Monday, June 7, 2010

Bounen no Xamdou - anime review

I decided to watch this anime because I think it's good to make a change sometimes. I usually watch seinen action series, romance comedies, slice-of-life anime, josei... This one is a shounen action series, with good rating on AniDB and it features some boy transforming to giant monster and fighting for justice (judging from quick look of its profile on AniDB).

After watching first two episodes I started fearing that I made a mistake. It started with the world mixing alchemy and magic with SF technology. First scenes show some old woman with some green liquids and strange seeds and then next few introduce flying ships and army with armor-suits. Characters had an uninspired design and colors were bland, so I thought I will be watching some bad combination of "Last Exile" (flying ships), "Casshern Sins" (almighty monsters/robots) and "Bleach" (powering up whenever there is a stronger opponent).

To my great surprise, I was very wrong and this is one of the best action anime I watched. Even though world has some strange mixes (I one scene a guy has handcuffs made of wooden board with holes while he is surrounded by soldiers armored with laser guns), it is very interesting. It is nothing especially unique: North and South hemispheres are in long lasting war, North has magic monsters inherited from some lost civilization, while South has flying ships and lasers, but wants monsters too... But what is good that this is all we get about it. It doesn't have some know-all character that explains it to main characters so that viewers can understand it too, nor there is a narrator. Characters know history of their world, while viewers have to be watchful and pick things every few episodes to make a whole picture. Even last episode doesn't bring a full explanation. I know it sounds irritating or stupid, but it actually works very well.

Main characters are also well knows: a boy Akiyuki gets the special ability of monster-transforming and has to leave his home-island with Northern girl Nakiami who will help him to master it. And his friend/girlfriend Haru and friend/rival Furuichi join the Southern army to do their share of growing/powering up. Others include a young and ambitious army officer, Akiyuki's father doctor with murky background, possibly-mad scientist.... And crew of the ship Akiyuki leaves his island on has its share of quirky characters: female-general in hiding, old woman/prophet, ect. But best thing is that they don't act stereotypically. Akiyuki doesn't transform whenever they meet a strong opponent (I think that he transforms only three or four times in whole anime) nor he spends fifteen episodes feeling sorry for himself and being irritating.

So, characters are good and world is great, what's left? Plot is interesting and there are no boring episodes. It follows few different sets of characters until the expected great confrontation at the end. And it features one really sad happy ending.

Except of unexpected mixes of magic and technology, there is two more things I noticed. First, two main female characters and some less important had a notably big breasts. While this is not unexpected in anime (quite the contrary), there is usually either "boing" effect or there are some jokes about it. But here there they are just unnecessary large. Secondly, what happens with clothes of characters that can transform when they do it? I'm pretty sure that one there was a ripping of clothes when one started to change, but later the clothes was whole. These little details do matter!

As I said, design of characters is somewhat bland and so were the colors, but not enough to make an obstacle for watching. Opening song was very good and I thing that voice-acting and rest of SFX are nice, too.

Anyway, "Bounen no Xamdou" is a really good anime that I can recommend to everybody. And that coming from a guy who doesn't like classic shounen action series with giant monsters and transformation.

Next I will be reading a new book series. It starts with "The Briar King" and judging from first 50 pages I will like it very much!

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