X Vol. #2 (Mania.com)

By:Justin A. Swartz
Review Date: Sunday, April 13, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 19, 2002



The Review!
Oh baby, this just keeps getting better and better.

Audio:

Another fantastic stereo mix that's on the verge of becoming theatrical quality. The English version was viewed again, and for good reason. Still carrying the same amount of talent that was in the first volume, we get to see the majority of the cast in action here. A noteworthy actor is Tony Oliver, who is best known for playing Rick Hunter on Robotech, and who is now voicing Sorata. It's great to hear his voice again, even if Robotech was a bit "hacked up"; he still knew how to play his part, and play it well. We get a nice dose of David Lucas here as Seichiro the book editor, as he enters into one of the barrier fields. Lia Sargent shines here as Arashi, and Yuzuriha's voice actress didn't come of nearly as annoying as the first time around. This was an excellent, excellent job, and this really deserves to be broadcast on television instead of, say, G Gundam.

Video:

Gee, if the audio was good, and the video last time was good, wouldn't it stand to reason that the video this time is good also? You bet!

Packaging:

We get a clear case this time, which is still scoring high with me, and we also get another reversible cover. The front side features Kamui naked against two angel wings. Can't say I liked that too much, but the reverse is something I'm proud to own and display, featuring Fuma in his "I'm too sexy to be a good guy" mode and the mysterious Nataku, with one of his ribbons wrapping around them both. It's rather breathtaking, and I couldn't have asked for a better package.

Menus:

Different menus this time around, with the same wind chime music playing, but now we have the scene from the opening of X episode zero, with the two Kamuis flying towards each other. Right as they're about to hit, we have a big maroon "X" that fades into view from the bottom-up between them, and each corner of the letter is an option. This was great, and the effect was done smoothly. The other menus follow the same pattern as the first one, with the image from the show coupled with text thing going on. The scene menu struck me as looking a little washed out, but the other ones are fine. The favorite is the shot of Hinoto and Kamui during her dream of the future, with the language selections scattered around them; there's just something about it that works.

Extras:

The same animation previews from the first volume are here, so those can be ignored. The only other extra is an interview with the director, who is surprisingly honest about his opinions of the characters and why he changed them, or changed certain aspects of the show. This was refreshing, since most interviews tend to sound like really long plugs. This interview also lasts longer than five minutes, which is a big plus in my book.

Content (this review contains spoilers. You have been warned):

Wow.

Just wow.

That's the only word I can find to describe this show. I have yet to meet someone who didn't at least find it to be 'good,' even if it wasn't their usual slice of pie (I'll have mine served by Hinoto, thanks). There is so much to like about it: the unusually sharp animation in an age where even the most basic cell is aided in some way by computers and making it stand out from the background in a garish manner, the symphonic soundtrack, the killer j-rock opening theme, and the best English dub to ever happen to dubbing. Add this to the new plot wrinkles, and this is truly a show that you cannot miss. If you hated the movie (and I'm in that club too), give X another chance and it will not disappoint.

There are only three episodes on this disc, which is a bit of a bummer, but the amount of plot in the episodes rival the plot that most shows take at least fifteen episodes to establish. And after suffering through Devil Hunter Yohko (insert shudder), I'll take what I can get of a good Anime show.

Episode Four, 'A Sacrifice,' deals with the guilt of Kamui for what happened to Fuma and Kotori's father at the end of episode three. The holy sword has gone missing thanks to Nataku, and Kamui blew the rescue-chase. Sorata is sticking around, and Kamui doesn't seem to mind too much, as they both leave the hospital and stand in the rain. This scene stuck out as being what I would have done if I were writing an Anime show, and it's just so satisfying to see one's dream sort-of come true, along with Sorata revealing his true character: a decent guy who misses having a family, and maybe doesn't want to be involved in this end of the world bit, or is at least scared of it. Kamui gives him the Heero Yuy silent treatment, but you can tell that the words are sinking in as a woman appears that bears a resemblance to Kamui's mother. It's his Aunt, and in yet another twist, Kamui's mother didn't die, but committed suicide in order to save her son.

Episode Five, 'A Destiny,' handles the situation with Kamui getting to meet Hinoto, the dreamseer and leader of the Dragons of Heaven. This is my favorite episode so far, because it was probably the only part of the movie that I enjoyed, and it's handled so much better here. After Hinoto's vision of the future, Kanoe shows up, intruding on her sister's dream, and begins to tell Kamui about his "other" future, that of one following the Dragons of Earth and signing up to be a Greenpeace junkie (just kidding). Hinoto can't stand her sister's talk, and she shoves everyone out of her dream. This of course ticks Kamui off, and any trust he had in Hinoto's word is shattered. The actions and reactions of the characters here parallel real life so closely that it's rather stunning.

Episode Six, 'Kouya,' is Sorata's show. If you didn't like the guy before, you'll like him now, and if you already did, then you'll love this episode. While it almost comes off sounding like filler, the development between Sorata and Arashi, and the glimpse into Kamui's personality keep it from being that way. We get a few flashbacks here of Sorata's life as a monk, and his promise to the old Stargazer that he would never make a woman cry. Whether this will be broken or not remains to be seen, but I would like to point out that one of Kakyo's prophecies has already come to pass. If you saw Episode Zero, then you remember the second vision he had, where Sorata told Arashi that she was the one he would give up his life for while he was fighting those wires and cables? Well, the scene comes in here, although he's already told Arashi more than once about the whole 'one' thing...she's about to get clobbered by Beast's wires and Sorata leaps into the way, then does his shouting-electrical explosion.

There's one small difference between this volume and the last, and that has to do with the end credits. Before, the credit sequence was overlaid with scrolling English credits, and for this volume the original Kanji credits are left intact, while the English credits for the opening are left the way they were from volume one. The English end credits are played after the last episode, much like the way Central Park Media does their credits, and I don't know if this is going to be a permanent thing or not.


Despite the low episode count, Pioneer has another spot-on release here, and the content more than makes up for only having 90 minutes of X instead of 100 some. This is still a must-see show in my opinion, if only because it is simply like nothing you will ever see. The mix of the elements here are perfect, and I'm even beginning to like the ending song, "Secret Sorrow," (watch out for me singing in pseudo-Japanese at the end of every episode) which I had initially disliked. Do yourself a big favor and buy the first disc, if you can find it...X isn't lasting on the shelves for very long.




Review Equipment
Admiral 19" Color TV, Panasonic DVDRV32K, Kentec dual speakers




Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: X