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Xam’d: Lost Memories – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 8, 2012 by  



If you are looking for one of the best anime series to come out on Blu-ray in the USA, know that “Xam’d: Lost Memories – Complete Collection” is one of those titles.  Wonderful production quality, a captivating, deep storyline and an anime series on Blu-ray that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © BONES/Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: XAM’D: Lost Memories – Complete Collection

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2008-2009

DURATION: 26 Episodes: (650 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex/Sentai Filmworks

Release Date: February 7, 2012

Directed by Masayuki Miyaji

Script by Megumi Shimizu, Yuuichi Nomura

Music by Michiru Oshima

Original Character Design by Kenichi Yoshida

Character Design by Ayumi Kurashima

Art Director: Takashi Aoi

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Atsushi Abe/Blake Shepard as Akiyuki Takehara

Fumiko Orikasa/Monica Rial as Haru Nishimura

Yuko Sanpei/Luci Christian as Nakiami

Ayumi Fujimura/Hilary Haag as Midori Nishimura

Keiji Fujiwara/Andrew Love as Raigyo Tsunomata

Michiko Neya/Maggie Flecknoe as Prois Sukakki

Motomu Kiyokawa/Andy McAvin as Reizo Kanba

Risa Hayamizu/Kaytha Coker as Fusa Takehara

Romi Park/Jessica Boone as Kujireika

Shinnosuke Tachibana/David Matranga as Furuichi Teraoka

Unshou Ishizuka/T. Postlewaite as Ryuuzou Takehara

Yasunori Matsumoto/Chris Hutchison as Toujirou Kagisu

Yumi Tamai/Shelley Calene-Black as Ishuu Benikawa

Set on a peaceful island during a violent terrorist attack, a young boy is suddenly transformed into a metal-cased mercenary. But with this great power comes even greater danger. Aiyuki must discover how to master this remarkable new power – or risk having this mysterious fusion of rock, metal and magic destroy him!

In 2008, anime studio BONES, Sony Computer Entertainment and Aniplex collaborated on a project known as “Xam’d: Lost Memories”.

The series would be featured on the PlayStation Network (PSN) at E3 (and also feature Sony Music Japan music artist KYLIE) and would air later in the fall on Japanese television. The series was directed by Masayuki Miyaji (“Eureka Seven”, “Scrapped Princess”, “Ghost Slayers Ayashi”), a screenplay by Megumi Shimizu (“Heroman”, “Soul Eater”, “Eureka Seven”) and Yuuichi Nomura (“Darker than Black”, “Overman King Gainer”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”).  The music for the series is by Michiru OShima (“Arc the Lad”, “Gokusen”, “Fancy Lala”, “Le Chevalier D’Eon”), character designs by Ayumi Kurashima (“Eureka Seven”, “RahXephon”, “Wolf’s Rain”) and art backgrounds by Takashi Aoi (“Ergo Proxy”, “RahXephon”, “Samurai Champloo”, “Darker than Black”).

A total of 26-episodes were created and was released on Blu-ray and DVD (in two volumes) in the United States courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

In Feb. 2012, Sentai Filmworks will be re-releasing “XAM’D: Lost Memories” as a complete collection.

“Xam’d: Lost Memories” is set in Sentan Island, a small island surrounded by the Yuden Sea and is cut off from the war between the Northern Government and the Southern Continent Free Zone.

We are introduced to teenager Akiyuki Takehara who lives with his mother Fusa in Sentan Island but is also dealing with the separation between his mother Fusa and his father, the town doctor, Ryuzo.  While going to school and joining with his best friends Haru and Furuichi, he sees a girl (not knowing that she is from the religious cult of Ruikonism) who doesn’t have her armband (to show that they are students).  So, Akiyuki comes up with a clever plan to get the girl into the bus.

As they arrive to school, while everyone is departing the bus to get to school, the mysterious girl that Akiyuki had helped get into the bus, detonates a bomb and killing and injuring people nearby.  One of the lights which had extended from the bomb, hits Akiyuki in his right arm.

As he goes to check on the mysterious girl, she makes Akiyuki transformer.  Immediately, Akiyuki’s right arm stars to change and then his whole body has turned into a creature known as Xam’d (an endosymbiotic organism known as Hiruko which merges with a human).

