I’ve finished watching the 26 episodes of Bounen no Xamdou that aired in 2008. According to Anime News Network it isn’t a television show because it first aired on the Internet, making it an ONA (original net animation). It can be a little difficult to find information about the show online as people can’t agree on the spelling of the show’s title. I’ve seen Bounen no Xamdou, Bounen no Zamned and Bounen no Zamn’d.
The show is worth watching although I can’t recommend it highly. Although the characters are interesting and the world intriguing there are too many aspects of both the story and the world in which it takes place that aren’t adequately explained to the audience. The plot collapses into a confusing and sentimental muddle at the end but that’s the fashion currently in anime. There’s such a heavy emphasis on the personal lives of the characters that what’s going on in the world around them has to take a (distant) back seat.
It’s a shame that my favorite characters got short shrift in this show. Commander Kagisu (Kakisu?) was a complex and cool military leader who flips out for some reason near the end of the show and kills himself. His blonde-haired assistant was also a great character who gets lost in the shuffle at the end of the show. Furuichi, a close friend of the main character’s, was also great to watch but he gives up on life and kills himself once he discovers he’s a xamdou. I tend to like the more mature characters in anime but they’re the ones who often get knocked off first.
High production values and interesting mecha designs coupled with some neat science-fiction ideas kept me watching the show. There were definitely strong influences felt from the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind manga and The Vision of Escaflowne TV series. The “steam age” technology prevalent in the world of Xamdou (think 1800’s Europe) was very appealing and the redsky stone that makes levitating ships possible was very cool.
Biotechnology with a somewhat mystical bent makes humanform weapons and xamdous possible. Humanform weapons are large, odd-looking monsters that can emit energy blasts and need to be controlled by skilled remote operators. The humanform weapons are made from normal humans who have undergone special treatments that prevent them from ever again returning to their normal lives. The xamdous are more difficult to understand. A religious cult somehow possesses tools that no one else has and use them to harvest the sould of people who recently died. They can inject these souls into people who then become xamdous – biological weapons far more powerful than humanform weapons. However, most xamdous lose control of themselves and petrify.
As cool as the walking bio weapons were in Bounen no Xamdou it was a shame that we didn’t get to see very much of them. Indeed, the opening credits appear to promise lots of action with the main character taking xamdou form and kicking butt. However, he only takes this powerful form a handful of times during the entire series. Too little action and too much introspection – complete with clunky pseudo philosophy bogs down Bounen no Xamdou and prevents it from being the truly innovative and cool show that it could have been. Still, it’s worth a watch if you have the time.