ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Xabungle is the third anime Tomino the Gundam dude messed with and the result is quite interesting as far as aesthetics go. This is most likely the very first space western anime and the setting is quite catchy for its time. It does resemble the endless deserts of the Wild West and it is full of outlaws and adventurers, most of which work as hired guns, or better say hired mechas. Instead of six shooters, most of the people here use Walker Machines, basically huge robots that do all sorts of activities, the most basic of which is battle. Another interesting feature is that the robots are controlled using steering wheels, as if they are cars. They even start working by turning a key and use gasoline. It makes little sense how they perform all those complicating maneuvers with a wheel, a gas and a break, but heck, it was quite fun watching it. A third detail that stands out is the way the characters are drawn. Their eyes lack an iris and their face is quite round and simplistic, so the whole thing could easily be mistaken to be a cartoon.
Xabungle does not stop standing out in looks alone. For its time it is very comical for a mecha show and focuses a lot on its characters instead of the robot action. Not that the action is bad in any way, it’s just that you end up caring more about what is going on in the cockpits rather than what is going on in the battlefield, a thing which is very positive in my eyes. Still, even the action part is quite good for its time, since in most cases it has a very funny choreography. The robots here not only operate with wheels but also fight like wrestlers and there are several battles where the lead robot will perform aerial high kicks or lift heavy objects instead of just resorting to some magic super sword or kill-them-all beam. In fact, there are no actual superpowers in the robots and they indeed feel like robots instead of costumed warriors. Also, the terrain or malfunctions usually affect their effectiveness in battle, which again makes you believe they are not indestructible. The action is also not restricted on robots, since almost half of it is in fact taking place with people. There are shoot outs and chases and good old fashion bar fights and you again get to see how the robots are not doing all the work as anyone can jump on them and attack the pilot in the cockpit. Heck, they can even steal them and use them on theirside. Makes it all feel more interesting this way.
Since this is a mostly comical show, the action is interesting but still not that realistic. The characters are usually moving or reacting like Looney Tunes, thus they can outrun bullets or even swim upwards in the air. I can’t say this was bad, it was actually contributing to the humorous side of the show. It’s just that after awhile you just know that the battles can turn up as the scriptwriter wants and are not “fair” so to speak if the heroes can cheat the universal laws.
At the same time the show is not completely comedy as it has its own share of drama in it. The lead character for example wants to avenge the death of his parents and chases all over the world a cunning mercenary. There are twists in this since vengeance is in fact allowed in this world if you do it fast and he actually deals with him long before the finale. The story is also about a rich spoiled girl doing her best to become one of the Innocent, the bigshot leaders of the world and the employers of the mercenaries. She literally wants to buy her position with lots of precious crystals and is constantly antagonized by various other landlords and merchants who want the place as well. Along the way it is proven that the Innocent are actually withholding information about a great catastrophe and even possess hi-teck technology that it’s there for no good. Before the heroes realize it, the simple story of vengeance and struggling for a better life as a leader turns to a chase for the fate of the world. Despite the humorous nature of the series, many characters are still getting killed and the feeling of devastating lives and villages is not taken too light.
The above story elements are presented very slowly and almost calmly throughout the series. Most of the plot ends up being skirmishes with local villains, as well as comical situations with its cast, as they constantly try to have fun, find food, make money, or just loaf around. The crew of their main ship is a bunch of vulgar misfits who constantly nag, curse, act impolite and in general feeling like average ignorant cowboys (although there are no cow or cowboy hats). Each one has a humorous side to him, such as the cancan girls who are fat and yet expose their underwear all the time because “it’s their job”, or their manager, a skinny man with low esteem constantly feeling scared, or the rich girls servant, a brute man, always trying to look cool and silent yet constantly tripping or making blunders. Even the cunning mercenary keeps making blunders with the cigars he never stops smoking, thus he hardly feels as threatening as they claim he is. This is all way too funny to just skip through it.
There is also a rather high amount of nude in the show for its time, which is made further funny by the fact that being naked in this culture is not that immoral since they all are a bunch or violent, unsophisticated rednecks who have no idea of what good manners or decency is. You see various cases where they are even making fun of ideals and just claim that all it matters is to be strong enough to do as you like and have good friends and paid allies to help you along the way. It makes them feel very pragmatic and all the more worthwhile to keep looking.
In all, this is a light action / adventure that you mostly watch for its situational comedy. The production values are quite run-down while there isn’t much detail or shading, plus, motions are really jerky. The story is nothing much either yet the various elements and aesthetics make it very entertaining to follow through. And I must say, although Tomino’s trademark problem of “the characters make no sense” is present here as well, the fact this is presented as a comedy almost excuses the whole deal. It is also kinda weird how the Gundam dude later on went for darker and more serious anime when this way his dreadful incompetence in script writing could be hidden just fine. I sure liked it more than most of all his following projects, exactly because it was all a joke with dramatic elements, instead of a drama that ends up being a joke BECAUSE HE CAN’T WRITE!
Anyways, I recommend this anime to all retro lovers who like light stuff. I just have to warn you that the entire show is yet not fully subbed (I myself had to watch a part of it in raw) and as such you may better wait until someone completes it first.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 0/2 (cheap)
Character Figures 2/2 (generic but those eyes make them memorable)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (jerky)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (silly but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 0/3 (forgotten)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much randomness)
Memorability 4/4 (it sure feels different)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10
It would be much more entertaining with better production values and more plot but it is still nice as it is.