X Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     January 23, 2003
Release Date: January 28, 2003

X Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Mortally wounded by Nataku, Fuma’s father leaves a cryptic message for his son – "You are Kamui’s twin star." After the funeral, Kamui and Kotori are attacked by Seishiro, a Dragons of Earth assassin. A still mystified Fuma manages to save both of them. But Kamui senses there is something different about Fuma. Meanwhile, Sorata and Arashi search for Subaru, another member of the Dragons of Heaven. But Subaru also encounters Seishiro, who killed his sister long time ago.

Based on the original story and manga by CLAMP (Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, Rayearth) published in North America by Viz Comics. Animation by Madhouse (Vampire Hunter D, Trigun, Ninja Scroll), directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (X Movie, Vampire Hunter D, Ninja Scroll, Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku), art direction by Yuji Ikeda (Dragon Ball Z Movies: Dead Zone, Tree of Might).

The Review!
With another installment of three episodes, this show simply draws me in just as slowly and carefully as the manga does, with every little twist and turn playing out just as beautifully.

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. I can’t get over how this show looks.

Presented in a clear keepcase, Pioneer has this release done up as a reversible cover. The main cover features a green tinged image of Sorata and his sweet lover Arashi both in action poses. 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 Yuzuriha and Seiichiro, again set to the green tinge. 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 green lettering. I don’t know why, but these slipcovers for each volume are highly appealing.

With one of the episodes focusing on the man-machine relationship, the Matrix style elements are obvious here with the main menu having a variety of monitors and all running their green lettering across the screens and across the large X logo itself. Access times are nice and fast and with no transitional animations, getting back and forth is quick and easy.

The only extra available on the disc is a textless version of the opening sequence, which is just continually fantastic looking and something I simply can’t get enough of.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ll probably catch some flak for this, but as of this third volume, I really think any more than three episodes per viewing is counterproductive to enjoying the show. If I actually had the time to do it, I wouldn’t do more than one a night, to give myself the chance to really soak up and digest all the large and small bits this show reveals of itself.

While we do get all the way up to episode nine here, we’re still going through character introductions, backgrounds and the entire getting-to-know-you phase with them, which isn’t all that much of a surprise considering the sheer size of the cast. In a way, it’s just as frustrating as the manga as you really start getting into a particular character and then things shift back to Kamui briefly and then off to someone else new.

Things start off well here as we shift gears to explore the past of Satsuki, the young girl of the Dragons of the Earth whose deeply committed to her computer. We explore her past, where she began to master her abilities to communicate with computers at the tender age of six, and to where her father essentially gave her up to a mysterious group who wanted to use (and abuse) her powers. But in the end, we see how Kanoe worked her way to bringing her into the Dragons of the Earth and how well their relationship with each other works.

Satsuki is definitely an interesting character, much like Yuzuriha in some sense due to their similar ages, especially contrasted against the mostly older other members of the two sides. She fits the quiet and controlled personality just right, and at times just kept striking me as the same as one of the members of the Gatekeepers show, especially in her manipulation of computers via the phone she carries. Satsuki’s story here is definitely one of the more interesting ones that’s not based on a temple or religious aspect as many of the others are.

There’s a bit of a quiet side to these episodes though as some of the more personal aspects of Kamui’s relationship get explored, especially after a deciding moment with Fuma and Kotori’s father. The simple whispering to Fuma that he’s Kamui’s twin star sets off a chan of events in Fuma that will allow the next phase of growth to begin. There’s a decent amount of time spent here with simple discussion among various Dragons as they sort out the who’s who list, but there’s also one gorgeous action sequence when Seishiro decides to challenge Kamui again. He lushness of the animation here pushes a simple battle sequence to something much more, something that you almost feel could be told in scriptures.

But all things here boil down to my favorite episode of this disc and one of the best ones so far as we get properly introduced to Subaru, previously found in the short Tokyo Babylon OVA series. Subaru, the most powerful of all the Sumeragi to have come before, is very withdrawn after the slaughter of his sister. He’s essentially wandering the land and facing various challenges that get issued to him as he searches of Seishiro so he can have his vengeance. But he’s also been tagged as a Dragon of the Heavens, so Sorata and Arashi try to be proactive and go after him early to bring him onto their side. Subaru’s state of mental balance is what we get to see the most here as he deals with Seishiro’s illusions and his own visions of the world, all colored by his sisters’ blood.

While I can see plenty of people frustrated with the pace, I’m enjoying every single moment of it as it’s playing out very faithfully in many regards to the manga. While changes are abound, the general look and feel of it and the pacing is being replicated wonderfully and ever so strikingly beautiful in the visuals department. This is great end of the world eye-candy for me and appeals to just about everything I enjoy in that genre. I can’t get enough of this. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening

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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