Review: XAM’D Lost Memories Part 1

Akiyuki is happily going through high school with his best friends Haru and Furuichi, living in the free zone Sentan Island – untouched by the disputes of the Northern and Southern Governments. That is until a girl decides to blow up his bus on the way to school, infecting him and turning him into a monster. But rather than give up, he has a reason to live and becomes a XAM’D – an almost superhuman being with abilities that the military are desperate to get their hands on. He’s given a choice – either to leave town with the mysterious Nakiami or to stay and turn to stone. Thus his journey begins to find out what it is that XAM’D seeks.

The story does start like most anime with an action packed opening episode, leaving explanations of the world and characters a little later. Fortunately, because the world XAM’D: Lost Memories is set in is appealing and intriguing, explanations can afford to be left for a little later, as character developments take centre stage. It is, in some respect, typically shõnen, with your teenage male protagonist and a hinted love interest with the burden of a gift or talent that can be used to help others. It has subtle similarities to Akira and Eureka Seven, which is a good sign if you enjoyed at least one of them. XAM’D; Lost Memories is compelling to watch with likable characters, quick-paced storyline and brilliant animation.

Animation studio BONES – famous for their production of the popular anime Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Soul Eater amongst many others – have once again come out with an anime that’s fresh and a joy to watch. The animation is incredibly fluid and consistent with beautiful settings and character designs that have an almost Ghibli like feel to them. The quality of this title is quite a feat to behold and with the release also available on Blu-Ray; it’s definitely worth that extra little bit of money to see the full HD quality.

The Japanese voice cast are, again, at the top of their game with the heroine, Haru, voiced by the popular Fumiko Orikasa, who voiced Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and still voices Rukia in Bleach. Whilst the Japanese cast is so strong, it’s hard to flick and watch it in the English dub. A dub that’s not done by Funimation does sadly mean that the quality of the ADR direction and acting just isn’t quite up to scratch. The dubbing also feels rushed with the voice actors speaking whilst the mouth flaps are closed. It is a difficult task to do without a doubt, but since the quality of dubbing has risen, this dub does stand out to be weaker than others on the market. Notwithstanding, it’s a minor qualm and the only downside of this anime. However, if you never watch the English dub then you should have no problem in enjoying this.

The opening theme will have you tapping your feet and eventually singing along, and it’s in English, which helps, rather than you attempting to sing in failed Japanese. The closing is also a catchy song, but not just that – the music throughout the episodes is used perfectly in each scene and doesn’t have an over-used theme. Composer Michiru Oshima has written the music for a handful of successful anime and games in the past, including The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, from 2003.

You’ll find that you will grow fond of characters particularly quickly, especially the supporting crew aboard the postal ship, who are all varied with a different story to tell. That being said, remembering their names could be troublesome, but you will have no difficulty remembering their appearance or characteristics. Most of the main cast undergo development which is great to see, but none more so than Haru, showing that girls in anime don’t always have to be the damsel in distress. The problem with this box set is that it leaves you on a cliffhanger. It’s going to be a long wait until September to find out how this concludes.

XAM’D: Lost Memories is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now from Manga Entertainment UK.

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