted moments that slow the show’s momentum down, that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun watching the humorous side of the series. There are some silly moments such as the mentioned couple and their crazy vehicle and an over-the-top fan service episode that has all the ladies on Van’s team infiltrating a city made up of women in skimpy bikinis. It’s also fun to see each character’s quirks from Van’s peculiar way of eating to Wendy’s jealousy of all the women that come between her and Van like Pricilla.
The best part of the series comes later as Wendy and those around her come to meet the Claw only to come to the conclusion that he’s not how they imagined him to be. However, when he reveals his plans to her, it becomes clear that sometimes good intentions can be twisted into something sinister. Suddenly, Van and Wendy are joined by nearly everyone they had encountered to save the planet from the Claw’s plans in an exhilarating showdown that is actually very surprising.
While not every episode from the series is a winner, you will not be disappointed by the quality of the writing that makes the story work. Besides that, there are solid performances from both the original Japanese voice cast as well as the English dub and the animation is very easy on the eyes. FUNimation even brings us the Gun X Sword-San episodes on the fifth disc.
The Complete Series of Gun X Sword delivers on the action front but also manages to be a smartly written show with plenty to like if you enjoy the genre. Sure, I wish the epilogue could have been better but it’s hard to complain when the rest of the series is amusing, thrilling and even cool. If you like an action series served up with a great cast of characters and great animation then you really should give Gun X Sword a try. It will not disappoint.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Van is a wandering Armor Rider who stumbles on a little town where he meets Wendy, a girl who just so happens to be looking for her brother who was taken away by a man Van is looking for as well. As they journey together, Wendy discovers that Van is on a quest for revenge against a man who is planning to unleash an ultimate act of peace that could kill everyone on the planet. While the man with the clawed hand has help, Van discovers that he’s not alone on his mission either.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation in this series is actually excellent with colorful backdrops and characters that actually stand out and not just because of their outfits … although, Van looks too much like Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel. Then there are the action scenes that are handled beautifully and the Armor battles can be wonderfully flashy at times.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The voice acting for both the original Japanese and the English dub are excellent so whatever your preference is you will not be disappointed, although I have to say that Michelle Ruff as Carmen 99 sounds way sexier. The original score by Kotaro Nakagawa is nothing short of spectacular and while opening theme song isn’t bad, it’s the closing theme song, “A Rising Tide” that is simply awesome.
FUNimation brings out all the extras in a fifth disc and they are actually great extras that come in the form of the promotional Japanese trailers (all three of them) for the series as well as the commercials for its drama and music CD. There are also a few FUNimation trailers and the textless opening song.
While those are all fine, the best extras come in the form of 13-episodes of Gun X Sword-San, short comedic skits where the characters are 3D computer-generated hand puppets. It’s not really funny but, at times, it will win you over with a few good jokes and its cuteness. Then there’s the TV version of Episode 17 where all the fan service is censored. The disc also includes “David Vincent Proposal Video” where voice actor David Vincent (Van) uses a scene from the first Episode to propose to his girlfriend.
A dramatic and thoroughly entertaining action series, Gun X Sword has its good points and weaknesses but never really drops the ball when it comes to showing its viewers a really good time. On top of that, it’s easy to love all the characters including Van who is rarely cheerful. This is a revenge story with a lot to offer and does the genre justice from start to end. You really do have to check this series out, action fans.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment