Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
The film X is based off of an apocalyptic manga series. The film was released in Japan on August 3, 1996. In the United States, the film received a limited theatrical release on March 10, 2000, and was released on DVD on September 25, 2001. X was directed by Rintaro and co-scripted by Nanase Ohkawa.
In X, the end of the world is rapidly approaching, and people with superhuman powers gather in the city of Tokyo and take sides for the final battle. The protagonist of the story is Kamui Shiro, a powerful esper who is believed to be the one who holds the key to the fate of the world. He returns to Tokyo after a six-year absence to protect his childhood friends, Kotori and Fuma Monou. Kamui is also trying to fulfill his mother's dying wish.
When Kamui returns to Tokyo, he is contacted by The Dragons of Heaven. They are a group of people who are guided by Hinoto, the dreamgazer for the Legislature of Japan. The Dragons of the Earth are also trying to court Kamui to join their side. The Dragons of the Earth are on a mission to unleash death and famine, in order to "cure" the Earth of the "plague" of humanity. This group is assembled by Hinoto's sister, Kanoe. As the film continues, it becomes clear that Kamui and Fuma are destined to fight each other during the final battle.
Unlike the manga, the film focuses on the roles of Kamui, Kotori, and Fuma, and the roles they play in the Apocalypse. However, this abbreviated story reduces the Dragons of the Heavens and the Earth to minor characters that the viewer never really gets to know. And since so little character development has been done for the Dragons of the Heavens and the Earth, it's hard to feel any sense of loss as each of these characters are killed off during the film.
There is also very little done in the film in the way of plot development, which can make the film hard to follow if you don't already have some familiarity with the property through the manga or the X anime series that was produced several years later.
There are five special features included on the DVD. The first is labeled as, "Tarot Cards." There are three sets of cards: The Seven Dragons of Heaven, The Seven Dragons of Earth, and The Dream Watchers. Under each section, you select a name, and you see a picture of a character in a "tarot card," and information about the character is provided. For many of the characters in the film, you get much more of their backstories through this feature than you ever get in the film.
The next feature is a photo gallery, which just includes some stills from the movie. Next is the "Director's Interview," which is 23 pages of text that the viewer reads through. There is a theatrical trailer for the film in English. The final extra is labeled as "Manga Extras"; this includes video previews, Manga Entertainment's DVD catalogue, Manga Entertainment's Merchandising & Catalogue information, and links to websites for sputnik 7 and Palm Pictures.
X is an R-rated film, and it earns this designation primarily from all the blood that's shown during the film. While there is some nudity, it is overshadowed by the blood. With this rating, I cannot recommend this film to anyone under the age of 17.
If you like blood and gore and very little in the way of plot or character development, then you might find some enjoyment in this film. However, if you prefer more substance for plot and character, or if the sight of animated blood makes you queasy, then you should avoid X.
In order to write this review, I borrowed a copy of this DVD from Blockbuster.