Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anime Review: X TV

Moving right along with the Year of Clamp livestream we've gotten to X TV, the animated version of one of Clamp's more infamous works which I had been curious about for a while but hadn't tried out either version since I hadn't read all of Tokyo Babylon (to which it's sorta-kinda a sequel, more a spinoff but knowing what I did of Subaru's story made the parallels between him and Kamui much more obvious and tragic). But that sounds like something I should put into the actual review so onto the review!


Summary: The year is 1999 and with the new millennium upon them the world has come to a crossroads, unbeknownst to all except for a few magic users in Tokyo. They are the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth, those who wish the save humanity (and bet the eventual fate of the world on the belief that the humans won't destroy it) and those who wish to end humanity so the world can be born anew. At the heart of this conflict is Kamui, an angsty teen whose presence causes fate to shift who doesn't seem to care much about the conflict one way or another but both sides are determined to bring him around.

The Good: I know the anime ending is radically different from the manga's cliffhanger (I've actually seen that bit) but you know what, I liked how it ended. It made sense logically and thematically and I was satisfied with it, although I think I can hear manga-readers disavowing me now. While I do wish that Fuuma had been explored more (especially after the mid-point of the series) I was surprised at how much screen time nearly every other side character got and was pleased to see that many of the Dragons of the Earth had a reason that they were on that side, even if I didn't agree and I felt like overall what side they were on had almost nothing to do with free will and was all predestined instead (which did bother me). If you're already a fan of Clamp's work and want to see more of their series I recommend this one over a few others I've seen this year although I know in my case if it wasn't for that I probably would have dropped it after four or five episodes. 

The Bad: I should probably note that I didn't see Episode 0 but I have heard that it spoils a lot of the anime if you're a new viewer so people should choose carefully if they're thinking about watching that first (also, I had no trouble understanding the show without seeing it so clearly it's not crucial viewing material). As for the show itself, it took me a while to get into the show and I only really started enjoying it once Kamui stopped being so much of an ass. While I certainly liked most of the side characters long before that point they just weren't enough to keep me interested in the story for whatever reason. And speaking of the side characters, I feel like at some point the production team said "oh right a lot of people are supposed to die, let's kill off these characters and we don't care how" because that would explain a lot. I'm tempted to look up what has happened to the characters by the end of the manga (given the sheer number of Clamp fans out there someone must have a comparison chart or something) and I really hope the deaths felt less random than the ones here.

The Audio: Well I hope you like the track "Sandame" (which I believe means destiny) because you're going to be hearing it at least once an episode if not more. It's actually such a distinctive piece that after hearing it just a couple of times and then watching the trailers for the anime Blood-C I was immediately able to tell that it was the same composer, although I'm not so sure that's a good thing. I didn't really care for either the opening or the ending themes (possibly because I kept going "KAMUI, WHY ARE YOU A VAMPIRE, THIS IS NOT TSUBASA" at the opening sequence....) so I skipped them almost every time and I watched the show in Japanese and I thought the voices worked well there (and I'm a bit curious, and a bit worried, about how some of the accents must have translated, even though I don't know much Japanese I could tell that Sora had a really thick dialect). 

The Visuals: While the show was made in the early 2001s the original manga was started back in the 1990s so it looks more than a bit like 90s shojo (is it just me or did eye size for shojo seem to peak in the 90s and go down since?) which I was cool with. I don't recall any usage of CGI in the show, it was produced by Studio Madhouse (who also did Cardcaptor Sakura amusingly enough) and they don't seem to use a lot of CGI in most of their shows, even the ones they produce today.

So, now all I need to see is Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and xxxHolic and I will have seen every full length tv anime based on a Clamp work, wohoo! Except that's still around 70+ episodes all total, I don't really like the art of the Holic anime and I'm told that TRC can get dull in places, hoo boy. For those who want to see X it can be viewed on Hulu, although they are missing Episode 0 and I don't know if there's a legal place to watch that online, weird.  

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