With school out I've found myself with a lot of spare time to rewatch a few of my favourite anime's and keeping with tradition I thought I'd write about what it is, what I thought and how it all made me feel. I'll be taking a look at Xam'd: Lost Memories, released by everyones favourite anime studio, Bones, the same people who did Eureka Seven and Wolf's Rain. I'll be avoiding any major spoilers as I'm assuming most people haven't watched it, and hopefully reading this may make you consider spending the time to experience such a unique anime.
Firstly a bit of background for the anime itself, it was launched with the PSN video service and was in fact, co-developed by Sony. Releasing first in 2008 at E3 it then began its 26 episode run, and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Now the first place to start with this is definitely the story, or rather how that story is presented. The basic plot is rather straight forward, a boy named Akiyuki lives with his family and friends on a small neutral island caught between the war of two much larger nations. The island is eventually targeted in an attack, and Akiyuki's life is torn apart when he has an unknown entity embedded into his arm, causing him to transform. He's then forced to leave his island and goes on a journey of self discovery with a mysterious red haired girl and a motley crew of postal workers.
Now while that sounds like your standard anime plot line troupe the way the world around the story is told is what I found so appealing. Nothing is spoon fed to you, there's hardly ever an information dump that's used to explain the world. Everything is slowly revealed as the story marches onward, never stopping to let you catch up. While it's something I enjoyed I can certainly imagine that it could turn a few people off. There's this whole fascinating world that this anime explores that you may never see if you aren't paying attention. Even if you happen to very alert there's a number of plot lines, motivations and events that really won't make sense until you watch it again
The anime is very character driven, with many different and intertwining plot lines. The characters all have their pasts slowly revealed to varying degrees and I thought a good job was done at making me sympathize with even the antagonists. Speaking of which this anime really lacks any defined "villains", like in most conflicts there are different sides and opinions, but in the end everyone is trying to do what they think is right. Things do get rather philosophical during the anime's second half, but it keeps you on your toes and does make for a rather interesting conclusion.
There's actually a rather large number of love subplots going on throughout the story. They mostly do a good job of keeping things interesting and manage to not make the anime feel cumbersome when it starts to slow down and speed up. The main one is between the protagonist, Akiyuki and his friend Haru as they struggle to reunite despite constantly being torn apart. It functions rather well and you really do get a sense that these characters really do care about each other.
It's not all about the characters, however, as Xam'd has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in an anime. The opening song, Shut Up and Explode by Boom Boom Satellites is a perfect opening theme and a fantastic mood maker,
While the orchestrated side of the music isn't one for leaving slack either with the main theme,
The entire soundtrack is worth a listen and I have to give major props to Michiru Oshima for directing such an amazing soundtrack. She also scored for the Full Metal Alchemist anime as well as a few games, such as Ico.
If you haven't been able to tell already this is an anime I very much enjoyed and it's a bit hard to say exactly why. It certainly has its flaws, the second half drags its heels about for a bit, and the majority of the actions dries up until the grand finale. Despite its flaws I feel that it certainly is a rather unique experience. Fans of Eureka Seven probably won't feel too far from home, but I encountered Xam'd long before I started Eureka Seven.
One last piece, if I've done my job right, and you now are interested in watching this anime, I have one recommendation, go with subs. I for one don't mind dubs and I thought a decent job was done with this anime, but a number of small, but important changes are made in the presentation of lines and there's some really awkward phrasing in the dub.
So yup, that's where I leave you. I enjoyed it, and I hope you will as well.