Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
Computer-generated animation isn't just for androids and mainframes anymore. That right, I recently found a new computer animated series in a Camelot-style world of knights and sorcery. The Xcalibur series is a co-production between Montreal-based production company TVA International Inc. and France's Ellipanime. The odd thing is that TVA never put the show on air while TQC and YTV did. Moreover, in 2004, Anchor Bay released the series on a 10-disc DVD set (PAL, region 2 only). The set doesn't contain any extra, the chronology of the episodes isn't respected and the quality is not completely uniform across the episodes but it's better than nothing.
Xcalibur was produced using Maya and FilmBox software, and combines motion-capture technology of humans and horses with key-frame animation that allows for camera moves that are physically impossible.
Also, in the series there are several places where technology (or magic?) plays a role that contrast with the period of the story. Clarke's Third Law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, so I guess it become hard to tell if it is magic of just technology. Personally, I had the impression that it was technology (much like Final Fantasy 3 where they have medial soldiers using Mechs) but that does not necessarily reflect the authors' views on the subject. So where are the dragons in all this? There is a characters called Wip, he plays a secondary role in the series but you will see him on a regular basis. He is quite be quite an interesting character and the story will shed some light on his background though, not necessarily explaining everything which may leave you with the feeling that something has been left untold/undone as the series ends...
Xcalibur is obviously based on King Arthur legends. The story began with the assassination of King Edwan by his brother prince Bragan. The queen has disappeared many years ago and the heir to the throne, king Arthus, is too young to rule and wield Xcalibur. Bragan has murdered the Edwan in front of prince Erwann who was always loyal to the king. Bragan flees to the castle to tell the others his own perverted version on what happened. However, the king was not dead yet and he was able to tell Erwann to take Xcalibur and hide it until his son become mature enough to be the ruler of the kingdom. After hiding the sword, Kwodahn appears and turns Erwann into a stone statue for refusing to reveal where the sword was hidden.
Princess Djana whose mother has disapeared when she was one and who was looking for her father is witness of the Kwodahn casting his curse on her father who telepathically tell her to warn the Shogi Master of the daemon Kwodahn's return. The dragon statue on Erwann's helmet on the ground, and as Djana tears feel on the small statue from the grieve of having lost her father, the statue turn into a small dragon called Wip, who reveals to her that he was a gift from her mother to her father and now to her.
Meanwhile, Bragan heads toward the Shogi monastery to steal the Book of Life, an artifact who can help him to retrieve Xcalibur. He breaks a potion in a courtyard that summon daemon into the monastery that began to kill everyone. As the Great Shogi Master realize that Kwodahn and that Bragan has made himself regent to rule the kingdom, he entrusts the book to a young apprentice called Herik and teleport him outside where he meet princess Djana. Herik reveal to her that Xcalibur could be able to break the curse Kwodahn cast on her father, so she decides to retrieve it despite Herik reluctance to do so.
Since Xcalibur doesn't really belong to Djana, they decide to return to the Royal Palace and plead to the King to let's Djana keep the sword until Kwodahn is defeated and the curse on her father is lifted. However, they are unsuccessful in trying to convince young Arthus and Bragan brands them as traitors for having stolen Xcalibur. Djana and Herik are both forced to flee and in the castle they encounter Tara, a woman of the sea (or barbarian as they are often called) whose people was promised a land by prince Erwann in exchange for peace. So all four of them try to end Bragan tyrannical rule while Bragan, Kwodahn and the witch Walka try to steal Xcalibur and the Book of Life from them.
Probably the major point that will distinguish this series from any other "cartoon" I have seen so far. The characters are not realistics in the sense that they didn't try to look like a photo of real human but they enter a style that have much in common with Reboot and Final Fantasy movie (there is many artists around that are specialized in this kind of art). The textures used are truly amazing, something that clearly tell that the series was made rather recently. While the humans and dragons movements are convincing, the horses fail to give the same level of realism. Horses when running, look bulky and slow but that just one bad point in a very well done series.
Sound & Music
I had to pay attention to the subtlety of the music since the graphic was getting most of my attention. In general, the music is always appropriate, and carries the right feeling for the right situation, it can vary quickly to follow every change in the story. The voice are nice and convincing; you will have no trouble believing the emotions of the guards when they are wounded or when one is falling from the fortress' walls (note that the rating says "for everyone" mainly because the battle are not gory at all, but without being unconvincing or Hercules style).
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the episodes as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(9.0/10) - Excellent|
|Sound & Music:||(7.5/10) - Good|
|Story line:||(6.5/10) - Average|
|Innovation:||(7.5/10) - Good|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(5.0/10) - Fair|
|Overall:||(8.0/10) - Very Good
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).