Posted on 5 February 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Bonen no Xamdou

Bones’ latest series is one full of ambition. Aired on the PS3-network, Bonen no Xamdou tells the epic story of a war between two warring countries, centred around a bunch of different main characters and some of the most amazing production values. While not everything went well for this series, and it’s got quite some big flaws here and there, it gets so many points for trying.

What makes this series so awesome is how it prefers natural progression of story-lines above forced climaxes, especially in the first three quarters of the series. Instead of focusing on battle after battle, the creators let everything flow very smoothly, with especially care to flesh out the world that this series takes place in. Akiyuki, the lead character, while he’s a typical teenager at the beginning of the series soon grows into someone as far from your average lead character as you can get. While the story focuses on him, he hardly ever stands in the centre of attention, and instead various of the side characters get to play the hero-part.

This allows for a unique storyline with a fantastic attention to detail that’s the closest to the levels of Seirei no Moribito that I’ve seen so far. The characters also live in a very imaginative world that’s very interesting to explore, with lots of new concepts and ideas. Things like Hirukos, Humanforms and Xam’ds are nice takes on the usual superpowers and super-weapons that you usually see.

The problem, however, is that even though this series is an incredibly solid one, it’s also a series that bit off a bit more than it could chew. The 26 episodes are way too short in order to fully develop everything that’s in this show, and the results of this start showing up in the final quarter of this series. It features the one big climax after the other, but when you look at the big picture it just feels lacking and incomplete because the different settings and characters couldn’t be fully developed. As a result, characters pull random powers and plot twists out of nowhere and big deaths that would make lots of emotional impact with the right amount of development and foreshadowing simply feel like they could have been done better.

In terms of production values, however, this series is really as good as it can possibly get, especially for such a relatively long series. Because the series originally wasn’t aired on local TV, it didn’t have to spend a lot of money on the broadcasting rights, and all of this excess money was put into the series’ animation, with some absolutely gorgeous results. The animation is consistently through 26 episodes of top-notch HD quality, characters are very expressive and every single one of the many action scenes are simply godly animated.

So overall, there’s plenty of great stuff left in this series, but at the same time I’m also a bit bitter: if it had simply gotten more episodes, this really could have been a contender for the best series of the year, possibly the decade. It would have been truly outstanding in every aspect, while right now it’s simply a well written but incomplete series that has a rushed finale.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 10/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Bonen no Xamdou’s finale.
Episode Rating: 7/10 (Enjoyable)
Well, there we have it. This unique series is finished at last, even though the finish comes way too soon. Still, this episode did a good job of providing closure to the different characters, so while not a great ending, it wasn’t a bad or rushed either.

But let me first focus on the one big disappointment of this episode: Akiyuki. What the heck was up with him? His character had so much potential in this series, and yet his death felt so… insignificant. It’s the main character everyone should be caring about, and yet when he died, I was more interested in Yango. But that would have been excused if not for the incredibly blatant deus ex machina that the creators pulled at the episode. I really expected better from this series…

Okay, now the good stuff. The characters I really liked in this episode was the Zanbani crew minus Benikawa and Yango. Not haru, or any of the other main characters, only they were the ones who received good closure in this series. I think that that’s the result of the very strong first half of this series, and all of the attention it focused on fleshing out their characters, and with that I suddenly realize how little we came to know about the rest of the cast.

I’m not really sure what kind of rating I’m going to give this show at this point. At one side, this show had some really good points and parts, but on the other hand it would have been so much better if it were longer. I’m not sure who found it a good idea to only give this series a scope of 26 episodes, because that sole decision caused this series to simply become a great series, instead of the incredible, genre-breaking one that it could have been. I remember how Eureka 7 also had some pacing issues, but at least that one had enough time to fully flesh out its characters for its amazing finale, while in comparison I’m going to remember Bonen no Xamdou’s final quarter, despite its godly animation, as the weakest part of this series.

