Wild Arms: one of Bee-Train’s lesser known series. Of course, anyone who even remotely knows this site probably knows that I’m a huge fan of said production-company, even though it’s after Gonzo the most hated producer out there. The same goes for Wild Arms: it seems that most of the reactions to this series were rather negative (shown by very low overall ratings on sites as AniDB, MyAnimeList and ANN), and yet I absolutely loved it.
Wild Arms is typical Bee-Train: it’s a travelling series, where the first half is spent on random unrelated stories, with a plot and character-development in the second half. It’s a solid set-up, and Bee-Trian has proven over and over that it works, despite the obvious disadvantages. If you hate fillers with the burning intensity of 1000 suns, then don’t even think about watching series, because there’s no overall plot whatsoever in that first half.
Still, both halves have their own advantages. The first half may not get anywhere in terms of plot progression, but the creators make the individual stories so much fun to watch, that this doesn’t really matter. You often see series struggle when they need a standalone story to fill one episode (with often a rather cheesy result), but the creators know exactly how to make such a thing work. The stories often centre on characters, whose actions are completely against any logical reasoning, and the fun is to see what drove them to these actions. Especially as the series goes on, the creators become bolder, and start to experiment with a number of hilarious plot-twists, with as my favourite an episode that can only vaguely be described as “Baccano: The Abridged Episode”.
The different main characters are all fun and original, from the strange creatures called “Popepi Pipepo” (who for once don’t try to be overly cute) to the big tough scientist to the 25-year-old main character who got stuck in the body of a 10 year old kid. All the characters have many sides and traits to them, making them a delight to watch and they set themselves apart from any stereotypes immediately.
As the series hits its second half, the fun adventures unfortunately mostly disappear, and instead a serious storyline appears. I feared that this would be the point where this series would fall flat on its face, but it actually gets away with its storyline pretty decently as the storyline evolves into an interesting post-apocalyptic mystery setting. Again, the characters can be blamed for making it turn out so well, because they’re all neatly fleshed out and stay far away from stereotypes.
Of course, this series does have some major flaws. It takes a lot of artistic liberties, resulting into a lot of plot-holes. Especially the plot-hole that plagues 95% of all other anime (characters who coincidentally just “run” into each other) gets rather taken into the extremes here when the main characters just keep meeting each other over and over. It’s like the creators were saying: “don’t mind this, we just want to tell our story”. The ending of the series also fails to answer a few burning questions. So yeah, this isn’t really the most solid series.
If you’re wondering whether you’ll enjoy Wild Arms or not, I think you need to ask yourself this question: did you enjoy El Cazador? If you did, then you’ll probably like Wild Arms. There are no lesbians or stalking psychopaths, but the basic set-up is the same, although Wild Arms is more geared to its storyline. Overall, Wild Arms was for me a very enjoyable series to watch with an excellent cast of characters. Oh, and let’s not forget the awesome soundtrack. ;)