His destiny has finally arrived as the young Shirou Kamui returns to Tokyo after 6 years. A powerful psychic, Kamui vows to protect the happiness of his childhood friends Fuuma and Kotori, even if it means avoiding them. But fate is cruel, whether or not Kamui wants to be involved; he holds the future of the world in his hands, given the choice of becoming a Dragon of Heaven or a Dragon of Earth. The Seven Seals gather, and so do the Seven Angels; all individuals who have their destiny carved out as one who would battle for the fate of the world. What future will Kamui choose to become reality?
This series highlights some of the wonderful reasons why you shouldn't make an anime for a manga that isn't finished.
STORY - Honestly, X has a pretty decent story, even if most of its themes are far from original. It is, essentially, another battle between humanity and the planet they live on, of man against nature. This conflict has been addressed over and over again throughout history in century-old novels and vintage films, in addition to a wide splattering of anime and manga. Mostly-unexplained supernatural powers and angel/demon parallels, both rather characteristic of CLAMP, aren't very new either, and really, even combining the two doesn't add
a particularly intriguing angle. Nevertheless, X's story is solid. It has everything a story needs: a clear theme, a clear point, a clear hurdle, and a clear goal. And actually, the final, deepest concept may even be controversial enough to be original. So what then, went so horribly wrong?
My main issue was pacing and bad storytelling in general. Despite having tons more time to deal with themes, issues, and characters compared to the disastrous X OAV, the anime still doesn't seem able to utilize this time effectively. The first few episodes are heavy and fast-paced, tossing the audience into the crazy complex details of the conflict with little preamble. Then it cools noticeably and a lot of the macabre and shock is diminished. You kind of wonder what all the hubbub was about. The entire middle of the series seems to slow to a snail's pace. There are frustratingly long scenes depicting nothing more than a man walking down a path. We really don't need to watch Subaru walking in silence for five straight minutes and passing the same shrine multiple times. At least the Lucky Star girls were talking about something for five minutes.
Those slow episodes were attempts to delve into the individual backstories of our fourteen plus relevant characters (seven Dragons of Heaven, seven Dragons of Earth, plus supporting roles), but they fail to give much attention to these characters' connections to the overall plot and theme, making them pretty useless in the grand scheme of things, especially since many of these personal struggles are never resolved. The story used to be clear and have a point, but after trudging through a half dozen of these character-centric episodes, you stop caring. Oh, right, we were concerned about the fate of the earth right? Morals and stuff, what about that again? The last few episodes are forced to pick up speed again, but it happens in that disorganized and rushed way where nothing really makes sense; they explain very little, and the ending leaves you more confused than anything else. And being a non-canonical ending doesn't help either. Personally, I prefer the X OAV's ending, even if the rest of it sucked. Clearly, the anime isn't much better.
CHARACTER - I never did like Kamui much, even in the manga. Like many other things in the series, his backstory seemed uninspired and recycled to me. Typical cute childhood. Typical teenage sobstory. He is oversensitive, and all attempts to shape and transform his character never seem to go very far. The ruthless demeanor he tries to put on for the first few episodes doesn't last long, and he ends up seeming pretentious rather than complex. I just found him incredibly hard to sympathize with, which is never a good thing. Fuma further seemed like a cheap shot at tragedy, and after a while, he was nothing more than yaoibait. Kotori? How many other "girl from my childhood who I'm in love with"-type characters have you seen? Typical shoujo.
The rest of the cast is a little more forgiving, if still despairingly typical. Of the Dragons of Heaven, Arashi fills in the role as priestess girl. Sorata is the endearing comedic. Karen is your religious character; Seichirou, your nice guy. Nekoi filled the cute school girl role, and Subaru was crossover material because CLAMP loves crossovers. Of the Dragons of Earth, Seishirou is also crossover filler, Yuto was amusing, and Satsuki reminded me of Lain. Nataku did not interest me at all -- a clone just seemed unnecessary, but it was yet another archetype. Kusanagi, another nice guy, and Kakyo... eh. I'm indifferent. Hinoto and Kanoe are more of the same. All of these characters, more than anything else, seem to represent dozens of anime and manga archetypes, which limited my general interest in them. Their personal stories were intriguing at times, but were never explored to the depths that they were in the manga, and it was difficult to become attached. They were okay: not good, not bad.