While soldiers are thinking that Akiyuki may be responsible for the blast, Haru can hear Akiyuki inside the beast, saying that he wants to live.

Akiyuki is then pursued by a monster and the two fight each other.    And out of nowhere, a girl named Nakiami seems to know about his transformation and gives him a choice.  If he comes with her, he will live.  If he decides to say, he will turn to stone and die.

Wanting to live, Akiyuki joins Nakiami and a group of travelers who are members of the International Postal Ship Zanbani and while traveling to new lands on the  airship Beat Kayak, Akiyuki is trained by Nakiami on how to control the beast within him and retain his humanity and also trained for postal work for the Zanbani crew.

Meanwhile, back on Sentan Island, Akiyuki’s parents worry that their son may be dead, but with inspiring words from Haru (who made a promise to Fusa that she would watch over Akiyuki), the three believe that Akiyuki is alive and will do what they can to find him.  As for Furuichi, he continually becomes fueled by jealousy when he sees that Haru is constantly thinking about Akiyuki.

As for Akiyuki’s best friends, because the tranquility of Sentan Island is no more, his friend Furuichi and also Haru join the military in orders to stop any more of these Xam’d monsters from killing and hurting people.  Meanwhile, a strange mad doctor is trying to develop more and monsters.

The main characters of “Xam’d: Lost Memories” are:

  • Akiyuki Takehara – The main protagonist of the series.  A high school student who cares about his family and friends.  But now that his body can easily change to a Xam’d and wipe away his human existence, through training by Nakiami and Raigyo, he hopes that he can be strong enough in order to stay human and co-exist with the “hiruko”.  He also works for the International Postal Ship Zanbani after leaving Sentan Island behind in order to train with Nakiami.
  • Nakiami – A mysterious and serious person who has familiarity with Xam’d and quite knowledge about it.  She trains Akiyuki on how to control the hiruko and also  a member of the International Postal Ship Zanbani.
  • Haru Nishimura – Akiyuki’s childhood friend who cares deeply for him.  She is great at martial arts and joins the Mainsoul military in hopes it will give her a chance to meet with Akiyuki once again.
  • Furuichi Teraoka – Akiyuki’s friend and also a martial artist.  Since the destruction in Sentan Island, he has developed a hatred towards the Xam’d but also unleashing emotions such as jealousy towards Haru as she is constantly thinking about Akiyuki.  He joins Mainsoul military in order to eliminate Xam’d.
  • Fusa Takehara – Akiyuki’s mother who is searching for her son and hopes he is still alive.  She is separated from Ryuuzou Takehara.
  • Ryuuzou Takehara – Akiyuki’s father who is separated from Fusa. He is the town’s doctor but also a former military researcher who worked on Northern Continent to develop humanform weaponisation projects.
  • Ishuu Benikawa – The captain of the International Postal ship Zanbani.  Always wearing a crop top and is strong-willed.
  • Raigyo Tsunomata – A Xam’d who left the Zanbani to work as a photographer but has now returned back to the group two-years later.  He has control over his human and Xam’d form and tries to help Akiyuki.
  • Akushiba – Akiyuki’s roommate on the Zanbani and has a crush on Nakiami.
  • Yunbo – The cook of the Zanbai and mother of Hinokimaru but also a guardian to Kobako.
  • Ahm – The pilot of Zanbani.
  • Kisei – The mechanic for Zanbani.
  • Tenshin-Sama – An old sage who is a guide for Nakiami, Raigyo and Akiyuki.

VIDEO:

“Xam’d: Lost Memories” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  BONES has done a fantastic job on this series and what is amazing is that for a TV series, it doesn’t look like a low-budget production, nor does it look like it was quickly made as the art backgrounds, mecha design are well-detailed.  Character designs almost have a Ghibli style to them, especially for the character of  Nakiami who has almost a “Nausicaa” style to her.

But overall, the picture quality is vibrant, clear and sharp.  And while I usually put Production I.G. animated series to on top for their dedication of making their TV series look great and separate themselves from other anime series when it comes to detail, for “Xam’d: Lost Memories”, BONES did a fantastic job in creating this look and feel for the series.

