A Parent's Guide to Anime
Recommended for Mature Audiences
Reviewed by Jessica Fink:
X, the television series, or simply X [TV], is the epic story of the typical End of the World plight- with a twist. The 'twist', as it were, is what makes the story fun and darkly entertaining in its own right.
This 24-episode series, released in Japan in 2001 and currently (April 2003) being released in America by Pioneer Animation, is a dark, compelling drama with animation almost-OAV quality most of the time that might surprise those more familiar with CLAMP's more 'perky' works - i.e. Card Captor Sakura and Magic Knights Rayearth.
Though not recommended for younger children and even some young teens for its themes and other questionable subjects (Pioneer has given X [TV] a 16+ rating), it is highly recommended for those who are mature enough and/or those who enjoy a break from the sugar-happy animes that seem to be popular now.
The plot, cliché and predictable though it may sound at first, is in fact quite intriguing once the viewer becomes well and thoroughly drawn into the world of 'X'. Kamui Shirou, the main character of the story, returns to Tokyo in the first episode, for purposes unknown. We soon find that brother and sister Kotori and Fuuma Monou remember Kamui from six years ago, when they had lived together at the Togakushi shrine and were best friends. But now Kamui is cold and withdrawn, and unwilling to open up to either of the siblings.
Soon the viewer is introduced to the body of the story by a 'Dreaming Princess' under Tokyo's Diet Building named Hinoto. Hinoto is a yume-mi, a Dreamseer, one who can see the future in her dreams. It is said that she has never been wrong in her predictions of the future, and in the latest of her dreams she has seen the End of the World, a vision spanning across a demolished Tokyo with the ethereal sight of Tokyo Tower shooting up amidst the rubble and stone and reaching towards the dusty sky. And standing on the Tower, tanned cloak billowing around his form-- is Kamui.
Hinoto is disturbed by this dream, and knows it means that Kamui is one destined to decide the fate of the world-- if he chooses the 'bad' side, the world will be destroyed; the 'good', and the world and the human life on it will be saved.
I chose to label the sides 'bad' and 'good' instead of, say, Bad and Good, because this is the part where it gets tricky. Just because a character is on the 'bad' side does NOT means that he or she is Evil-- far from it, in fact. And those on the 'good' side don't always have the best fate of the world in mind, either.
It is the characters that are the real moving point of this story, and, unlike X/1999: The Movie, X [TV] actually has time to delve a bit into the lives and backstories of most (maybe even all) of the deciding characters in this drama. The characters are the aforementioned 'twist' in this epic battle for the fate of humanity, and it is them and their relationships with other characters that determine the direction of X.
One the one side, you have the 'bad' guys. The Seven Angels, or the Dragons of Earth, they are referred to as both and either/or. If Kamui chooses to be a Dragon of Earth, he will fight for the destruction of humanity. Note- the destruction of HUMANITY, not the Earth itself. For the Seven Angels wish to destroy humanity altogether and let the Earth heal itself from the ravages of mankind. It's not just a senseless killing spree. The 'bad' guys range from Satsuki, who is a teenage girl in love with her computer and who has no interest whatsoever whether humans are killed off, to Nataku, a genderless clone with no emotions who develops a strange attachment for the 'leader' of the group, to Kakyou, another Yume-mi who only wants to die so that he can be with the girl he loves in the afterlife, who coincidentally enough, was the twin of a Dragon of Heaven and was killed by another Dragon of Earth.
The 'good' guys, the Dragons of Heaven AKA the Seven Seals meant to protect the Barrier Fields in Tokyo that prevent the world from being destroyed by magical backlash (I'm not sure on this point), are a rather unlikely bunch when first seen. We have a chipper young Buddhist monk with a Kansai accent who was told early on he would die for a woman, so he thinks that he might as well die for someone beautiful and decides to fall in love with another of the Seven Seals almost the instant he meets her. Unfortunately, the woman, Arashii, is cold and resists his every advance. There's Karen Kasumi, a Christian-Catholic woman (much older than most of the rest of the cast) who was abused by he mother as a child and works at a Soapland, or whorehouse. There's a girl with a dog only those involved with the End of the World can see who's obsessed with ice cream, and so on.
Parent's Guide Rating:
red (recommended for mature audiences)
X [TV] is definitely not for children or young teens. Violence is a major factor in this series, and there is lots of blood, and though I've personally only seen the first four DVDs out of eight (12 episodes + the OAV Episode 0), I know for a fact that it becomes very violent later on, with even a scene of someone granting a 'Wish' by gouging the others eye out.
So far, halfway through the series, with the plot just beginning to speed up, nudity is really not a factor. The only scenes that contain it are two where Kanoe, the one who gathers the 'bad' guys together, sits up in bed where she's obviously naked under the sheets, a shower scene with nothing but a silhouette and a cel of Kanoe from the top of the breasts up, and one full-body scene where Tokiko Magami has her clothes disintegrated so she can 'give birth' to a sword, but her arms cover some of the crucial parts and, in the traditional anime style, its not detailed besides a few curves.
Sexual situations are few to none so far, the only instances correlating with the above mentioned 'Kanoe sitting up in bed' scenes, and only because Yuuto, another Dragon of Earth, is sitting in a chair near her bed and reading a book when she wakes up in both scenes.
Profanity is mostly mild, with mainly 'damn' used. 'Bastard' is occasionally used, translated from the Japanese 'teme', which is a vulgar term of 'you'.
The main warning I would give to parents on this anime is the rather disturbing images and themes in X [TV]. There are at least two same-sex 'couples' in X, though neither is traditional in any sense of the word, even if they had been heterosexual instead of homosexual. The 'Dark Kamui', aka Fuuma-turned-Evil once Kamui chooses to go to the 'good' side to protect those he loves the most, is a sadistic, blood loving guy, as evidenced by the fact that he first stabs Kotori through the heart, then pins Kamui to a wall with wires and then pins one of Kamui's hands to that same wall by piercing it with a sword. He also has an obsession with molesting Kamui, and loves to see him bleed. (He even licks a bit of blood running down Kamui's neck in the aforementioned scene. *shudder*)
The other thing parents might be wary of is the religious themes sprinkled throughout X. Some of the elements in the story are taken from the book of Revelation in the Bible, as in the fact that Satsuki's supercomputer is called 'Beast' and has the numbers '666' printed on the side. Also, some views are sent awry, as the 'good' guy is portrayed with black bat-like wings, while the 'bad' guy has white, feather, angel wings. There is also a woman prostitute on the 'good' side who is a Catholic.
Twisted relationships, lots of blood, mature themes, religious themes, and the overall dark mood of X [TV] earn it a 'Mature.'