Xam'd: Lost Memories (Bônen no zamudo)-Collection 01 (Blu-ray) (2008)
Featurette-Clean Opening and Closing Animations
Featurette-Original On-Air Opening and Closing Animations
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Although it may not have the respect and market recognition of their earlier series, Fullmetal Alchemist, 2008s Xam'd: Lost Memories from Studio Bones is an entertaining and sometimes thrilling anime series. That is if Collection One, comprising the first 13 episodes of this 26 episode season, is anything to go by.
Describing the plot of this series is a little difficult. Each of the 20 odd minute episodes, complete with ad break inserts, jumps between various stories and locales, meaning it can be a struggle at times to work out what is going on. Xam'd is set in an alternative Japanese-like world. In the long-running war between the Northern Government and the Southern Government Free Zone, Sentan Island is something of a haven. Whilst combatant airships pass over the island with regularity no one takes much of an interest in this peaceful spot. One day, that all changes.
School friends Akiyuki, Haru and Furuichi need their identification armbands to get on a school bus. After Akiyuki notices that a small pale girl has no ID he lends her his armband to get on the bus. Big mistake! At a suitable point she detonates an explosive device, tearing the bus apart. When Akiyuki approaches the dying girl she touches his forehead transmitting a hiruko, a ruby like object which turns him into Xamdou, a white creature that subsumes Akiyuki's body. Akiyuki can barely control the fighting machine he has become. At the same time as the explosion, an attack by the Northern Government surprises the peaceful Sentan islanders. Odd humanform creatures are dropped from the sky and cause devastation with their energy attacks. Akiyuki as Xamdou gets in a battle with a giant humanform and struggles to save Haru's life. Winning the battle, he begins to turn to stone. Only the intervention of Nakiami, riding a small flying vehicle (think Nausicaa) prevents him from passing to nothingness. She asks him the simple question-Do you want to live? In order to save him Nakiami takes Akiyuki onto the aircraft she calls home, a postal ship run by the tough but sexy captain Ishu. Ishu runs a tight ship and controls the strong-willed Nakiami and the naive Akiyuki with a cruel to be kind mentality. Akiyuki, under the equally hard tutelage of Nakiami, has to learn what it means to be blessed or cursed with the Xam'd. He is a prisoner of sorts on the ship, unable to leave because, if he does so, the Xam'd will take him over and turn him to stone. It must be controlled and Nakiami knows how to do that. She has done it before with ... limited success.
Meanwhile, back on Sentan Island changes are afoot. Former war hero Commander Kakisu takes over the island's defences and in doing so forms a bond with a disgraced doctor who is working on his own experiments creating humanform weapons. Kakisu will do anything to win the war. He recruits locals including Haru and Furuichi to pilot powerful mecha weapons. All the while Haru pines for her missing friend. Also, Akiyuki's father Dr Ryuzu and estranged mother are trying to come to terms with his absence. As it turns out Dr Ryuzu may have had something to do with the origin of the humanform weapons.
Although the Blu-ray case promises Stone Cold Mecha Action this series, or at least the first collection of 13 episodes, has a far wider focus than just giant battling creatures. The fact that the education of Akiyuki occurs on a postal ship should give an idea that this is something a little different. Of course, no recent anime series exists without drawing on the past and the tropes of anime are all here: a whining, annoying protagonist who becomes aware of his importance and power as well as his purpose in life (Evangelion); a troubled yet powerful and strong-willed girl who takes him under her wing, so to speak; several buffoonish characters providing some comic relief from the serious action; and some doctors and scientists up to no good. Combine that with a cute pet creature and giant slicing and dicing creatures and you have all the elements for a mecha themed anime series.
Don't let this dissuade you however. Xam'd: Lost Memories takes those familiar elements and does them well, combining excellent animation and a story which though it might at times border on incomprehensible is nevertheless engaging enough to keep you diving into the set for another episode. A definite advantage is that the Xam'd was a stand-alone 26 episode season which will hopefully mean that the last 13 episodes will bring a real conclusion to the story.
Xam'd comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 transfer consistent with its original television aspect ratio.
This is an anime based on nice clear lines and vibrant colours and the Blu-ray pulls it off in style. If it lacks the ultimate quality of Disney animations and cinema anime like Evangelion it is probably only through budget limitations; otherwise no one could be unhappy with this presentation. The facial animations are expressive.
There are no technical defects of note. I saw the briefest moments of aliasing but nothing of concern.
Xam'd carries a Japanese audio track and an English dub. Both are 5.1 DTS HD Master Audi. Both are excellent tracks. Purists will want to keep to the Japanese language track but watching episodes in both I can say the differences are subtle. The English cast, comprising seasoned anime performers, acquits well.
The music is by Michuro Ohshima, who also composed music for Fullmetal Alchemist. The usual driving action music combined with wistful themes are on offer. The opening song for the show is Shut Up and Explode by Japanese electronica/rock duo Boom Boom Satellites. It is a driving, perfect tune although, for reasons unknown, even in the English dub the lyrics appear on the screen during the opening, perhaps to inspire a sing-a-long. A pity, for the lyrics verge between nonsensical and very nonsensical - something about lemon drops and running away!
The surround capabilities of the track are not heavily utilised although the sub-woofer does rock the room from time to time when giant mechas are about.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no real extras with the set. It does include the following :
These are really only for the mad enthusiasts.
The Blu-ray version available in this Region is the same as the Region A version. Buy the local.
Amongst a tide of anime Xam'd: Lost Memories doesn't really stand out as stunning or innovative. Nevertheless, it is worth a watch and combines some high quality animation with some interesting, if complex, scripting creating some memorable characters amid battling mechs.
The Blu-ray looks and sounds good in both dubs. The lack of extras is disappointing but not something that is exclusive to our Region.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|