Critic's Log - Earthdate: December 17, 2012. Review #26: Gun x Sword
Revenge is a double-edged sword. It often leads justice to either one's self or for others. It can also lead to ruin to one's self after the quest for revenge is complete. It is never a happy tale and the path to revenge may even lead to bloodshed. Revenge is a dish that should never be consumed. With that said, let's activate the review for Gun x Sword.
Equipped with a metal sash that straightens into a sword, the lanky swordsman Van is traveling through the hot desert, searching for the mysterious clawed man who killed his bride. Along the way he picks up a fellow traveler: Wendy, a young girl whose town he saves from bandits by summoning a giant mech with his sword. These giant mechs are referred to as "Armors". Wendy is searching for her missing older brother, whose engraved gun she carries on her back. In their mutual quest they run into more bandits and villains, a mysterious woman named Carmen99, and more Armor battles along the way.
To be technical, this is a AIC A.S.T.A production and they don't do many well-known animes but they are a decent studio that actually made this show look pretty good for the most part. The animation looks good for the most part but some action scenes could have looked better but it wouldn't distract the viewer all too much. Also, the "X" in the title is not part of the pronouncination. It is pronounced "Gun Sword"
The music by Kotaro Nakagawa is decent in Gun x Sword. The opening theme is nice to hear and I actually like how the anime changes from time to time to show new characters and to show if the character is still alive or dead. The closing themes are alright too. I should note that Kotaro Nakagawa composed the music for Planetes, an anime I keep hearing is very good. At the time I am reviewing this, I have never seen Planetes but I plan on watching it and reviewing it someday. Nakagawa-san also composed both seasons of Code Geass which the soundtrack to that show is pretty epic for his career. I don't have much to say about the music in Gun x Sword, I thought it was okay but not something to write home about.
When it comes to voice acting, The japanese cast is a solid listen but the English dub is casted well in Gun x Sword. Before I get to that, here are some worthy roles in the subbed version. Kikuko Inoue is pretty good as Carmen99. Saeko Chiba is also good as Priscilla. Takahiro Sakurai is also nice to hear as Ray. Masaya Onosaka even plays Kaiji and he was pretty good in that one. Houko Kuwashima is also good as Wendy. I didn't watch the whole thing subtitled but partially watched it in that version. Van's the only character I kind of didn't like his Japanese voice to, I'm not saying Takanori Hoshino is a bad seiyu. I just think his English voice fit the role spot-on. This is why I stuck with the dub on this one because it is performed surprisingly well. David Vincent is terrific as Van. Stephanie Sheh plays a really good role as Wendy. Liam O'Brien plays the rogue Ray quite nicely. Michelle Ruff brings the sexy charm to Carmen99 which fits. Carrie Savage plays Priscilla nicely. Michael on the other hand is voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch and I find this to be one of his more under-appreciated roles because he played his role quite believably. Karen Strassman deserves some credit for playing her role without sounding off at times. There were some good roles she played that sounded off a couple times and I usually get worried when her name gets brought up in a new dub, this is a role that doesn't have that problem. She was good as the flirtatious Fasalina. Yuri Lowenthal is okay as Joshua but it could've been a bit better. Kirk Thornton does deserve some ample praise for nailing the villian role spot-on. Kirk Thorton is terrific as The Claw (no, not the same "Claw" from Inspector Gadget). Liam O' Brien was the one behind the voice directing for the dub and he did pretty good at casting these characters, it's no wonder I like the dub on this anime.
When it comes to characters, the characters are mostly fine except I find the character development to be quite lacking in some areas. Wendy develops nicely throughout the whole show. Carmen99 also develops nicely to some degree. Ray is like Van except with a personality difference. Michael was interesting as the show progressed. Priscilla is alright, Joshua is alright. The two characters that I had a problem with are Van and The Claw. Don't get me wrong with Van. I actually like the character to some degree. What bugs me a bit about Van at times is that he has two things that you'll see throughout the show. First is that when he's hungry, he'll ask for whatever food he wants with all the condiments that the resturant has. To be honest, I don't think that would taste very good. Speaking about condiments, I have some friendly advice for you.
