Gun Sword
Volume 5 - Tainted Innocence

Starring (voice): Takanori Hoshino, Houko Kuwashima and Kyousei Tsukui
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 05 November 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 for 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...

Volume five of Gun Sword contains episodes seventeen through twenty of the twenty-six episode show. Directed by Goro Taniguchi, who also directed Infinite Ryvius and Code Geass, and with character designs by Takahiro Kimura, who did a lot of work on the various Gundam series, the show remains an interesting mix of story arc and stand alone shows. The show originally screened in 2005.

There seems to be little degradation in the quality of animation, an affliction that can affect many shows as they progress, nor has the script by Kurata Hideyuki shown any signs of flagging, continuing to produce a nice balance of drama and comedy.

Episode seventeen, Follow the X Spot, and the gang are reunited before travelling to the land of Bokini, whose only clothing appears to be bikinis. The queen has an obsession, intended to produce the perfect bikini. Of course this means that the kingdom of Bokini has no underwear after the queen's original designs were rebuffed, leading her to hate all men and their underwear. What follows is to say the least bizarre as Wendy is forced to enter a water borne contest as Camen confronts Fasalina. Overall this was a weird, but funny episode, especially when the king drops his trousers to prove his love and acceptance of her underpants designs. Thankfully, his display of affection is pixilated; I nearly spat my coffee out laughing.

Episode eighteen, Prayers are for the Saudade, and Michael Garret, Wendy's brother and one of the original seven, is trying out his new armour. Thankfully the girls have retrieved their clothes which were missing from the previous episode. Things are not well in the Claws organisation, with minions plotting to replace him. Ok, so we're back to the mains story arc. The show continues to flesh out the character of the Claw, from the original depiction of a hate figure for Van and Wendy to a complex leader of a well organised group trying to bring order to the planet, a laudable goal, until Michael is informed that the Claw intends to achieve perfect peace by eradication all the people on the planet.

Episode nineteen, Prayers End, and the gang continue their underground progress to the Claws base. When they reach a freight depot they come under attack from hostile serpent machines. Pricilla and the old guys, piloting something that bears more than a passing resemblance to a transformer, defend the ship, but being obviously outclassed Van is forced to call on Dann. Ray turns up to help out as well as Melissa and Carossa in their stolen suits. All hell breaks out.

Episode twenty, Wonderful Universe, and the ship finally arrives at what they think is the Claws base, only to find its just a relay station, but what they also find is the survivors of the insurrection. With the Claws's time of rebirth not far away, he sends Michael and Fasalina to try and convince Wendy and Van to give up their quest. With neither party willing to give up, it can only end in a fight.

The disc is presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio perfect print and comes with a reasonable variety of audio options, English 5.1 or Japanese DTS or stereo with optional signs only or full English subtitles and a good English dub track.

Gun Sword doesn't do too badly for extras, with a bunch of trailers, an art gallery and the TV version of episode seventeen. The last delightful addition is episodes nine and ten of the Gun Sword-San, which are short, five minute animations which parody the show and its characters. Who said the Japanese don't have a sense of humour.

Charles Packer

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