Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 25*
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 31 Aug 2008
*The TV series ran 24 episodes, while for the DVD release an Episode 0 was produced and serves as a prequel/introduction to the series. Ironically, it comes across as a recap episode before the series even begins, though it does not spoil any of the plot.
CLAMP has a go at the apocalyptic fantasy and is successful, all while giving it their unique spin.
The day of judgement is nearly upon earth and all of its people, though they are not aware of it. The seven Dragons of Heaven and the seven Dragons of Earth are being summoned to Tokyo where the fate of the world will be decided. All hope rests on a young boy named Kamui.
When it comes to genre bending, you can always count on CLAMP. Dark fantasies have been done by CLAMP before in varying degrees of success (Magic Knight Rayearth 2 being a good example, and the Rayearth OVA being a misstep), but the TV incarnation of X is perhaps the strongest. And typical of CLAMP, the story is anything but what one typically expects from an apocalyptic fantasy.
The story begins in a very fragmented fashion; there is a large cast and much of the first third to half of the series is spent introducing characters rather than telling the story. As a result, it was a bit bewildering and overwhelming for me on my first viewing to make sense of what was going on, let alone remember names of characters. The start may be a lot to take in at once, but once the story gets rolling it becomes easier to follow.
The plot itself is not complicated – it’s good versus evil after all – but it is the way in which the story unfolds and what becomes important that makes it so complex, yet simple. Anyone familiar with CLAMP’s style of storytelling should expect that things will not pan out as they usually do in the genre being explored. Even I who have seen what CLAMP has done with tournaments (Angelic Layer), magical girls (Cardcaptor Sakura), and harem comedies (Chobits), was taken by surprise with the interpretation that they had of an end-of-the-world scenario. It was unexpected, yet completely logical for a CLAMP series. In other words, it surprised me that it surprised me, yet I could have easily seen it coming as the groundwork begins to be laid out early on. I wouldn’t have expected any other conclusion from CLAMP, in retrospect.
Any fan of dark fantasies would do well to check out this version of X. I have not read the manga nor seen any of the other anime versions, so I can’t yet speak for them, but the TV series is very good with high production values. Those unfamiliar with CLAMP may be thrown by the ending, but rest assured that it is perfectly in line with the type of work that they usually do. CLAMP’s unique spin on the fate of earth is well worth watching.