Posted on 29 January 2009 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Akiyuki vs. the Hiruken Emperor
Episode Rating (that “overall entertainment value” was beginning to sound cheesy…): 8/10 (Excellent)
So far, an excellent finale, if only because the animation surpassed itself this episode yet again. That fight scene between Akiyuki and the Hiruken Emperor was downright beautiful. This episode also worked really well on the emotional level. The big question is obviously going to be: can everything in this series come together in that final episode? We’ve already seen that this series is great at building up, but is it also good at a conclusion?

Now that the series has reached nearly its ending, it’s time to start looking at the overall picture. I think that the big flaw of this series is that there wasn’t enough time put into all the different kinds of ideas that the creators put into the setting. While the creators focused a lot on the setting in terms of the effects that war can have, even the battles that look small on a large scale will have people losing their lives. Though the whole deal with the Xam’d and Hiruken Emperor could have been more fleshed out. Ideally, this should have been a series with 39 episodes. Because of that, this episode had quite a few random powers being pulled out of thin air, most notably Sannova’s plans to solve everything. In the end, this isn’t the next Seirei no Moribito, though it’s one of the closest I’ve seen to it.

And yeah, it seems that Furuichi is really dead now, otherwise the creators would have at least shown some hints that the guy is still alive. I personally love it when creators pull these random deaths were it only becomes clear that the person in question is dead afterwards. Seriously, more people should play with the Golden Rule of Anime like that. Still, talking about deaths. I do hope that the creators aren’t killing just for the sake of it. This episode, yet another one goes down, but the meanings of each of those deaths are getting more and more insignificant. Especially since all the cute girls seem to be the ones who are going to survive in the end while most of the adults are getting killed off like flies.

Posted on 22 January 2009 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: This episode is all about Midori
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10 (Excellent)
This episode was quite an interesting take on the “calm before the storm”-trope. The big climax of this series has definitely still to happen: the Zanbani and Kujireika have yet to even arrive at the village of the Quickening Chamber, and yet this episode formed an excellent conclusion for the Midori-storyline. We’ve already seen that Xam’ds can be pulled out of despair with the right catalysts, so of course the same would happen with Midori. The past few episodes have been a bit too generous on the death count, so it’s good to see that people actually survive, despite the predictability.

It really seemed that Midori never really got to say a proper goodbye with her mother, and it also seems that the communication between the two wasn’t going well. Because of that, Midori always felt a big gap between the two of them, since she didn’t know what to say at the right time and her mother was an impatient person.

I´m really curious as to whether this series can pull off a worthy finale. It might seem obvious that series that are slow and focus a lot on build-up will automatically feature excellent climaxes, but as series as Ghost Hound showed, this isn’t always trivial. It’s all going to depend on how the creators are going to interpret the fight between Akiyuki and the Hiruken Emperor, and whether they can throw in some juicy plot twist that fit within the series and make the ending rushed.

In any case, the animation in this episode was so awesome. I’m not sure where Bones got the budget for this series, but it’s one heck of a budget well spent.

Posted on 15 January 2009 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: The Southern Government launches its attack on the village where the Xam’ds are gathering.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10 (It’s finally beginning!)
Woo! It’s finally time for this series’ finale to start, and amazingly, every single plot and character is starting to come together again. The only one we’re still missing here is Furuichi, and I wonder whether the guy is going to show up in the end, or whether the creators really killed him off. Still, this series is definitely something else, when it’s been so well planned.

So, the Zanbani is finally airborne again, Nakiami and Yango finally arrived at the battlefield, the Hiruken emperor finally awakened due to a screw up from Benikawa, and Midori also was released on the battlefield at the end of the episode. All that’s left to wonder is what Akiyuki and Haru are going to do there. Something really tells me that the creators have saved their biggest parts for the end of the series, and smartly kept them away from most of the action, in order to prevent them from becoming clichéd lead characters, which always have to be at the centre of everything. And I must say, that it works really well. What I love of the two of them is that they complement each other’s weaknesses: Haru has received military training, so she’s more capable of handling the flying bikes and all, while Akiyuki is more mature and mentally stable, so he can give her support on that area.

But the big event of this episode was of course Raigyo’s death, and again I really liked the subtlety of that scene. It was just of the right length, and while emotionally powerful it didn’t go through huge lengths to squeeze some extra tears out of it, or making Raigyo into one of these characters who takes forever to die. That scene was of just the right length, and on top of that it also showed a bit of Benikawa’s background.

