Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Oct 26th 2002
In the first volume of X, the Dragons of the Earth are gathering in Tokyo to await the arrival of Kamui, and prepare for the battle for the end of the world. However, when Kamui appears, he is nothing like what they expected. Changed in everyone's eyes, Kamui appears to be a heartless, mysterious person who refuses to associate himself with anyone else. Only he holds the key to humanity's future, though, and both factions for the end of the world both try to latch Kamui for themselves.
The long awaited X television series is finally available in the United States from Pioneer Entertainment. For viewers that disliked the movie for its condensed and confusing storyline, the television series is a much better viewing choice; as there is much more time to develop character relationships, as well as the plot. For the viewers that enjoyed the movie, the television series easily meets the bar set by the film in every aspect. The first volume is packaged with three episodes, and a bonus OVA named as Episode 0. The disc also includes the original Japanese trailer for Episode 0, which is a nice added touch. Although the amount of extras on the disc are scant, the DVD packaging more than makes up for it. The limited edition comes with a cardboard slipcase that, while useless, is pleasant to look at and display on shelves. The DVD also comes with a reversible cover that features equally beautiful art on both sides, making it potentially hard for viewers to choose between which side should be displayed. Perhaps the best feature of the DVD is the bonus character guide that comes only with the first DVD. Presented in the form of a twenty-two page full color booklet, it allows viewers to easily introduce themselves to all the major characters and settings in the series. This is extremely helpful for viewers to understand a series with such a large cast of characters.
Although the series moves at a reasonable pace, some viewers may be left with a sour taste in their palettes after watching episode 0. While it provides a nice teaser for the series, it is rather disappointing to see right at the start how each of the characters is going to die. Even though the intention of the OVA is to lure viewers into the television series, it may appear to some as a spoiler-laden episode that kills the initial joy and excitement of watching the series. The OVA also starts off in a very confusing manner, introducing a character without any explanations or introductions—a character who is not formally introduced until far later in the series. Unless the viewer had previously read the manga, then they would most likely be lost during the first few minutes of the episode. In fact, the production of Episode 0 renders the arguments of the fans who tout the series as vastly superior to the movie slightly weakened; it featured the same rapid introduction of characters, but also provided disappointing spoilers to the rest of the series.
Despite the setbacks incurred from the OVA, the series itself is a splendid work of art. The art is beautiful, showcasing moody, angst-driven images set against dark backgrounds that match the tone of the series perfectly. Somehow, the scenes are drawn in a way such that the objects in both the foreground and background are detailed, yet obscure enough to not crowd the screen. Another nice attribute to the series is the fluid animation that is consistent throughout all of the scenes. X makes good usage of layers to present swirling clouds of feathers or sakura petals, which are used at just the right times to create a breathtaking and dramatic effect that will be appreciated by viewers.
Another beautifully done facet in the television series is the music, which is much different from the music that was in the film. Whereas the movie soundtrack was comprised almost entirely of eerie piano interludes and quiet dissonant harmonies, the music in X is largely orchestral, with grandiose scores and ensembles. Although there are certain musical selections that sound like cliché tracks from an action-romance movie, there are a few that are simply beautiful, and enhance the beauty of the art in the scenes. The downside with the music is that at times, the music almost seems too light-hearted to accompany the dreary scenes. Regardless, the music is pleasing to listen to, even aside from the context of the series.
As an added touch, the dialogue tracks for the series were done exceptionally well. The Japanese voice actors played their parts convincingly, with just the right touches of character traits, whether it was giddiness, stoicism, or concern. Notable also was the English dub cast. The actors played their parts extremely well also, which is a pleasant surprise. The English language script fit the original Japanese script with surprising alacrity, with minimal alterations. The only minor flaw with the acting was that sometimes the characters' emotions that were expressed through change in volume weren't done as well as they could have been done. For instance, the volume and inflection of a character's speech calling across a loud room was mixed at the same volume and settings as their speech talking to someone an inch away. Regardless of minor trivialities such as these, the X series is one of Pioneer's most well-done English dialogue recording in a very long time.
Though the X movie and television series follow the same general plot, the two can only be watched as separate entities. No matter whether or not viewers either liked or disliked the movie, all viewers should at least give the first X DVD a rental. Filled with gorgeous art and animation, as well as a nice music score, X is a series that tries hard to please everyone, and comes daringly close to succeeding.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : C
Animation : B+
Art : B-
Music : B
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