Case Number 20467: Small Claims Court

GUN X SWORD: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

Funimation // 2005 // 650 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // January 9th, 2011

The Charge

Revenge is a dish best served with condiments.

The Case

On a planet called The Endless Illusion a mysterious man named Van (David Vincent) is seeking revenge against another man known as The Claw (Kirk Thornton). The Claw killed Van's bride at the alter and now Van is relentlessly tracking him down. He meets the petite but feisty Wendy (Jennifer Sekiguchi) who is searching for her brother Michael (Johnny Yong Bosch). Michael was spirited away by The Claw after their village was attacked.

Van treats Wendy like an annoyance at first. She's just tagging along, and not understanding that dumping every condiment you can over any type of food makes it taste better. But as they travel together, Van's heart of gold begins to show and Wendy starts to have feelings for the grumpy swordmaster. Along the way they meet up with all kinds of characters that will help or hinder them: the busty Carmen 99 (Michelle Ruff), the enthusiastic Joshua (Yuri Lowenthal), the dower Ray (Liam O'Brian) and the nimble Priscilla (Carrie Savage).

But The Claw isn't alone in his journey. With him are a group of warriors known as The Original Seven. Each is dedicated to The Claw and his cause. Each will attempt to stop Van no matter what it takes. What is the goal of The Claw? To destroy and reshape the planet into something perfect. If a few million people have to die to get there, well then so be it.

Along the way there will be giant mecha battles, huge explosions, a villain with severe mommy issues, hugs of death and some of the smallest bikinis you've seen since...well that last time you watched an anime.

The production elements of this show are excellent. All the characters fit the look you'd expect. Van is super cool looking in his black suit and hat. Wendy is super cute with her pig tails and pink turtle. Carmen is super hot with her revealing outfits and bouncing cleavage. You've got something for everyone here.

I also enjoyed the unique look of each city and land the characters traveled over. There are deserts, caves, tropical islands, hot springs (of course) and industrial complexes. Each has a great deal of detail and depth to it, making the world feel complex and existing beyond the realm of the show.

The English voice acting is superb, with all the main actors really getting into the parts and bringing a lot to the characters. Van and Wendy are the center of the story and both Vincent and Sekiguchi get to perform a wide variety of emotions and scenes and make each character's arc that much more interesting.

The music by Kotaro Nakagawa is a mixed bag. Sometimes it comes across like something from Morricone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, other times it sound like Scooby-Doo, Where are You! It supports and enhances the action in some places and is completely distracting in others.

But there is one slight problem with the show that keeps me from loving it. Anyone who's watched anime during the 1990s is going to find this all very, very, very familiar. If you've never seen Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star or Gundam Wing, or if you enjoyed those so much that you'd like to see them all mixed together without doing anything terribly different, then this show is probably one of your favorites.

But I was bored, really bored during the first half and less bored in the second half.

Here's the thing, I don't mind borrowing from other sources. If you're going to steal, steal from the best. But you need have a spark in there, a reason to tell the story. That spark can carry over into the series and take it in a new or interesting direction. But time and again, every beat of the story is perfectly obvious. Each character does exactly what you think they'd do.

This goes beyond the story construction and into the mecha design (Gundam Wing), character design (Van looks like a combo of Vash from Trigun and Spike from Cowboy Bebop), settings (Outlaw Star and Trigun are both borrowed from heavily here) and music (Cowboy Bebop again). With this much flagrant borrowing on display there are two directions you can go. Either you are making a parody of the other shows, or you are making a highly calculated attempt to cash in with a newer generation of fans who haven't seen those series yet.

That's my biggest issue, this whole thing feels calculated and cold. There is very little organic storytelling or design in this series. Now, I feel that Cowboy Bebop has similar issues. Everything in that show is targeted to be "cool" no matter how it affected the potential growth of the characters. But at least Bebop took things in unique and interesting directions. There was a spontaneity that was actually interesting, something terribly lacking in Gun X Sword.

This doesn't make the show bad, in fact the quality of the show is never in question. It's got some good moments where the story, characters and dialogue combine to make things interesting. This is especially the case once the show hits the half way mark. Some parts of the journey are fun and there are some exciting mecha battles.

But I was bored with 78% of the show and that makes it really hard to recommend.

Funimation has done a great job for fans of the series; you get the entire series of 26 episodes on four DVDs. Picture and sound is excellent and the subtitles are nice and clear. On top of that you get an entire disc of extras that include the 13 episode mini episodes Gun X Sword-san. These silly little shorts offer a shot of superdeformed madness using the characters from the series. You get the TV edit of the super racy bikini episode. You also get a ton of Japanese trailers and commercials for the series and it's CDs. There's also a neat little outtake performed by David Vincent as Van preposing to his girlfriend. Textless opening and endings round out the package.

The Verdict

Guilty of hoping the condiments will carry the show.

Review content copyright © 2011 Roman Martel; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 78

Perp Profile
Studio: Funimation
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 650 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Episode Alternate Cut
* Minisodes
* Outtake
* Japanese Trailers/TV Spots
* Clean Open/Close

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0991047/combined

* Anime News Network: Gun Sword
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4920