X: The Movie - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Bandai Visual
  • MSRP: ¥7800
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: X

X: The Movie

By Chris Beveridge     December 25, 2001

X: The Movie
© Bandai Visual

What They Say
The future of the universe rests on one young man, Kamui Shiro, who must destroy either the Dragons of Earth or the Dragons of Heaven - two opposing armies. He alone must decide whether humanity should be destroyed to create a purified universe, or whether it should be protected to preserve civilization.
Two oracles, the sisters Hinoto and Kanoe foresee the coming of the Dragons and predict opposite outcomes. Each sister gathers strength and ammunition to insure her own vision for the future. However, neither sister realizes that there is one man who has an even greater power than the Dragons, and that ultimately he will determine the fate of the earth.

Which sister will prevail and how does Kamui fit into their struggle? The answer to this question will forever affect humanity.

The Review!
After Manga's release of X in the fall of 2001, I found myself really enjoying the movie a lot, especially since I'd read a bit of the manga and was able to make the leaps needed for the storyline to flow. But always in the back of my mind, there was two things wrong with the presentation. And I knew that once I decided that I liked the show enough, I'd end up picking up the Japanese release.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Of course, that's all that's available, but it's here in two flavors. The stereo track we'd heard on the Manga release, but the 5.1 track was a big incentive for laying out the cash for this release. And as expected, it's paid off nicely. This 5.1 track isn't massively immersive like some more recent ones, but it's got a lot of directionality to it and with the eerie music and sound effects in this flick, the sound separation is much clearer, giving each sound its own space. It's definitely a plus.

The other reason for the Japanese version is the video transfer. While Manga provided a good looking letterboxed release, this release is anamorphic/widescreen enhanced. And yes, that extra 30% or so of extra detail does make an immense difference, especially in a movie like this where there's so much black and so many dark details to the characters. The look of this movie is greatly enhanced with this transfer that during some sequences, it's like watching a completely different film. Even watching the downcoverted letterbox version on our Apex and 19" TV/VCR combo it looks amazing. While the 5.1 audio track is a big selling point, the transfer here was the real clincher.

Presented in a standard keepcase, the cover art doesn't translate well at all online. With it being such a soft pinkish white image with only the movies logo in red, it tends to look soft and indistinct. It looks much better in person, but so far the movie has had fairly lackluster covers in its release. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and the technical information along the bottom as well as a movie summary. A great multipage booklet is included that talks about the story and the sound (as well as the 5.1 remastering). All the characters are shown in headshot form with a little blurb about them with their names in English and Japanese. A couple of pages are devoted to the jaw droppingly gorgeous Memorial I and Memorial II collections and all the toys available for the franchise.

One advantage to the menus here is that they're all in English, making navigation much easier. There's also little here beyond the movie and a few extras, so moving around and getting to things is pretty simple. Add in the lack of multiple languages and subtitles and it's a breeze. The menus are nice if simple and not terribly memorable.

The extras are pretty slim pickings here. There's a brief TV commercial advertisement for the movie and the theatrical trailer for it as well. There's also a two minute "bonus clip" that shows a piece of artwork being painted that sounds pretty much like a simple fluff piece.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the main complaints about X is its just plain confusing. After the first ten minutes, my wife was asking the same thing essentially, just what's going on here. Though it's not terribly aligned to the manga, just reading a few pages of that will put things into some perspective. But that's unfair to ask people to read the manga to understand the movie. But with only one graphic novel under my belt for it, I still felt this was a pretty straightforward and easy to understand movie.

You just gotta take those leaps of logic.

X is about the end of the world being fought over by two opposing groups. The Dragons of the Heavens is led by a blind deaf mute who speaks telepathically to those who work for her. They're fighting for the survival of the Earth, which is in its most dire place now as forces seek to bring it to ruin. These forces are made up of the Dragons of the Earth, who see humanity as the plague on the planet and only their complete destruction will free it. It's led by a somewhat masochistic woman, who is also the younger sister of the leader of the Dragon of the Heavens group.

What both groups need to bring their conflict to the finish though is something called Kamui. It's what they're waiting for that will allow them to have a large amount of power available to them to try and achieve their goals.

So what is Kamui? As it turns out, it's the boy we're introduced to in the beginning of the film. The film opens with his mother tearing and clawing a sword out of her guts, which she then sends into Kamui's chest, allowing him to absorb it. She tells him he has a destiny in Tokyo to face, and he must do it. She has faced her destiny, which is now her death. And Kamui has much to do.

So Kamui travels to Tokyo, where he comes across a girl he swore to protect years earlier, and her brother, who swore to protect Kamui since he had sworn to protect the girl. They're close friends, but there's a fair amount of distrust over the time spent away from each other during the past couple of years. But this reunion goes sour as the Dragons of the Earth attack Kamui.

Kamui is central to their plans, but so is his friend Fuuma who swore to protect him. Their lives begin to enter into an interesting orbit, as we learn that no matter which Dragon Kamui chooses to side with, or is forced to side with, Fuuma will become his polar opposite for the other side, and the two will be pitted against each other.

The movie is simply not huge on plot. But this is also somewhat typical of a lot of anime movies. Either they're overloaded or they're empty. X falls into the empty category, but that's not its intent. In the directors interview, Rintaro clearly indicates that he's making a battle movie. And that means it's just action oriented, and this movie is definitely that. It's visually stunning in many sequences, and the fights are gorgeously choreographed, especially if you love the CLAMP style of things.

From what I can tell, a good percentage of the negative feedback about this movie stems from two things; people who've seen the dub who are sub fans and just railed against it (it's not great I'll admit from what I did hear) and from people who couldn't make the intuitive leaps the movie asked if you wanted more than the pretty battle scenes. I'm going to guess that the dub makes it worse with the second part, based on some of the strange translations I saw in comparing the sub script to the dub.

In the end, I found the X movie to be a visually engaging dark film that's like most anime films, style over substance. The plot was minimal and served to move the film from one fight sequence to the next with the minimum of fuss. I think it succeeded in what it set out to do.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,Theatrical Trailer,TV Commercial,Bonus Clip

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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