Xenosaga: The Animation yet another video game adaptation that could have been better than what we got.
What They Say
4,000 years after abandoning the Earth, the fate of humanity now hangs on the actions of a tiny few! Under attack by a merciless enemy from another dimension, the crew of the spaceship Woglinde must fight not only to save their own lives, but also keep a mysterious monolith with unknown powers out of the claws of mankind’s most fearsome enemy. The monolith is called the Zohar, and the evil Gnosis will stop at nothing to get it.
Enter KOS-MOS, a robotic weapon as dangerous and misunderstood as she is beautiful. Designed to protect humankind, she may be its last hope…or the instrument of it’s downfall! The hit videogame series becomes a spectacular sci-fi action event in Xenosaga: The Complete Collection!
I listened to this DVD primarily in English with a spot check on the Japanese side. The English version sound comes across as very clear. The music tends to come out a bit louder than the voices. The Japanese audio, which is 2 channel sound, overall does not sound as dynamic as the English version and the volume is overall lower.
Being released in 2005 the video quality is very good. Colors are bright and strong the only issues I found with it was during some of the CGI space scenes there was a slight rainbowing effect whenever there were large explosions and the some darker scenes looked slightly murred and blurry.
The series comes packaged in a cardboard slipcase with an image of the two leads, Shion and KOS-MOS, on the front.
There are two clear thinpacked disc cases with reverse covers. The first cover has a cast shot with the main characters in the forefront. I actually wish they made the cover to the first thinpak the cover art than the actual cover since it is a little more eyecatching. The reverse side has a sensual image of the two leads. The second DVD cover is more simplistic featuring KOS-MOS in battle mode and a character on the forefront who doesn‘t really figure into the main series that much. The reverse cover of the second DVD feature the main antagonists of the series.
On the back side of both DVDs are a listing of the episodes and few screen caps. The back cover of the boxed set makes it very clear in bold letters about the game tie in. The screenshots are aligned toward the bottom and production information on the very bottom. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of technical information so stuff like audio information, screen aspect ratio, languages, and running times are sadly absent.
The menu has a very simple and direct layout that is a static image with the episodes listed clearly for selection and all the set up options on the bottom of the screen. There is the lack of a scene selection option so if you want to skip to a particular part of the episode you have to do it within the episode. There is a nice piece of background music that repeats over the menu.
Bare bones. Textless versions of OP and ED songs . Disc 2 has Trailers and DVD credits.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Xenosaga is a familiar name for most gamers as the ill-fated strategy video game series released for the Playstation 2. This anime is an adaptation of the first video game Xenosaga Episode I. Despite owning the first game I haven’t sat down and played the video game (stupid Final Fantasy backlog) so unfortunately I can’t make too many comparisons between the game and anime.
The anime starts off simple enough on-board the Woglinde where robotics engineer Shion Uzuki is in charge of offering psych support on a type of humanoid beings called Relians and a super powered anti-Gnosis (these whale shaped alien beings) weapon battle android named KOS-MOS. Just like in the games, Shion is the focal character but it seems like the events that occur around her force her into constant observer status only to react when something does not go her way. The Gnosis presence in this series come off as being the generic enemy that pops up, destroys things, and move on. While the plot seems to revolve around the conflict with the Gnosis it eventually devolves into the questioning of “free will” amongst the android and android-type characters of the series. The first arc deals with the Gnosis attacking the Woglinde and thanks to KOS-MOS self activating it manages to rescue Shion and a few other characters who manage to survive. They escape to the space transport ship, The Elsa, and encounter a Relian girl named MOMO who was the prototype for all the other Relian girls.