Secondly, he gets easily angered once he hears about the Claw, or fighting someone that is part of The Claw's group, or even The Claw himself. The whole eating habit is unique to Van but the anger thing is just a trope that's been used before. What I keep hearing about Van is that people compare this guy with either Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop or Vash The Stampede. Spike Spiegel sure... if you look at his head that is, but Spike was a bit more sophisticated than Van. Thinking back on Vash the Stampede, he did lose someone he cared about but this person wasn't his bride so the whole comparison thing can be a bit misunderstood. Van develops to some degree but his character development is a bit shallow compared to others which kind of is a slight letdown for me. Besides that, the other character I had a problem with is The Claw and I have a bigger beef with this character more than Van. Early on in the show, It's been hinted that The Claw murdered Van's bride and Ray's wife. Throughout the series, The Claw turns out to be an old man. For the most part, he is portrayed as a nice man that shows kindness and goodwill, but he really is a crazy old man and it's not shown all too well to make him a great villian. The Claw really had potential on that. Van and The Claw are not as well developed as I had hoped. That's one problem I had with the show.
Another problem I had with Gun x Sword is the story at times. I did not like Episode 6 all that much. The first episode tends to get mixed reactions at times and I don't blame those that didn't like the first episode of Gun x Sword. I thought the first episode could've been better, but this is a kind of anime that you shouldn't judge from the first episode because it does pick up a bit after. I will say that the show was a bit boring throughout the first 6 or 7 episodes. When the Claw does get introduced, that's when the series does pick up. This anime does require a bit of patience throughout the series. The story is pretty average but the animation is above average fof this anime. If the story's slow pace and some shallow character development wasn't enough, I will say the biggest gripe I have with this anime is how the show wraps up everything. Michael was a pretty interesting character and he gets wounded on the arm and falls down and Fasalina goes toward him. Carmen99 decides to leave and let them be only to follow with a loud sound which turns out that Fasalina and Michael get crushed by a giant boulder. Michael's send-off is anti-climatic and I was disappointed that he leaves off this way. Not only that, there is never a scene where Wendy learns that her brother is dead. Michael was never mentioned after that scene either. The biggest problem I had with the final episode is how it ends. Van decides to say farewell to his companions which was a nice scene. The final scene involves Wendy talking to a reporter and then Van enters the building and asks if there's food and milk and Wendy is a bit shocked to see Van, Van sort of replies as if he's confused. Then the show ends. I did not like the ending that much and I felt the final episode as well as the ending was a bit half-assed. But to be honest, this is a pretty average show for the most part and it's not mostly terrible. There are a few surprises in the show as well. If you get far in the show. There's an episode that I would usually refer to as a "Fanservice" episode, because the majority of this one episode does show the female characters wearing bikinis. The episode ends in such a ridiciously over-the-top fashion that I will not mention because you really have to see it for yourself. Another moment is when Fasalina kisses Michael, that's not the surprise, what follows is them having sex, it's not too explicit but to a certain angle it really looks obvious. I'm surprised the show got away with it too. I didn't see that particular scene coming (Gee, what I said just now seemed a little suggestive, hehehe) Anyway, this is an anime that has its flaws and it found an audience to some degree. I just think comparing this anime with Cowboy Bebop or Trigun is a bit of an over-statement. At least, Goro Taniguchi directed a decent anime.
Gun x Sword used to be available through Geneon, they went under a while back but this anime was rescued and re-licensed. This anime is available from Funimation. An omake series called "Gun x Sword-san" was released alongside the volumes of the show back then and it's all in one disc in the Funimation release. I can't highly recommend the omake compared with the show. It's worth a try but I have no interest in it which is why I'm not recommending it too highly.
With all that said, Gun x Sword is your typical average anime that may be worth checking out but don't get your expectations too high. It does have a slow start but picks up eventually. It has decent action scenes, some funny humor, some interesting characters, a decent soundtrack, and nice looking animation. This may not be everyone's cup of tea due to its slow start but if you're willing to go further until half of it goes by, there's a chance you'll might like it. If the first 5 or 6 episodes got you to the point that you stopped watching it, you're not really missing out on too much I guess. Gun x Sword-san is a little unnecessary but the Proposal Video by David Vincent that he made for his "at the time Girlfriend" was really classy and a nice extra feature. I enjoyed Gun x Sword for what it is but the flaws in the show do stick out like a sore thumb. All I can say is that some people might like it, some people won't.
I give Gun x Sword a 7.2 out of 10, It is GOOD!
Feel free to comment below and practice safe eating!