Reviewed by: Lily N.

November 12, 2004

Rating: three-point-five

(24-episodes, 2001.10.03 - 2002.03.27)
Creator – CLAMP (manga)
Production Company – Kadokaowa Shoten, Bandai Visual
Animation Studio - Madhouse
Director - Kawajiri Yoshiaki

Kenichi Suzumura (Kamui Shiro)
Junichi Suwabe (Fuma Monou)
Mamiko Noto (Kotori Monou)
Kaho Koda (Kanoe)
Aya Hisakawa (Hinoto)
Ryoka Yuzuki (Arashi Kishu)
Matsuaki Madono (Sorata Arisugawa)
Hoko Kuwashima (Satsuki Yatouji)
Tomokazu Sugita (Subaru Sumeragi)
Otoya Kawano (Seishiro Sakurazuka)
Kumi Sakuma (Yuzuriha Nekoi)
Michiaki Furuya (Yuto Kigai)
Motoko Kumai (Nataku)
Yoko Soumi (Karen Kasumi)
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Seiichiro Aoki)
Yuji Ueda (Kakyo Kuduki)

X TV the series expands in X the Movie (1996) in greater detail and depth. Is that such a good thing? At some parts, yes, but let me just say this first, even if this was a good series, it's not something I greatly recommend. And like usual, this review is full of spoilers.

Quick Synopsis:
The year is 1999, and with the new millennium approaching, humankind is at the edge of evolution. Thousands of years polluting the planet and destroying mother nature, the Earth is crying and demanding change. Kamui Shiro returns to Tokyo to complete the dying wish of his mother. Tokyo is the location that holds the Earth together, and so logically, destroying Tokyo means destroying the Earth. Seven Dragons of Earth, called Angels, will assist in the death of all humankind, while seven Dragons of Heaven, called Seals, is trying to save it. Kamui has the choice of joining either the Angels or the Seals, but his decision instead triggered a whole chain of unexpected events.
Kamui, Fuma, Kotori

Kamui, Fuma, Kotori

Kamui Shiro - The main player who will decide the Earth's fate. Returning to Tokyo after a six-years absence, he is seeking the Shinken sword.

Fuma Monou - Kamui's childhood friend. Kind and strong, he promised to protect Kamui forever, but his fate is already determined.

Kotori Monou - Fuma's sister, and Kamui's childhood friend, innocent and in love with Kamui.

Dragons of Heaven:

Arashi, Karen, Yuzuriha

Arashi, Karen, Yuzuriha

Arashi Kishu - A priestess of the Ise Shrine, she has the power to generate a sword from her body.

Karen Kasumi - I believe she is a prostitute, and also a firecaster, with a strong Christian background. Irony.

Yuzuriha Nekoi - The youngest of the dragons, she is from the Mitsumine Shrine and has a magical wolf/dog called Inuki.

Subaru Sumeragi - A Yin Yang master seeking revenge for the death of his twin sister, Hokuto.

Seiichiro Aoki - An editor with his own publishing company, also a married man with a child, he is a windcaster.

Sorata Arisugawa - A monk from the Shingon sect, he is high-spirited and outgoing.

Hinoto - A paralyzed young woman who has the gift of seeing the future. Her goals are elusive, but she seeks Kamui's help and lead the Dragons of Heaven.

Dragons of Earth:

Kakyo, Satsuki

Kakyo, Satsuki
Kakyo Kuzuki - A dreamgazer like Hinoto. His lover, Hokuto, was killed, but he was unable to prevent it.

Satsuki Yatouji - A digital genius, she is hooked into a super computer called Beast and control anything electronic.

Kusanagi Shiyu - There's not much info on him, but he is kind and a compassionate man. Yuzuriha is in love with him. Yes, the age difference is enormous.

Yuto Kigai - Easy-going and calm, he is a watercaster and Kanoe's lover.
Nataku, Kanoe

Nataku, Kanoe

Nataku - A genderless artificially created being, s/he lacks human emotions. Seishiro Sakurazuka - Subaru's close friend and the killer of Hokuto, he belongs to a group of assassins rival to the Sumeragi clan. His right eye is blind and he uses the same Onmyouji technique as Subaru.

