In modern day Tokyo the end of the world draws near.
Powerful scions representing the elemental forces, the heavens, and the religions of man divide into camps and prepare for the final battle. Guided by Dreamseers, people with the power to see the future in their dreams, these two opposing forces wait only for a leader to appear, the Kamui, before setting to the fray that will determine the fate of the world.
Kamui finally arrives, in the dead of night, but he's not interested in choosing sides between the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth. He only wants to reclaim a family heirloom and then be left to his own devices. However, the current mistress of the Dragons of Earth, Kanoe, is not going to let him off that easily. Drawn in by tragic events orchestrated by Kanoe, Kamui is finally forced to choose sides and the war is on. Who will win? The Dragons of Heaven who wish to preserve the world as it is, or the Dragons of Earth, who want to wipe the slate clean of humanity and begin anew? Who will Kamui side with?
The X movie was actually released prior to the TV series in the US market, but this rendition of the epic CLAMP story does a much better job of just about everything. The characters are easier to relate to and more thouroughly explored. The pacing is slowed down and drawn out to give the viewer a less cluttered plot. The artwork and animation are also extremely good for a television series, if not quite up to par with the theatrical release.
Being CLAMP, and therefore decidely shoujo in origin, the characters of X are really what make the show. All of the various Dragons on both sides are so well portrayed and fleshed out; are so sympathetic, that sometimes it's hard to decide who you really should be rooting for. The relationships between the cast can be so complex at times, often crossing sides of the conflict, that there really is no good way to point out either group and say: "Those are the bad guys." Likewise, everyone's motivations vary as much as their personalities. Some are fighting to protect people they love. Others are helping their side out of a sense of duty, or destiny. Still others are just along for the ride (hey, the end of the world might be cool, you know?).
The pacing is excellent, allowing plenty of time for each of the characters to have their moment in the sun without dragging the story to a halt. It's quite angsty and melodramatic at times, but those familiar with CLAMP's other works will not be alarmed or put out by this. The battles between the different Dragons are highly energized and exciting, but are often separated by long tracts of dialogue or flashbacks that will annoy more action oriented fans. Even so, the action here has a purpose, which the story between the fights adequately protrays.
The artwork and animation for X, are quite simply, breathtaking. While it's not quite as shiny as the movie, the overall quality of this show's production excedes the usual television anime standard by a large margin. The backgrounds are very detailed, with lighting effects put to good use in many scenes. The animation during the fight scenes is crisp and fast, while slowing down a bit for the more dialogue oriented scenes, which is fine (after all, why pay for the extra frames when people are just yapping at each other?).
The music, while beautifully orchestrated, is rather repetitive. They seem to use the same theme music for just about every important scene. It's well done, but the soundtrack might have been better if they had a few different pieces of music, or maybe a different theme for each character. The opening theme is well done, but the ending theme is a bit bland.
In all, X television does a much better job of telling CLAMP's story than the ill-concieved and confusing movie. Shoujo fans will love it for its outstanding characters, action fans will love it for its fast paced battles and smooth animation. At times the angst reaches melodramatic levels, but if you are used to CLAMP, or simply don't mind over-the-top drama then it isn't such a big deal.
Rent it. Buy it. If you are a fan of CLAMP, or like smooth animation and well played characters, then X is for you.
If drama or fighting aren't your bag, remove a star or maybe even two. If you are a fan of CLAMP, add a star. — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Once again, this was a show aired at night and aimed primarily at an older teen and adult audience. People die, often bloodily (although it's not nearly as gory as the manga). There are many adult themes and siutations, but no nudity or sex.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (21/24)
X TV © 2001 CLAMP / Kadokawa Shoten / X TV Production Committee
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