With three episodes left, the finale is one that promises to go all out. I really wonder how that one’s going to work out, when everything that this series has built up is finally coming together.

Posted on 8 January 2009 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Akiyuki’s father meets Kakisu at the Sentan Island war memorial and MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10 (Excellent)
Those who’ve been following more of my entries for the past weeks must have noticed the lots of 8/10s for the episode ratings, but that’s exactly what nearly all of the shows I’m currently blogging are: consistently excellent with hardly any weak moments. The same goes for this episode: despite the slow pacing it was yet another really moving instalment.

With as highlight of course the death of Kakisu. It was a very subtle death, exactly what you’d expect from this series, and it was also wonderfully animated. When Akiyuki’s father shot, I was really surprised that the screen didn’t black out, followed by the sound of a gunshot. I only realize it now, but such a trick is very often used in anime as a cheap trick to avoid having to draw a bit of gore. On top of that, the amount of blood that was gushed in the process felt about right: there were no galleons of blood spilled, as many shounen-series tend to do in these sorts of situations. All of that gave something very creepy to his dead body.

Fusa was also as good as ever with her monologues. Akiyuki and Haru meanwhile find out that the gathering of the Xam’d comes along with a mass suicide and as expected: the white haired guy has a much different perception of human life than Akiyuki and Haru, who went through the horrors of the assault on Sentan Island.

The rest of the episode focused on building up for the series’ finale, which most likely is going to focus on the all-out war between the north and the south, and possible other fractions. Midori is being moved to the battlefield as we speak, while Raigyo and Benikawa are also busy helping their allies. Tessik village also has its own super weapon, so it’s definitely promising to be an interesting finale, especially since Akiyuki, Haru and Nakiami, who are supposed to be the main characters of the series, don’t play a major part in it, apart from Haru’s connection to Midori. I really wonder what the creators had in mind for them for the final episodes of this series, because at this point I have no idea.

Posted on 1 January 2009 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Jin infiltrates Kakisu’s base in order to get his daughter back.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10 (Excellent)
One of the many things I love about this series: it knows that it shouldn’t force its main characters towards the centre of attention all the time. It’s often said that a good story writes itself, and that’s really the case here. Akiyuki has a clear purpose in the series, but until his time comes the creators smartly focus on the rest of the characters of this series. In this episode, it’s about the people on Sentan Island.

Especially Kakisu is going crazy, and the next episode looks to be a big climax for him. In this episode, he kills the white-haired kid he captured when the latter starts talking about the former’s past.

It’s also a big episode for Akiyuki’s parents. When the series started, I really believed that they’d be your standard hero’s parents, who stayed at home while their son went on an adventure, but this episode shows that they’re very much involved with their own story. The two of them feel like proper characters, instead of plot devices.

Posted on 24 December 2008 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Not going to put that here due to spoilers on the anime blog aggregators.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10 (Awesome)
Okay, so while the previous episode felt a little underwhelming, this one was utterly amazing. It’s here that you can really see how much the building up in the beginning has paid off, and for how many episodes the attack on Sentan Island was still mentioned. It really got the message through that people die during these attacks, and that made this episode, where the Southern Government suddenly crashes down on the Tessik Village all the more powerful.

What I found ironic is how only a few episodes earlier, the soldiers of the Northern government were too scared to shoot at a friend. And here they’re basically trying to kill off tons of innocent people. It seems to me that Toujiro has made sure to prevent them making the same mistake twice.

And again this episode demonstrates how awesome the monster-designs of this series are. Kujireika really seems to have lost it, but the imagination that went into her new character-design must have been huge.

The rest of the episode was mostly building up, though with this series, that’s always a good thing. What stood out for me is that Akiyuki and Haru are finally getting tied to the main storyline again. After all, the two at the beginning of the episode had no real reason to be involved in the war: they were just a travelling couple. Still, now that it seems that the white-haired kids have contacted him, he’s probably the first of the Xam’d to lose his face, and then get it back again, and somehow that is good for the objective of these kids. Whether the talking eye ball was part of their plans too, I don’t know, but there’s a good chance for that.

