Anime Studio Spotlight – Xebec

This is the first in a series of posts discussing Japanese animation studios. The first up is Xebec, not because I like them, but because of the show they’re animating next season…

Let’s start by looking at a few shows by Xebec:

Love Hina

Love Hina is generally considered to be a classic. Indeed, it provides a nice entry point into anime for newbies – it’s a lighthearted comedy with lots of zany anime cliches, mildly perverted ‘fanservice’ and likeable characters. What’s not to love about it?

Well, if Love Hina was an original series by Xebec, then there wouldn’t be a problem. However, the manga that Love Hina was based on was very different from the resulting anime. On the whole, the anime was a dumbed down, 2D (as in lacking depth) version of the manga. Personally speaking, I watched the anime three times before reading the manga. Having read the manga, I found myself unable to rewatch the anime. The made up ending and episode plots (not like the manga was lacking in source material!), the unsophisticated jokes and the endless chase scenes killed it for me.

Mahou Sensei Negima!

To date, there have been three Negima TV series. Two animes, one by Xebec and another by Shaft, and a live action drama.

The first Negima anime, the Xebec one, could be described like this: Love Hina, but with a little wizard, a talking ermine, 31 teenage girls and MORE RUNNING!

The Negima manga could be describe like this: Lots of magical combat, a fair dash of angst, a mixture of comedy and more serious moments and quite a lot of violence. Did I mention the hardcore magical combat?

Basically, just like with Love Hina (which was also written by Ken Akamatsu, the author of Negima), Xebec made stuff up and changed the story. The Kyoto arc, which was a fairly serious multi-book affair in the manga? Xebec gave it two episodes, and focused rather heavily on this weird monkey-woman. I don’t remember them covering the whole “using Konoka’s power to summon a demon god” either. I have the DVDs on my shelf, but it’s quite painful to watch them, so I’m not going to check at this time of night.

How about the ending of Negima? The manga passed chapter 200 a month or two back, and is still going strong. The anime was 26 episodes long, and had a fairly definite ending. One of the characters died, and everybody travelled back in time to change the past and save her in the future, or something like that. It was totally made up, and bore no resemblance to the source material at all.

Martian Successor Nadesico

Aha! A decent show by Xebec!

Nadesico was a sci-fi space opera type show. The plot meandered around as much as the crew of the Nadesico did. For your information, the meandered around quite a lot. On the whole, it show was rather muddled and unfocussed. Was it trying to be a serious sci-fi show? Was it trying to be a comedy, with spaceships and a war and stuff as the background?

I suspect the latter, but there were just too many dark and serious moments. For instance, there was an episode that went along the lines of “We’ve found survivors! We’re under attack! If we defend ourselves, we’ll kill the survivors, but if we don’t defend ourselves then we’ll crash on top of them. We’ve just killed the survivors :(” It wasn’t even a zany, comic mishap! The audio cut out as the captain gave the order that would kill the survivors, giving the scene a very dark feel. A few episodes later, the crew were having a singing contest to decide who should be the captain. The two scenarios just don’t belong in the same show!

On the whole, I enjoyed Nadesico at the time. Looking back, though, I see it as a rather muddled show with no clear direction.

To-LOVE-ru

I have been waiting for To-LOVE-ru to be made into an anime for a rather long time, it feels. The manga is similar to Love Hina in some ways, in that it’s a harem comedy of sorts. There’s a group of girls and one guy. I suppose you could call it a harem. It also features wacky hijinks, crazy gadgets, bizarre situations and an alien princess. On the whole, I love it.

I really don’t want Xebec to be making the To-LOVE-ru anime! Based on what they did with Love Hina and Negima, I feel fairly certain in predicting that To-LOVE-ru will feature lots of scenes where the male lead is chased rapidly through a series of well-drawn background shots.

It’s midnight 1am and I’m tired, so I’m going to leave it at that. In conclusion, I don’t think much of Xebec, but I’ll be watching To-LOVE-ru anyway. I’m not expecting it to be very good, but I’ll be hoping.

 

Seriously,it was midnight just a few minutes ago, I’d swear! At least I now know why I’m so tired!

4 Comments »

  1. your evil twin said,

    April 3, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    I agree with you about Martian Successor Nadesico – I enjoyed it, but it never seemed sure whether it was a parody of sci-fi anime (stuff like the singing contest has roots all the way back in original Macross/Robotech), or a serious deconstruction of sci-fi anime (like Evangelion, taking a well-known premise and then messing with audience expectations).

    The Gekiganger 3 stuff was great. And I liked the pseudo-science for the Boson Jumps, the method of faster than light travel. Was pretty clever. (If I remember correctly the English dub didn’t reproduce that properly, I think it was hurried and some of the terminology changed… perhaps the dub script writer assumed it was just meaningless technobabble rather than well-thought-out pseudo-science. Wasn’t much of a fan of the English voices either, but dubs are handy if you are feeling too tired to read subs.)

    I strongly recommend the anime “Irresponsible Captain Tylor”, I have the US DVD box set. (Never came out over here.) It’s like Nadesico but far more consistant. (Grrr, a couple of years ago I paid £80 for that boxset and now it is £20 on ebay, including postage! Great for other people, irriating for me.)

    I’ve never watched or read Love Hina or Negima, so I can’t comment on those. I’ve actually always found the concept of Negima very distubring – a harem show about teenage girls having hijkinks with a wizard who is what, 10 years old? 12? I don’t want kids in my pervy anime, male or female. Perhaps if the manga has more of an emphasis on awesome magical combat that’s not so bad… what I know of the anime seems wrong on so many levels.

  2. Brian said,

    April 4, 2008 @ 12:44 am

    Thanks for the comment!

    I’ve forgotten a lot about Nadesico – I do remember that while I was watching it I thought that the Boson Jumps were cool, though.

    That’s dubs for you 🙂 I don’t watch them when I can avoid them, so I missed out on that.

    Irresponsible Captain Tylor, eh? I’ve heard of it, but haven’t yet watched it. I shall look out for it.

    Now then. Negima. The thing with Negima is that it isn’t really about the harem. Yes, there are a lot of girls, but they aren’t interested in Negi in a sexual way. Most of them see him as somewhere between a little brother and an inspiration (9 years old, teaching English in a foreign country…that’s pretty brave). The anime is rather ‘pervy’, but not in the usual way. Negi just isn’t interested in girls – he’s far too young! The manga starts off quite ecchi (ranging from Negi sneezing and blowing skirts off (gah, I’m glad that vanished after a book or two) to all the girls wanting to take their adorable little teacher home) but it cleans up pretty quickly. It’s a bit of a struggle to make it through parts of the first few books, but when it really gets going it gets very gripping. I totally recommend it!

    As for the animes, though…. well, read the manga first. I actually watched a couple of episodes of the first Negima series (the Xebec one) last week. Despite being ugly, the were actually very funny. Read and enjoy the manga first, then enjoy the animes as a light-hearted take on the characters.

  3. anime fanservice said,

    July 21, 2008 @ 5:11 am

    anime fanservice…

    How do you come up with so much material to blog with?…

  4. Brian said,

    July 21, 2008 @ 9:49 am

    I rarely stop thinking about things. Every now and again I stop to write about what I’ve been thinking about. That’s just how it goes.

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