As morals play a huge role in the series, each characters' personal views and beliefs are the most interesting part of them. Those whose views come to shift and change, those who grow to question things, and those who have complicated relationships with others are the ones that are fun to watch. Nekoi's relationship with Kusanagi. Subaru's relationship with Seishirou. Kamui's with Fuma. Seichirou's with Karen. All the crossing of relationships over enemy lines was fun -- like one giant, strange concoction of Romeo and Juliet-esque drama! Including all the sudden love! Sadly, while a few of the characters do manage to develop a little (read: Kamui), most don't. They just don't have enough time between when they're introduced, when their backstory is explained, and the end of the series. Abbreviated depth when translating characters from manga to anime is nothing new though, sadly.
ART & ANIMATION - It seems to me that there are a lot of series weak in story and character, but strong in the technical aspects. X is beautiful. One day, I'll figure out why CLAMP's style of noodley bishounen and wide-shouldered biseinen is just so damn appealing. All the characters have wonderful and memorable designs, many of which highlight their clear personalities. Kanoe and Karen are both confident women. Kakyo and Hinoto are fragile and delicate. There's a very clear connection between a character's visuals and his or her substance. Backgrounds are impressively detailed, and I'm always enthralled by animated cityscapes. Rooftops and bridges all looked great, as did all the explosions and magic, all of the blood and macabre. For an anime series, X is definitely full of eyecandy.
MUSIC - I. Love. X's soundtrack. It's what I like most about the entire series, hands down. All of the music in the series is beautiful and distinct, especially the leitmotif. There are beautiful piano themes and much wilder, energetic battle themes, including a few very chaotic mixes charged on adrenaline. A lot of the sounds are reminiscent of more traditional Japanese music as well, giving a unique sound. There are also a few tracks that remind me of Native American and perhaps even African tones, adding even more to the blend. Seriously, X's music is worth listening to even if you don't see the series. The opening and end themes are both relevant to X's themes and echo the kinds of sounds that present in the soundtrack. Good, good music all around.
VOICE ACTING - The change of cast between the anime and the OAV was disappointing in general, but the worst of it was trading Tomokazu Seki for Kenichi Suzumura as Kamui's voice. It wasn't so much that Suzumura did a bad job though, so if you haven't seen the OAV (don't), then it probably doesn't matter very much because there's no benchmark. As most of the characters fitted nicely to archetypes, most of the cast just seemed to give a generic voice. Tough guy sounded tough; cute girl sounded cute. Nothing special. Nothing to critique. Nothing to praise. I haven't seen the dub for X, but I don't imagine that it'd be much different.
OVERALL - In general, I dislike the idea of trying to make an anime out of a manga that hasn't finished, but it is possible to do so without failing utterly. Fullmetal Alchemist is probably the best example, at least up until the last few episodes. So the fact is that X could have been handled much better. Trying to explore more than fourteen characters in twenty-four episodes while still orchestrating a main plot is hard. Instead of that, I think it would have been better to compress some of the smaller storylines or to get rid of them altogether, especially the ones that never got close to any sort of resolution. The main story was about morals, priorities, and the fate of humanity and earth. They never seem to explain that very well though, and things got confusing as a result. I, personally, didn't like the ending, but I think that's more because it was poorly executed than because it was actually a bad conclusion.
X was a pretty interesting series, which had pretty much all of the ingredients needed to make a classic, yet at the same time the ingredients sometimes don't seem to mix properly, making it miss just that last little edge.
Still, it has become one of my favorites, because it has exactly those things that appeal to me in an anime show: a good storyline with enough twists and changes, excellent animation, a great soundtracks and amusing and diverse characters.
Of course the series has CLAMP all over it, which shows mainly in the characyer design and story, both of which are on par of the average
CLAMP series, meaning they're good. The animation in action sequences is fast-paced and intense, and the soundtrack accompanies each scene well, drawing you in even further.
As I stated in the beginning of this review, the plot is decent and there are enough twists and turns in the plotline, with the most important one taking place halfway through the series; I usually see these things coming, and while all the clues were there, spread out very obviously, I was still surprised.
What follows after that is a dive into the various main characters backgrounds and pasts (heroes and villains alike), and while that could've been drawn out a little more, it adds a bit extra..though not much.
