The world views are vastly different, the characters far, far, far cooler and more modern and, a huge plus for me, done in very Anime style. I've spent pretty much every moment that I'm Jet-free sneaking episodes from the DVDs AND I bought the second set of episodes for myself.
It's mildly addicting. One side characters said, translated roughly, "They seem to be destruction and death dressed in human form, but the way they live their lives is more eloquent than any scripture." That captures a facet of my fascination with the series.
The series also, amusingly enough, captures something of what I felt about the novels in odd ways, and how I'd wished they'd been more about. It's a cool study of how to take a work and make it different and unique in essential ways. I think I really like this series for itself.
So thanks to incandescens for introducing me to it!!