The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: X
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Madhouse Stuios
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2001 – 27 Mar 2002

Synopsis: The “promised day”, the day when humanity faces extinction, is about to come to pass. The seven members of the Dragons of Heaven, the defenders of humanity, must defeat the seven of the Dragons of Earth in order to save their world. The final key necessary to save humanity lies in the hands of Shiro Kamui. If he chooses to become a Dragon of Heaven, he can fight for the continued existence of mandkind, but if he chooses to be a Dragon of Earth, all of humanity will be destroyed.

The Highlights
Art and Animation: Superb.
Music: Quality over quantity, but expect hear the same tunes every single episode.
Character development: Copious but rarely powerful.
Story: Heavily tinged in themes about destiny, morality and love.

Maybe it’s just me, but the more I watch X, the more I’m convinced that it is really a series about nothing. The show raises some lofty questions about the justification of human existence, destiny and love, but most of the “answers” provided are hollow soundbites. The show appeals almost solely to emotion and basically ignores reason. In the end, what the series boils down to is a melodramatic soap opera smashed into an armageddon action series that is embroidered by CLAMP and Madhouse Studios.

“Why should humans continue to exists?” asks one of the antagonists. An appropriate response would have been “Why do you want to destroy humanity in the first place?” because, from what I can tell, most of the antagonists are trying to destroy the world out of sheer boredom. The answer that is ultimately given by the protagonist is, “because death will make other people sad.” Emotionally charged and expressively delivered, this plea seems perfectly reasonable until one starts to wonder how anyone can mourn if everyone is dead. This serves as the main problem of X; the show relies too heavily on heavy, emotional rhetoric, and often fails to adequately explain why something occurs. The characters are well developed, and many of the fourteen major characters get significant screen time, but very little of the development is truly heartfelt. The show is layered too thickly with blunt foreshadowing and heavy melodrama that not much manages to impress.

CLAMP has a tendency to make shounen action anime that plays out like a shoujo series. X is no exception. Pretentious rhetoric aside, this anime serves as an above par action anime sprinkled with talks about love and destiny. With Madhouse at the helm, the series has high aesthetical values. The music is quality over quantity, and the animation often approaches OVA levels. With copious amounts of character development and some decent fight scenes, the show probably would have been better if it didn’t try to so hard to sell itself as something more.

X is one of those shows that grabs you by the shoulders and says, “let me tell you my life story”. The problem is action buffs are left high and dry, and the final story isn’t all that great. Regardless, if you take the show with a grain of salt and ignore the overbearing themes, the show doesn’t seem all that bad.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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