The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Xam’d: Lost Memories

Title: Xam’d: Lost Memories aka Bounen no Xamdou
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bones
Format: 26 ONA
Dates: 16 Jul 2008 – 3 Feb 2009

Synopsis: Takehara Akiyuki is an everyday teenager living in peace on the remote Sentan Island. He constantly bickers with his best friends Haru and Furuichi while tuning out the government propaganda perpetually buzzing over the radios. One day, on his way to school, a suicide bomber changes his life forever. As a result of the bombing, Akiyuki’s arm is implanted with a mysterious jewel that transforms him into a creature known as the Xam’d. He must now learn to cope with his new symbiotic existence with this creature or die.

The Highlights
Animation: Stunning; one of the best non-movie, non-OVA animation I’ve ever seen.
Characters: Surprisingly mature; this show actually has parents who care about their children.
Plot: A tangled mess of generic ideas that are served half-baked with a dash of confusion.
Drama: Hits two home runs and strikes out every other time.

Once upon a time, I probably would have hailed Xam’d as a excellent series, touting its intricate storyline, well-developed characters and superb animation. These days I realize that competent storylines and strong characters are overrated, and a series lives and dies simply by how compelling it is. Though each individual episode of this series is interesting enough to watch, the central narrative is far too ambiguous to truly be absorbed into the experience, and the show goes down the same path of so many of Bones‘ other shows and falls into dismal mediocrity for the last few episodes.

Though the show never fails anything outright, Xam’d suffers from the unusual ailment of having a solid ensemble of characters, story and execution that comes across as too bland. The story has a strong lack of urgency. There are times where I wonder, what is this show trying to do? Where does it want to go? And why should I care? Despite being well developed, the characters are not strong enough to the carry the show, and after the first few episode, the story slowly falls into a lethargic stupor.

Due to the underwhelming nature of much of the second half of the series, the show’s final chance hinges on the ending, and the show, by in large, fails to deliver anything worthwhile. The problem with the ending – and much of the show – is that it requires the audience to care about seemingly minor plot points that are mentioned once or twice before suddenly transforming into “major” themes that Bones attempts to pass off as some dramatic climax. In short, the drama is so poorly presented, inadequately established and prematurely delivered to a point that some of the conclusions feel confusing.

In defense of the title, Xam’d is a thoroughly competent show with great animation and exceptionally mature writing. The visuals are so good that if someone on 4chan told me that Xam’d is a television series animated by Ghibli, I would believe them. Also by shounen action standards, this series has some of the most genuine characters of the genre. Though this element may have caused the show’s downfall, I do like the fact that every character in this anime is driven by personal ambition, whether it is some grand vision or simple self-pettiness.

Xam’d
is a very difficult title to review because it is actually a solid title that suffers from being too bland. The production values are top notch, the concepts are strong and the presentation is stable, but the show is one of many of Bones‘ titles that simply lacks the synergistic magic that makes a show worth watching. Bones is a company formed by ex-Sunrise employees, and – as much as I hate to say this – maybe they should should start looking at their former company for inspiration.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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