Anime Reviews

Turn off your mind, unwind and see how high the cloudy sky. Xam'd, naturally.

Should I say Xam’d: Lost Memories is good? It’s better than good, and I know it’s not enough to say just that, but I have to be careful. Because I’m about ready to explode. Yes, there’s too much to say. This is what anime is capable of; it’s why I’m writing an anime blog. Ironically, I’m on the brink of incoherence, but I need order, I need someone to understand something; that Xam’d: Lost Memories is good and that I think you might like it too. But that’s still not enough.
Where to begin? How about the trailer. I’ve been admiring this series since reading the trailer’s subtitle of “A nostalgic SF by Studio Bones”. Of course, a lot of anime is nostalgic, but it’s typically nostalgia for youth, for young love. Xam’d is nostalgic for science fiction. Our heroine Nakiami recalls both the rural appearance of Nausicaä (of Nausicaä and the Valley of Wind) and the emotional ambivalence of Eureka (of Eureka Seven). So, right off the bat, those are two of my favourite anime. It seems I was fated to adore this show.

The direction has an air of confidence, the narrative flows naturally, the plot is slow-building and consistent, the characters are light hearted and funny, some concealing their insecurity with a spunky attitude, others with sarcasm, none of it feeling artificial or calculated, just natural, normal. By the time the action kicks in, about three quarters of the way through the first episode, I was immersed, lost in the fantasy, in the characters, their lives about to be torn apart.

The school bus explodes, it’s a suicide bombing. Terrorism. Fear spreads. The twisted wreckage of what’s left behind is more like an open ribcage, bloodied, facing skyward. The seats have a bubbling, organic texture. Strange flying machines float high over-head, launching their organ-like pods of insectiod attackers into the city below. Akiyuki’s arm swells and twists with a strange, alien infection, his trembling body is no longer his own.
It’s a shock to transition so violently from this sleepy, easy-going slice of life into a terrible, chaotic war, a situation that reflects our own fears of terrorism and paranoia of aggression that is indiscriminate and seemingly aimless.
Akiyuki’s mum is a part of an ensemble of likable and interesting personalities. Her marriage is falling apart, but she maintains a strength of character, humour and dignity that’s really quite admirable. Akiyuki’s dad is a workaholic; a popular doctor with time for his patients but none for those most important to him, his family. They both care deeply for their son, but show it in different ways. When he goes missing, they both go looking for him, but at different times. They understand each other, but pretend not to, neither willing to compromise with the other. Little do they know, Akiyuki has embarked on a nostalgic adventure.

Flying high in purple skies, I’m happy just watching this story unfold, like some long lost fable, it’s beautifully drawn, sometimes poetically so, dream-like and awe-inspiring, a world worth exploring, with its many strange cultures, creatures and technologies. It is a fantasy in the truest sense of the word, a world of fantastic imagination, dark and light, nostalgic and exciting, would be perfect if there wasn’t so much rust in the water.

25 replies on “Turn off your mind, unwind and see how high the cloudy sky. Xam'd, naturally.”

Sounds like something Id really enjoy, how havint I heard of this. is it ongoig?
Deff gonna look into it.

Xam’d is great but I’m paying 4 bucks per episode just to rent it for a day. I got the first 4 episode so far on my PS3 but I might have to start watching it online because I just can’t afford it :[

I don’t wanna get ahead of myself either, seeing how I’ve only seen 2 episodes so far…but yeah, this is scary good. Ridiculously good. So good, a list of superlatives just won’t do it enough justice. And with the show leaning on BONES’ wallet, I can see much more goodness on the horizon.

Wait, you mean there’s a show this season that’s worth watching? Here’s me thinking that my crappy internet situation came at the best possible time. I guess I should start writing an apology note to the neighbours, because their unprotected wireless network may experience some lag for the next hour or two. >:x

I’m really enjoying it myself so far, pretty similar to Eureka Seven, also I totally had the same thoughts about Namiaki being similar with Nausicáá and Eureka. I have high hopes for this series, better not let me down. Also, Paul, Shut up and Explode. 🙂

This is really exciting and watchable stuff, with properly dynamic presentation. It’s one of those shows which feels all style and little substance then throws up a great little character moment out of nowhere.
I’d not seen the trailer, but nostalgic is a good word for the spirit BONES put into it – along with their other series this season it seems like they have a great time creating their own worlds to put alongside those of their peers.

