Endless Illusion. A planet that seems to attract drifters and rouges from far and wide, a world blessed with the technology of tomorrow but with a vision and style routed in the American Wild West. Van of the Dawn goes by many names, and despite his dark swallowtail armour and liquid metal sword that can alter shape on command, he is as much a down and out drifter as the next homeless bum. Seemingly simple of mind, slow of speech yet skilled in action, Van stumbles around aimlessly in search of the next meal or glass of milk.
However, as a certain Wendy Garret, captive in a besieged town is soon to find out, there is more to Van that meets the eye. He is on a mission, a mission so desperate and ruthless that nothing must get in his way. He is on a quest for revenge, and the man with the claw hand SHALL pay!
GUNxSWORD is a 26 episode long anime series produced by AIC A.S.T.A and directed by Goro Taniguchi, the man who has brought such classics as Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed, Planetes and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion to our screens.
It tells the story of a mysterious fighter that goes by the name of Van who happens to pilot a immensely powerful humanoid combat Armour by the name of Dann of Thursday. However, he does appear to be short a few screws and his attitude towards money, work, food and people leaves a lot to be desired. However, as the story unfolds and more and more characters get added to the mix, we learn of the personal tragedy that drives him forward on his quest for absolutel revenge.
The other main protagonist is Wendy Garret, a young girl who gets rescued by Van and who then joins him on her own quest to find her missing brother – who happens to have been kidnapped by the same man that Van is after. Together they encounter many enemies and battles, and Wendy slowly begins to learn her own place in this world.
Of course, this story of revenge wouldn’t be quite so grand (despite the giant fighting robots of course) if we didn’t have a story line of planet destructing consequences of course, and as the series unfolds, we get introduced to such a story element that in the end drives the entire show forward. In fact, the writers behind the show do an incredibly good job of introducing and entwining the various story threads together until we are left with an absolutely epic story of mass proportion.
At first glance, a person can’t help but compare GUNxSWORD with classic shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Trigun – in fact the first couple of episodes leave this bad taste in your mouth because you can’t help but wonder if they are deliberately copying some of the greatest anime works ever produced. However, as the series progresses, these thoughts are quickly quelled as GUNxSWORD strives to create its own unique identity and make a name for itself. (However, that all said, I still think that if you want to compare it with any other anime out there, then Trigun would be your closest bet).
For the early half of the show, much of the writing tries to push a humorous action story at us (in pretty much an identical fashion as Trigun did), with a lot of situational comedy, exaggerated circumstances and some breathtaking mecha fight scenes. However, as the series matures, the writing takes on a far more dramatic turn and although some of the humour elements are maintained, the story becomes far more mature and established.
The story itself turns out to be as epic as any big action/adventure/sci-fi saga should be and you will find yourself thoroughly enjoying the series as a whole, particularly as the various story elements begin to pull together and then sock you with an absolutely perfect ending to what arguably has been a quality, action-packed ride.
Visually, GUNxSWORD does not disappoint. Extremely detailed and excitingly planned mecha are a treat for the eye, and Endless Illusion’s seeming obsession with the Wild West theme makes for some different and enjoyable backdrops and crowds. The character models all ooze personality, though Van definitely takes the cake in this department. A design very reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop with just a whole lot more coolness added in for good measure, Van stands apart as the title character of the show.
And while the mecha look breathtakingly gorgeous, it would have meant nothing if the action animation hadn’t been up to scratch. Luckily GUNxSWORD doesn’t disappoint and the action sequences are extremely fluid, well planned and bring about a sense of high impact.
The show isn’t particularly overly graphic, but you do begin to notice towards the end of the show that the deaths start to become a little more graphic and less implied than what they were in the beginning of the show.
The sound track to GUNxSWORD is just as polished as the visuals, with the sound effects standing out as particularly well done as well. On the voice acting front though, I have to declare that the guy who voices Van must be one of the worst male voice actors I have ever heard in anime. I’m guessing he is doing the voice in an uninterested way as he has been told to do, but honestly, Van comes across as nothing short of grating and you’ll find it particularly difficult to sit through any lengthy dialogues he might have. Luckily the rest of the voice actors do a pretty standard job with the roles, so you might be able to overlook this one.
Overall, GUNxSWORD turns out into one of those really explosive, fast-paced anime adventures you should watch, particularly if you enjoy high-paced mecha action tempered with a lot of silly humour and a story of epic proportions to boot. However, you must not go into it comparing it to existing anime titles such as Trigun or Cowboy Bebop, because you will then be left cursing it the whole way through. Trust me, GUNxSWORD quickly carves out its own story if you stick with it long enough, and it is more than worth the ride. A story about revenge and the aftermath thereof, GUNxSWORD is certainly one of those …buried treasures’ from 2005.
Related link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4920