Xavier: Renegade Angel

Renegade Angel

Xavier: Renegade Angel‘ is a 2007 American CGI fantasy-comedy television series created by John Lee, Vernon Chatman, Jim Tozzi and Alyson Levy. Lee and Chatman are also the creators of ‘Wonder Showzen.’ The show was produced by PFFR, with animation by Cinematico. It premiered on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. ‘Xavier’ features a style characterized by a nonlinear, incoherent plot following the humorous musings of an itinerant humanoid pseudo-shaman and spiritual seeker named Xavier.

The show is known for its ubiquitous use of ideologically-critical black comedy, surrealist and absurdist humor presented through a psychedelic, New Age lens. The program is also normally rated TV-MA for intense, graphic, often bloody violence (V), as well as strong sexual content, use of racially/ethnically offensive language, grotesque depictions and content that is considered ‘too morbid and too incomprehensible for young viewers.’

Xavier is a self-absorbed and oblivious, faun-like wanderer with delusions of grandeur. He is often shown to be a deeply insecure, near-sociopathic and childlike individual who can quickly turn against others if interactions with them lead to negative feelings about himself. Xavier’s physical appearance is composed of various absurdities. His left hand is a snake from the elbow downwards. It usually acts like an ordinary hand but on one occasion appeared to have a life of its own and spoke to Xavier directly. His knees bend at the joints backwards, he is covered in brown fur and has ocular heterochromia, having one brown eye and one blue. Instead of a nose, Xavier has a raptor-like beak, though he also has a mouth. He has six nipples and a giant eye in place of his genitalia. He typically wears tennis shoes and a loin cloth embroidered with varying symbols.

Xavier’s purpose seems to change slightly with each episode, with the initial plot setting him as a wandering philosopher, aspiring ‘wise man’ or sage of sorts whose intent on hermitism seems to give references to Native American vision quests. At first hand and of initial importance seems to be Xavier’s drawn-out search for an answer to the abstract question, ‘What doth life?’ Later on in the series, however, the original plot seems to alter slightly into a more personal and less transcendent search: Xavier announces his reasons for roaming the world as the means to which he can help others, his purpose being to improve the quality of human existence and generally speaking, do good.

Much of the first season focuses on his search for the person who killed his father while the second season puts focus on his search for his mother, whom he believes to be alive due to digging up her grave and finding only the meat she had held for months, thus assuming that somehow his mother was still alive. In the series finale, he finds her in a lunatic asylum and has sex with her, which causes Xavier to see himself as the human he apparently always was. When he says ‘I’m cured,’ his psychiatrist says ‘Cured? who says there was anything wrong with you?’ Revealing the psychiatrist now looking and sounding like, whatever creature Xavier saw himself as.

Chief Master Guru is a supposedly indigenous shaman that took Xavier in after he became orphaned, and taught him mystical and spiritual practices (one such teaching being the power to heal others with the use of a fictional instrument called a ‘shakashuri’). The Shaman features frequently in flashbacks, and—despite Xavier’s adulation—is shown to be abusive, sadistic, bullying and cruel. He eventually fakes his own death in order to get rid of Xavier, but it’s later revealed that he gave Xavier the loin cloth and the inspiration to help people in order to get rid of him.

The computer-generated animation of ‘Xavier: Renegade Angel’ resembles that of video games such as ‘Second Life’ and ‘The Sims.’ The show features ribald wordplay, nonchalant violence and transgressive sexuality, in deeply-nested, often recursive plots. These plots are often very nonlinear in their chronology; however, each episode seems to contain similar themes and motifs, as well as a single opening scene that has recurred in every episode of ‘Xavier’: a depiction of the titular character wandering through a desert (possibly a reference to the 1970s television program ‘Kung Fu’) as he narrates a semi-spontaneous, often nonsensical philosophical thought that many times connects with the episode at hand, whilst the title card of the show itself flies overhead, usually varying in action or position. An opening theme presumed to be played by Xavier on his ‘shakashuri’ is present during these.

Co-creator Vernon Chatman called the show ‘a warning to children and adults about the dangers of spirituality.’ The show has been known to mock Christianity, Islam, Middle America, redneck stereotypes, and anarcho-punk subcultures. Xavier often incorporates underlying themes and concepts based outside of, though interconnected with, the plot of each episode. Philosophical or political concepts are often juxtaposed with the surrealistic and aleatory nature of the show. Society and cultural psychology and phenomena, the meaning of life, the existence of sentience and the nature of reality have been examined in one form or another throughout the program’s two seasons.

Jokes and humor tend to be oriented towards Xavier’s own philosophical inquiry and the ‘deep,’ ‘zen-like’ diction of wisdom quotes from various spiritual systems (particularly Native American and Hindu or Eastern spirituality) that Xavier seemingly attempts to mimic. These are many times lightly mocked with Xavier’s misuse of the phrases, reflecting on contemporary humor and taking the often circular logic of such statements far out of context. Taboo topics such as necrophilia, bestiality, homophobia, abortion, pedophilia, Incest, Islamic Extremism, self-injury, and racism may be hinted at, with Xavier ignorantly making light of such situations when trying to carry on conversation or simply speak to others. As well, racial and other epithets are frequently used by Xavier in a spontaneous and often non-meaningful way.

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