Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Apr 2nd 2003
Nataku has stolen the legendary sword and mortally wounded Fuma's father, who reveals to Fuma that he is “Kamui's Twin Star” and promptly passes away. Fuma, baffled as to what to do with this information, is confused even more when after the funeral service, he, Kamui and Kotori are assaulted by Dragons of Earth member Seishiro. Subaru, a Dragon of Heaven, also tangles with Seishiro…but Subaru's connection to this deadly assassin is special. Sorata and Arashi are busy seeking out Subaru when he runs in to Seishiro, seeking to end a years-old vendetta concerning the death of Subaru's sister.
Madhouse's highly anticipated X TV series has proven to be the thing X fans have been waiting for. Ever since the debut of the disappointing X/1999 movie back in 1996, X fans have been clamoring for a reasonable anime adaptation that does some justice to the deep and long-running manga series. The X TV series does not fail to please, and X [THREE] continues the tradition with style, flair, and mystery.
The episodes contained on this disc do much to further the story in X, which moves at a relatively quick pace. You'll have to really pay attention to the series to keep things straight. X has so many characters doing so many things at once that it's tough at times to follow exactly what's happening, but thanks to some competent screenwriting, it isn't impossible. X might be convoluted, but it's never confusing or frustrating to watch. Hopefully you bought the first DVD, which contained a very helpful guide to the X world and its cast. Reading that beforehand will make the series a tad bit easier to digest.
Plot wise, the show remains very interesting. The characters develop realistically; Fuma's transformation is vastly more believable here than it was in the film. Kamui remains his brooding, antisocial self, but even he manages to change a little bit here and there as the series develops. As with any series that has a cast as big as X's, the supporting characters are the most interesting. Sorata Arisugawa is such a well-written character that he develops in almost every scene he's in; the Dragons of Heaven are all given complex and thought-out personalities that shine whenever they're on the screen. Unfortunately, the Dragons of Earth rarely overcome the “stock villain” roles they're typically assigned, although Seishiro, by virtue of having been heavily developed in another series, comes across as having an amazing amount of depth. Nataku is by far the most puzzling cast addition. He's an emotionless biological science experiment; exactly why is he even working for the Dragons of Earth? It hasn't been explained yet, and I'm not sure it ever will be. Regardless, there are enough well-developed and interesting characters in X for everyone to have a favorite.
This volume fleshes out the relationship between Subaru and Seishiro, the duo originally animated in the old Tokyo Babylon OAV series CLAMP produced in the 1990s. Naturally, the ever-battling duo is presented with updated character designs and substantially better animation, so fans of these two characters are in for a real treat when they watch these episodes. The amazing thing thus far about the X TV series is that the animation quality is consistently very high. Animated by Studio MADHOUSE, responsible for the gorgeous animation in Card Captor Sakura, the X TV characters are never off model, and each episode is animated with an amazing flash of style and fluidity. The show can be a little static at times, but once the battles start, you'll be amazed.
The dub is pretty good, although not excellent. Some of the voices sound flat and mediocre. Switching between languages yields an interesting comparison between the American and Japanese seiyuu; obviously the dub studio for this series attempted to match the Japanese voices as closely as possible. The results are mixed. Sorata comes across as a highly annoying and poorly acted character, while Fuma is appropriately soft-spoken and gentle. Kamui is snotty and defiant across the board, while Kotori's Japanese voice is the only one that can convincingly pull off the "innocent girl" routine without sounding like she's trying way too hard to do so. Second only to Sorata in terms of being miscast is Yuzuriha; it seems to be impossible for some dubs to have teenage girls that are even remotely convincing.
X TV remains one of the most interesting and beautiful anime series available on the market today. It has a very broad appeal, dealing with heavy emotional issues and relationship problems while maintaining a high level of action and excitement. Pioneer is releasing the series with three episodes per DVD; in this day and age, that's a low episode count for a DVD that's $29.99, but X TV is most assuredly worth it. The show's quality is second to none.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A+
Art : A+
Music : B
+ Excellent animation, exciting storyline, great characters
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