Synopsis: It has been foretold that Kamui, a mysterious young man with great powers, holds the key to the world's fate. Kamui can choose to either be the world's savior, or the world's destroyer. After being away for several years, Kamui goes back to Tokyo to rejoin his childhood sweetheart Kotori, and her older brother Fuma. Kamui swears to protect the two no matter what happens. But a strange twist of fate condemns Kamui and Fuma to a destiny of bloodshed... because Fuma is Kamui's twin star -- existing to play the role opposite of Kamui. If Kamui chooses the side of good, Fuma would automatically belong to the side of evil. If Kamui falls to the evil side, Fuma would be on the good side... which side will Kamui take and what will become of the world's future? And what about Fuma and Kotori? Like that Highlander line says -- "In the end there can only be one...".
Review: I initially reviewed X the Movie several years back, after I had seen it on VHS. I remember being unsatisfied with the film, especially since I was also in the middle of reading the manga then.
Despite director Rintaro's claim that X the Movie is supposed to be an independent feature, I find that it's more of an unsuccessful attempt to compress a complex plot consisting of several manga volumes into a 100-minute anime movie. The core idea of an impending apocalypse is retained, as well as the numerous interesting characters -- the dragons of heaven fighting to save the earth and the dragons of earth who want the earth destroyed. There's simply not enough space for the story and the characters to develop. It doesn't help that most of the cast drop dead after a few appearances and lines thanks to the overabundance of impressive fighting scenes. You don't feel for most of them because you don't get to know them, albeit I have to admit I was touched by Sorata and Arashi's short-lived romance of sorts.
Mostly a fighting anime, X the Movie presents a wide array of bloody and violent acts, not limited to head-chopping, gut-wrenching, and limb-tearing. This isn't a film for the faint of heart, or younger audiences for that matter. The mood is dark and depressing, with nothing bright or positive going for the plot or characters at any time. Of course, the art and animation are of superb Clamp quality. Meticulously drawn characters and awe-inspiring action dominate the film's entirety. The English dubbing borders on passable to slightly annoying at times, but then that's the beauty of DVD -- you don't have to suffer if you can't take it.
I gave X the Movie two stars in my original review, but going through all the extra features on the DVD (which included detailed character profiles and an interview with the director) and finally being able to treat this film as a separate entity from the manga has prompted me to give it three stars this time. Heck, I even recognized Subaru Sumeragi and Seiichiro whats-his-name from Tokyo Babylon and learned a thing or two about what happened to them after the events in that series.
X the Movie had a lot of potential. It's just that if it was meant to be appreciated as an independent work, then they should've come up with a tighter plot using less characters rather than working with everything that was used in the manga series. Here's hoping for a more satisfying run with the anime X the Series.
Miscellanies: Even Clamp did not know how the manga was going to end when this movie was made, so I don't know how the ending here compares to the series since I haven't finished reading the manga.