X has had many incarnations over the years: a long running manga series, a truly incredibly music video for X Japan and a well known Rintaro movie (X/1999). Now comes the television series, taking aspects from all the aforementioned and creating something new that both fans and non-fans should be able to take interest in. It should be noted that this is not the movie - it differs greatly and actually has a story arc. At the same time, it differs a good deal from the manga as well, especially around the concluding episodes. That said, what we now have is a compelling, darkly beautiful series (The art style works well and the coloring is perfect) that does its best to tell a complete saga, and while not successful on all fronts, it does more than most 24 episode series could ever dream of.
The box is a typical 3-Disc fold out, featuring 7 distinct panes of artwork and the back. The imagery in it is very true to the artstyle and quality of the show itself. For those that have never seen the show, just looking at the box will give you a good idea of what to expect, and really, how often can you say that? The clasps have held well over the last 3 months and overall, this makes for a very nice set piece.
This is an excellent looking series and these transfers definitly do it justice. The only complaint, and yes there is only one, is that there is mild interlacing on a few of the scenes, namely when cherry blossoms/feathers were "falling" - and at that, it is barely noticeable (had to double check it with the brightness jacked way up). Aside from this, FX has shown incredible improvements on their video transfers. There is no noticeable breakup, the colors are bold and perfect, there is no ghosting or blurriness, the sharpness is excellent and the aliasing is at a minimum. An all around excellent transfer. Encoded with a VBR at an average of around 5mbps (with spikes at around 9.2mbps during action sequences), this is exactly how the show should look.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround 192 Kbps Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround 192 Kbps English
Excellent. As with the video, this is how the show was intended to sound. Crisp and clear with sound effects, music and voices both well recorded and properly muxed. The English track, as per usual, is a bit louder. The music and sound effects in this series are top notch, and the Japanese voice acting is as good as ever. The English dub is a little stiff, but still leagues superior to the unintentionally hillarious Speed Racer-styled dubbing for the film version, X/1999. Overall, this is a terrific sounding series and set.
Direct. The subtitles are excellent throughout. Bold, yellow and in terrific English from beginning to end, there was nary an error. There was an instance or two of odd word misuses, but those manage to show up in even the most professional subbings all the time (not Engrish mind you, just not exactly how "I would have worded it"). Overall? Damn near perfection.
Each episode is broken up into 4 parts: Opening, Part A, Part B, and Ending. There are no "next episode" previews attached to the episodes. The Op/Eds are fully subtitled (the Op is ridiculously catchy in a really bizarre manner) and present with each episode. The menus are different for each disc, and get the job fine well without making you sit through 20 minutes of video to get to them (which seems to be getting more and more common with US releases at least). There are various extras, largely confined to trailers for other shows.
This set contains episodes 0 (the OVA, "An Omen") through episode 24 (last episode). For those that are still unsure of what X is about, here's a quick break down: There are Seven Dragons of Heaven and Seven Dragons of Earth. One faction seeks to see the world destroyed and returned to it's natural state, while the others are the defenders of humanity. There is, however, an inbalance in this system, as an ultra powerful entity - or as they know him, Kamui, has yet to decide sides and is thus the greatest friend or greatest foe of either side. As he is persuaded, strange happenings begin to occur to his one time childhood friends. The series progresses as the great battle between the two factions takes shape and motives and lives must be accounted for. The series contains a good deal of talking mixed with a fair share of mythos and action. The action is well executed, taking place in massive "Dimensional" cubes that can be produced - warping a small portion of a city or village into another dimension for the Dragon members to fight. Drawing one up is equivalent to calling for a duel. These scenes are well executed and general wind up with a good portion of a city being destroyed. There is solid character development throughout, and while I found the ending a little less than satisfying and there were a few occasional slow point, but the series is both a great looking and mostly engaging one.
I am and always have been a big fan of "darker" anime, and X fits that bill perfectly. Rich with atmosphere, characters, plot and action the series managed to be continually interesting and generally entertaining. Maintaining a good consistancy in tone and dealing more with characters than action, X manages to tell a well structured, complete saga without talking down to the viewer. I would recommend this to anyone looking to take a break from the more common filler shows out there, but be warned - this is not a "light and fun" series, it takes itself quite seriously from beginning to end (which is both a good and bad thing) and is a little "heavier" to digest. Recommended.
Publisher: FX Discs: 3 Episodes: 25 Price: $15.00
Reviewer: Gumai Reviewed On: 06/26/2004
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People using Software-based DVD Players may experience some interlacing (especially if doing NTSC -> PAL conversion), common in most "Digital Anime"s.