Funimation // 2001 // 625 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // August 4th, 2010
Why is it wrong to kill a human being?
I don't have the most experience with anime, but I enjoy it and have had pretty good luck with the collections I've reviewed. Nobody can bat 1.000, though, and when you request items you've never heard of, they aren't all winners. So we have X: The Complete Series, an anime based on the manga from CLAMP that looked fairly entertaining, but is badly paced with characters that are hard to care very much about.
Kanui is a young man whose mother has just burned to death in a mysterious fire. Before she died, though, she left him with one instruction: to return to his birthplace of Tokyo and fulfill his destiny. He doesn't understand what she meant, but knows his duty and leaves his home for the big city. He had no idea what he's supposed to do, but people seek him out, begging him to come speak with a blind woman they call the &qout;Dreamseer.&qout; She informs Kanui that his destiny is to make a choice that will decide the fate of the Earth. He can either join the Dragons of Earth, a group sworn to save the planet by destroying humanity, or join the Dragons of Heaven, who will fight to the death to give humans a second chance. Which will he choose?
This blandly-titled series spends ten hours attempting to tell an epic apocalypse story, but the results are generally underwhelming. I haven't read the original manga, and it might have the depth I'm looking for, but humanity is about to perish and I have no idea why. There's no context for what people have done that has made right now a particularly good time to murder them. All we know is what we're told through excessive expository narration. Kanui must make a choice and recover an powerful sword. When he does, however, a second Kanui will be born along with a second sword, which will be used to destroy Earth. To this end, we find motley teams of people, each with a unique power, who pair off to fight in the streets of Tokyo. Through it all, there's a bunch of talk of destiny, sacrifice, and protecting the ones you love, and none of it is very interesting.
The main selling point is the animation. The series features some action-packed, kinetic battle sequences and quieter scenes with very pretty, detailed backgrounds. It has an attractive painterly quality throughout that makes me long for a more coherent story to watch while I appreciate the art. Instead, it's almost a distraction from an already too confusing plot.
Funimation's set of X: The Complete Series presents the twenty-four episodes over four discs, with an original video animation and a light smattering of extras. The full frame transfer is not their best work. The animation is the strongest part of the series and it doesn't get the justice that the label usually delivers. The colors are not as bright as I hoped and the there's a fair bit of grain for a series that isn't that old. The sound fairs a little better. We have our choice of the original Japanese stereo or an English 5.1 surround mix, and there is the usual trade off. The Japanese track is thoroughly superior in the voice acting department, but it sounds inferior and the subtitle translation is typically suspect. The English translation sounds great, with good use of all the channels, but the acting is really not very good. For clarity of story, I choose the English track, but they're equally valid.
For supplements, we start with an OVA called &qout;X: Zero,&qout; a prequel of sorts that gives a little background on the dreams and visions in the series. Mostly, it serves as a clip show of some of the major plot points and, watching before the series, would serve as a fairly big spoiler. Otherwise, we have a trailer and an interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who explains some of the background of the series. Oddly, however, the usual textless opening and closing title themes are missing, something I totally miss.
X looks more entertaining than it actually is. The animation looks nice and the concept is sound, but the storytelling is poorly paced. One can do far better than this.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus OVA