Anime Reporter delves into the anime archives and comes up with X: the movie, going back eighteen years to the year 1996 (and feeling very old as a result of that little piece of math). We take a look at the film adaptation of an anime series based in the future of 1999, when, as we all recall, the world was due to end (Spoiler Alert: It didn’t and we’re all tremendously grateful).
The plot follows Kamui Shiro, a young man forced to choose between two sides and determine the outcome of Armageddon. One side, the Dragons of Heaven, seek to prevent doomsday from taking place, while the Dragons of Earth are really keen to see humanity wiped off the planet and give the fungus a chance to inherit the earth.
Kamui’s choice may seem like a no-brainer, but both sides have their arguments and things are much more complicated than they might initially seem. Kamui’s close friends soon become entangled in the war and both sides have their share of superhuman fighters. While many of the fighters are more than formidable on their own, fate suggests that Kamui’s choice will ultimately determine the outcome.
The style and themes of the characters and their struggle will be very familiar to anyone who has seen and enjoyed the Russian films Night Watch and Day Watch, though this anime predates them by several years.
The anime film sums up several key events from the series, which was itself an adaptation of a manga series. Many plot points and characters are glossed over and given little or no attention so if you’re unfamiliar with the series but like the sound of X, just don’t expect to fall in love with anyone’s personalities in this film.
As mentioned before, the film is almost twenty years old and the animation shows its age, lacking a lot of the clarity and sharp lines which define modern anime. That said, it’s absolutely beautiful and makes stunning use of colour and texture. Blood (and there’s a lot of it) has a wonderfully dark and deep tone to it. While the animation is a little basic by today’s standards, it is undeniably beautiful and characters are rendered with the pale, angular style that seinen anime captures so well.
The action scenes are tremendous, if slightly over the top and anyone who’s afraid of a little graphic violence should look elsewhere. This series isn’t shy about shedding a few pints of blood here and there or getting its hands dirty doing it.
The plot is pretty straightforward, trimming away a lot of the excess and team-relationship building of the original. This is Kamui’s story and virtually no time is given to his relationship with his chosen team, though they are included as glorified background characters. Some time is given reinforce the difficult decisions to be made by Kamui and those around him, putting friendships to the test and weighing the fate of the planet against personal relationships.
X is a deeply dark and hard-hitting film with Matrix style concepts and fight sequences. In this form, it fails as a character piece but it excels as a story of good versus evil with action and superpowers galore.
X is available on DVD from Manga Entertainment UK. For more anime reviews and updates, stick with us here at Anime Reporter.
69% – “A Strong Effort”– X-the movie takes a complex series and boils it down to a good old apocalyptic brawl. Younger viewers may have a hard time getting past the slightly outdated animation, though with graphic violence and slight nudity, younger viewers probably shouldn’t be watching it anyway.