“Xam’d: Lost Memories” is a beautiful anime series!  And looks absolutely awesome on Blu-ray!  No sign of softness, edge enhancement, artifacts,  etc.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Xam’d: Lost Memories is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  I tested both soundtracks and audio from front channel to surround channels are exact on both soundtracks.  There is a decent amount of surround channel usage during the action sequences and also some LFE.

Considering that viewers are getting two DTS-HD Master Audio lossless tracks instead of the typical 2.0 soundtrack that many TV series offer, for me, that’s pretty awesome!  As for which I prefer, English or Japanese, I watched both but I have to say that although I’m quite biased towards the original Japanese soundtrack, the casting was well-done for this series and the English dub is very well-done!

Overall, whichever soundtrack you prefer, “Xam’d: Lost Memories” definitely outshines many anime series for its 5.1 lossless track and the fact there was good use of surround channels and LFE in trying to make the series much more immersive.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Xam’d: Lost Memories – Complete Collection” comes with the clean opening and closing animation and also the on-air opening and closing animations.

It’s true that many anime series tend to have a banality when it comes to storytelling and while there many kitschy titles released every year, there are TV series that stand out for its storytelling and production quality.

In 2009, that anime series was “Xam’d: Lost Memories”.

While the high school/terrorism storyline is nothing new, as anime fans have seen it before with “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, this series is not about alien occupation but it’s about the state of war, terrible experimentation that go wrong and stopping that experimentation.

While there are many characters featured throughout the anime series, the writers do make things easy by focusing on Akiyuki, Nakiami and Haru.  The other characters are more of providing the lightheartedness of the series but also to show a parent’s agony of having lost their child and hopes that he is still alive.

So, there are many adventures, battles and military/political intrigue that will keep anime fans glued to the TV series as it is one of the better, deeper anime storylines to come out to the U.S.

I can easily remember the buzz that surrounded “Xam’d: Lost Memories”.  In fact, I was among the very few outside of Japan to interview the music duo BOOM BOOM SATELLITES who performed the opening theme and Kylee who sung the ending theme for “Xam’d: Lost Memories”.

But what I remember the most was how stunning the animation and art backgrounds especially the storyline was for this TV series.  Bare in mind, BONES is one of the most well-known anime studios in Japan and one of the busiest, but for many anime studios, for a TV series, not many studios go all out in production because of budget and time constraints.

But for “Xam’d: Lost Memories”, this anime series featured a wonderful collaboration between BONES, Aniplex and Sony Computer Entertainment and it was one of the first earlier experiments of attempting at bringing an anime to an international audience.

It was indeed a breakthrough anime series that really took a TV series to greater heights by its production and was well-received both in Japan and with its Blu-ray and DVD release in the United States.

And as many people are now moving from DVD to Blu-ray, this re-release of “Xam’d: Lost Memories – Complete Collection” is a chance for many new anime fans to watch one of the better well-rounded anime series to come out in the last decade.  And this is the complete collection, not the previous Blu-ray release which was split up into two volumes.

And this is great news for anime fans who have wanted to see Sentai Filmworks move towards full-season anime releases on Blu-ray!  And this is a remarkable deal consider that in Japan, they broke these apart into eight Blu-ray volumes and one volume still costs significantly more than this US complete collection.

As for the Blu-ray release, while the picture quality is fantastic, the lossless soundtrack was very good (considering this anime TV series does provide a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack), special features are mostly the clean opening and ending animation.  For an anime series of this caliber, you would hope for more special features but even in Japan, the Blu-ray releases were barebone releases.

Overall, “Xam’d: Lost Memories” is one of those rare, quality-based anime TV series that you don’t see often.  The storyline is captivating, deep and a series that features higher production value when it comes to both animation, art background design and also sports a DTS-HD 5.1 lossless Japanese and English soundtrack.

If you are new to anime or just upgraded from DVD to Blu-ray and are looking for an anime series, “Xam’d: Lost Memories – Complete Collection” is one of the better anime on Blu-ray releases available in the U.S.

Highly recommended!

 






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