The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Xenosaga: The Animation

Title: Xenosaga: The Animation
Genre: Drama
Company: Toei Animation/TV Asahi/Happynet Pictures/Xenosage Production Committee
Format: 12 epsiodes
Dates: 5 Jan 2005 – 23 Mar 2005

Synopsis: The year is TC 4767; four millennia has passed since humanity abandoned Earth. Due to a scientific experiment gone astray, mankind is now constantly assaulted by an alien life form known as the Gnosis. In order to combat these invaders, humans have created artificial, humanoid life forms known as Realians. This technological innovation has cumulated into the creation of an ultimate battle android known as KOS-MOS. After a devastating attack by the Gnosis, a group of survivors must rely on the untested KOS-MOS in order to survive.

The Highlights
Animation: Decent but has a low frame rate.
Characters: Moderately developed but hard to like.
Presentation: Stale.

After Namco‘s enormous success with its hit game, Xenosaga, the project was adapted onto the small screen. Considering the original story was better suited for a television series, the transition seemed to be quite prudent. Ironically, the presentation was botched due to the time restraint and poor directing.

The choice of staff for this series is quite peculiar. On one hand, Takeda Yuichiro, who orchestrated the screenplay for Banner of the Stars and Infinite Ryvius, helms the script; on the other hand, Yamauchi Shigeyasu, who directed a good deal of the Dragonball Z movies, takes the role of the director. The final product blatantly shows that these two people undermined each others’ specialties.

The main problem of the series is its failure to connect the audience with the characters. It is hard to sympathize with the characters when there is no emotional attachment in the first place. It is not that the cast receives insufficient development, but it is simply that the audience is given minimal meaningful exposure to them. Little time is allocated to show the characters’ idiosyncrasies, fallacies, idiocies or anything and everything that shows the cast is actually human.

The series banks everything on the story, but it is really nothing more than a quick rehash of the game. Due to the twelve episode time constraint, many plot points are rushed, and dramatic moments quickly turn into melodrama. The creators should have slowly nurtured this massive project with at least 26 episodes, but with only 12 episodes, the creators only have time to cover the bare bones of the original story, and it painfully shows.

The animation also serves as a sore point. The background, CGI, and character animation are indeed beautiful, but they are funded by a low frame rate and lackluster choreography. A good deal of fighting literally consists of giant mechs shooting at inanimate targets. Probably the only superior aesthetic quality is the music. The series makes good use of its above par OST, but no amount of music is going to keep the audience awake through the show’s stale presentation.

No matter how one looks at it, it is obvious that Xenosaga merely tries to capitalize on the fame of the game. For the sake of the franchise, it’s best to forget this anime ever existed and get the game instead.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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