Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Apr 7th 2003
DVD 3: The Return of Laila
Sheyenne, after having assisting a reforming safecracker, sees a vision of a woman from his past named Laila one night in a dream. When they arrive in the next town, much to Sheyenne's surprise, Laila appears! Unfortunately, their reunion is interrupted by a pack of assailants who are after Sheyenne's legendary ARMs. Is Laila all she seems to be? How will Sheyenne get himself out of this mess?
Video games, while easily five times as profitable as anime, have a long and painful history of being adapted for the small (and big) screen. Few anime series based on video games have been considered successful; Sony's adaptation of the hit fighting game Tekken featured characters from that series fighting dinosaurs for some reason, every animated iteration of Squaresoft's mega-popular Final Fantasy series has been met with mostly disdain from fans of the games, and even Street Fighter, seemingly the easiest game-to-anime translation, wound up being a big steaming pile of trash. Now comes Wild Arms, an anime series based on the moderately successful Sony-produced role-playing franchise. The good news is that Wild Arms is probably better than every other video game anime series out there. The bad news? It still can't hold a candle to 90 percent of everything else on the shelf.
The show begins with an attractive opening sequence, complete with very well composed and arranged music that leads the viewer to believe he may not be disappointed by the show. Then the episode starts, and all that is laid to rest very quickly. It's not that Wild Arms is horrendous by any means; it's just blindingly mediocre. Like a low-rent Trigun, the plot revolves around a boy (actually a man stuck inside a boy's body, so he can still go after the ladies and make small penis jokes) with an amazing, forbidden, and difficult to use weapon at his side. The show, like the games, aims for a neo-Old West feel, fusing science fiction and spaghetti westerns (Thank you, Back To The Future Part III. One can't help but wonder if Wild Arms would have been better had ZZ Top recorded the closing theme). The show is fairly successful in this endeavor but comes off as being a little on the generic side; the world is not very distinguished and seems to be made up of mostly scrub brush and endless wasteland. That's all well and good for traveling scenes (which make up about 50 percent of every episode in most cases), but after a while, we do get tired of seeing the same sandy-brown color over and over again.
The character designs are interesting and are loosely based on the characters found in the games. I could have done without the little pastel-colored rat characters, but the rest of the cast, while unoriginal and not wholly interesting to watch, are at least somewhat well designed and animated. The music isn't half bad either, with the notable exception of the obnoxiously grating closing theme. In terms of production values, Wild Arms gets an A for effort. Unfortunately, the show fails in the most important area: story.
Wild Arms' biggest problem is the screenwriting. The characters just aren't very interesting to watch. Personalities seem to have been picked out of a hat or decided after the character was designed (“Oh, she wears knee-high boots, she'll be a ball-buster!” “He's got an eye patch, make him dedicated and mysterious but also kinda jokey!”). The story goes nowhere fast, and the show is littered with terribly uninteresting and generic villains who are routinely going after Sheyenne and his ARMs. Sprinkle in supporting cast member after supporting cast member, and you're left with a brimming pot of unoriginal, uninteresting characters to watch. Considering this is the third DVD in the series, there's no reason the show shouldn't have picked up by now. Unfortunately, the story still meanders. The episodes are all plot, and no story; a lot of stuff happens, but does it mean anything in the end? No, not really.
If you're a big fan of the Wild Arms game, you might get a kick out of the series. The production values are pretty high, and there's enough here to keep someone entertained for an hour or so. I can't imagine watching all 26 episodes, since the story wanders so much and never seems to really go anywhere. To top it off, the characters are dreadfully uninteresting. Wild Arms might be the best of the video game to anime genre, but that really isn't saying a whole lot. Better luck next time, Sony.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C-
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : A
+ Good production values, entertaining enough for a short while
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