Genre: Action/Drama
Format: 26 episodes
Allegiance: AIC A.S.T.A.
Director: Goro Taniguchi
Vintage: 2004
Intelligence Agency Report by: Tremolo
Wake up, Dann!!Welcome to the planet Endless Illusion, a strange world where mecha called �Armors� are commonplace. Lanky swordsman Van is out for revenge. Wandering from place to place after the Claw Man, who killed his bride, he picks up fellow traveller Wendy, a young girl who is looking for her missing older brother. Wendy soon learns that Van has the ability to summon an Armor from outer space, which he uses to reluctantly fight. On their travels, they meet the mysterious Carmen99 and Ray Langlen, a man also seeking revenge against Claw Man.

Field Agent Report by: Tremolo
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
4.00
5.00
5.50
8.00
8.50
Overall 5.00
(not an average)

There’s nothing worse than an anime series with wasted potential, especially when the director of said anime is responsible for such past hits as Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed and Planetes. Indeed, such a track record was my main impetus for actually watching GunxSword, which I have to confess I would probably have completely ignored otherwise. Twenty-six episodes later, I really wish I had.

GunxSword doesn’t actually start off too badly. The first few episodes are very entertaining and endearingly daft, with a host of odd, one-shot villains that shouldn’t be taken seriously for an instant. The unadulterated star of this parade of bizarre is quite clearly the first episode’s villain; a man with an orange afro who shrieks �LUCKY!� all the time. This is the kind of series GunxSword is, and I was quite content to switch my brain off and revel in the goofiness. Unfortunately, GunxSword begins to fall apart when you realize it’s not in fact some sort of wacky Trigun parody but is actually taking everything deadly seriously.

Whilst the series gets increasingly irritating towards the end of the first half, it absolutely collapses in the second. You just can’t have a pink mecha with the head of some kind of deformed cat with machine guns in its ass, nor have a mecha that is being controlled by a pole-dancing woman and strive for serious drama – it just doesn’t work like that. All too often, genuinely cool scenes are offset by incredibly stupid moments that used to be refreshingly quirky earlier on in the series. To add insult to injury, the actual plan of the main villain is quite simply the most insultingly ridiculous thing you could ever hope to imagine – any goodwill I had left with the series positively evaporated when it was revealed.

This would all be salvageable had the characters not been a bunch of clichéd dullards, but that’s sadly not the case. Main character Van comes across as a more bad-tempered cross between Vash the Stampede and Spike Spiegel, whilst Wendy is such a bog-standard young anime girl it’s hard to find her interesting at all. The series wouldn’t be so bad if it had stuck to just Wendy and Van’s adventures with some characters reappearing down the line, but instead the second half is overloaded with far too many useless characters that add absolutely nothing to the storyline and are so badly-developed you find yourself starting to hate them for no particular reason.

Still, it’s not all bad. The animation is always consistently colourful and fluid with some decent CGI here and there and the character designs are quite attractive. Even better is the music, with some wonderful vocal pieces and an absolutely incredible opening theme that really belongs to a much better series than this. And, if you do decide to watch this anime, there are a few genuinely entertaining and funny episodes in amongst all the dross. If there weren’t, I certainly wouldn’t have found the energy to slog to the end.

In the end, I just can’t recommend GunxSword. It’s a prime example of an anime series that tries to be both quirky and serious at the same time and simply fails in finding the right balance. A few moments made me smile, some even made me laugh, but it’s just not nearly enough in the end.