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Xam’d Lost Memories – 05 »« Xam’d Lost Memories – 03

Xam’d Lost Memories – 04

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Summary:

In a war-torn city, a battle is raging between a Humanform weapon and what its pilot refers to as soulstealers. These soulstealers gang up on the Humanform weapon and easily defeat it by removing the ring around its snout area. Meanwhile, a group of white-haired children gather their equipment and depart from Lady Sannova for a mission to return the Hiruko to the Ruikon. Onboard the Zanbani, the crew does a mid-air mail drop, and Nakiami brings Akiyuki to see a Madame Tenshin for Xam’d training. Madame Tenshin begins by explaining that Akiyuki’s fate has become intertwined with Xam’d and that the Hiruko inside his arm prevents him from living as a human. When she questions if he still wants to live, Akiyuki asks back if the Hiruko can be removed, and Tenshin answers that only Lady Sannova can do it. Lady Sannova’s whereabouts, however, are unknown since she’s been exiled by the Northern Government, so Akiyuki tells Tenshin that he doesn’t want to die and wants to return to Sentan Island. In response to this, Tenshin questions what the Xam’d wants and instructs Akiyuki to listen to the Hiruko so that it can enlighten him. As for the actual training, Akiyuki is made to stamp letters, and his speed is timed.

Back on Sentan Island, Haru, Furuichi, and Midori join a crowd of people watching a Southern Continent Free Zone ship that has just arrived, and Furuichi comments on how a militia is being formed to strengthen the island’s defenses. In the midst of all this, Haru notices that one of the others in the crowd is a girl named Shidara who lost her entire family in the recent attack and now spends her time muttering about how everyone is dead. Akiyuki meanwhile continues his training and visits to Madame Tenshin, though he takes some time out of his schedule to replace stamps on undeliverable letters that he doesn’t want destroyed because they’re addressed to Sentan Island. He’s later helping out on the outside of the ship when another postal ship suddenly cuts the Zanbani off and releases a smokescreen. Akiyuki learns that the people on the other ship are Northern Government pawns who have been driven from their home and scattered across the world, and the distinction between these people and refugees is that of having a home to return to. The appearance of this ship causes Ishu tells Akushiba not to let Nakiami out because it’s a Tessik ship, but by this point Nakiami has already launched in the Beat Kayak.

Nakiami returns shortly thereafter to request permission to meet with someone called Zeygend from the other ship, but Ishu refuses to let her. Citing how the Tessik betrayed the anti-government army and are now making money doing things like trafficking humans, Ishu views them as trash who have sold their souls. When Nakiami takes offense because she considers herself to be the same as those people, Ishu slaps her and tells her that she can go whenever she wants. This leaves Nakiami unsure about what to do, but she still accompanies Akiyuki to their usual session with Madame Tenshin. The old woman has been asking Akiyuki to tell her what the Xam’d cannot help but seek, and although Akiyuki doesn’t know for sure, he suggests that Xam’d just wants to live with others. He feels that he needs the help of Nakiami and the others to live like this, and in response to this, Tenshin observes that the Hiruko is currently a lost soul. She feels that its thoughts couldn’t be given life and are unsure of what they seek, and she goes on to call it the Xam’d of the lost memory. Tenshin wants Akiyuki to meditate on his answer, but she allows the removal of the restraint on his right arm for the time being and entrusts him to Nakiami.

Meanwhile, on Sentan Island, Akiyuki’s father returns home that night to find a woman named Prois Sukakki from Free Zone headquarters waiting for him. She reveals that they’re putting an anti-Humanform research laboratory on the island and want his help, but Akiyuki’s father quickly turns her down. It’s not until she invokes the name of Kakisu Toujirou – the man who Akiyuki’s father had saved at Barador – that he really starts paying attention. Around this same time, in the same war-torn city where the soulstealers had earlier taken down a Humanform weapon, the injured Humanform weapon pilot sees a group of people he calls the Jibashiri extract the Hiruko from the belly of a dead pregnant woman. Moments later, a bullet pierces through his head.