Posted on 21 December 2008 with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Haru buys a flying jetbike and searches for Akiyuki.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 6,5/10 (Lacking)
Ah, COME ON! Things went so well! The past few episodes followed so naturally on each other, and then the series comes with this. How did Haru know the exact place Akiyuki would be at? Why the heck did she appear on the exact moment that he reached his limit and jumped to his death. I really expected better from this series at this point.

I mean, what’s wrong with just Haru, arriving at the village, searching around a bit and finally finding Akiyuki? They could have still used the failing flying motorbike as an excuse to explain Akiyuki’s flying powers. I think that the producers here made a slight error. This episode was a clear ending to the third quarter of the series (the next episode looks like the start of the return of the storyline!), and the creators realized too late that they reserved too little time for the reunion between Akiyuki and Haru in the final episode of that quarter.

Thankfully it’s doesn’t seem that this error is going to snowball itself into the rest of the series, it’s only the reunion between Haru and Akiyuki that felt really rushed, nothing more. The next episode looks like it’s going to be just as good as the rest of the series, but it really remains annoying. It breaks flow, in a way to have such a blemish at such a late point of a thus far perfect series. Ack, such a shame!

Posted on with categories: Bonen no Xamdou

Short Synopsis: Haru heads off to find Akiyuki.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10 (Good)
I must say that this has turned into a really emancipated series. While there are enough male characters, and this definitely isn’t a shoujo or josei-series, it’s nevertheless the females who do most of the work in this case. I originally thought that Haru would end up being the damsel in distress, but in the end this honour was for Akiyuki. In fact, he really has been atypical of your typical lead character. He’s not someone who’s out there to change the world, but he’s just a victim himself. Instead, it’s up to Nakiami to prevent the destruction of the Tessik people, although I do suspect that Akiyuki once he wakes up isn’t going to sit still and let the northern empire just do as it pleases.

So in the end, Nakiami’s sister (half-sister, I guess, based on her skin colour) has also started making Xam’d, and plans to head into war as well. I already suspected that something was not kosher about her, and I guess that that’s it. In the meantime, Akiyuki’s Hiruko (or at least, that’s what I suspect it is) does seem to be interested in Akiyuki getting his name back. I believe that it’s in the interest for both of them surviving, and I think that it knocking away the teacup is a sign that it’s going into berserk-mode if Akiyuki doesn’t hurry up and remembers his own name.


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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I read a comment stating that season 3 of symphogear got so bad that it came off as along the lines of “worse than a Mari Okada melodrama”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:36 AM)
    @Bam: That renegade angel thing looks off the wall, haven’t seen an episode but my thoughts from looking up the show is “I’m not quite sure if this is a good/bad thing lol”
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:34 AM)
    The thing about Symphogear is that putting Nana Mizuki in something voice/music attracts ALOT of people to a show.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:32 AM)
    @Bam@Aidan: The guy who worked on it made a tweet praising how it was the best selling show of the summer season and that they aren’t done yet.
    As for the show I never watched it past the first season thinking it would be something like Nanoha, I finished it but gave up on it halfway through.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:47 AM)
    anybody here remembers a PS1 rail-shooter game called Elemental Gearbolt? It was a fun game that had anime cutscenes by Rintaro. It’s one of those lost gems that was very well received but made a small splash upon release and then completely lost to time.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:42 AM)
    Kaiser: are you being sarcastic or did you actually enjoy Symphogear?
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:39 AM)
    @Masky: it’s the internet, people will construct some bullshit reason to moan about everything. As long as the game is fun than it’s good in my eyes, or the very least in needs to have an emotional impact like Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I’m deep into Bloodborne right now, so my time’s solely dedicated to that at the moment.
  • Masky
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:16 AM)
    @Bam: Usually people complain about realism in games in situations where it wouldn’t make sense and in games were realism is actually important they somehow seem to not notice it when they are unrealistic :’D Or maybe I have bad luck
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 12:06 AM)
    @Kaiser, Haven’t we suffered enough with three seasons?
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.

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