At the millennial edge, the concluding battle for humanity's future is staged. Kamui Shirou's destiny has been decided as he returns to Tokyo to face his ultimate challenge. The Dragon of Heaven, defenders of the Earth, stand ready to protect the world from the Dragon of Earth, the seven angels of legend, who embrace the devastation of the planet to bring about its purification. Now Kamui must decide which side to fight for although he finds the idea utterly unappealing. It isn't until realizing that his two childhood friends, Fuma and Kotori Monou, are in grievous peril that Kamui decides to step into his fated position in the climactic struggle of the Year of Destiny: 1999.
This movie is horrible. It is so bad that it's entertaining. If you've never read the manga or know nothing of the characters then it will make almost no sense. If you have however it's kind of amazing to watch it all pushed together. It's almost like watching a movie condensed into 30 seconds. Only it's a long overly complicated manga plot condensed to movie length with lots of barely explained fight scenes.
It's CLAMP, so it's pretty. This is a given. But that's about all it has going for it when it comes to technical merit.
Someone's head gets cut off practically every ten
minutes (or at least dies in some gruesome way). They fit the deaths of most of the cast into the movie. Someone should turn it into a drinking game.
I think my mother summed it up best: "Who are these people and why did they just kill each other? It looked like it was important for some reason."
I'll try to be objective without stating the conditions, my mood and my preferences when watching this movie. I'll just point out that when I wrote this review, I considered the fact that it is actually a summary of TV series compiled of 26 episodes and made in 1996 by CLAMP, a highly appreciated group of manga-ka.
How to define what is a good anime? You consider the story and its development as a main point, the characters' originality and description, the animation and the drawing (although this can be an subjective point of view) and the sound as a whole - the voice acting and
the background music.
The story in this movie, as well as in the series can be viewed only as an average and nothing new, even if we consider that this is an anime from 1996. The (un)conventional view of the ever-going fight between the good and the evil, which is never purely black and white. The moral and the reasons for choosing on one side or the other. The duality of people's choices and the world that we live in. All of these points are represented clearly, though not in a very original way.
The actual development of the story is really different from the one in the TV series, but that's understandable considering the time frame. The story is taking a faster way of developing, it's has more blood-shed, and it's full of conflicts between the actors. And that is about all that is. It looks like it is just one big fight and it's background is depicted in a really hasty manner.
Considering the large number of characters, there practically wasn't any time to tell each of their stories, even in the amount that it was done in a 26 episode series. You get the feeling that all that they're are about is filling up the story with action time and fights of the type everyone vs. everyone. And besides the genders and different fighting styles, there aren't many differences between the characters. So you ask why do you need 7 vs 7? Is 7 really a number that magical? It could've been done with just the main characters and the story would've been liberated of the ever-repeating fights that, of course, lead to the culmination in the last 10 minutes. Which is a fight with lots of blood shed, as well.
The art is really good. From the drawing of the characters to the backgrounds and scenery, it's obvious that a lot of time and affection has been spent on it. The fights, including all the effects from sword slashing to sakura leaves flying around, are really a high point. The only thing that can be considered is the originality and the personal taste of the viewer.
The background music is eerie throughout the movie and wonderfully backing up the blood-shed and the fights. But it gives an even darker light to the whole story and to the enjoyment of it all.
So considering all this and hoping to stay objective to the end, my conclusion will be that this is an average version of a potentially great anime. And that is all.
Be warned: this review does contain a few spoilers. However, I tried very hard to keep it light.
Also be warned that if you are planning to watch X, you should /not/ watch it as someone who has never /read/ X. You should read X first, then watch the movie. Otherwise you will not be able to understand or appreciate it at all. This review is, by the way, written with the assumption that you /have/ read X – but never fear, for there are very few actual spoilers for the manga and you may still read this review even if you haven’t read X. Now,
let us get on to the actual review…
The majority of you are angry that X the Movie doesn’t follow X. But that’s because the majority of you are looking at the movie from the perspective of people who have read all eighteen volumes. You see, when I first started watching the movie, I went into it angry. I was ready to point out all the flaws I could possibly find.
“No! No no no no no! Seishirou, Subaru, what are you doing!”
“Subaru, you don’t walk around in shifuku! I think the animators confused you with Hokuto. Who has been dead for nearly a decade by this point so I don’t know how they could confuse you with her…actually…”
“/No. What are you doing. Stop it. You’re both idiots/.”
“No no no no no no noooo. Subaru, that is not your wish. And Seishirou, you’re just being downright rude. And stupid. Have I mentioned how stupid I think the two of you are?”
“Whoa they turned into dragons!”
