a review by Nalini Haynes
Director: Masayuki Miyaji
Creator: Studio Bones
Release date: English 2010
Xam’D focuses on Akiyuki, a teenage boy, on his way to school in a free state that is at war; every child getting on the school bus must wear their arm band to pass inspection. Upon arrival at school the bus blows up killing the strange girl on the bus, who appears to have been a suicide bomber. The blast results in Akiyuki becoming infected with something that threatens to turn him into a monster, a being with which he must learn to live symbiotically or die.
Nakiami is a refugee currently living and working on a postal air ship who saves Akiyuki’s life. On the postal ship Akiyuki meets an unusual crew who gradually become his friends and family.
Akiyuki left behind a very good friend, Haru, who tries to find him. Akiyuki’s parents are also mixed up in the story, his alcoholic father with the shameful past and his mother who had separated from the father. All are intertwined with the story as it develops.
Developed by the creators of Wolf’s Rain, Xam’D is equally mythical with the hallmarks of excellent genuine anime. The viewer has to be patient, beginning with a lack of understanding, accepting the unfolding of characters, relationships and culture while this incredibly intelligent story unfolds. I suspect that, like in Wolf’s Rain, the final piece of the jigsaw, that ‘ah ha!’ moment, will occur in the final episode.
The quality of animation is good, with some CGI. This is serious anime with humour for flavour, it is not like Pokemon where the characters have sudden extreme mood swings with little or no provocation. Xam’D combines a war epic with monster fights and romance. I look forward to watching the rest of the series. I urge people who enjoy intelligent SF to give Xam’D a try.
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.