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X Vol. 2

Author: Andy Hanley

Andy hasn't written a profile yet. That's ruddy mysterious...

X Vol. 2

08 Dec 2009

The opening volume of Madhouse's X on DVD proved to be a pretty intense introduction to the series, particularly if you're new to this franchise that has previously taken in manga and feature-length anime forms - If you've managed to make your way through that initial blaze of characters and scenes full of portent and impending apocalypse however, then you should find volume two to be an altogether more coherent and "smooth" viewing experience in terms of progressing its story.

Come the end of that first volume, Kamui was all set to meet Princess Hinoto, a girl with the ability to dream the future, and the opening episode to this second DVD instalment brings us the fruits of that meeting.  While Hinoto is keen to promote Kamui's role in the developing series of events as the person to lead the Seven Seals in saving the world from destruction, he soon learns that there is a flip-side to the coin that is his possible destiny, as he also holds the power to be the destroyer of the Earth should he so desire it.  The trouble is, young Kamui is a rather sulky fellow to put it mildly, and at this juncture he shows little interest in fulfilling either role despite the desires of those around him.

With this important meeting out of the way, the remaining episodes of this volume settle down to focus a little more on some of the individual characters we've already met during the course of the series.  Thus, and continuing the theme of X as a whole, we learn about the destiny and past of Sorata Arisugawa (who unfortunately is just as irritating as a kid as he is as a teenager) before being shown more about the previously rather mysterious Satsuki Yatoji who enjoys a rather unhealthy relationship with computers (not that I'm one to talk) and the ability to view entire worlds in a decidedly Matrix-esque fashion.  The final episode of the four available here draws Fuuma Monou, Kamui's old school friend, into our tale properly, with a pivotal role seemingly assigned to him that will doubtless reverberate throughout the rest of the series.

After introducing so many characters during the course of its first few episodes, it's actually quite a relief to see X settle down and put those characters to good use, setting up what appears on the surface to be a pretty standard tale of good versus evil but slowly introducing enough spin, twists and turns on the concept to make things far more interesting.  The concept of destiny also sits heavily upon the series, from Kamui's dual possible destinies through to Sorata and Fuuma's seemingly pre-defined fates. 

While all of this is carried out with a relatively serious tone at its core, these episodes never get too bogged down in the series impending apocalyptic nature, leaving time to delve into the back stories of characters as we've already discussed and also managing to squeeze in occasional bouts of visually pleasing but ultimately extremely basic action to up the pace of proceedings a little.

If there's one area where X threatens to fall flat, it's in terms of the personalities of some of its characters - We've already made mention of how incredibly irritating the wise-cracking and loud Sorata can get, while Yuzuriha Nekoi also threatens to follow a similar path, limited only by her relatively brief screen time this volume.  Kamui also suffers in terms of his own character; while his history makes his sullen and apathetic personality understandable, that doesn't make him any less frustrating to watch, especially when you compare and contrast to other similar protagonists in anime who are far more engaging.

In fairness, none of these character flaws are intense enough to affect the quality of these episodes of X as a whole - The viewing experience as a whole is incredibly polished, and CLAMP's character designs fit the nature and aesthetic of the series like a glove.  While the series is still building itself up and developing its key plot points even eight episodes in, there's enough potential on show for all to see to make X a series well worth keeping an eye on as it moves forward.


English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 audio, English subtitles, trailers, interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

X's slow but steady plot build-up continues, but the potential of this series to deliver in the long-run is obvious.
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