X: The Movie (1996)

 

Format: 97-minute feature

Rating: R (N, AC, GV)

Type: Supernatural Thriller

American Production: Manga Entertainment

Japanese Production: Kadokawa Shoten/Toei/Madhouse

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C+

Story:

B-

Writing:

B-

Character Design:

C-

Animation:

B+

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B-

Drama Content:

B-

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

B-

 

Synopsis

      In this stylish apocalyptic thriller, the seven Dragons of the Earth (who seek to wipe civilization from the globe and return the Earth to a more pure state) battle their counterparts in the Dragons of the Heaven (who seek to protect civilization) in Tokyo. At the middle of the conflict is a powerful young mystic named Kamui, who had to leave his best friend Fuma and Fuma’s dear sister Kotari behind seven years early to go into training with his mother. With his mother now dead he has returned to protect his friends from the coming apocalypse, but his return actually draws them into the heart of the conflict instead. Kamui is ultimately faced with a decision: he much choose sides in the impending battle, but whichever side he chooses, his opposite number will join the other side – and that opposite, unknowing to both of them, is destined to be his friend Fuma.

 

The Long View

      X is one of the early major projects by the female artistic team known as CLAMP and the first major directing effort by acclaimed anime director Rintaro. It tells a fairly straightforward story despite being heavily laden with lush symbolism and dire imagery. It is deeply steeped in Eastern myth and mysticism and makes at least some attempt at development of the central characters, but ultimately the movie comes down to a series of one-on-one or small-group battles between the diverse individuals who represent the Dragons on each side, while two telepathic sisters, who are Dreamwatchers, direct the efforts of each side from behind the scenes – but they don’t always succeed at the latter. Kamui gets involved in some of these battles as the numbers on both sides are gradually whittled down (don’t get attached to any character beyond Kamui himself!) until only Kamui and his opposite are left. That the close friends he sought to protect get trapped in the forefront of the action gives the story somewhat of a tragic air, but this is ultimately your standard hero-must-stop-the-apocalypse-at-any-cost fare loaded with lots of large-scale destruction.

      My biggest problem with X is that most of the battles in it lack the intensity and dramatic edge seen in other top-quality action-oriented anime. Only the battle between the hero and the last Dragon of the Earth really captures the level of intensity that you’d expect from a movie like this. I also found the character designs in it to be a major detriment, hence the low rating in that category despite artistry and technical merits that are otherwise very good. This is more of a personal preference than an objective rating, however, and those who like CLAMP’s artistic style will probably not have the objections that I did. The animation itself is very good and the artistic merits are respectable beyond the character design. The voice work, both in Japanese and in English, is unexciting.

      As you might expect from an apocalyptic story, X is quite graphic, with numerous and sometimes very intense scenes of bloody violence. There is also some racy dress by some of the characters and other factors that could be considered adult content. It is not a movie appropriate for younger viewers, who probably wouldn’t make much sense of the story anyway.

 

DVD Extras

      Review is based off of a theatrical release and cable TV broadcast. The DVD has not been reviewed.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Kamui

Alan Marriot

Fuma

Adam Henderson

Kotori

Larissa Murray

Kenoe

Denica Fairman

Hinoto

Stacey Jefferson

Sorata

Mike Fitzpatrick

Aoki

David Harris

Shuogo

Rupert Degas

Yuto

Nigel Whitmey

Yuzuriha

Anne-Marie Lawless

Arashi

Teresa Gallagher

Karen

Toni Barry

Tohru

Liza Ross

Kusanagi

Jeff Harding

 

 

 

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