Preview

Xamd Lost Memories   04   Preview 01 Xamd Lost Memories   04   Preview 02 Xamd Lost Memories   04   Preview 03

There’s a lot to like about this series – the production quality, the depth of the surroundings/world, the characters, and more – but what I really hate about it is how it throws you into certain parts of the story with little or no introduction. I didn’t mind a few episodes ago when the story were just starting out, but the writers keep doing this every week, so the list of things unexplained just keeps growing, and it can feel rather overwhelming at times. Examples from this week include Lady Sannova and the Jibashiri, the souleaters, what the Tessik ship was doing, what Madame Tenshin was gibbering about (she reminds me in many ways of the old Stargazer from Darker than Black), and all the different sides of whatever conflict is currently going on. On that last one in particular, I know there’s the Southern and Northern sides, but how does the anti-government group fit in? And which side is controlling the Humanform weapons?

I guess this is a way to keep the viewers interested and thinking about the series, but at the same time, it’s rather irritating to see all this stuff that doesn’t make a lot of immediate sense. In short, I wish they’d take a more measured approach to introducing things. Hopefully next week will at least clear up some of the stuff about what the Tessik and Zeygend are doing since it looks like from the preview that Nakiami might be joining them.

August 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm
23 comments »
  • August 9, 2008 at 6:08 pmexia

    its an interesting series. i like the op and ed and decent story its a win/win

  • August 9, 2008 at 6:21 pmsomesyl

    actually… I think the whole “not explaining stuff” thing is a great concept.

    In other shows it´s most often like “Hey ? Did you hear about this totaly commong thing that everybody here knows but it just so happens that I will explain it to you in case you forgot or someone might be watching us and wants to hear it ?”
    I mean, why ( for example ) would people on a ship explain to each other what they´re doing… they should know allready…
    And I think it´s a good idea to not spoon feed the viewers with all the information they need to just lean back and mindlessly watch the show…

    It is a somewhat risky aproach to things because it sometimes can be just too much… but up until know the lack of information seems allright to me ( as in : you can still understand what´s going on right now even though you have no idea “why” ) and in a weird way keeps the show more realistic in my eyes…

  • August 9, 2008 at 6:22 pmPatapon

    Why do I have this feeling that with this type of blogging this series is going to have the same fate as Darker than Black? Seriously, if you hate it so much don’t blog it. Remember what you did to DTB? I love your style, RC and all but don’t ruin this one please.

  • August 9, 2008 at 6:55 pmkdp

    FYI – I noticed on re-watching that the white-haired boys had those bird costumes that were the same as the bird costumes at the end of the show.

    I have to agree with you about the lack of background. I don’t mind mysteries, but having to pick up the history of this world via context is annoying. How hard would it be to have something like a military briefing that gives the background on the present situation?

  • August 9, 2008 at 7:23 pmD

    your complaints about the storytelling is essentially a complaint about studio BONES themselves. They seem to favor this style of narrative as most of their shows are bound by that structure I’ve found. I don’t mind it, as it provides a lot of food for thought and discussion with others who are also watching :)

  • August 9, 2008 at 7:24 pmIrational Promise

    Surprisingly, I don’t feel overwealmed at all.
    Its pretty refreshing afterall and I have to agree with somesyl.

  • August 9, 2008 at 7:56 pmhawkeye

    This show hasn’t reached a point where we can start complaining about lack of information (I think it kind of builds tension). But on the other hand i hope it does not end up like american TV show LOST, in which even in season 3 all we have are question and more questions. But so far im liking it. This episode though was a little too slow for my taste. Even so alls cool.

  • August 9, 2008 at 7:56 pmdustandechoes91

    To me it feels like the last 2 eps have been pretty boring. They dove into this great story with the battle in the first two eps, but now the main character is just on the ship and they aren’t really doing much. They need a little more excitement.

