Generally, I measure how great a show is not by logic, but by how many times I weep and repeat the words "Shit this is fucking awesome" in the midst or after the ending of the show. In the case of Eureka Seven, I teared 56.24 mililitres and said "Shit this is fucking awesome" 61325 times.
Xam’d of the Lost Memories aka Bounen no Xamdou is made by Studio Bones as well and features many common elements of E7, such as the solo ship, similar bio-mecha, mysterious female leads and the same character designs. The biggest problem with it was that it’s too good to fit into just 26 episodes and thus, the ending feels a bit rushed and the whole show screams out "WHAT IF IT WAS LONGER!!!" Overall, I wept 17.41 mL and said "Shit this is fucking awesome" 313 times. Below E7 but still a good 300 times more than the likes of Clannad.
This still-excellent show made me tear at a few key episodes, like the final one where GASP SPOILER the main characters all die (in a sense), sacrificing themselves to save the world. To be honest, I really should’ve marathoned Xam’d like how I did E7 to fully grasp the story. Now, I do not comprehend the entire story, no thanks to weekly viewings sapping my memory, on top of my watching the first 20 episodes in Chinese subtitles for inexplicable reasons.
Now, Chinese subs work well for shows with lots of fighting and kanji moves, but for fantasy and scifi, you’re gonna lose a lot of comprehension by sticking to them. Try saying stuff like "astaxanthin" or "Large Hadron Collider" in Chinese, it’s just way above our heads.
But I digress. Xam’d is nevertheless still a great show. Unlike E7 which had a multitude of amazing music for its opening and ending themes, Xam’d uses only the same 2 songs throughout. These two, Shut Up and Explode and Vacancy, are both damn good. The latter especially is the type of song that’ll make one weep with manly tears during climax scenes. They are both entirely in English, presumably to appeal to American audiences, since Xam’d was aired on PSN.
Vacancy has amazingly good English pronounciation, but it’s because the singer is a newbie with American and Japanese blood. The girl’s born in Arizona! Vacancy’s her debut single, but that’s not the shocking thing. She’s born in 1994!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck that, I was 8 in 1994. I had mastered Street Fighter 2 by the time this kid was born. In other words, Kylee is 14 now. From her voice, I really thought I was listening to a 20 year old. I don’t think she’s that talented, but I have the impression that she’s a Japanese Avril Lavigne-type singer who looks far better and started way earlier, and has better songwriters helping. Anyhow, Vacancy is a great song that’s been on loop for a while on my playlist.
Check out her MTV in the link above, it’s really funny how the video’s almost a clone of Avril Lavigne’s Skaterboy vid, and that’s not a compliment. Another cute aspect is how she has braces. But honestly, her voice in the song has been tweaked with various effects, so until live appearances start showing up, we probably can’t tell if she’s any good.
On the other hand, Shut Up and Explode is just a catchy Engrish song by yet another J-band by bad lyrics. Catchy though.
It’s sad how the anime blogosphere isn’t really picking up on Xam’d, as can be seen on Animenano which does not even have a fucking category for it. I mean, even obscure shit get their own categories yet poor old Xam’d doesn’t. To find entries on it, I have to manually search for either "Xamd", "Xamdou" or "Xam’d" and only Starcross Anime Blog blogged it till the end. To be fair, it might because the show’s licensed and has a proper channel for distribution in the US, so people are waiting for the DVDs. In any case, Starcross’s posts are no help at all because frankly, he doesn’t do much analysis, instead prefering to just voice his opinions on it. You know what, the countless episode summaries of the latest fanservice anime is fucking unnecessary because everyone has eyes and can see who has touched whose boob. It’s only the more complex anime where summaries in detail along with interpretations prove very useful and yet those shows are the very ones which lack these posts!
The animation quality for Xam’d remained extremely high throughout, which might signal the death of traditional broadcast. As we all know, securing the slots for TV broadcast actually takes up a vast chunk of a show’s budget, and modern distribution methods, bypassing these money-grabber TV stations that just shunt the anime into late night slots, are surely the way forward when it comes to maximising profits by reducing costs and still churning out an overall better product.
The final scene was a deus ex shocker, and while sweet, totally ruined stuff for me. Similar to the 08th MS Team ending where Shiro and babe actually survive, Akiyuki returns as a normal guy and lives happily ever after with Haru. This is quite ridiculous, though not completely implausible since somewhere in the middle episodes, Nakiami did mention the stoned Hiruko could wake up or something. Memory fails me here. I would’ve preferred Akiyuki stay dead though, simply because the way he died was really unique. It shows his status as a mere pawn in the grand scheme of the world. His turning into stone upon using his Xam’d powers for the last time was also presented in a non-hysterical and calm manner, befitting the style of the show.
Sometimes, too much of the over-dramatic can make us sick. Xam’d’s beauty is partly its simplicity, where things happen, people deal with it without being all melodramatic. Furuichi’s suicide, Akiyuki’s death, Nakiami’s sacrifice, Raigyou’s killing, Colonel’s death to a lesser extent, these shocking moments were all shown without any fanfare and melodrama. In fact, the lack of outward grief and hysterics amplified the sense of shock and loss us viewers felt when these important characters disappeared. Most of all, Akiyuki and Nakiami, the two central characters, pretty much got killed and I didn’t realise it till halfway in the middle of the last episode.
I also quite like the way time skips 9 years, showing everyone all changed and grown up. While not a particularly innovative device, it brings pleasure for us viewers to see characters like Rikimaru emulating the late Raigyo. The way all the characters were waiting for Nakiami to return, even though it would be a 1000 years before any news of her would be revealed, was saddening as well. Yango is a cool chap and really is the 3rd main character.
When I have the time, I’ll try to re-watch this excellent series back-to-back and obtain full comprehension. You should do it too.
It’s quite apparent that there are only 3 good studios these days making anime, and these are Bones, Sunrise and Madhouse. Kyoani is 2nd tier because they don’t make anything original (WTF is Munto, the trash show), Gonzo’s busying themselves climbing back up the chasm of doom they dug and Production IG’s engrossed with making boring deep stuff.
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