X Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • 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

X Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 21, 2002
Release Date: November 19, 2002

X Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Unable to accept the truth behind his mother’s death, Kamui visits Hinoto, the dreamseer for the Dragons of Heaven. He refuses to believe her prophecy – that he is the key to the Earth’s fate! She pleads with him to try and change the future she foresees. As Kamui ponders his options, the Dragons of Earth start attacking Tokyo!

The Review!

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.

The look and feel of this transfer is just simply gorgeous. 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.

Presented in a clear keepcase, Pioneer has this release done up as a reversible cover. The main cover features Kamui naked against the moon while wielding the sword, but has both white and black wings reaching from him. 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 Fuma and the mysterious Nataku. 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. The slipcase makes another appearance, this time with blue lettering. I don’t know why, but these slipcovers for each volume are highly appealing.

The menu layout is better than the first volume, with a red glowing X in the center as feathers fall through it while a piece of animation plays during the transitions behind it as well as some soft instrumental music. 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.

There’s only one extra on this volume, but it’s an interesting piece that runs about 10 minutes and takes us into the Mad House offices. We get a brief look at their larger operation (which is fascinating) and then spend the bulk of our time listening to series director Yoshiaki Kawajiri discuss what motivated some of the changes in the show and what he felt the real focus of everything was. Kawajiri continues to be an interesting person to listen to for these things, as he’s usually pretty solid on saying what he thinks, instead of just the basic pleasantries you get in some interviews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Watching X play out on my TV is something of an odd experience, but a very enjoyable one. It’s one of the few times I’ve been able to read a good portion of the manga beforehand, and knowing that while they replotted it for a smoother transition to animation, there’s a good amount of material that’s the same. So as things happen, my mind takes it to the progression point that I already know about, eager to see how that happens, but keeping me less focused on the moment.

Some great stuff happens in the brief three episodes that are here. One area that only gets touched on briefly, for expansion later on via a different set of characters, Kamui gets a chance meeting with his aunt, something he didn’t even know existed. The woman, as it turns out, is part of the Shadow sacrifice clan, where they’re the ones who are supposed to suffer for the things of the main family. She’s regretted what happened to her sister, since it was not supposed to happen that way. Kamui doesn’t take kindly to much discussion about his mother, and ends up leaving her fairly quickly, though intending to talk again later.

After Hinoto talks of the divine sword being stolen, Arashi heads to the temple to check it out, which we’ve seen happen previously as Kotori and Fuma’s father is now in the hospital. Those two spend most of their time here dealing with that new tragedy, though Kotori is proving stronger than usual in handling it. Arashi’s time at the temple proves to be very interesting, as someone has sent Spell Servants there, which causes her to put up a barrier field and combat them. What provides the amusement here is that towards the end of the battle, someone just wanders into the field. It’s through this that we meet Seiichiro, a businessman whose apparently going to be a dragon of the heavens as well. While he doesn’t stay, Kamui and Sorata show up after sensing the barrier field, and this provides Kamui with the chance to finally meet Hinoto.

It’s this time spent below the Diet Building that proves the most illuminating, and some of the most splendid visual moments. Kamui’s lack of real belief in the larger picture, instead continuing to focus on his own pain and grief, keeps him from believing much of what Hinoto says, as he’s introduced to the blind and deaf young woman who is much older than she seems. His distaste for her answers is somewhat mollified though, as she takes him into one of her dreams, showing him the future of the Earth if he doesn’t stop it. The visuals used for the ruins of the world continue to be stunningly well done in this series and just add ever so much to the feel of things.

There’s a lot of fun stuff that does happen along the way, notably the relationship that starts up between Arashi and Sorata, as we get to peek into Sorata’s past at the temple of the old Stargazer. His past is an interesting one, with some fortellings he was given at a young age that have affected how he views life and living. We also get introduced to another Dragon of the Heavens, a fourteen year old girl named Nekoi Yuzuhira. She adds a great amount of youthful vibrance and energy to things, as well as a twist. Since she was young, she’s had a spirit dog she named Inuki that only she can see. While it caused her grief early on, she’s adapted well since. Her thought in life is that the man who can see the dog, outside of the other Dragon’s of course, is the man she’ll spend her life with. Chance of that happening while in Tokyo? Pretty darn high!

The plot moves forward greatly here and the stakes continue to raise. The more forceful revelations of the future to Kamui from Hinoto have started to change his perceptions, though he’s still quite focused on the individuals he wants to protect as opposed to the need of him to protect the entire world. This show has me hook, line and sinker pretty bad, with it’s excellent pacing and plotting, fun dialogue and gorgeous visuals. This is one of those end of the world series that takes itself too seriously, but can get away with being overly dramatic. I love it.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with director Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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