Part western, part sci-fi, and lots of fun, Gun X Sword has been around for a while. Back in the day it was a license held by Geneon, but more recently the license shifted to FUNimation. With all 26 episodes presented on five DVDs, there's plenty of reason to check this show out.
Gun X Sword was originally released in Japan in 2005. It was an original production of AIC A.S.T.A., meaning it wasn't based on a light novel or manga, which is rather rare these days. It's a risky venture to be sure since one never fully knows how a product is going to do on the market until the waters are tested. The risks paid off, however, and the show winds up being a blast. Sure, it's not perfect, mind you, but it's still a good watch.
The show begins with the introduction of Van, a lanky, mysterious traveler with a history he more or less keeps to himself. Eventually over the course of the series pieces of his personality and background come to fruition. While condiments are a favorite of his, the most interesting thing about him is the fact that he's nigh-immortal due to his connection with an Armor (mecha) named Dann. It's a fearsome sight to behold when Van and Dann get together, but the show plays this aspect rather straight. It's never campy or far-fetched. After all, though there are humans, this is another planet so naturally there are some things out of place (like a bad guy that uses his moustache as an extra pair of hands).
As interesting a protagonist as Van is, the show gains momentum by focusing on the other characters and how they all work together. Wendy is a young girl who is looking for her missing brother. She winds up traveling with Van early on in the show, and becomes a solid grounding element for his character. Likewise Carmen 99 is a busty, Faye Valentine-like sidekick that shows up at key points. She and Van have a history together and the screen lights up when they are together. There's an antagonist here, but he's more mysterious and reclusive than even Van is (which is quite a bit), though his actions spread across the world.
The basic story to Gun X Sword is that Van has a vendetta against the man with the golden claw. It's a tale of revenge wrapped in a strange world with even more enigmatic characters. The flow of the series follows as Van and Wendy, and sometimes Carmen, travel from town to town, deal with a local issue and make friends along the way. The show is episodically paced, but it doesn't really grow tiresome. There's a great personality here and waiting for one parody or another as Van's journey progresses is one of the joys.
Gun X Sword is packed with action, a great sense of humor, and a style that riffs on other shows. There are easy comparison to Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and some others, but really the show eventually has a style all its own. It's a blast to watch and it doesn't require much investment from the viewer. This is a light, pop-corn munching kind of anime, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you haven't seen it before, it's totally worth picking up, especially since this new collection is rather affordable.
Gun X Sword is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks fantastic with a vibrant palette, clean lines, and fluid animation. The designs of the show really stand out from an artistic standpoint, and they contrast the often barren environments nicely. There are occasional examples of compression and grain in this transfer, but they aren't nearly enough to detract from the experience.
Gun X Sword is something of a unique release in the sense that it includes 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks for both English and Japanese. What's extra surprising is the inclusion of a Japanese 5.1 DTS track as well. It's so rare to see a release with 5.1 Japanese, since we usually only get the original language in a 2.0 native. There's some nice bass here and the rear channels get a decent workout during the action sequences. Both casts do an adequate job as far as acting is concerned as well.
The bonus features on this collection are plentiful. Trailers, TV and CD commercials, an alternate episode, and clean animations are available here for perusing. There's also a cute and lively 13 episode omake named Gun X Sword-San and a proposal video with the voice actor for Van popping the question to his girlfriend.
Gun X Sword may feel familiar in many ways, but the show truly comes into its own early on. It's funny, entertaining, packed with action, and offers loads of personality and charm. It's not the greatest show ever made, but it's totally worth picking up and adding to the collection. Consider this one highly recommended.
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