  • August 9, 2008 at 8:14 pmRandom Boy

    @ hawkeye

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    Its really interesting what’s happening to the characters now, but eventually we’ll learn about their backgrounds. Just think of it as meeting a person(s) for the first time, you won’t know everything about them in a day or so, and yeah maybe some people will tell you their life-story from the moment you meet. But for some, it takes time to know them.

  • August 9, 2008 at 9:07 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    yea me thinks so too, sometimes “less is more”. how many episodes is this gonna be??

  • August 9, 2008 at 9:56 pmChimasternmay

    Ya it seems like she may leave more then she may not leave, because in the opening Akiyuki is suddenly surprised to see her and running towards her… i don’t know i always think the opening are symbolic will see though.

  • August 9, 2008 at 10:49 pmKadian1364

    There’s a fine line in storytelling between letting mysteries be and just being patronizing in the way Somesyl said. In my experience, popular anime greatly favors the latter approach, which gets annoying (Hello! Perhaps your audience can think for themselves once in a while. Every psuedo political-maneuver and clever ninja-tactic need not be explained). I can see how Omni is afraid of a Lost syndrome occuring, where the writing group is just a group of buffoons and don’t know what’s happening themselves, but I don’t think Xam’d falls in that category. Maybe we (the general anime fan viewership) are so used to being beaten over the head with “the obvious facts” that we panic when we’re not hand-held through a complex plot for an entire season.

    As it is, I’m thoroughly enjoying what Xam’d offers each episode, the characters, the action, the sweet OP. Plot mysteries are infinitely forgivable when we have Entertainment.

  • August 10, 2008 at 1:35 amRandom Boy

    @ BROOKLYN otaku

    Its going to be 26 episodes. I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s going to be two seasons, but don’t take my word for it.

  • August 10, 2008 at 3:03 amBLACKWINGS89

    TOO CONFUSING AND I JUST WONDER IF BONES is full of hippies
    stuck in the 70′s all there settings give off old school vibes like EUREKA 7
    and i wish the characters looked a little better.

  • August 10, 2008 at 4:36 amThe Hand of Guren

    I was mildly interested in this anime, but some of these replies are turning me off on this show.

    There is nothing wrong in keeping us in the dark to create and maintain mystery; this is neither a good thing nor bad. But if you choose to tell a story this way and if you also want a large audience to enjoy your story, then you have to do three things:

    1) You have to create such an engrossing tale that you make the audience members want to stick around and ignore their own natural inclination to become bored with stories that do not explain why things are happening;

    2) You have to make the mystery so intriguing that you make the audience want to stick around to discover these explanations;

    and

    3) You have to make sure that the mystery you have made the audience wait for is actually worth waiting for.

    The above list is obvious. If you can do it–great! What I’m trying to say is that criticism should not be leveled against the method of Bones’s storytelling: if there is any criticism, they should be leveled at the qualtity of execution of this type of storytelling.

    I saw the whole “Eureka 7″ anime, and I do not think Bones satisfied criteria 1 and 2 very well. I just found the main girl too unlikeably whiny (even though she is sooooo cuuute) and the main boy too unreasonable for me to care about them. And I also found many of the conflicts cheap and manipulative. One part I found myself often burying my eyes in my palm was the middle part where the boy meets the hairy dude and his hot wife. This arc felt just too manipulative, irrational, and false for me; the result was that their deaths felt ridiculous to me.

    But the real problem of “Eureka 7″ for me was that Bones miserably failed to meet criteria 3. I’m referring to the whole mystery behind the alien lifeform and the aerial surfing. The longer you successfully hold the suspense, the more you amp up the expectation and hype it up. And when I discovered how ridiculous and uninterestingly arbitrary the nature of its world reality is, I lost almost all interest in anything Eureka 7-related. I only watched the whole thing because I was on a trip at the time and there was not a lot to do.

