X: The Series (2001)

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Returning to Tokyo after leaving for a number of years, Kamui has become distant and cold. Childhood friends Fuma and Kotori are surprised to see such a drastic change in Kamui but his return is hardly a simple matter. His return heralds the beginning of the end and a battle to decide the fate of humanity and a chance to fulfill a prophecy and his own destiny. A battle between the Dragons of Earth; who fight to purge humanity to save the Earth and the Dragons of Heaven to save mankind begins with Kamui at the center, and his choice of side to join will shape the future.
Adapted from the manga series by acclaimed female artist circle CLAMP, X the TV series isn’t the first attempt to bring this world to motion on-screen; there was an OVA series Tokyo Babylon, which also had a live action film, and the wildly popular feature anime X directed by legendary animator Rintaro. Animated by Madhouse Studios, and running for a total of 24 episodes, this television series is able to tell a more full story and explore more characters than any other previous adaptation.
The story features a number of characters and the series devotes ample time to both sides. Character backstory and relationships are developed through flashbacks but the main conflict is always being built towards. As episodes progress, there are more and more surprising turns and shocking bits that provide many instances of ‘damn’ moments. The action is graphic, though not gory, and it is well animated. No one is safe and when battles are fought, both sides suffer losses that you don’t see coming. Well paced and scripted, you are engaged and invested.
Production is good and animation is fluid. Music has an epic quality and evokes a modern gothic sensibility amidst the concrete castles of modern Japan. Though the series’ theme is played quite often, it is always appropriate and well placed. Clearly a CLAMP production from their designs, another aspect is by their slightly homo-erotic character interactions, males in particular. The men are typically of the pretty boy type and there is no shortage in moments where characters have their faces intimately close despite no real romantic threads. I wasn’t bothered by it personally, I’ve come to expect this when seeing one of their works, but it will surprise some viewers with how it seemingly comes out of nowhere.
A series that has solid character development, high stakes storylines, and a fearlessness in playing with emotions, X has so much going for it. While the ending may be divisive among viewers, I felt it build to the correct finale and wraps things up quite nicely. Not a perfect series, it does pretty much everything well and is more than deserving of a look.
You may enjoy this series if you liked: Doomed Megalopolis, Wicked City, and/or Tokyo Babylon

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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