Over the course of the first disc we are also introduced to a number of other characters the important ones being Kirshwasser a Relian girl created before MOMO who suffers an inferiority complex because her creator neglected her; Lt. Virgil, a marine who survives the attack on the Woglinde and hates Relians for reasons that are never properly explained in the series; Albedo who kind of falls into generic psychotic anime/video game villain and even when his back story is revealed it does nothing to help the character or his motivation; Ziggy who is MOMO’s protector and half human half robot; and Jr. another humanoid character who has a connection to Albedo and MOMO. Unfortunately even after two viewings the series suffers from sci-fi techno-babble syndrome and I feel that unless you really pay attention to every little nuance of dialogue there’s a point where it gets very grey as to what character is what type of android, robot, or whatever. Unless you Wiki the video game information there’s a lot of stuff that just leaves me scratching my head as to what its purpose was and did we really need 10 paragraphs of dialogue to explain it.
The main protagonists of the series is the U-TIC organization whose motives are to capture the Relian girl MOMO. Albedo works for the U-TIC organization and during the attack on the Woglinde he takes the other Relian girl known as Kirshwasser under his tow, and then proceeds to verbally abuses her and neglect her almost throughout the entire series. When Shion’s group ends up upon the space colony The Kukai Foundation (run by Jr. and what seems like his older brother, Gaignus Kukai) the U-TIC uses their influence and manages to accuse Shion’s group of going against the United Federation government and they are all placed under arrest. KOS-MOS is taken into custody and her memory is the one thing that can clear their name.
This leads to the one most disjointing moment in the anime where the Shion has to go into a virtual reality of sorts and ends being transported with Jr., MOMO, and Ziggy . Upon entering the virtual interface they are encountered a type of firewall that’s in the form of a bunch of giant robots and have to defeat them. It is explained to them that inside the virtual world they can imagine anything to become actualized in the computer. This leads to a ridiculous sequence where the characters kick giant meteors, become magical girls, and break out fan service kiss attacks . Now I know this series is based off a strategical role playing game but the way this specific fight was handled had me rolling my eyes and groaning for the sheer stupidity of how everything was executed. Luckily once this episode is over we returned to our normal sci-fi program and we delve into Shion and Jr’s backstories which set up their motivations for the final arc nicely and revealed the possible true nature of KOS-MOS.
The last arc of the disc pulls out every contrived anime/video game cliché in the book as MOMO is captured by Albedo and used to awaken the big “Doomsday Machine” that will call the Gnosis and destroy everything. All the characters confront him aboard this machine for the big final battle where Kirshwasser is manipulated into piloting the big bad boss robot because of her inferiority complex of not being MOMO. Shion plays a major role in convincing her back to her senses just so she can sacrifice herself while the others escape. They hurdle back down to the planet inan escape ship and as they burn up in the atmosphere in a brilliant moment KOS-MOS saves them all. The End.
There was no point where I felt I was on the edge of my seat or really cared what happened to any of the characters. The series had this constant questioning about many of the robot characters free will (KOS-MOS, MOMO, Kirshwasser, etc.) but unfortunately when the entire cast is so wooden and boring it didn’t make me feel anything for them. Even in the grand finale where KOS-MOS does something beyond her original programming I didn’t really care. The anime comes out as overall just average and while on the first viewing the constantly moving plot kept me engaged in the end I was left with the feeling of just being under whelmed. It did not help that most of the characters motivations such as Jr’s attachment to MOMO, why Shion wishes KOS-MOS had developed emotions, and Virgil’s backstory either are undeveloped or handled in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it manner. I can understand that the reasons for this is because trying to condense a more epic video game plot line into a 12 episode anime series but the writers should at least have the restraint to not bring up plot points they know will not be explored properly.
The animation itself also suffers for the majority of the series. While the first and last episodes have great budgets the middle episodes suffer from the occasionally off-model character designs which sometimes can be a bit distracting.
Xenosaga would make a good rental and I can see hardcore video game fans going for this but I would not recommend this for a casual anime viewer.
The series is paced well but the over winded explanations of the universe, lack of attachment to the characters and their situations makes the anime not very rewatchable.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Toshiba 50” 52HMX95 1080P HDTV, Samsung HT-Z410 CD Player HDMI set to 1080p and a 5.1 ch Speaker System with 166-Watt Subwoofer.