X Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: X

X Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     October 05, 2002
Release Date: September 24, 2002


X Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Two choices, two sides, one future... Two groups of supernaturally powered warriors begin a prophetic battle to shape the future- a clash that will rock the foundations of the planet! The Dragons of Earth swear to purge humanity from the world, while the Dragons of Heaven are the last hope of all mankind. One young man holds the key to the Earth’s destiny.

Contains X TV episodes 1-3 and Episode 0: An Omen.

The Review!
Almost anything involving the group CLAMP is gold these days, and X is certainly one such property. While the movie tried to consolidate a large chunk of the manga into one chaotic piece of film, the TV series here takes the time to go through things just like they should.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Presented in a pro-logic mix, the audio makes excellent use of the forward soundstage in terms of directionality and depth, but doesn’t take advantage of the rear speakers for more than minor music ambience. This doesn’t detract from the excellent presentation though, as the track plays well with the dialogue and helps the music sound nice and warm.

Video:
With this show airing last fall and ending its broadcast run just five months prior to writing this, and having a rather good budget, this transfer is simply sparkling. There’s a huge amount of varying shades of black and deep blue throughout this show, and they all come across beautifully here. Other colors are very vibrant without any noticeable bleeding or over saturation. Cross coloration is practically non existent as well as aliasing. I’ve got absolutely no complaint about how things look here at all.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, Pioneer has this release done up as a reversible cover. The main cover features Kamui in his uniform with lots of dark colors swirling around him as well as white feathers, while some instances of red appear here and there. It’s a very dark piece and sets the mood perfectly for this first volume. The back cover provides a listing of the episode numbers and titles as well as a good breakdown of the discs features. There’s a brief summary of the shows premise and a few more animation shots and the usual list of production credits. The reverse side of the cover is pretty sweet. While it still features a lot of dark colors, we get Kamui and Kotori, and she certainly adds some color to it. Of course, the feathers are flying here as well. The back side of the reverse cover is identical. The insert provides a listing of chapters on one side while it gives another look at the cover on the back. Retail versions will include a booklet, which was not sent in this review copy.

Additionally, for $5 more you could get the first volume and the box to hold all eight volumes of the series. While not the flashiest box around, compared to some other CLAMP Japanese releases especially, this is still a solid box. The first thing that's noticeable is that it's wider than other eight disc boxes. Set it against Vandread's box and you'll notice. Presumably it's so it can hold all of the keepcases with the slipcovers comfortably, which if true, will look fantastic when filled. One side of the box is done up with headshots and labeled Dragons of Heaven while the other side has the headshots of the Dragons of Earth. This is extremely useful to have since it's easy to get confused along the way. The back image, done up in a dark faux leather style has the X logo and the image of the two harbingers fighting against each other. The top of the box has the simple X logo as well.

Menu:
The menu layout is pretty simple, with the hilt of a sword being the main focus wherein the jewel plays out various pieces from the show as the music plays along with it. Submenus are well setup and moving around is nice and fast. There’s little here on the first volume outside of the episodes, so the menus are a bit thin but work well.

Extras:
The only extra included here is the trailer for the episode zero, which runs about two and a half minutes long.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of X is one that appeals immensely to me. It is, at its very core, a simple tale of opposing forces with the stakes being the future of the world. It plays up the large epic scale of what’s involved, yet deals with the characters. And in this world, there are quite a number of characters.

The fate of the world rests in the hands of “Kamui”, a force that will choose either the Seals or the Angels, with one to contain and one to destroy. When this choice is made, another “Kamui” will rise to challenge, leading to a conflict to decide the future. What makes things so desperate is that a dreamseer has seen the future, and she knows who the victor was. She’s seen the wastelands of the future, and has found the “Kamui” who has cracked the world and ended humanities chances.

In the present, things are finally moving forward that will bring the world to the brink that the dreamsear has forseen. A variety of forces are gathering, each choosing up sides of either Dragons of the Earth or Dragons of the Heavens. Something within each person brings them to their alignment, and each is rather well powered in special abilities. The one ability that almost all of them seem to have is to create a sizeable barrier space around them, which replicates the area of the world they’re in. When they battle inside, it doesn’t affect the real world at all. Well, unless the person who created it is killed, in which case the destruction caused within becomes reality.

And the destruction caused within these barriers is massive, when the battles take place in the larger cities. We see some of these instances in these episodes, and the battles are gorgeously animated and choreographed, with buildings suffering under a variety of attacks as each of the side face off in one on one combat.

The main event that seems to set things into motion is the return of Kamui to Tokyo. Kamui, a very dark and intense young man, has come to the city to gain a sword from the shrine where his family once associated with. His mother has sent him there to gain the sword and to find his destiny. With the dreamseer believing this Kamui is the “Kamui”, forces are set to stop him from acquiring the sword and getting it to their own potential “Kamui’. It sounds more complicated than it is, with the wide cast and their lack of real detail outside of a select few this early on.

The main thrust of these early episodes is to establish the mood and the general plan of the plot. Quite a bit of mysticism is involved, especially as we get to know each of the sides and the resources that they have under their control. Of particular interest is that several of the characters come from other CLAMP series, such as Tokyo Babylon. The gathering of forces here is significant, but is done well enough that you don’t have to know the other series to enjoy this.

As I’ve been watching these episodes, and have been slowly catching up on the manga at the same time, I’m very impressed with how well it’s stayed on course in the adaptation of the material while making the proper changes to get it to flow as an animation. This type of story, as previously mentioned, is something that just strikes a chord deep within me. CLAMP’s style here is very evocative, especially when combined with the lush music created for this series. The whole package really is something that I simply can’t get enough of.

What I was surprised was included was the entire Episode 0 piece. While the episode does have a fair amount of original animation, a lot of it is simply pieces of the episodes to come, giving a feel for how it will play out and entice people to watch. Normally things like this are not licensed, which is why I had imported it when it first came out. This episode does a great job of juicing you up for the epic feel and nature of the show, and while it doesn’t give away a lot, I think it can in some respects spoil parts of the episodes that are on this disc.

With this first volume, I find myself being an unabashed fanboy of this series already. It has everything I want, from lush animation to beautiful and haunting music and a storyline that appeals to my very nature. This series has the unfortunate baggage of the movie that came out several years ago, but for those going in fresh, this is something that I think is going to grab a number of people and really hold onto them. I’ve watched it three times now, and each viewing reveals something new. I’m hooked and hooked hard.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Printed Limited Edition Character Guide,Also available with a box to hold the entire series

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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