X (Japanese: エックス, Hepburn: Ekkusu), also known as X/1999, is a Japanese shōjo manga series created by Clamp, a creative team made up by Satsuki Igarashi, Nanase Ohkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Mokona. It premiered in Monthly Asuka's May 1992 issue and ran there until the magazine's editors showed concern in the increasingly violent stories. The series went on long-term hiatus in March 2003 and has yet to be concluded. The story takes place at the end of days, in the year 1999. The series follows Kamui Shirō, a young esper who returns home to Tokyo after a 6-year absence to face his destiny as the one who will determine humanity's fate.
X Volume 1 Cover (Japanese)
|Genre||Dark fantasy, supernatural, thriller|
|Published by||Kadokawa Shoten|
|Original run||May 1992 – March 2003|
|Produced by||Tsuguhiko Kadokawa|
|Music by||Yasuaki Shimizu|
|Released||August 3, 1996|
|Original video animation|
|X: An Omen|
|Directed by||Yoshiaki Kawajiri|
|Written by||Yuki Enatsu|
|Music by||Naoki Satō|
|Released||August 25, 2001|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yoshiaki Kawajiri|
|Produced by||Masao Maruyama|
|Written by||Yuki Enatsu|
|Music by||Naoki Satō|
|Original run||October 3, 2001 – March 27, 2002|
Kadokawa Shoten collected and published the individual chapters in 18 tankōbon volumes, with five chapters published in the book "All about Clamp". All but several final chapters have been published. It has been adapted into a series of audio dramas, a 1996 animated feature film and a television series in 2001 with the two latter produced by Madhouse. Viz Media published all 18 volumes in North America, while the film and the TV series have released in DVDs by Manga Entertainment and Geneon, respectively.
The series is a foray into apocalyptic fiction; it combines elements from various end of the world scenarios, both secular and religious, with its own mythos. Its many themes include exploring the personality of mankind and their relationship with others and external conflicts, such as the impending Armageddon. It has also garnered mostly positive reviews, despite its lack of an ending.
In 1999, a teenager named Kamui Shirō returns to Tokyo after a six-year absence. He comes to protect those dearest to him, Kotori and Fūma Monou, and fulfill his mother's dying wish of changing fate. The end of the world is fast approaching as superhuman individuals gather and take sides in Tokyo, the battle site of Armageddon. Following Kamui's arrival the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth, the two factions in the final battle for humanity's future, vie for the young man's allegiance, convinced his power will assure their victory. The Dragons of Heaven are the first to contact Kamui. The Dragons of Heaven are guided by Hinoto, dreamgazer for the Legislature of Japan. They are the protectors of the kekkai (結界), spiritual barriers (in the form of buildings such as the Tokyo Tower) that hold the fabric of nature together. As long as the kekkai survive, Judgment Day is postponed. The Dragons of Earth are the counterpart to the Dragons of Heaven. Their mission is to destroy the kekkai and unleash earthquakes so the Earth can be cured of the plague of humanity. They were assembled by Hinoto's sister Kanoe, secretary to the Governor of Tokyo.
As Kamui is forced to choose between the two sides, he concludes he only wants to protect Kotori and Fūma, and becomes a Dragon of Heaven. At the same time, Fūma has a change of personality and becomes the "Kamui" of the Dragons of Earth as he was destined to be Kamui's opposite. Fūma kills Kotori and swears to kill Kamui. Deciding he wishes to bring Fūma back to normal, Kamui joins the Dragons of Heaven in their fight against the Dragons of Earth. Because of the issues regarding the manga's serialization, the plot from the series has yet to be concluded by Clamp.
The animated films and the TV series follow the manga's initial story and come to two different endings. In the film all the Dragons of Heaven and Earth die in the ensuing battles, leaving Kamui and Fūma as the last Dragons. In the final battle, Kamui decapitates Fūma and the film ends with Kamui crying why he ended killing his best friend. In the TV series, all the Dragons of Heavens lose their powers to create kekkai because they lose their most important people leaving the Tokyo defenseless. As Hinoto commits suicide to stop her alternate self from attacking the Dragons of Heaven, Kamui goes to face Fūma. In the fight's outcome, Kamui is killed by Fūma, but uses his last forces to transform his body into a kekkai that protects the world from the change from the Dragons of Earth, and causes Fūma to return to his old self.
Clamp's X appears to defy the conventions of "boys' manga" and "girls' manga". Intended for a female audience, the series is drawn in the ornate style characteristic of shōjo manga; but the emphasis on moral conflict and gruesome violence expected of seinen works attracts male readers as well. The story develops the group's ideas on Man's responsibility to itself, its family and the planet; and is influenced by the works of Go Nagai and Kyokutei Bakin.
After the success of Tokyo Babylon and Clamp School Detectives, the members of Clamp were approached by their editor at Monthly Asuka to script a longer series. Nanase Ohkawa, the group's head writer, seized the opportunity to script her long-in-development "end of the world" epic. Conceived while she was still in middle school, Ohkawa's original story focused on a group of warriors fighting a losing battle in the name of "justice". While the idea never materialized, many aspects were carried over into Clamp's manga, including the lead characters of Kamui and Fuma.
Ohkawa cites Go Nagai's Devilman as a stylistic and thematic influence. Beyond his penchant for drawing extreme violence, Nagai's writing involves themes like the nature of good and evil and fear, ideas that left an impression on Clamp's writer at an early age. Like Devilman, X follows two male best friends destined to fight each other at Armageddon, a confrontation brought about by the murder of the hero's childhood sweetheart. The rest of the cast includes characters from the group's entire canon, including unpublished works, effectively creating a whole world inhabited by their creations. The ensemble cast, inspired on Kyokutei Bakin's Nansō Satomi Hakkenden, includes Subaru Sumeragi and Seishiro Sakurazuka from Tokyo Babylon, as well as the main characters of Clamp School Detectives.
