Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $89.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
What would you do to regain the precious memories that are important to you?
Xam’d: Lost Memories is the type of anime series that is not easy to watch yet it’s the kind of series that you can’t help but be so wrapped up in its complex story that you stick around to see how it all ends because you know it will not fail to surprise. Finally released on Blu-ray, the Complete Collection set of Xam’d: Lost Memories is a new classic that you will not forget anytime soon and that, my friends, makes this well worth the purchase price.
Spanning 26-episodes, the series introduces us to a futuristic world with floating mail ships like the Zanbani, a Native-American-like race of people and a government experimenting with specialized armor and a mysterious organic bio-weapon. In the middle of all of this is a high school student named Akiyuki Takehara who lives in beautiful Sentan Island with his mother who just so happens to be – at the moment – separated from Akiyuki’s physician father, Doctor Ryuzo Takehara. His two best friends are Furuichi who has his eye on their mutual friend Haru who is not only beautiful but also amazing at martial arts.
One morning, after helping a white-haired girl get on their bus to school, this mysterious girl ignites a very unusual explosive that unleashes an organic spore that infects Akiyuki. In fact, thanks to two jewel-like protrusions on his arm and forehead called a hiruko, he transforms into an armored being called a Xam’d. On top of the explosion on the bus, the terrorist attack also includes the unleashing of monstrous humanform weapons that are controlled by those able to manipulate hiruko.
Luckily, Akiyuki is saved by a beautiful young girl named Nakiami the Cloud Rider whose Tessik race is all too familiar with the hiruko and the Xam’d. She is able to get Akiyuki back to his human form and she whisks him away aboard the Zanbani … a mail carrier ship captained by a busty and scantily clad beauty named Ishu Benikawa. With no other choice but to live with the colorful crew of the floating mail ship, Akiyuki finds himself working as a mail carrier as well as learning more about being a Xam’d from a Tessik elder named Madam Tenshin living aboard the ship.
Meanwhile, Akiyuki’s friends, Haru and Furuichi, join the military in hopes of helping Akiyuki in some manner and end up training to operate advanced mobile armor. It is here that we meet Commander Kakisu who is in charge of a secret project involving the Xam’d thanks to a Tessik scientist named Doctor Kanba. Haru finds herself doing her best as a military cadet as Furuichi quickly climbs the military ladder to the point that he becomes obsessed with succeeding in the military. There’s a big reason for this but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Back on the Zanbani, Akiyuki discovers another Xam’d by the name of Raigyo who was also saved by Nakiami. It is through Raigyo that Akiyuki learns that he can learn to live with this new power although there’s the threat that he might be consumed by a condition that could kill him by turning him to stone. Akiyuki also wants to see his friends and his parents who – while having been on the verge of a divorce before the terrorist attack – are seeing more of each another in an effort to comfort each another for the absence of their son.
At one point, Akiyuki is reunited with his friends who are on a mission under the orders of Commander Kakisu. Unfortunately, it’s not a happy reunion between Akiyuki and Furuichi who not only sees his best friend as an enemy but also a rival. In fact, there’s a dramatic confrontation later in the series as Furuichi makes a big revelation that we do not see coming.
The first half of the series has Akiyuki working aboard the mail carrier ship and the other half has Akiyuki and Nakiami traveling together to Nakiami’s home village where we discover that somebody close to her had become village chief. However, they are separated as Akiyuki travels with Haru to the fabled Quickening Chamber and Nakiami travels with a Tessik boy named Yango to meet Lady Sannova who is heading for the Chamber as well and head for a final battle involving the mysterious Emperor Hiruken.
Xam’d: Lost Memories is filled with twists that we don’t see coming, which is what makes for scenes that stand out. A main character ripping his head clean off and another character being sold into slavery and falling into the hands of a kindly old woman connected to another character is but a few examples of what makes this series so enticing. On top of that, there are moments that are profoundly beautiful like a brief and heartbreaking “reunion” between Akiyuki and his mother who is desperate to see her son again. I don’t even mind that the series is clearly inspired by two classic anime series (think Eureka Seven meets Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor and you get the picture).
Oh, and the animation is simply breath taking to the point that you will be thanking Sentai Filmworks for bringing it to us on Blu-ray.
On the other hand, there are scenes that will have you scratching your head wondering what just happened and why, such as the time Nakiami is “violated” by a black entity on board the Zanbani. Why does a floating eye who speaks like the Emperor follow Akiyuki around when he lost his memory in another scene? These are moments without explanation. The series also has moments where nothing really happens that moves the plot forward, although some of these moments do give us a chance to flesh out the secondary characters like the crew of the Zanbani. Then there’s the ending that was something of a major disappointment in my eyes.
Still, the Complete Collection of Xam’d: Lost Memories is nothing short of unforgettable and oftentimes even profoundly beautiful despite its various flaws that are too hard to ignore. Yes, there are complex and almost nonsensical moments in this series that will wear a viewer down bet there are also moments both compelling and deep enough to really appreciate. Either way, I cannot recommend this series enough especially for those who enjoy an anime series that does not fail to show you something unexpected or keep you watching to the very end.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
On his way to school with his best friends Haru and Furuichi, a white-haired child ignites an explosive that unleashes an organic spore that changes Akiyuki’s life has he transforms into an armored being called Xam’d. Rescued by a girl named Nakiami, Akiyuki comes to live and work on a mail ship as his friends join a military force that will put them on a collision course with their destiny and Akiyuki discovers the mystery behind his new power.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Definitely a series that deserves the Blu-ray treatment, Xam’d is a visual treat with animation that brings to mind Studio Ghibli’s best productions. Everything from the backgrounds, visual effects and character design comes together beautifully. Then again, it’s exactly what we would come to expect from Studio BONES?
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese language track is the best way to watch this series but the English dub performances have their shining moments thanks to talented voice actors like Monica Rial (refreshing as Haru), Blake Sheppard (decent as Akiyuki) and Shelley Calene-Black (wonderful as Ishu). The score by Michiru Oshima is as beautiful as the animation and the opening and closing theme songs (all in English) aren’t bad at all.
I know it’s not an extra but just the fact that this a Blu-ray edition is an awesome extra in itself but other than that all you will find are a few Sentai Filmworks trailers and as well as the clean opening and closing animations that include the original On-Air versions of both.
An impressive, gorgeous and occasionally profound anime series, Xam’d: Lost Memories often gets lost in its own complex narrative but still manages to be an experience anime fans should not miss. Sure, there are scenes that don’t often make sense but these are overshadowed by the things that make it stand out like the gorgeous animation, great character development and scenes with enough emotion depth that they make this series worth watching from beginning to end. Xam’d should be considered a flawed yet impressive anime classic.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks