Today I get the surprise joy of mentioning Xam'd: Lost Memories. It's a character-heavy adventure by Bones in the same vein as its spiritual predecessor Eureka Seven. It ended up being one of my favorite shows by Bones, fixing many of my issues with their other mecha outings.
One might even say that this is Eureka Seven... WITH STEAMPUNK!
But seriously, this is a show about Akiyuki, a student that is suddenly thrust into being an Xam'd (or Xamd, Xamdou, Zamdou, or god knows how else it has been translated). Now he's got super strength! Super speed! Super Superness! Problematically he'll turn to stone or go nuts if does any of that for more than a few seconds. As a result, we also never see him use his powers. It's not about the powers, it's about him and his friends after he deals with the reality of being an Xam'd.
Right smack in the middle of all this is a romance story just like in Eureka Seven. It's very much at the center of Akiyuki's drama and it works.
First off, I'll point out the pacing of the many plot threads that the series eventually generates. Each plot is relatively strong and it keeps driving the series toward a logical conclusion. There's a lot going on, but it's all very worth watching.
Speaking of branching plot threads, there was really something gratifying about watching the satellite characters (specifically the parents) actually get development. I fully expected this plot thread to drop, but somehow there was actually a conclusive ending to this that easily made the show a lot better on its own. Needless to say, I was impressed with the development actually happening.
Among everything else, what stood out to me was the great pacing and advancement of the characters in the show. It's one of Bones' best character-driven mecha shows and it stands in the same league as its predecessor Eureka Seven. It's an excellent romance wrapped up in a steampunk world and conflict.
There's a lot of breakout characters in this show. I loved the strictly mentor-student relationship of Nakiami and Akiyuki. Nakiami's portrayal was just great in general and she's one of the better parts of the show. I also grew to enjoy Haru for her character design (and that important haircut) and her rather straightforward development.
All this wouldn't be complete without Bones' level animation quality. There's some issues with animation bump throughout the show, but generally the character designs and animation quality are great by any metric. The steampunk aesthetic was jarring at first, but it really looks good more often than not.
Oh, and this is truly one of the best nonsensical Engrish openings that I've had the pleasure of watching in a long time. Prepare for Ear Worm.
Par for the course with a Bones show... but damn near nothing really makes any sense. You're guaranteed to be lost in the first episode, and the second one, and the third one... you get the idea. It's got Bones' trademark issue of just forgetting to explain the world in any way. I mean we don't even know what the geography of the North and South Continent are (I'm not kidding, the two warring nations are called the North and South Continent, pfft).
By the end you'll still be unclear on why anything is happening like it is.
Unlike Eureka Seven, this show is 26 episodes long, so it didn't have enough time to flesh the whole cast out. While this makes for a tighter (and far more tension-filled) plot, this comes at the expense of much of the supporting cast.
All things considered, I loved Xam'd: Lost Memories. It has the well-paced plot that I enjoy with the character development that I crave. Hey, Haru and Akiyuki are pretty ship-able, so that's a plus as well.
It has its issues with... uh... making sense like Bones tends to have problems with. You'll be lost early on and you'll never quite understand what the show is saying, but it makes up for it with its endearing character moments and the well done drama.
I'll tempt fate here by saying that I did enjoy this show more than Eureka Seven, though I will quickly concede that this is on a purely subjective level. There's no definitive reason that this is better beyond the fact that the plot doesn't have to meander about as much E7 did.
This is definitely best for the character-driven mecha crowd. The plot isn't what you come here for, it's the characters and the development of them.
This is part of Anime Marathon 2014, a continuation of Anime Marathon 2013 by popular demand. I'm on a mission to review every anime I can for the TAY community and anyone else that wants to read. I can never guarantee when these reviews will be posted, but I'll do my best to keep it consistent.