Kanoe - Hinoto's sister but without the gift of seeing the future. She heads the Dragons of Earth

The storyline was very addictive and interesting, giving a high school student supernatural power and giving him the task of saving the Earth, how many of us haven't given such things a thought? I mean, Kamui at the beginning is just the personification of cool, he was dark, brooding, cute as heck, and can kick some serious ass. It is hard not to like a character like that. But don't think that Kamui is the most important character, because his onscreen time was almost the same as all the other characters. All other characters had their stories and personalities that bring something to the story. Sorata was fun and happy, but at his birth, his fate was already ordained to be Kamui's protector, and that he would die one day for the woman he love. So what does the guy do? He goes around praying the woman would be really hot, and smile all the while. There is something sad and poignant in that. Karen is beautiful and gorgeous, but her mother believed her to be a devil because she can control fire. She lives her life without love and family, only to die for a married man who can never return her love. Nataku is sad and pitiful, s/he does not have a past or a real name, and even in the end, when s/he finally found something meaningful to live for, it is taken and turn around to destroy s/he.

All these characters are vivid and understandable. You might not like them all, but despite their power and out-of-this-world characteristics, there is something redeeming in them that is identifiable. Now let talk about Kamui and Fuma.

Kamui is, was very interesting in the beginning, but as the series progressed, it is harder to like him. His spine seemed to be disappearing as things got worse. Yes, he had a bad childhood, but almost all the characters did, yes, he saw his mother died in front of him, but Hotori didn't get a better deal either. Kamui just seemed too absorbed in himself, and lacking the vision of a hero. His reason for joining the Dragons of Heaven is very altruistic, he just wants to protect the ones he love and protect their wishes, yes that's great, but what about the millions of beings in Tokyo, what about their wishes? And then he just started getting beat up by Fuma, and toward the end, his self-revelation just was to suddenly be believable.

Fuma is fun. He seemed to be a nice guy and everything your best friend should be. But then, one sudden moment, he turned a new leaf, and took on the persona of Kamui's twin, and became the Kamui for the Dragons of Earth. And he just started kicking some serious ass!!! I mean, Clamp created some really cool characters, and they just leveled Tokyo just Godzilla wouldn't even recognize it. Fuma's long overcoat is just so cool. He is like, "tall, dark, and powerful" just like your romantic heroes, but a bit twisted, alright, really twisted. But that's just part of the fun. There's not much to discuss about Kotori, she just sort of there, and played into the theme of preordained fate just perfectly.

X had a very interesting premise to cover, yet at the same time, it seemed that having so many characters, it was doing itself a disservice. It was hard to follow all these characters, even with 24 episodes, can you imagine watching the movie and actually understanding it? The movie was the whole series, or all the manga volumes, condensed, so some of these characters actually just died within the first ten minutes of appearance. I didn't care for the movie very much, but that's another story. The series did a good job of playing in the theme of fate vs. free will, but somehow I think less characters would make it a bit better.

The pacing of the series was okay, if a bit slow in some parts. It started out great, then slowed down when it took some episodes to develop the characters, and picked up again when the real fights start, not too bad. Now, my biggest problem for the series. The ending! It was just a crappy ending. It was good ending, but its execution just suck like sh*t. It was like hearing all the promotions about Star Wars Episode I, and then going to see it, and got hit in the eyes with Jar Jar Binks and Jake Floyd. All the build-up to the one great fight, and...it wasn't even enough to chew on. This is why I can't really recommend X in good faith. Everything about it was good, except the damn last ten minutes. I'm not going to spoil that part, even though I kind of spoil a lot of parts about the anime already, trust me, there is still a lot about the anime to see. It just that the ending was a disappointment.

In terms of artwork and animation, there is no denying that Clamp is one of the best teams out there. There is just so much detail, and so much artistic vision that went into the series. Each panel played with colors and movements and just stunned you sometimes. Very good work. I want those pictures of the Dragons on my wall!!!

I like the music a lot, especially the instrumental ending theme that they played when something important is happening, and you just know that the episode is going to end. Really nice job.

X is essentially the story of fate vs. free will, and hope vs. destiny. All these characters are beings that seemingly accept their roles willingly, but underneath it all, they had hopes and dreams. Hinoto saw the future, but wanted to change it, and died trying to. Kotori even in death, believed that the future is not decided, and trusted in Kamui to find out. It is sad and dark, and interesting. It is not something uplifting or something for your eight-years-old sister. There are themes very adult-oriented, and bloody graphics, not as much as the movie, but graphical enough. If you are willing to put up with a disappointing ending, and didn't know that the hell was the movie all about, then by all mean, check out the series.

Gee, that was wordy, and I don't think I covered everything yet... (I know, I ignored Kamui and Fuma's *relationship*, but once I get started, this is going to be an NC-17 review.)

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of five, not perfect because of the last ten minutes.

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