    But because I saw all of Eureka 7 in a four day span only last month, I’m still feeling highly skeptical about an Eureka 7-like show by Bones. I’ll wait for Omni to blog more before I decide to watch any of this show.

  • August 10, 2008 at 5:43 amLithium17

    @ The Hand of Guren…
    somewhat agree with you ….. like I said in my posts on previous episodes, Eureka7 failed on many, many levels. Character interaction, too many holes in script, wayward soundtrack, wayward pacing….etc.

    With regards to this episode…. it was slow.

    I’m still waiting for MC Hammer’s “can’t touch this” to play and for Nakiami to start doing a cheesy dance.

  • August 10, 2008 at 10:56 amThe Hand of Guren

    @lithium17

    You’re joking about the MC Hammer comment, right? Eureka 7′s plotting may be manipulative and the characterizations unappealing, but I wouldn’t call its OST and licensed singles stylistically un-unified.

    The singles for the OPs and EDs fit an internationally contemporary sense of the hip and would probably be well received in both a normal college and high school party setting–unlike “Can’t Touch This,” which has seen its reputation take a beating for about two decades.

    Six of these songs also blend well with the counter-cultural funk, hippie, and surfer aesthetics of the late 60s through the seventies, which characterize the art of this anime–without being of it. The other two singles–from the last two OPs–are styles descended from punk, which is of the same era. Music of the short-lived MC Hammer-flat-top-parachute-pants movement would not fit this aesthetics nearly as well–there is no good reason for this, it is just the way it is. Regardless, I especially hope this comment is not some dig at the use of the standout song, “Shounen Heart,” by Home Made Kazoku, which is featured in the second OP. This song is the most appropriately used.

    The orchestral score is boring. It’s just forgettable stuff for influencing the tone and mood and, often, for indicating how we should feel about any given scene. But use of orchestral scores is standard procedure in the scoring industry, so I didn’t notice anything odd or out of place about it.

  • August 10, 2008 at 11:51 amReiter

    I think Lithium was simply referring to Nakiami’s parachute pants when MC Hammer was brought up, heh. I actually like being thrown into the story without having to be talked down to by some faceless narrator, or having to stomach yet another piece of arbitrary exposition just so the creators can explain the world and plot to me.

    Generally, Bones respects the audience enough to draw their own conclusions without insulting their intelligence with a narrative that explains everything right off the bat. That would kill most of the anticipation for wanting to know what happens next in future eps, I think. Bones is building to something with Xam’d, I’m sure of it. When they finally did the big reveal in Eureka 7, I was blown away so I’m hoping it’s the same here with Xam’d's payoff.

    The one thing (among others) I can fault with E7 was that its pacing was kinda off, but given that the show went on for 50+ eps, you kinda expect that things would slow down or be a bit off (Full Metal Alchemist and Blood+ fell victim to this too for being 50+ eps as well). But since Xam’d is slated for 26 eps, I expect their pacing and narrative to be much tighter and flow a bit better. At least they’re not using the two episode mini arcs that Darker Than Black used, so they’re definitely building on things as they go along.

    I really like the music in Xam’d, same as E7; I think it fits the scenes and moods very well, particularly the quieter, orchestral pieces. This isn’t some crazy GAR show like Gurren Lagaan (another show I liked but an entirely different spin on mecha) where you expect the music to be so in your face and so bombastic that it’s epic. With Xam’d, the creators are taking their time but believe me, they’re building to something epic and big all their own.

  • August 10, 2008 at 1:02 pmThe Hand of Guren

    @Lithium17

    I want to apologize. Based on Reiter’s comment, I realize I must have come off as pretty ignorant. My bad.

    @Reiter

    Hehe. I can completely agree that the pace of E7, especially in the second half, is unforgiving to the viewer and does not offer us any worthwhile payoff.

