Ah, the wonders of laser-guided amnesia. With neither the knowledge nor the weight of his transformation during the bombing of Sentan Island, there’s nothing to prevent Akiyuki from being a massive prick to everyone on the Zambani. At the same time, the Zambani crew doesn’t really know how to deal with Akiyuki, either, and that only worsens the situation.
Akiyuki is initially ungrateful of Nakiami’s treatment. He doesn’t respond well to Nakiami lecturing him about his own well-being, nor does he accept that his life has changed in any significant manner. In his mind, he’s still a normal kid from Sentan Island that’s been unjustly whisked away from his home and forced to work on a postal ship. The rather conspicuous bulge on his arm is easily rationalized as some sort of benign and inconvenient tumor. The quiet and unassuming lifestyle he’s lived for sixteen years has convinced him that he has complete control of his life. It’s typical teenager attitude, yes, but who can blame him for his misgivings?
It’s not like the Zambani doesn’t have its own misgivings about Akiyuki, either. He really doesn’t harbor any personal hatred towards them, and does make an honest attempt to be on good terms with the people responsible for giving him clothing, food, and shelter. However, their collective indifference towards his plight only serves to add to his hostility towards them. Their busy, no-nonsense lifestyle is something he’s not used to, assuming that he’s lived a much more relaxing and unassuming life back in Sentan Island. Teenagers in modern society aren’t expected to work until they finish their education, but in the reality of mail carrying his knowledge becomes moot in comparison to his physical capacity, which is embarrassingly lacking as evidenced by his attempt to lift a mail crate that Kobako had no trouble carrying. He’s rather forcibly paraded across the Zambani, and is lectured by each crew member for his ignorance and rudeness. Suffice to say, he’s being treated like a kid. You wouldn’t expect him to know everything about this job, but it’s still frustrating to be told that he’s supposed to be able to do things when he clearly doesn’t. So wouldn’t the obvious reaction to all of this is to mentally do away with everything about the Zambani, in an attempt to preserve his dignity? He doesn’t want Nakiami to nag him about the thing in his arm. He doesn’t want to slave away his life for a bunch of strangers, even less when each crew member doesn’t give him the respect he apparently deserves. He doesn’t want people to lecture him about what’s acceptable and what’s not. He doesn’t want to wear the unwashed hand-me-downs of a stranger. All he wants is for these whackjobs to get out of his life so he can have his normalcy back.
“Stay away! Just leave me alone, will ya? I’ve done fine by myself up until now, without your help. I can manage this on my own. Get lost!” -Akiyuki
But all of this is wrong, isn’t it? Despite his protests and beliefs, his life isn’t the same anymore. He now has the tendency of transforming into a monster, and has become the target of things he does not yet understand. Nakiami’s apparent knowledge of the Xam’d prevents her from just letting Akiyuki go off scot-free, either. He needs to be monitored, perhaps trained, to accommodate for his circumstances. It’s not as simple as wrapping a bandage around the hiruko and being done with it. If Akiyuki’s not careful, an active hiruko can instantly ruin his day, possibly his life, by commandeering his body, turning to stone, or being kidnapped by one of the Northern Government’s humanforms. His newfound destructive capability, in reality, prevents him from simply going home since it will risk his family’s and friends’ safety. At the same time, the hiruko is influenced by its hosts’s impulses and emotions, as evidenced by the previous episode and when he gets rescued from the humanform weapon. This symbiotic relationship between human and hiruko is something that must be nurtured so that Akiyuki can control it better. In a sense, if he must control the hiruko he must also control himself. How does one control oneself? By learning humility, and perhaps shame in oneself.
While it may have taken a punch to the face from Captain Ishu and being saved once again by Nakiami (It’s implied that Akiyuki at least remembers that part of the Sentan Island bombings), Akiyuki humbles himself in order to survive. “No problem, I’m just grateful to have a blanket,” he quips towards Akushiba, referring to his rather cramped and ungraceful sleeping quarters in the hangar. He’s learned two things thanks to that incident: the danger to his life is very much real and that in order to overcome it he must rely on Nakiami and the rest of the crew on the Zambani, even if it means he will not see Sentan Island, and Haru, for a long time.
Speaking of Haru, it seems that Akiyuki is not one-sided in his love, given how much she cares about him too. I also like the interactions between her and her sister, Midori. Despite her handicap, Midori is eager to take some responsibility when it comes to alleviating Haru’s worries, in which she instantly offers to hold Haru’s bag for her once she senses her sister’s concern, in the scene above. It’s quite cute, now that I look at it.
It’s not just Haru that’s worried about Akiyuki, either. Their son’s disappearance is obviously something of the greatest concern not only to the mother but also the father, despite his busy schedule as a doctor. He probably blames himself now for not being more aware of his own son’s safety. As for the mother, she’s also been worn out by searching for Akiyuki all day, only to find some of his personal belongings, including the armband responsible for letting our little white-haired loli terrorist on the bus. Haru decides to keep the armband, as a method of keeping Akiyuki fresh in her mind.
Xam’d has the tendency of keeping totally unrelated scenes concurrent with the tone of the episode by having them be in similar circumstances. In this case, sitting down one-on-one and speaking with each other.
Unlike female love interests of other, less sophisticated anime, Haru already has the issue of “meet the parents” out of the way, given that she has been on good terms with both ever since before the anime even begins.
Akiyuki willingly gulping down the spirit tea, something he rejected earlier in the episode, is a sign of his acceptance of both Nakiami as his mentor and his position on the Zambani. I thought it was a nice touch.
Kakisu’s conversation with his assistant (Prois, as we learn later in the series) reveals his adherence to his military history rather than the mental reassurance of Sentan Island’s citizens by choosing to remain in his soldier’s uniform. His military background, and his boots, are of much personal value and reflects his priorities as the future caretaker of Sentan Island.
There’s also the connection between the commander and Dr. Ryuzo, as both have served in the military during Barador, which I believe is a battle during a previous war between the North and the South. The similarity between their boots, and the fact that these two images show up so close to one another, is evidence of this. More on this upon later episodes.