Xam’d Episode 02: Explosions in the Sky

And just like that, any pretense that this was going to be one of those blissful high school stories of overgrown youth has been thrown out the window. Similar images of destruction occur throughout the entire episode, and it’s difficult not to be engrossed by the imagery. Things are being demolished on Sentan Island because of the Northern Humanform weapons and a newly Xam’d-ified Akiyuki, but more specifically this episode delves into taking things away to create chaos. I’m not really talking about the chaos that you see immediately because of the bombings, but more of a feeling of unease about the surroundings, uncertainty about the future. I talk of chaos, in this sense, as opposed to its counterpart: order. And there is very little of it left on Sentan Island.

In Akiyuki’s case, too, does the disorder become readily apparent. His mind is obfuscated from the audience. You have no idea what he’s thinking, or how he feels about being transformed into something as terrifying as a Xam’d. There is no evidence whether or not he is out of control or completely in control of his new form. There is, however, one thought in his head still, and that is to survive. To do that, however, means more than just to subsist; He needs to fight in order to do so. The transformation, in a sense, is starting to make him act upon instinct rather than reason. Reaching out to Haru first is the result of that, and perhaps also the reason why she’s the only person that hears him through the Xam’d. I think the implications of this are obvious enough to let you interpret the image above on your own.

Back to images of destruction, one thing in particular struck me during Akiyuki’s little showdown with the humanform. Those ships in the air have been in pretty much every scene where the sky is visible. They are essentially an indicator of the state of Sentan Island in order. Sure, having military squadrons patrolling the area and having attendance checks on the bus aren’t very peaceful implications by our standards, but it is orderly. Additionally, even though they foreshadowed war and discord their main purpose was, after all, to protect the people of Sentan Island. Now that the Northern Government has invaded, and everything is being destroyed, the eventual destruction of the airships only brings the point home: the island is in chaos. Maybe it’s becoming a well-beaten theme by this point, but it keeps the feeling consistent, even after all the action is over. This image is merely one of many scenes of destruction in this episode, and this part in particular was a nice and subtle touch to the overall picture.

So what of Haru and Furuichi? With the school completely gone and Akiyuki whisked away by some Nausicaa-looking chick (Nakiami), they don’t have much choice but to witness and experience everything that the invasion has brought down upon them. I guess the main question for them is going to be: where are they headed now? It’s not like they can just transfer and forget what happened on Sentan Island, since the entire premises seems to be on lockdown thanks to the military occupation and the bus bombing. So what do they do? These things become part of the motivation as to why they make a certain decision later in the anime, but these are the few starting points as to why they move in such a direction.

After his initial fight with the humanform weapon, Akiyuki is taken in by Nakiami and quite effectively removed from Sentan Island via the airborne postal ship Zambani, which has no intention of coming back. There’s not much to be known about them just yet, other than that Ishu is pretty much badass, Kiselji behaves just like other obsessed old people do, and Hinokimaru is a grade-A brat for punching Akushiba in the dick. Not that he didn’t deserve it, mind you, but still. Getting punched in the dick sucks. Haha, I put “dick” and “sucks” in the same sentence I’m so mature.

Aside from the crew dynamic, Nakiami takes it upon herself to take care of the Xam’d known as Akiyuki, after first calming down what seems to be referred to as the “hiruko” inside him. The hiruko is basically the thing that embedded itself into Akiyuki’s arm and presumably what the white-haired girl Nazuna swallowed in the intro of the first episode. Back to the situation at hand, it seems that taking care of a Xam’d involves a lot of risk, much like attempting to domesticate a wild animal. Wouldn’t want something like that rampaging in an aircraft.

“Xam’d… No one celebrated your birth into this world. How is it that even so you can think ‘I want to live?'” – Nakiami

Of course, Akiyuki is no wild animal and Nakiami is not some sort of tamer. Akiyuki himself has become a certain kind of being that Nakiami both acknowledges and adores to the point of taking him in and caring for him, whether or not he himself acknowledges the same. And, since he has no home to return to now, it will become obvious that he will need Nakiami to even survive daily life. More on this for the next episode.

Really, what becomes most intriguing in this episode is that it comes back to Fusa and Ryuzo, Akiyuki’s estranged parents. Back before the invasion happened, Akiyuki acted as the agent of order between his parents, since his presence gave each adult the excuse not to see each other for days, perhaps weeks on end. Now, thanks to his absence, the old itches are coming back to the relationship as husband and wife are forced to meet each other again. There are two things that are readily apparent when it comes to their problems. One, Ryuzo has tunnel vision when it comes to dealing with patients versus spending time with his family; he can only handle one or the other, and unfortunately he is more used to his career than his role as a father, which frustrates his wife. Two, they have differing standards when it comes to Akiyuki. Fusa is immediately worried about Akiyuki the moment she feels he might be missing, as opposed to Ryuzo’s seemingly carefree attitude towards his son. Thanks to that, the thought of Akiyuki going missing or getting hurt did not cross his mind. Which may be fine logically when it comes to the futility of trying to contact someone who is missing or dead, but that does not bode well when it comes to making amends with a wife. She doesn’t understand how he can be so immune to the stress, and this only adds to her frustration because he can’t understand what she’s feeling. Bluh. Basically, it really comes down to both man and woman not really understanding each other. I’m just glad that this translates to emotional tension and not some sort of hysteric melodrama that I see so often in teen romances nowadays.

Two major characters enter here, them being Dr. Kanba and Commander Kakisu, and will be introduced to Sentan Island as another extending influence over the populace, and also becoming another element in Haru’s and Furuichi’s environment. From this scene, the distinction is made between a Xam’d and a humanform, as the two will often be mixed up as the same thing in the face of ignorance. Additionally, despite Dr. Kanba’s appearance, it’s curious to witness that he’s the one in control of the research program despite Kakisu being the one that’s technically in charge (though, he was just assigned this position so there’s no helping that). Reminds me of Akira in the sense that the military commander in charge of the project tries to keep a forever-curious scientist from going beyond the limits of scientific experiment. The dynamic between the two will also develop as the anime goes on.

Bleh. The disadvantage of watching the entire anime before making an episodic is that there’s so much that you know but is only relevant when it actually appears in the later episodes.

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