Gun Sword
Volume 1 - Endless Illusion

Starring (voice): Takanori Hoshino, Houko Kuwashima and Kyousei Tsukui
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 05 March 2007

The land of Endless Illusion is a lawless place where heaven and hell collide, spewing forth degenerates of every type. The land is full of Coleridge dreams, whilst the urban areas are morally corrupt and violent. Through this land roams a wanderer with a past. Van is looking of The Claw Man, the man who killed his wife. His lonely existence is changed when he meets Wendy, a young girl who has lost both her parents and her brother. Together they travel Endless Illusion in search of answers...

Gun X Sword (the "X" is silent) is a twenty six episode anime series from 2005. Directed by Taniquchi Goro (Planet ES, Code Geass), from a script by Kurata Hideyuki (R.O.D TV) with character design by Kimura Takahiro (Godanna).

The first thing that you notice about the show is just how gorgeous it looks. The animation is very reminiscent of the work done by Studio Ghibli, which gives you an idea of the level of detail and great colour pallet which appears here - visually this is a high quality anime. The plot, however, has yet to find its own voice. For fans of shows like Trigun, you'll find yourself in very familiar territory, so familiar that you wonder that the similarity in the protagonists names - Vash becomes Van - isn't all coincidence. Even the long trench coat look is repeated.

The Planet of Endless Illusion is a cross between the Wild West and a more contemporary environment, contemporary except for the introduction of the mechanised fighting suits.

Episode one, Tuxedo Blowing in the Wind, introduces the main characters as Van enters the dusty town of Evergreen, only to stumble across an old fashioned killing. Wendy, a young girl, is facing off the local thugs, in her quest to find out what happened to her brother, who disappeared a week previously. Following her rescue, and the rescue of the town from the psychotic Lucky Roulette, Van and Wendy leave town to start their adventures together.

So, not a bad opening episode, the voice acting is credible and the overall impression is that, whilst yes, we've all seen this before, it's too early not to give the show a chance to turn its back on its Trigun big brother and find something that is uniquely its own.

Episode two, Funny Stream, and the action moves away from its western roots to explore its urban sci-fi themes, when Van and Wendy arrive at Bridge City where they run into an old friend of Van's - Camen 99. When Wendy is abducted Carmen helps Van get her back.

The second episode starts to show the growing relationship between Van and Wendy. Wendy is obviously enamoured with Van while he tries to do the hard man stand-offish gig, which, of course, the audience can see straight through.

Episode three, Heroes One More Time, and Wendy and Van pitch up at the Pink Amego restaurant where, due to their exploits in the previous two episodes, they are hailed as heroes by a group of old timers, who spend their time reminiscing about the past.

The ultimate episode on the DVD is And the Rain Kept Falling. Poor old Wendy is still dragging Van around, having fallen into a fever following a fight. Wendy, desperate to find him some medicine, goes off to find some help, little knowing that Van can heal himself and her angel of mercy trip will end badly for her.

Extras for the disc are a little above average for an anime. For your hard earned dosh you get the TV commercials for the first two episodes, a limited art gallery and the creditless opening and closing sequence.

Audio is either English or Japanese 5.1, with a Japanese stereo track and subtitles thrown in for good measure.

Overall, a good introduction to this new show let's just hope that as it progresses it doesn't just turn out to be a Trigun or Cowboy Bebop clone.

Charles Packer

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