This looming, chained and stoned Xam’d (hurrdurr I said stoned) reflects the circumstances of both Commander Tojiro Kakisu and Doctor Kanba. This is the second of three important transitions of Xam’d that happen in this episode.
Kakisu is introduced to us as a man without much care towards his own agency. His service at Barador is not a gesture that is satisfactorily reciprocated by his Southern higher-ups, who are more interested in using his reputation to keep Sentan Island at peace while they inject more military influence into its idyllic, unaware populace. He himself doesn’t really care that this is happening; Kakisu is content with being of service to his country, and not to the Northern Government’s humanform weapons. What he isn’t immediately aware of, however, is that his higher-ups have also sabotaged his military career by placing him in charge of an anti-humanform research laboratory. Moreover, the man Kakisu is in charge of is Kanba, an unlikely scientist of Tessik descent whose unbounded curiosity is cause for alarm.
“We are already doomed, going down in history as war criminals! Why not stand on the front lines and do everything in our power to stop the war? You already know that, Commander.”
He shouldn’t have to coop up in some no-name island just because he happened to be born there. He shouldn’t need to be subject to something as questionable as humanform research, something that’s quickly associated with the Northern Government’s weapons. He shouldn’t have to play caretaker for a gigantic and seemingly defunct Xam’d hidden under civilization. Yet, it is his duty as a soldier to follow orders down to the last letter. To tinker with humanforms and Xam’d is to toy with omnipotency, to “play God.” Skirting with morality isn’t necessarily an alien concept to the military, and I would assume in this case that Kakisu is comfortable with heading this controversial department as long as his hands don’t get too dirty. This is how he chooses to cope with his situation and carry on with his life. Unfortunately, anti-humanform research is not as clean as he would like it to be.
And guess what happens? Kanba just has to be one of those scientists that “goes too far” and has turned poor Shidara into a Humanform weapon without the commander’s approval. Kakisu had operated under the assumption that humanform research would not be as unglamorous as what he witnessed during this scene. Now, however, he risks not only his own ethics by letting this happen in the first place but also the wrath of Sentan Island if its denizens were to find out that Shidara’s transformation was the Southern Government’s fault.
What we witness here is that Kanba is fully committed to dig as far as possible when it comes to finding a perfect anti-humanform weapon against the Northern Government. While his traditional, spiritual Tessik blood already make his scientist identity quite blasphemous, his cold, academic attitude towards the Xam’d, beings he’s supposed to revere as gods, only furthers his curiosity into doing things he isn’t supposed to do. For him, too deep is not deep enough. He cannot afford to hold back a possibility of advancing his theories and speculations.
What’s also apparent at this point is a discrepancy of commitment between the two men. Kakisu, naive as he is, is unwilling to go the full stretch alongside Kanba because of both the moral and political risk that failure would entail. There is quite a lot that is at stake for Kakisu’s reputation, and when he’s this far into the system it’s clear that he values his position. It’s just unfortunate for him, however, that this same position has been made disposable due to the nature of the research department. It had not occurred to Kakisu that he had been “promoted” into a sacrificial lamb for his beloved Southern leaders until the first experiment reared its ugly head. What can he really do, though? To turn back is to immediately take the blame for the failure of his department and submit to an early death in his military career, and perhaps death in numerous other ways too. He, like Kanba, has no choice but to dig himself deeper into the pit of inhumanity for the sake of ending the war.
When it comes the time for Kakisu to terminate his failure of a test subject, there are a couple of obvious metaphors that crop up in relation to his final decision regarding his internal crisis. First, he immerses himself in the rain in an attempt to purify himself before diving headfirst into something he is ultimately against doing. Second, his physical descent into the ditch alludes to his own descent into the immorality of humanform research, to fully commit to any risks and dangers the project will have in the near future. Third, he still gets mud on his uniform despite not slipping on the wet concrete as he descended. No matter how delicate he is about humanform research, it is an undeniable fact that his mere involvement in the experiments have already contaminated him. Now that he has personal investment in keeping the humanform research under wraps, washing his hands of these future affairs will be impossible.
As the humanform before him dies by Kakisu’s hand, so does his previous hesitations and fleeting grasps at innocence that was once left in him. What he will be doing from now on will be considered immoral, inhumane, and unjust. His efforts to end the war will be thankless, doomed to languish in a nondescript file cabinet as evidence of his war crimes. He has unwillingly become an enemy to the hearts of many, and he is left with no other choice than to embrace his newfound identity. He, for one, welcomes his new bioweapon overlords.