Two down, two to go!
The staff here have dived into the series requested by the readers. R86 gave his impressions over Umineko no Naku Koro ni a couple of weeks ago, while Murasaki Lynna and myself gave our thoughts on the opening episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena last week. Today, it’s on to Xam’d, as watched by Goldy, Zeroe4, and me (TWWK).
TWWK: Last Exile. RahXephon. Evangelion. Princess Mononoke. Eureka 7. Kurenai. I couldn’t help but think of these shows (and a few others) while watching the first few episodes of the sci-fi anime, Xam’d. And you know what? I was really, really surprised at how well this series used a number of familiar elements from the above shows (which are all among my favorites), but created something wholly new. I came into Xam’d anticipating…well, not much, despite R86’s approval of the series (I don’t think he’s let me down yet). It’d be an understatement to say that the opening episodes far exceeded my meager expectations.
Goldy: Admittedly, along with mecha anime, I’m not a big sci-fi anime fan either. In truth, the only sci-fi I like is something more like the older, simpler styles, like The Twilight Zone or my personal favorite Invasion of the Body Snatchers (not anime, mind you, but look it up for some fun). Thus, being too accustomed to anime being more a “new”, complex style of sci-fi (full of crazy world building and complex politics. I get bored with the extra stuff.), I wasn’t expecting much from Xam’d, despite rave reviews from some good friends of mine. But boy, after the first two episodes, I was swept off my feet. I’d like to say the opening theme (OP) did it. I put a lot of stock into an anime’s OP; it’s like the first line of a novel. It needs to catch you in its magical net and never let you go. I’m still unsure what the OP’s lyrics are suppose to mean (“Run away, run away, leave your lemon drop”), but I adore it. Thus far, Xam’d has succeed well beyond my expectations. I was getting a more traditional sci-fi feeling from the elements, which warmed my heart even more. In simple terms, they have done everything “right” for a sci-fi series thus far; from the smallest details to the overall general story. There’s a compelling mystery, action, and best of all, I care about the characters!
TWWK: For me, it has to start with the characters. I can enjoy the simplest or most recycled of stories if I care about the characters – and I certainly care about those in Xam’d. Add to that all the other interesting elements (including that catchy opening), and I’m hooked. I’m particularly interested in learning more about Nakiami – she’s reminiscent (purposely, I’m sure) of San from Princess Mononoke, one of my favorite characters.
Zeroe4: I have actually seen Zam’d three times now. The first time I saw it, I was taken back by how much I enjoyed it. I had just finished watching Eureka 7 and I expected it to be very much like that. Zam’d was much more though. It exceeds the complexity of Eureka 7’s plot, but is amazingly clear and easy to understand. The characters are so much fun and very relatable. They drew me into their complex world almost instantly, and every time I have seen the show since my appreciation for the characters grows. My favorite thing about Zam’d, from the first time I saw it was the mysterious side of the show. The show itself is sci-fi but it feels more like mystery because every plot detail, every conversation, and every piece of this anime pulls the viewer deeper into this world and launches them towards the climax. After the first two or three episodes, it is nearly impossible to figure out what this show is about, but there is a longing to find out. This longing for the unknown is what makes this anime so amazing. As a side note, I hate the Human Form Weapons, but I’m pretty sure that is the point.
TWWK: You’re right about not knowing where the show is going. I might have some very general ideas about how everything will come together, but I have almost idea about the journey. And that’s fantastic – that element of mystery we’ve all commented on is certainly significant. But as with the other series we’ve already written our initial impressions about, I’m looking forward to finding out why this series was suggested particularly to our writers.
Goldy: And it’s not a boring mystery either (yes, there is such a thing! *says the self proclaimed mystery lover*). Something about the air of mystery in Xam’d grabs you and drags you along by the collar. Of course, the characters are vital to this; if we didn’t care about them, we wouldn’t care about what happened to them, but I like the “info revealing” style as well. They’re giving away a little, but not too much to spoil any surprises. As a simple example, when Akiyuki transformed, we saw it from a second person point of view, not an omnipresent where we have things monotonously explained to us. I cannot tell you how happy I was that Akiyuki didn’t talk to anyone while he was transformed. That would have ruined things, I think. All the time, I was wondering, “Is he okay? Can he transform back? Did his personality change?”. His actions spoke much louder than any words would have. He’s definitely my favorite character so far, but all the character have something lovable about them, especially those two little kids on the ship! It will be great to see how each subplot develops as well throughout the series.