The ending is... a bit less intense that I personally would've hoped for, but it still fits the series; still, it's a non-canon ending, and I wonder how the actual series will end now...
A nice series to watch; if you like action with a touch of fantasy in a modern setting, then X is a nice show for you to watch.
X is a very mystyrious and drama-heavy anime, coupled with nice action scense's.
The Story focus on the first episodes on Kamui who wants to get a sword that belongs to him, passed down from his mother, but gets drawn into a fight of the destiny of the earth. With him as the key to it apperently.
When put like this it doesn't sound like much but add to that some very interesting twist and turns that can glue you to the screen and you get something that you want to see the end of no matter what.
The art is done very well, with nice
backgrounds that don't draw to much attention away form what is actually happening and very nice details which together make this anime very nice to look at
the music in my opinion is chossen very well in the dramatic moments, but the fight music is at best anticlimatic and sounds like your playing some videogame sometimes, but only when you have a fight that hasn't some kind of drama in it. again drama-moments are very well done in this one.
The characters are split in two categories: in one can we put the to main chara's... with development, emotions and all that portrait so realitic and believable that it can overshadow the, rather poor, suppourtcharaters that the authors were trying desperatly to give some dept but faild half way through.
All in all the anime is really worth it to at least watch once in your life, even if you aren't a fan of emotinal animes and such.
X is one of the many series I've picked up as a result of me being a collector of Geneon DVDs. Two very rare auctions ended on eBay.co.uk on the same day; one for the rare remix set and one for the less rare bailey box sets - I won the latter.
The series description sounds interesting enough to attract most anime fans: in X there are a total of fourteen people from various walks of life who have psychic abilities (varying from controlling machines to controlling elemental forces). Seven are destined to be Dragons of Heaven; a group who fight to preserve the Earth as
it is now by protecting seals located in Tokyo, while the other seven are destined to be Dragons of Earth; a group destined to destroy the Earth by destroying the seals. Among these psychics is one known as Kamui, the only one that can select his own destiny by becoming the leader of either group and, with him being the most powerful, save or destroy the earth as a result.
Very disappointingly, the above description is practically all the plot you're going to get out of X. As interesting as the concept is, it wasn't executed very well at all and there really wasn't much depth at all.
What frustrated me about the story was how flashbacks appeared far too often and went on for far too long when the series is only 24 episodes long, one episode actually being a recap. The time spent needlessly treading over old ground repeatedly could've been spent improving the story, but...
The part of the plot I found most poorly executed was anything and everything related to the seals. The Dragons of Heaven are supposedly there to protect certain areas of Tokyo (where the seals are located), yet the seals can actually be broken easily by simply killing someone close to the seal protector and making them lose the will to fight. And, even if I was to ignore that, there's also the small matter of every other psychic aside from Kamui being worthless when only Kamui can kill Kamui (this will only by understandable if you watch the series) in order for the final seal to be broken.
Thankfully, the plot issues caused by the needless amount of characters didn't ruin the series, the opposite actually being true. X wasn't created with the intention of providing a deep story with lots of twists, the goal instead clearly being to make X into one of the better character driven series out there. While very little time was spent developing the plot during the 24 episodes, a huge amount of it was spent on developing the large cast of characters, with the characters frequently getting episodes all to themselves so that the viewer would become attached to them. After those 'attachment episodes', the cast start to shorten in number due to tragic event after tragic event, resulting in the characters sticking in the 'tragic character' section of my memory.
So, in a nutshell, X isn't recommended to those looking for an excellent story... but is recommended to those looking for well developed/likable characters. Wouldn't it have been great if we could've had the best of both worlds!?
Anyway, time to move on to everything else that needs mentioning, starting with the art/animation. The art looked good for a series that aired in 2002, my only real complaint about it being that some of the female characters looked more like ugly males. The animation wasn't very impressive at all for a series that involves fighting, the fights all being static and usually involving an attack being made and then a short conversation taking place before the next one - it isn't a series that people looking for flowing action would be best pleased with. But, overall, X looks more than good enough for a series that's focused on character development.
The other thing that needs mentioning is the music, but there's really not much to say... I found it to be an easy to forget soundtrack that fitted the series good enough. None of the tracks stood out in an amazing or awful way.
...That's pretty much it. All that remains is for me to say that I thought X was heavily flawed but worth my time. I recommend it it to anyone looking for an emotional ride!
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