~incomprehensible complaining, sobbing, raging ten minutes into the movie~
“W-where is Kakyou?! Who is this brat?”
“Whoa Yuzuriha, you’re pretty…forceful. I remember you being much bubblier and friendlier in the manga!”
“Hey, Kusanagi. /What happened to you/. When did you become such a horrid brute?”
“/What happened to your relationship with Yuzuriha/?!”
“Well Fuuma…you’re just going on a rampage, aren’t you…”
Half way through the movie, I realized something. And started laughing.
X the Movie was released in 1996; by that time, the X manga was only up to about eight volumes. CLAMP is not about to spoil all their developments in a movie. How Subaru and Seishirou’s relationship resolves is one of the reasons a majority of people read X – how do you get that out of the way? /Especially/ since we don’t learn how their relationship ends until, oh, over five years later! The sensible way is to kill them off ten minutes into the movie, of course. Can’t get your hopes up too much, can we? While my heart aches, I can’t blame the directors or CLAMP since it was a rather grandiose move in order to keep X’s sixteenth volume a complete and, I might add, devastating surprise.
Kusanagi is portrayed as a bastard, not because he is one, but because they can’t show what sort of relationship Kusanagi and Yuzuriha have later on. That would be spoiling it! As for Kakyou – I don’t think he was even introduced by the eighth volume, so they simply had to replace him with someone else. To be fair, whoever they replaced him with (I apologize, I already forgot his name, yes I know I’m horrible) looked quite similar to Kakyou. Another red herring, if I may say.
So, basically, X the Movie is one gigantic troll.
Distance yourself from X and you can see it. Even I, who loathe it when manga are taken and dissected into pieces and consequently abridged for anime format, managed to become objective and viewed X as simply…something separate from its manga counterpart. If you so desire to see it as such, you could even call X the Movie a really long trailer for X – or a “what could have been” version of X. You could even see it as a parody, if you want. A really bloody, messy parody.
That aside, X the Movie is truly breathtaking. The art is beautiful. Here are the /real/ CLAMP characters – not the stiff, and, quite blatantly, often ugly art of the television series. The animation is wonderfully done and fluid. Now if only an anime series – true to the manga – could be released with this sort of quality! The character designs are completely and utterly true to their original counterparts. Seishirou is dashing as usual, Subaru is beautiful, Arashi is utterly gorgeous, Yuzuriha is adorable, Hinoto is stunning. I’d go into the other characters but that would take too long – I’m simply mentioning the ones that struck me with awe. The soundtrack is also quite solid; I can’t remember having any complaints about it. In addition, the seiyuu were quite fitting for all their characters.
The visuals are very dark and mystical, as is fitting for X. Be warned, for there is…quite a bit of gore in X. In the television series, there was almost absolutely no blood, which was one of the major things that irritated me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of gore at all. But X is filled with blood and guts and bones and pretty darn painful deaths, and if you’re planning to censor that, why make an anime series at all? The movie, written and released before the anime series, makes up for that.
Those of you who, despite my warnings, will be going on to watch X the Movie (and have made it this far into my review) without reading X the manga must be warned – the characterization in the manga is different. The character development is different. The events displayed in the movie either did not occur or are not in chronological order. As I stated earlier – it is best if you read X before you watch the movie. Distance yourself. Know the characters. Know who they are. Watch, watch without getting angry – watch it the “right way”, and you will enjoy it.
I know I did. I watched it and I don’t regret it in the slightest. I might even watch it again, if only for that beautiful art.
I really didn't like this anime. I haven't seen the TV series yet, however based on what I've read here, it doesn't seem like that's a requirement. Whether or not the actual series is better, however, is not in question here. What is in question here is the quality and source of enjoyment from this movie, and in that regard I found very little.
The story seemed rehashed, recycled, and overused. Boy comes back home, meets childhood friends (one a girl who he's obviously still enamored with even after the six years he's been gone), has childhood friends taken away from him, and finds out he
can save the world. Wow. While some features of the plot may have been original (the Dragons of the Earth and Heavens, for instance), too much of the story wasn't.
The art wasn't very good, and whether or not this is because of the age of the movie or not, I felt that the anime was very difficult to watch because of that. The sound was fairly absent, but what was there I had no problems with.
The characters, like the story, were very unoriginal, even though we're talking about a CLAMP story here (maybe even because we are?). The friendship and "love" between the childhood friends and the main character seemed shallow and incredulous (it's been six years since they last saw each other... and we hardly know why he even leaves or how he's such an honorable person in their eyes). This really hurt my enjoyment of the show, along with the story.
Overall, not a movie I recommend for either good action or a good story.
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