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. read more
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.read more
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.read more
After the first few episodes I didn't like this anime. I thought the main character, Kamui, was too mean and selfish. I started to watch the show because I am a fan of shounen ai and someone had recommecomnded it on that basis, but I hadn't seen any hints of shounen ai 3 episodes in. I was about to give up on the show, but something convinced me to keep watching. Damn am I glad I did!!
This is one of the BEST animes I have ever seen. It's hard to explain without spoilers, but I'll try. First, the fact that I found Kamui to be too mean at first wasn't a sign of bad writing -- it turned out to be a sign of excellent writing! He has a really interesting character arc, and when you finally find out why he acts the way he does, it makes sense. He has been through a lot, and that's all I will say.
For me, the hidden star of this entire series is Sorata. One of the BEST CHARACTERS IN ANY STORY I"VE EVER SEEN! Sorry for the all caps, but Sorata deserves it! He is a CLASSIC character, in ANY genre. He is the very first character you see, literally. In many ways, I think he is the real hero of X.
The soundtrack at first caught me as dated and cheesy, but it somehow crept up on me and now I can't stop humming it lol : ) Really old school music, but very emotional music that ends up becoming part of the awesomeness of the show!
This show has excellent writing. I never once saw where things were going, and everything had a really solid feel to it. Very human all the way through!
I hate it when a movie or a show just becomes seeing which order all the characters die in. I always think that's lame and means the writer didn't have any real story to tell. I *thought* they started going that way with this series but again, they fooled me. The way the war plays out is extremely creative. When a character does die it has strong impact and meaning. I literally cried over a death in the second to last episode and I think I've only cried over 4 movies / tv shows ever.
This series was truly amazing! Even if you are not into shonen ai, even the straight relationships in this show had a sweetness that I thought was really cool. But X did turn out to very subtly have some of the best shounen ai I've ever seen! It's so subtle as to be almost subtextual but it's definitely there and really moving. Really cool emotions throughout most of the series, especially involving Kamui, Fuma, Subaru, and (embarassed to say I forget Subaru's friend's name).
The ONE thing that I wish was different -- I wish the character who turns out to be the main Dragon of Earth was a Dragon of Heaven instead. I didn't like how they chose their side.
The ultimate fantasy for any anime fan is the anime crossover. How cool would it be if one of your favorite anime characters teamed up with another one of your favorite characters to make animated magic? Very, indeed. Let's explore some of the most creative anime crossovers of all time.