I had a bunch of ridiculously high expectations on this show and so far it has really liven up to them all. It’s an amazing show and my initial worry that the quality would suffer because it’s an exclusive to the Playstation Store seems to be completely unfounded.

great anime
seems that studio Bones might surpasses mad house for me
mad house have been my favourite studio so far
but with soul eater – sword of the stranger and now Xam’d: Lost Memories
i think studio bones are the best
and the great thing that there is a big chance they will do another Fullmetal Alchemist
hell yeah

I’ve been waiting for a post like this – one that finally convinces me that there’s something in the new season that’s to my liking (there’s Eve no Jikan of course, but Hidamari Sketch x365 won’t be a surprise since I know what to expect from watching some of the first season). The way you spill your immediate thoughts out gives a very raw and emotional impression – I’ll add the first couple of episodes to my ‘to do’ list for the weekend now. ^_^

Ah kind of late, I’m in Geneva heh! K love this! Love the post love the show, adore the show! Everything is so real…in a caricature kind of way, I mean it is SF so Realistic it does not have to be. I love characters animated expressions and their subtle nuanced movements, simply astonishing. This is not supposed to be seen in a normal two seasoned show. But BONES has once again (in spades) offered over the hefty hype. Lets not forget the music, I love how its Arab influenced in some places. Its very fitting in my opinion. Four episodes in and I’ve yet to see a noticeable drop in quality, quite the feat. With Soul eater currently running too BONES is quickly ascending over my favorite studio list even surpassing sunrise (everyone loves cranky melodrama with crazy lesbians!) Heres to 22 more episodes of Ghibili-esque greatness! Quite frankly its re inviting, this is what makes me feel like an anime fan year over year. A show with great potential just takes my breath away. Now this is it.

mm, i’m with you on this one.
i watched the first episode with a smile on my face, and it hasn’t faded, four episodes later.
just to be a prick, i’ll throw this in: i think a part of the reason i can enjoy this is because i don’t have to worry about whether the subs are consistent or not; they’re excellent, not only in terms of translating cultural nuances (i’m thinking of the fourth? episode where our newly appointed Colonel, in japanese, asks another military official “not to bow his head”. this is seemlessy translated into “don’t belittle yourself” or something along those lines) but also in terms of line length and font style. this is the reason that more people should buy their anime, and even though the status quo of fans downloading their anime might not change, it’s nice to have high-quality subtitles for at least ONE show this season.
out of all the other series i’ve auditioned in terms of recent beginnings (mahou tsukai ni taisetsu na koto, birdy the mighty decode, and natsume yuujinchou) aside from Genius Party (which almost doesn’t.. count really, since that was technically of the 2007 vintage..) this is probably the only one that i don’t feel lukewarm about. and given the merits of the production teams on some of the other shows (notably birdy, what with Noein’s team behind it and all) i have to admit i’m a little surprised. it may only be four episodes in, but it’ll take a hell of alot to ruin Xam’d for me; i’ve been more or less swept away.

1) finish watching kaiba.
2) my personal favorite of the Genius Party shorts was Shanghai Dragon, but shoji kawamori has had my heart from long, long ago, so this is to be expected.

Bateszi, I feel like I’ve got to watch absolutely everything you blog, but there’s so little time! I still haven’t checked this series out yet, but now I really want to …

