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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Xam'd: Lost Memories
Collection 1


Starring (voice): Atsushi Abe, Fumiko Orikasa and Yuko Sanpei
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £34.99
Certificate: 12
Available 18 July 2011

The idyllic island of Sentan, in the Yuden Sea, is bordered on each side by the Northern Government and the Southern Continent Free Zone who are at war. During one attack a young boy, Akiyuki Takahar, is caught in a bombing on his school bus. But this is no ordinary explosion and when he enters the wreckage to rescue a mysterious silver haired young girl she infects him via a bright light. Unable to help himself, Akiyuki transforms into a Xam’d, a mecha of incredible power, but a mecha which is consuming him. In the midst of a battle against an invading humiform, Akiyuki is rescued by another female who takes him to her skyship...

Xam’d (2008) is an anime show which originally debuted on the Play Station Network and was nationally broadcast in 2009. The show was directed by Masayuki Miyaji, who had worked as an assistant director to Hayao Miyazaki. The influence shows and in many ways the show is a reflection of Miyazaki’s own themes. The two-disc Blu-ray set contains the first of the thirteen episode of the twenty-six episode show.

Fans of Miyazaki will instantly recognise some of the tropes from Studio Ghibli films, including the fascination with flight. Akiyuki’s rescuer works on a flying postal ship, the Zanbani, with a crew who have a family atmosphere, including children and pets. The ship is headed by Ishuu Benikawa, a strong woman who runs the ship with a rod of iron. Miyazaki Miyaji seems to favour strong female roles, which is reflected in the character of each of the females in the show.

The first couple of episodes introduces us to the social and geographical background to the series as well as the main characters. Akiyuki is presented as a carefree young man, even though his father, a doctor, and his mother age going through a separation. Even the semi military nature of his society does not appear to concern him.

The story really begins with his rescue by Nakiami, whose character and ship is not unlike that from Nausicaä. It is with her on the postal ship that he starts to learn to control his power, before it overwhelm him, turning his body to stone. Alongside this part of the story, the narrative also follows Akiyuki’s friends, Haru and Furuichi, and family as they come to terms with the war and the loss of Akiyuki.

The picture, a 1080p transfer in 1.78:1transfer, looks spectacular in high def. The only time the animation lets itself down is in the occasional sequence, which I suppose is a hangover from its time as a download, though overall the artwork is very impressive. Yes it does look like an extended Ghibli film, but not quite. Although it is so much more impressive than your average show, it still just misses the Ghibli bar.

For once both the English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes are well worth listening to, both going beyond the normal television mix to produce a dynamic soundscape. The main disappointment is the lack of any serious extras; there are no commentaries only the textless opening and closing sequences, as well as the original opening and closing sequences.

The show is worth attention and attention is what you are going to have to give it, with its large cast of characters and multi-threaded plots this show will repay an audience dedication time and again.


Charles Packer

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