0 Items | £0.00


XAM'd Transformers!

Thursday 23rd February 2012

Andrew Osmond rings the changes with Xam'd


The series Xam’d Lost Memories, now out as a Complete Collection, was pithily described by the cofounder of its studio as being about “a man who transforms.” Specifically, Xam’d shows a teenage boy turning into a terrifying, deadly, out-of-control alien fighter. It recalls one of anime’s finest moments, when a boy became a lump of writhing, suety flesh and spilled over an Olympic stadium in the finale of Akira.

Before they hit puberty, most kids aren’t scared of transformation in itself. Rather, it seems cool and magic. The horror writer Stephen King commented on how his seven year-old son loved the ‘70s Incredible Hulk TV show. Every time Bill Bixby’s eyes turned green and his shirt sleeves ripped round Lou Ferrigno’s painted muscles, King Jr said cheerfully, “Old greenskin is back!” Japanese kids, of course, had their own transforming heroes: Ultramen, Rangers, Kamen Riders, Sailor Scouts…

But teenage transformation… that’s something else. It’s not just the hair and acne, it’s all the inner changes as well, as if some Cronenberg invader is taking residence in your mind and body. It’s well put in the fifth Harry Potter film (Order of the Phoenix), when Harry admits his growing pains to his were-dog godfather, Gary Oldman. “I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me? What if I’m becoming bad?”

In America and Britain, there are few full-on screen portraits of adolescent body-horror. An exception is The Exorcist, a film that’s nearly forty years old, where a sweet young girl turns into a foul-mouthed, slime-spewing demon. (Parents can insert their own joke here.) Today’s blockbuster transformer is the reassuring Spider-Man, whose body makeover is wholly benign. You get boosted pecs and 20/20 vision, without, say, the poison fangs or extra legs.

As we’ve argued before on this blog, one of the ways in which anime appeals to Westerners is that it takes notions we know from our own comics mainstream… and pushes them further. Both Akira and Xam’d share the primary-coloured palette of American superhero strips. Take a look at Xam’d part 14, which features a spectacular battle involving two crazily mutating boys. One of them is a bloated, physiognomy-shifting critter, who looks like a cross between Akira’s boy-blob and the No-face monster from Spirited Away.

Both Akira and Xam’d show male monsters, huge boys’ heads growing from swelling sacks of flesh. Tetsuo, the antihero in Akira, seemed warped by his impotence (the ultimate male teen nightmare), while the Xam’d creatures fight over – what else? – a girl. But female transformations figure strongly in recent anime. In Claymore, for example, the heroine Clare wilfully becomes an outcast demon-slayer by eating the flesh and blood of her beloved... well, that’d be telling. The snag: as she grows in strength, she risks losing control of her power and becoming a demonic Awakened Being.

The recent Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor is just as ominous. As fans point out, it seems to parody “magic girl” anime shows (Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura). Only in this traumatic coming-of-age saga, the heroine uses her magic to summon a gun from her body. Meanwhile, her life is being cut away slice by slice: her family, her friends, and finally her self. That old greenskin Hulk lied to the kids. Transformation isn’t magic or cool; it’s inevitable, inexorable and bloody terrifying.

Xam'd: Lost Memories Complete Collection is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

XAM'd Transformers!


Xam\'d Lost Memories Complete Collection

was £39.99
A hidden power, when flesh becomes metal!
When a young boy on a peaceful island becomes the victim of a terrorist attack, he transforms into Xam'd, a powerful mecha capable of extreme power. Now he must discover the depth of his power and the role he plays in a world where metal and rock meet flesh, desire, and destiny.
From STUDIO BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka Seven)



Ghost in the Shell Fashions

Helen McCarthy on Major Kusanagi – fashion icon
Ever since her debut, the heroine of Masamune Shirow's manga-turned-global-franchise Ghost In The Shell has been a high-end product. She's a cyborg combat specialist modified to look like a cross between a top fashion model and a porn star, in a world where most of the women we see are as objectified as in our own reality.

New Ghibli Film Announced

Suzuki’s swansong will be the ultimate in exclusivity
Rough artwork has been leaked of Studio Ghibi’s next film, announced as the ultimate in collectibles: a film released in a single print, with a guarantee of no DVD or Blu-ray release. Slated for release in one year’s time, Gertie the Dinosaur began with the most unlikely of inspirations for a much-loved children’s studio.

Assassin's Creed: The Manga

What's been added to the Black Flag spin-off comic?
You can never go wrong with pirates. There’s the romance of the open sea, and the rebellion of taking what you want, and the adventure of looking for buried treasure. And in the Japanese magazine Monthly JumpX, there is the massive marketing synergy of being able to put Assassin’s Creed IV on the cover.

Cosplay: Amaterasu

Paul Jacques rounds up the best dressed fans
Here comes the Sun! Christina Calver cosplays as Amaterasu Omi Kami, the Japanese Sun Goddess.

Naruto Music: Asian Kung Fu Generation

Tom Smith on the Britmaniacs behind the Naruto theme.
They’re so loud and proud that they insist on writing it all in caps: ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION – possibly one of Japan’s most important alternative rock acts. The group’s tenth single ‘After Dark’ makes for the energetic, guitar-heavy opening theme to the latest volume of Bleach, released in the UK this month, and the group’s sound might at first seem reminiscent of America’s indie scene dashed with elements of punk, it actually has a lot more in common with The Who, their generation, and the sea of British-based guitar heroes that have appeared since.

The Films of Shinya Tsukamoto

Jasper Sharp is in a Tokyo state of mind
The hyperrealism of the “cartoon” Akira and the cartoonishness of the live-action Tetsuo struck Western viewers unaccustomed to such mould-breaking cinema with equal force, and it is no real surprise to note that Manga Entertainment was responsible for the subsequent releases of both Tsukamoto’s big-budget colour rerun of his debut, Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer (1992) and his later Tokyo Fist.

Sword Art Online music: Luna Haruna

Tom Smith on the Gothic Lolita who overflies all the competition
Meet Haruna, the artist behind Sword Art Online’s third ending theme; Overly. At the age of twenty she managed to land her dream job as a singer. And not just any singer; an anime singer!

Wolf Children Tweet-a-long

Join us on Wednesday for Mamoru Oshii's anime masterpiece
Join us on Wednesday 8th January to watch Wolf Children and tweet our own commentary.

From Naruto to Fairy Tail

Paul Browne on the music of Yasuharu Takanashi
Two high-profile Manga Entertainment releases have something in common in the form of musician and composer Yasuharu Takanashi. It’s the distinctive musical strokes of Takanashi that appear on the new Naruto movie The Lost Tower as well as the upcoming movie addition to the Fairy Tail series – Phoenix Priestess.

One Piece: Strong World

The Straw Hats Pirates come together for an adventure like no other...
Written by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda himself, Strong World leads the Straw Hats into the deadly path of Golden Lion Shiki.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. XAM'd Transformers! from the UK's best Anime Blog.