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Anime Review: Xenosaga: The Animation

Posted by representingpuroresu on 06/29/2009

While my trip to Katsucon this past February didn’t make me want to do a convention ever again (I’m too old and it wasn’t what I expected), it did help to revive my fading passion for anime a little bit and start catching up a bit. I started recently with my most recent anime pickup, one I actually saw at Katsucon and picked up recently at my local Best Buy. Now that I’ve finished it, here’s my first anime review-Xenosaga: The Animation.

xenosaga-20070619104455820-000(Textless front cover art for US box set distributed by Funimation)

The series is an anime version/adaptation of the hit Playstation 2 video game “Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille Zur Macht”. The storyline is the same in both, it goes somewhat like this: The year is AD 20XX. The setting is deep space, where aboard the Galaxy Federation starship Woglinde is stored a giant gold object known as a Zohar Emulator, or simply Zohar. The ship also houses Vector Industries’ KOS-MOS Development Project headed by Shion Uzuki (technically the main character), who is helping to develop KOS-MOS, an android battle weapon that looks like a teenage girl but houses incredibly powerful weapons. During and after the test though, Shion encounters a young girl named Nephilim, who can be seen only by Shion. Soon all hell breaks loose as mysterious alien creatures called Gnosis appear and attack the Woglinde in pursuit of the Zohar. This attack is partly orchestrated by U-TIC Organization operatives Vanderkam and Cherenkov, who wish to acquire the Emulator for their boss, Margulis. Gnosis normally can’t be seen without first exposing them to a mysterious force called the “Hilbert Effect”, and being touched by a Gnosis causes a human to “white out” and be absorbed by Gnosis, essentially rendering them dead. During this attack Shion finds herself trapped and touched by a Gnosis, at which moment KOS-MOS awakens with orders to protect Shion no matter the cost. This results in KOS-MOS going on a Gnosis killing spree and wiping out anything and everything without mercy to protect Shion-this includes wiping out several of Shion’s friends and co-workers including her co-worker Kevin, who also was the love of Shion’s life (this is shown in much greater detail in the Xenosaga Episode 3 game). Eventually the Woglinde is lost but Shion, KOS-MOS, and Shion’s co-worker Allen (who also secretly has a major crush on Shion despite her constantly rejecting him) escape and are soon taken in by the crew of the Elsa, whose band of junk salvagers-Matthews, Tony & Hammer, a regular 3 stooges of sorts-eventually become their surrogate family and their base for the rest of their travels (including the games). Before too long they meet the other key characters-the human-turned-cyborg Ziggurat 8, who asks to be called Ziggy, tasked with protecting the key to unlocking the mystery of the Zohar-the 100-Series Realian “MOMO”, who on the surface is little more than a little girl who borders on irresistably cute who just wants to see her “mother” (never seen in the anime), and fellow Realian-types Jr. aka Little Master and Gaignun, who along with twin sisters Mary & Shelley run a mysterious organization called the Kukai Foundation from Jr.’s cruiser Durandal, and finally there’s Chaos, a young boy whose very existence is a mystery (play Episode 3 if you want to know). Along the way they run into the big bad guy-Albedo, who actually goes back a ways with Jr. and wants revenge for some bad childhood experiences and has the bad French to go with it. He also has a thing for torturing Realians. He also seems to want the Zohar, so between dealing with this guy, eradicating the Gnosis threat and whatever else, Shion & company really have their hands full, but the fate of the human race is in their hands.

It’s worth nothing that if you’ve played through the game already the storyline is mainly the same but with a few differences big and small. The big: 2 characters that are killed off early in the game live a lot longer in the anime (namely Virgil, in the game KOS-MOS kills him aboud the Woglinde during the Gnosis attack, in the anime he makes it through most of the series) and there are also brief appearances by characters who have key supporting roles in the Episode 2 & 3 games but don’t appear in Episode 1 at all-Shion’s older brother Jin, his former subordinate Pellegri, as well as brief late appearances by Wilhelm (who ultimately is revealed as the character behind everything that happens in the series) and the Testaments, who are back-from-the-dead cloaked forms of killed-off characters. It doesn’t have everything that’s in the game but most of the key storyline parts are there, and the animation nicely mixes CG & 3D sequences although it’s a bit light on the 3D (similar to series I’ve seen like Galaxy Angel & Divergence Eve in terms of how it’s done). Having played through the game and pretty much knowing what to expect didn’t diminish my enjoying the series, but obviously my biggest complaint is that it only covers Episode 1 and not Episodes 2 & 3. But it’s still good for what it is, maybe a tad too intense at times especially in the second half but a solid sci-fi epic that fans of the games will enjoy.

Rating (1-10): 9 (Excellent).

Recommendation: Must-see for fans of the game.

Series details:
Originally aired in Japan in 2005. Released in US in 2007. Distributed by ADV Films and Funimation. Only difference is that ADV released it on 3 DVDs, Funimation released them as a 2-DVD box set. I have the Funimation version.
Number of episodes: 12 23-minute episodes.
Total running time: 288 minutes.
DVD features/extras: Japanese language w/English subtitles, textless opening & closing. The Funimation version also has reversible DVD slipcase front cover art (you can pull it out of the case, flip it over and there’s different art).
Rating: Not rated, although Funimation put a TV-14 rating on it. Suggested for ages 15+ (violence, suggestive themes and a couple of bad words near the end).


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