Epic comment reply mode, engage…
[Sorry about the length of this comment, guys.]
@Outlawstar: Yes, Xam’d is on-going, but so far, it’s only being released via PS3 in North America, everyone else is locked out. Hasn’t even started in Japan yet, but it’s worth seeing for sure.
@Hei: It’s cool that you have the option to rent it. Do try to stick with that for as long as possible, if just because this release method is probably the best alternative we have to fansubs. I mean, for once, it’s the fansubs that are lagging behind the official releases! And by all accounts, the HD quality is fantastic too. Just a shame it’s rental-only.
@Kabitzin: I got to about the end of episode two before I started thinking, “So, who is attacking who, then?” and suddenly I realized I had no idea what was happening. No doubt, we’ll get something of a head-spinning exposition dump sooner or later; either that or the reliable chaps at Wikipedia will be happy to help out! 🙂
@Sagacious1: Xam’d was so good that I almost didn’t write about it. Watching it was kind of like gazing straight into the sun, so blinded was I by its quality that I didn’t think I could do it justice. I suppose it’s risky to have such a pure confidence in the pedigree of a show, but I’m utterly sold on Xam’d.
@Hige: There is no escaping Japanese animation. Just when you think you’ve got it pegged, something else turns up. Not to mention The Backlog.
@Lupus Inu: I was trying to fit that song title into this post, somewhere, but I settled for the lyrics in the title instead. Both the OP and the ED are suitably excellent! 🙂
@coburn: I laughed at the Studio Bones analogy in your latest Do20F post; the idea that the staff working on this and Soul Eater are sitting in their canteen pointing and laughing at the unfortunate people working on a shoe-string budget for Do20F is amusing! To be honest, I lost some faith in Bones over the last few years (Darker than Black wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be), but 2008 sees them back in top form. Only Madhouse is challenging them at the moment.
@Matte: I wonder what the Japanese public is making of North America getting to see such highly-rated anime before them?
@qwertypoiuy: Thanks for reminding me, I still haven’t seen Sword of the Stranger. I’ve heard it’s a really good, straight forward action movie.
Also, the idea of more Fullmetal Alchemist is positively salivating, but I think it might be a few years off yet. Since the anime diverged from the manga canon, it will be interesting to see how they handle any future storylines.
@Martin: Spill is a nice word for my style of blogging, I guess! And same to you with regards to Eve no Jikan. I have to admit, I’ve been surprised at the reaction its evoked from the blogging community; I had no idea Yasuhiro Yoshiura was so popular, especially since Pale Cocoon wasn’t exactly easy to understand.
@Ivy: I totally agree with you, especially with regards to how it reminds us of what it feels like to be an anime fan. That’s exactly how I felt too, reminded of how it felt to sit in awe in front of something like Escaflowne and feel like I needed to tell the world. It’s above and beyond what I expect from anime and exactly what I’ve been missing since Gurren Lagann ended.
@Celeste: I must admit, this is the only summer anime I’ve bothered with, though I’m intending to take looks at both Blade of the Immortal and Birdy[…]. Most of it doesn’t feel vital enough for me to make time for, which is sad, but then the summer and winter seasons have always been hit or miss (the spring and autumn seasons contain the major players, so no need to worry just yet).
Anyway, I’m glad you’re enjoying Xam’d. I must admit, I was curious about your opinion of it because, like me, you’re attracted to things that are experimental and unique. Xam’d is very mainstream, but it’s also very good! 🙂
Also, I do find it fascinating to watch such a fast and profession subtitling job, along with the Gonzo anime that airs online, it’s interesting to note the differences between these and fan translated anime. For example, I totally prefer OP and ED sequences without flashy karaoke and credit sequences.
@blissmo: You don’t have to watch everything I recommend 🙂 That you went and had a look at Shigurui was awesome of you, and one day, I’ll return the favor!

Yeah, Xam’d is pretty darned good. When I first saw the trailer, I thought of Nausicaa, but I also got the feeling of Last Exile. I was never able to get into Eureka 7. I only made it to episode 2. But from that little exposure, I can see the similarities. The animation is beautiful even if it’s conventional, and the way that the story is unfolding pulls you right in. I’ll keep watching.
Studio 4C is by far my favorite studio. I enjoy Bones and Madhouse, too. Personally, I hope that Satoshi Kon will do another series. His ability to twist the real and imagined is wonderful.

Paul: Birdy’s not worth it, really >_>. it’s premise, while novel, is executed in a monster-of-the-day way. it doesn’t have endearing characters/long plot progression on its side either, like Naruto or One Piece, just.. a girl in a bikini-esque costume.
truthfully Xam’d flew under my radar (oh lord, pun not intended) until i saw it here; but Bones was enough to convince me to give this one a shot, just like Kaiba’s visual style was enough to convince me to try it.
but Xam’d is good stuff; if i had more time i’d join the anime blogging madness and ramble about it a little more :p but the next semester beckons..

@okiu14: First time I tried to get into E7 I failed after 1 episode, so I definitely recommend trying again at some point. It’s a show that takes a little bit of time to really sink its claws into you. Also, have to echo the Studio 4C love. Just another reminder that I need to watch Genius Party at some point this week.
Paranoia Agent was an interesting series, very unique, but I’d love to see him try something a little more dramatic again, like Millenium Actress. That’s my favourite movie of his, if just because I felt a tad more attached to the characters than usual (I still need to see Paprika!)
@Celeste: Ahh, it’s a wise choice to avoid anime blogging if you’re building up to a heavy semester, this is most definitely a time consuming little hobby. Even still, I’d a subscriber to your blog! 🙂

Thanks for posting about this. I’ve been meaning to try this out but this finally got me to make the effort and I really like what I see so far. 🙂

@bateszi: I’ll give Eureka 7 another shot one of these days. Genius Party is wonderful. I can’t wait for Genius Party Beyond! Millennium Actress was fantastic, but I enjoyed Tokyo Godfathers a little bit more. In fact, I recommend TG to many of my friends who aren’t into anime since I think it’s so approachable (kind of like a gateway drug). Paprika was good, but I think I went into it with expectations that were a little high. Still, I got to see it on the big screen, and it was nice eye candy.

@everyone that commented.
I share your comments too. I love BONES as a studio for releasing a large amount of enjoyable anime. Xam’d is presently the top of my list as the most pleasing anime I can relate to since it discusses topics like self exploration and the current worlds affairs.

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