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DVD Review

DVD cover

X the Series
Volume 2


Starring (voice): Junichi Suwabe, Kenichi Suzumura, Houko Kuwashima and Kumi Sakuma
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 02 November 2009

1999 and it is the end of days, the final run up to the apocalypse where the conflict between the dragons of heaven and hell reaches its fulfilment in the form of Kamui Shirō, who is believed to hold the key to the fate of the world. After an absence of several years Kamui returns to Tokyo, where superhumans are gathering to take their sides, in the final fight to protect the ones he loves...

Volume 2 of X the Series (2001) continues the story of brooding teenage angst set against the end of the world. The tone is similar to Death Note but that’s about it. The odd thing about the show is that apart from its main protagonists the rest of the world appears completely oblivious to their impending demise. The show has a nice trick to get around this lack of recognition of supermen in their midst as when they fight they create a sort of bubble which when it contracts, following a fight, returns everything to normal.

So with the second volume we are still witness to the two great powers Dragons of Earth and the Dragons of Heaven, with Kamui believed to be the deciding factor on who will win. But at this point even he does not know which side to choose, he is more worried about his friends. Now that the show has set up its premise in the first four episodes, the show takes a step back from the main narrative to concentrate on the backgrounds of some of the major players.

Episode five, A Destiny, and a new character is introduced, Yuzuriha Nekoi, along with her invisible dog. Kamui meanwhile has been taken to see the priestess Hinoto to learn about his destiny. She tries to present his future as set, but soon he discovers that he has a choice.

Episode six, Kouya is one of the more poignant episodes as it shows the monk's, Sorata Arisagawa, back-story, how he started life as a lively innocent until he was informed that one day he would meet a woman for whom he would give his life. With the end of the world nigh you’d think that the penny would drop that he would need to meet her now and so he does. Arashi is initially dismissive of this but when they are attacked at a football game by ‘The Beast’, the Dragons of Earth supercomputer; she also feels the stirrings of love. No wonder the poor boy became a monk, he must have spent his whole life afraid of falling in love if it would mean his death.

Having introduced ‘The Beast’ episode seven, Cyber, details the story of how Satsuki first became blended with the computer, volunteered by good old dad no less. There is a little more of a touch of Ghost in the Shell in this episode, though the visuals do not attain the same heady heights, though in its own way it’s a good attempt.

The last episode on the disc is Gemini and our attention turns towards Kamui’s friends Fuma and Kotori. When their father dies he leaves a last cryptic message for Fuma. With the evidence that Fuma will play a significant role in Kamui’s destiny, both sides start to take notice of him.

Being a relatively new show the print is pretty good, if a little soft. You do have to put up with the signature character design from CLAMP with their odd choice to elongate their characters. This is no problem with the aspect ratio of 4:3, but a deliberate artistic decision which goes through most of their mangas and animes.

The show has a pretty decent English 5.1 track and the original Japanese 2.0 track, with burnt in subtitles. For an extra you get an interview with the director (9 min, 11 sec) and some trailers. The interview may be short but its an unusual inclusion for an anime and so worth watching for that alone.

The show does have a weakness, that it spends too much time with Kamui pondering his fate, now I don’t mind a bit of pondering but too much and the audience will start to lose interest. We will have to see if the pace picks up in the subsequent discs.


Charles Packer

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