    Well, the success of Xam’d will, as with E7, obviously depend largely, though not fully, on the worthiness of its revelations. Now, even though you enjoyed the revelations of E7, that wasn’t the case for me. I hope the revelations of Xam’d will allow me to enjoy this anime. I think the fellas at Bones are clearly talented. And I like their style. It’s different from other anime groups.’ I would like to watch and enjoy an anime these fellas do. But if the treatment of environmental and socio-political themes in Xam’d is anything like that of E7 or even a late Miyazaki film, I will increasingly believe that the counter-cultural / environmental movements have negatively affected their ability to develop the major stakes of a story in a convincing way for me.

  • August 10, 2008 at 2:56 pmLithium17

    @ Hand of Guren & Reiter

    When I said E7 had a wayward soundtrack…. I didn’t imply that it was bad…. It had some great moments like the music that played while that soldier dude went to save the pink-haired chick.

    The problem is E7 tried to mesh too many genres together…. the orchestral and tech-house/trance parts were very fitting…. but the cheesy idol sounds and J-rap kinda threw me off.

    The soundtrack’s mostly good so far with regards to Xam’d (I don’t really like the OP though).

    With regards to the plot… no complaints really…. I’m looking to be spoon-fed, but Eureka went way wrong and I just hope Xam’d doesn’t turn out like that…. I don’t mind being thrown into the deep-end as a viewer (I think Kaiba is the best anime this season), but please let there be coherence.

    As for my comment on the character interaction in E7…. one of the best examples is the relationship between Renton and Holland…. Holland bashes Renton for a good 30+ eps, and then they’re suddenly bum-chumps after that…. WTF man.

    And the cheese in E7 was massive…. I get bad vibes thinking of the last ep where Renton says in Engrish’ “I CAN FLY”… or something like that….. BLEH!!

    I’ll end my Eureka 7 comparisons with this post…. unless Xam’d f##k’s up somewhere…. then I’ll give no quarter.

    Can’t touch this! Dum, Dum, Dum, DumDum, Dum, Du-um, Dum….. heh, sorry.

  • August 10, 2008 at 2:58 pmLithium17

    Whoops…. I meant I’m NOT looking to be spoon-fed (3rd paragraph in the post before this)

  • August 10, 2008 at 3:17 pmThe Hand of Guren

    Well, you fellas are going to be my canary in the coal mine… :p

    If Bones pulls a E7 the way I described, then I won’t be joining you people in the cave, hehe. I hope the show turns out well. :D

  • August 10, 2008 at 5:43 pmReiter

    E7 did try to cram a lot of themes and music into its plot; from high tech sci-fi vs. environmental preservation, anti-establishment surfer culture vs. blind military expansion, bureaucratic secularism vs. Buddhist-esque religion. A lot of it worked for me. I think its 50+ episode runtime allowed the creators to explore all those themes and more (with varying degrees of success).

    But again, the pacing suffered a bit because of it. With Xam’d, I think the creators are trying to tell a more intimate story and nothing quite as sweeping (as in save the world type stuff though I could be wrong) as they did in E7 (so far Xam’d involves only two nations and an anti-gov’t faction). They sorta have to narrow their focus given the 26-episode limit. As was mentioned before, Xam’d feels more fantasy than it does high tech sci fi (as was the case with E7).

    Kaiba is another good example where viewers are thrown right into the thick of the plot and given no clues or explanation as to what’s happening from the start. At only 13 eps to wrap up its story, it did so quite well, I thought, with not a frame of animation wasted. I’m going to give Xam’d the benefit of the doubt and assume the creators know what they’re doing and not just yanking our chains a la Lost.

    On a side note, the more I see of Haru the more I think she’ll cut her hair and join the military in search of Akiyuki. Having her see what the ravages of war has done to her classmate is just one step toward her doing that, I believe. Haru’s not the type to just sit around doing nothing. I also like that Xam’d shows the aftermath of war (they did so in E7 too) and not just gloss over a bunch of blown up buildings and such just for the sake of kick ass action (as is the case so often in anime); they give a face to the casualties and the emotional trauma that comes with it.