At first glance, Xam’d Lost Memories was very reminiscent of Eureka Seven crossed with Studio Ghibli anime like Nausicaa especially when considering character design, art works and lighting. It was a welcoming impression. The sense that something epic was about to happen was almost palpable in the first few episodes. It was simply irresistible.
Xam’d starts off with the familiar setting of Sentan Island. Here, everything looks generally like our world; the houses, school, streets, clothes, cars and busses. Akiyuki, Haru and Furuichi live normal lives (the unstable relationship between Akiyuki’s parents are also counted as normal) in this peaceful island. Then everything familiar is shattered when a strange-looking white-haired kid set bomb on the school bus and Akiyuki is turn into scary monster called Xam’d. The battle between monsters (called Humanforms) and the military erupts in the once peaceful town. With the help of Nakiami (another strange-looking girl with red hair), Akiyuki survived the battle and embarks on a journey to re-discover himself and learn about the true nature of Xam’d.
After that, the world, the setting, the people and the situation get more and more fantastic. There are a lot more monsters, magic, mecha, spirits and battles along the way. Though it does not really make sense how Sentan Island can be so different from the rest of the world, I think it is a smart choice by the anime creators. Sentan Island is easy to relate to and it is used as a starting point for the audience. It feels like we are setting off to a journey with Akiyuki. That’s a great way to start an epic fantasy. By implication, the anime is also telling the viewers that the world we are living and believing in is just a fraction of much bigger universe full of things unknown.
In the front, the story of Akiyuki and Haru are the main driving force of the anime while the international and interracial war serves as the background of the show. Akiyuki’s storyline is your typical coming of age story spiced up by fantasy elements. He must learn to control Xam’d, learn about his connection to it, find the meaning of his life and ultimately find his way home. Haru, on the other hand, is a bit more dramatic and interesting. She tries her best to get along with the new environment and blend into the society plagued by war. And at the same time, she also holds on to her one true love and goes as far as leaving everything behind and sets out to find him. It is quite romantic to see Akiyuki trying to get home and Haru leaving home to find him. The scene in which Akiyuki and Haru meet in mid-air still never cease to impress me to this very day.
Can Xam’d be counted among mecha anime? I am no mecha expert so I am not entirely sure. But these Xam’d really look like mecha. Whatever the case, I think Xam’d provides nice and refreshing take on conventional mecha/monster genre. Xam’d boasts distinguished production quality with excellent fluidity of movements and detailed animation. It makes other averagely animated anime look cheap. The color and designs of Xam’d makes the show very Ghibli-looking.
Xam’d’s secondary storyline concerning the long-standing war involving several nations and species provides the epic aura surrounding the show and could have lead to an impressive finale. But unfortunately, it is far too confusing that it becomes the show’s biggest flaw. Xam’d spend too much time (and effort) to stylishly shroud the truth about the monsters and the war in mystery. And when the finale arrives, there is no time to properly sort things out. The ending is unforgivably rushed. Some climatic events feel too sudden and forced which greatly dampens the emotional impact for the audience. In the end, I didn’t really know what’s going on. Many characters were devoid of background and sensible explanation. It would have been better with less complicated script or longer runtime.
Conclusion: Xam’d Lost Memories is a strong entry in the rather short list of mature epic sci-fi fantasy anime series. Despite suffering from the rather incomprehensible ending, it is obvious that much work, money, dedication and probably love have been invested into making this show. I am certain that fans of the genre will find Xam’d a pleasant experience at the least.
Title: Xam’d: Lost Memories (Bounen no Zamned)
Genre: fantasy, sci-fi, mecha
Released date: July 16, 2008 – February 3, 2009
Director: Masayuki Miyaji
Animated by: Bones