Xenosaga Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Xenosaga

Xenosaga Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 05, 2008
Release Date: January 15, 2008

Xenosaga Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Wide spread panic erupts as the merciless Gnosis are drawn to the Kukai Foundation en masse! But even as the Song of Nephilim is sung, the battle continues! As Shion and his allies organize a desperate evacuation of the civilian population, Albedo uses the ensuing terror to advance his own agenda with the capture of MOMO! Bloodied but not defeated, and now suffering from the loss of one of their own, Shion, KOSMOS and the others must now face their ultimate challenge! Can they rescue MOMO? Will the Realiens discover if they possess free will? Find out who will live or die in the climatic final chapter of Xenosaga The Animation!

The Review!
In just as confusing a way as the previous eight episodes, Xenosaga comes to a messy end, but an end with a big open door for more which certainly isn't a surprise.

The bilingual presentation for Xenosaga is quite good on both sides of the fence. The original Japanese mix is a solid stereo one encoded at 224 kbps that has some good placement across the forward soundstage. The English 5.1 mix is done up at the usual 448 kbps and it's not only louder but has a fair bit more bass to it as well. The placement isn't much different overall but it has more clarity to it and the battle scenes tend to have more impact. In listening to both language tracks throughout, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Filled with lots of bright colors and fast motion, Xenosaga tends to hold up fairly well but has some noticeable issues throughout. The main area that comes across as problematic is in the backgrounds as the animators went with a shade of blue and black that lends to a good deal of blocking with the bitrates that DVD uses. This release tends to sit in the sevens in theses areas but between the obvious gradient areas and the color choices used, it really stands out strongly. The remainder of the show tends to look good but there is also some very strong moments of line noise during the panning sequences which happen far too often and too slowly. The bulk of the show does look good with bright and bold colors that maintain a solid feel and most of the high motion sequences are problem free.

The front cover artwork goes for a cast shot this time with some good looking designs that have a sense of detail and appeal to them that the show itself doesn't have. Filled with smiles, outside of KOS-MOS at least, it's a happy looking piece that could entice someone to look a little deeper. The back cover uses a lot of this black space to let the character artwork and shots from the show stand out all the more but it also allows the area to look clean and very easy to read. The usual array of production information and basic features can be found here while the technical grid covers all the basic key information in a concise format. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for Xenosaga is simple though at least relatively in theme with the show as it features that Zohar in the center against a background of stars. Surrounding it are four shots from the episodes which also double as the navigation selections for those episodes. Add in the languages and extras along the bottom and a dash of music to it and you have a decent looking static menu. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is simple enough to navigate without problems. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

The only extras included with this release are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Xenosaga's saving grace is that it's a short series. With this volume, the twelve episode run comes to a conclusion, and I only lament that this wasn't made in the OVA heyday when it would have topped out at six episodes. At least back then it had a chance at some really good looking animation. Just barely minutes after finishing the volume, I'm stuck wondering exactly what it was all for. Such a slice of the videogame made it into anime form and with numerous changes and alterations that it's simply a big jumbled mess that's… well, there.

After all the skirmishes and the bits of explanation that have filled the series to so far, it's all coming down to the real finale which is taking on Albedo. The Gnosis, the big alien boogeyman that doesn't really seem to have a point to it just yet, is still on the attack and only getting stronger. Albedo is intent on changing everything by his actions, actions that seem to be focused on strange details at times. His seeming obsession with the Kirschwasser is one of them, though she at least has a use when it comes to his massive weapons platform that he intends to threaten Second Miltia with. All while Albedo is getting his groove going on the destructive side of his personality, everyone in the Foundation is working their hardest to try and take him down after they deal with the massive onslaught of Gnosis that have recently appeared.

The Foundation side of the show is just a mess in general and even more so after KOS-MOS made her dangerous move in the previous volume. Nobody trusts her at this point so when she starts to take the lead on events, all everyone can see is a future filled with even more destruction and their own deaths. Of course, with the cast as big as it is and ill defined, it's all given very minimal examination, especially since they're all racing to their deaths anyway with hundreds of thousands of Gnosis stomping around. The lack of any real central character to the show has made it hard to find the right narrative with it. Shion is the obvious lead as it progresses, but she gets sidelined frequently as it goes forward just because of the scope of it all. KOS-MOS certainly can't be the lead figure in all of it because of her lack of a personality and zero emotion. In some ways I'm surprised she has any lines at all.

Everything builds up towards a nice epic battle that has no emotional connection for the viewer after all that's come before it. There are some nice moments to be sure during it, such as when the Vector Industries megaship arrives out of a warp gate and proceeds to obliterate lots of useless bad guys. There are some fun moments that revolve around Albedo's ship in its design and the way the Kirschwasser gets to deal with it, and some of the battle sequences have a great science fiction/space opera feel to them, but the core problems of the series are still very much present. Right from the start of the series there was a huge disconnect that made it hard for people new to the franchise to get into it. I'd only played a few hours of Xenogears ages ago and that certainly didn’t prepare me for this. And with it supposedly being worse for fans of the games with all the changes made, I'm still at a loss as to who this was designed for.

In Summary:
The end of Xenosaga is a rarity for me in that it's a show that I was quite eager to see end. Most series I come away from thinking that they could have gone on with more stories or that they ended at the right point. Xenosaga is a show that I felt like it should never have been animated, or at least not in this form. Perhaps as a very lengthy show with time to really bring you through all the right aspects of it and with characters that you could get to know and sympathize with, we might have something with some merit to it. But in this form, and as seen across three bi-monthly releases, it just turned me off from the very first episode and never was able to get me back. Weak characters, barely passable animation and an expansive plot that was condensed and twisted from its origins, Xenosaga just got it wrong across the board.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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