Bones have offered us some great series, with ambitious projects such as Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Darker Than Black. Next up to come to our shores is a series that made its début on the Playstation Network: Xam’d: Lost Memories. Is this the start of another great title from an impressive animation studio?
We begin on Sentan Island; although it is currently occupied by the Southern Continent army who are at war with the Northern Government, life is peaceful there. We are introduced to Akiyuki Takehara who is living with his hard-working family, and even though his mother and father are on bad terms with each other, Akiyuki still has a good relationship with both of them. As he gets to the school bus he meets his best friends Haru and Furuichi, while also helping a strange hooded student on the bus – however the student turns out to be a suicide bomber unleashing some kind of biological chemical which affects our main character’s arm and turns him into a monster known as Xam’d.
This fictional world uses a blend of modern and WW2 technology with a hint of fantasy elements that make many things in Xam’d seem more experimental than much other anime. At the start I certainly felt excited to learn more about the cultures of the Southern and Northern forces and why they are in this war to begin with – but then I identified a few problems.
For one, when Akiyuki is changed back from his Xam’d form by the mysterious girl, he is taken onto a flying postal ship, where he is forced to work with a crew that basically ignores him. This sounds a bit similar to BONES ‘s recent title Eureka Seven and it ends up being my biggest issue so far with the series: lots of characters who are unlikeable or poorly developed (apart from the main protagonists) and the postal crew are the main offenders: it sucks out all the drama and tension that I should be feeling when things become more serious.
One thing that Xam’d does do extremely well is entertain and it’s largely thanks to the animation. Watching Xam’d in Blu-ray is the ultimate eye-candy, the battle scenes are fun to watch, and the series can really be thrilling when mechas are fighting monsters. At the same time, there are too many boring and annoying character interactions that I just don’t care about. However, by the end of the box-set, it at least gives us hope that something interesting is about to happen and creates a good build-up for the next batch of episodes.
The Opening is one of the best choreographed animation sequences I’ve seen this year along with a deadly addictive Techno J-rock theme (Shut up and Explode by Boom Boom Satellites) while the Ending (Vacancy by Kylee) is a softer, more touching theme with some beautiful stillshots.
The extras contain the Textless Openings and Closings, along with different ones that aired in Japan.
The problem with this box-set for me is that most of these episodes seemed to be focused on the things that I didn’t like about Xam’d: Lost Memories. However it’s still a show that is great to look at and gave me some entertainment.