“X” – Chris Luedtke

Here’s one to frustrate you: X is the animated tale of a young man named Kamui Shirô (voiced by Tomokazu Seki) who must decide whether he wants to fight for the Dragons of Heaven or the Dragons of Earth – two opposing armies whose battle will decided whether humanity is allowed to continue living on the Earth or not. Kamui, being the apathetic hero he is, doesn’t care about the apocalyptic battle and has one goal in mind: protect his friends Fûma Monô (voiced by Ken Narita) and his sister Kotori (voiced by Junko Iwao).


The premise doesn’t sound bad, fairly standard Japanese anime with the world resting on a young man’s shoulder’s etc. However, the movie ends up being a cluttered mess that left me scratching my head in confusion and frustration. The flow is extremely jagged; I’d even go as far as to call this a fragmented film because so much is unexplained and the characters are grossly under developed. Actually, this was my introduction to anime when I was about thirteen years old and at that time I tried my best to accept that my twenty bucks was spent on something that I just couldn’t get. What was it? Where they trying to hide something from me? Did I not pay close enough attention? No, in fact this movie is based off a series of graphic novels called X/1999 by the infamous Clamp. The series runs over twenty volumes long, each containing around two-hundred pages. So, how does one fit something of that size into a one-hundred minute movie? Truth be told, it can’t be done. The most simplistic elements of the manga are thrown into to this along with a large list of alterations including character changes and unfocused intentions.


As the movie begins we are thrown right into a battle between the two sorcerers of the rival armies. As one of the opening sequences, this has little to no relevance to the remainder of the movie. A few things are hinted at about who Kamui is but before long both consume each other. This isn’t the first time this’ll happen in the movie either. Oh no, all the characters are introduced near the beginning of the movie but there is no time to get to know them because by the time they appear to be playing a relevant part they’re already dead. It almost seems like the movie wants an excuse to shed some blood instead of develop an interesting plot with layered characters.


The animation, for its time anyway, was far above par. In fact, this one of the premier Japanese anime movies that really pushed its limits and showed what kind of visuals could really be produced. The entire movie is very gothic and extremely dark; I had a hard time seeing things in a few cases. However, I can’t compliment Clamp enough on their beautiful character design and brutal portrayals of violence. Even if you don’t get it, it looks pretty darn good.


If you’ve read the manga or have seen the TV series “X” then, and only then, I say give this a whirl. Otherwise the manga and series do a much better job with the story and characters, actually managing to keep things interesting. The only thing about this movie version that I will say is superior is the ultimate outcome of all the characters and the final show down for Kamui; much more profound and memorable.


Rating: ★½☆☆


-Chris Luedtke

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