Saber Marionette J to X
If you don't know the premise by now, please refer to the original Saber Marionette J review.
J to X takes place a few months after the events of the original TV series. Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry are seen as local heroes - complete with memorial statuary in the town square - and life seems to be returning to normal. Well, about as normal as you'd expect with three highly-charged Marionettes running amok in Japoness. However, the fragile peace is about to be shattered.
Women are about to be reborn into the male-only society of TerraTwo, but some factions either want it stopped or want to steal the embryonic females for themselves. Lorelei is targeted for death, and it's up to Otaru and the Marionettes to make sure she stays safe. Yet the most daunting task for the Marionettes is learning to be women, individuals, and their place in a society where they are rapidly becoming obsolete ...
Ignore the OAV series. This is the true follow-up to Saber Marionette J. I had heard mixed rumors about this show, and how it had a darker tone than the original. Yes, J to X is a far more serious story than J, but it's well-done, and much needed after the fluff that was J Again. It's nice to see the Marionettes developing as complete people, rather than falling into stereotypes. Each episode we've seen so far has been purposeful and entertaining.
What's best about this series so far is that they don't rush into the main storyline immediately, but take the time to focus on and flesh out the characters of the Marionettes (and even Hanagata!). Just as in the first, there are laugh-inducing and tear-jerking scenes alike, and every character is much stronger and more mature as a result. As a result, when the main plot finally kicks in at about episode ten, you know they're ready for the task that lies ahead, and you want to see every minute.
The animation does take a few steps down from the original. It's all computerized, and the color palette is more pastel than the previous series. The character designs are more ... squishy-looking, as if they are in constant semi-SD. Alternately, you could say they flattened the faces out, and stretched out the hair as compensation. Simplified, yes, but also a bit silly considering the gravity of what is happening to the characters.
The music, of course, is still great. Though the BGM is the same stuff we heard in the original, the opening and ending songs by Hayashibara Megumi are catchy and fun. (As usual. What *else* do you expect?)
A little sidenote as to why I like J to X so much - late into the original series, and then some moments of J Again, Tamasaburo and Baiko show just the slightest hints of having emotion. They show a lot more of it in J to X. At one point, one says to the other, "Get a hold of yourself, hold your emotions back," as a throwaway line. These protectors of Japoness aren't supposed to have Virgin Circuits installed, yet they have a wry sense of humor, a fierce loyalty to Lorelei, and a comradeship and fondness for the Saber Marionettes. Very interesting, and a good tease as to what may lie ahead for these two seemingly minor characters.
Saber Marionette J to X is worthy follow-up to a great series. If it keeps up at this pace, it will be at the same level as the original, which says volumes for it. Forget the OAVs - this is the real thing.
Several of the episodes of this series rate among the most poignant science-fiction drama episodes I've seen in anything, and the ending clinches it. — Christina Carpenter
Recommended Audience: Same as the original. A bit more mature themes in this one, especially dealing with the newfound emotions of the Marionettes and how they cope with them.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Saber Marionette J to X © 1998 Akahori Satoru / Kotobuki Tsukasa / Kadokawa Shoten / Bandai Visual / Sotsu Agency / TV Tokyo
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