The title of "X" was chosen because it has no fixed meaning. In mathematics, it is a common variable. Beyond mathematics, "X" is a generic placeholder whose value is secret or unknown. "X" is also a cruciform, an allusion to Christian mythos, and the representation of death and rebirth in Kabbalah.
X is Clamp's take on the apocalyptic fiction genre. The series combines elements from various end of the world scenarios and myths, including Christian eschatology, with Clamp's own modern mythology to tell the tale of the fate of the world. The X mythos is inspired by the Apocalypse of John, with Tokyo standing in as a modern-day Babylon. Like the biblical city, Clamp's Tokyo is "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird," (Rev. 18:2 KJV) and is slated for destruction.
Kamui is established as a Christ figure. He is the one prophesied to return to Tokyo and the one who will determine humanity's fate. The construction of Kamui as a messiah is reinforced by his miraculous birth and given name. "Kamui", like "Christ", doubles as a title that alludes to the character's divine nature. Apocalyptic allusions abound with respect to nomenclature. The Dragons of Heaven take their moniker from the seven seals introduced in Chapter 5 of the Book of Revelation, while the antagonistic Angels allude to the seven celestial beings ordered to "go [their] ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth" (Rev. 16:1 KJV). On the side of the Angels is Beast (獣, Bīsuto), a sentient supercomputer branded with the number 666.
Other apocalyptic standards such as earthquakes are employed, but the apocalypse of Clamp's manga trades the religious element for an environmental theme. Inspired by the Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth itself is one living organism, Ohkawa crafts an endtime brought on by humanity's abuse of the planet. The story reflects environmental concerns in its depiction of Judgment Day. Mankind exists in binary opposition to the Earth. By the end of days, humanity has become such a nuisance that the only way to save the planet is to destroy the whole of civilization. The Angels, human beings themselves, expect a post-judgment return to paradise. With mankind gone, the planet can regulate itself back to health and experience a rebirth. The Seals, however, look to preserve the status quo and to entrust the future of the planet to the people.
The conflict between the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth is at the heart of the series. The characters carry the story, and their confrontations go beyond the physical as mankind's continued existence becomes a question of ethics, ideals, and biology.
Like its predecessor Tokyo Babylon, X deals with societal issues. Being set in the present provides an outlet for the authors to reflect and comment on Japan's state of affairs. But unlike Tokyo Babylon, where the characters were vocal in their concerns, topics in X go unspoken and implied.
The story places an emphasis on familial dignity and individualism. The Dragons of Heaven, Kamui excepted, were appointed from birth with the task of protecting mankind. They were raised individually with their destiny in mind and the obligation to their families prevents them from haphazardly changing sides. While it is possible for the Seals to sympathize with the Angels' ideals, ultimately, they must do what feels right for them. Their ability to summon the kekkai, and thus the status as a Dragon of Heaven, is bound to the will to fight for something or someone.
X delves into the relationship between Man and the Earth. In an interview with Puff Magazine, Ohkawa talks of how mankind's concern for the preservation, restoration and improvement of the planet stems from a desire to perpetuate its own existence. She explains "people will save the Earth to save themselves, but who will risk themselves to save the Earth?"
X plays out like a tragedy, where the characters are at the mercy of forces greater than themselves. The series shares some motifs with apocalyptic literature, like the disclosure of future events through dreams, and establishes a dual nature to its characters and concepts.
Ohkawa admits to being fascinated with the doctrine of dualism. Dualism is the interdependence between opposing elements, the generalization that two opposing-complementary forces are found in all things. She interprets it as "qualities that seem pleasant in one person but can make you hate the next. That's the dual nature we all have." Inspired by the works of Go Nagai, Ohkawa sought to create heroes capable of wrongdoing, even evil. Kamui is the personification of this doctrine. His name (神威, Kamui) carries a double connotation: "the one who represents the majesty of God", meaning the one who protects the world and carries out God's will; and "the one who hunts the majesty of God", meaning the one who kills those given God's power and destroys the world. Kamui's decision to save the world as he knows it is a defining moment as it gives rise to his twin star, Fuma. Fuma undergoes a personality change to the point he is no longer recognizable to his best friend. He takes the name of "Kamui", thus fulfilling the dual prophecy and bringing balance to the conflict. Fuma's "Kamui" persona is Kamui's other half; it represents Kamui's potential for destruction. "Kamui" is the epitome of the evil, and good, that men do. The duality motif extends to the Dragons of Heaven and Earth, two groups of warriors, both alike in power, led to battle by opposite sisters. On each side is a dreamgazer (夢見, yumemi), a diviner who sees the future in its dreams.
Dreams are a source of inspiration for Ohkawa, and thus became a standard motif in her writing. In Tokyo Babylon, the protagonist's dreams reveal to him a hidden truth. In xxxHolic, the characters' dreams comprise a whole world parallel to their own. Dreams in X depict the future, the destruction of mankind. Hinoto, dreamgazer for the Dragons of Heaven, is convinced it can be changed. Ohkawa explains it as lucid dreaming, where the individual can exert conscious control over the dream to the point it can perform impossible feats. Kakyo of the Dragons of Earth is a dreamgazer in a permanent coma who lives in the dreamscape, always dreaming of the future and knowing there is nothing he can do about it. Although he hopes for a better future, he cannot get involved and is convinced all is predetermined, including Kamui's return.
Kamui's arrival in Tokyo unwillingly sets Armageddon in motion. Kotori's death and Fuma's turning were foretold, but subject to the young man's allegiance. Thinking of the people he loves, Kamui chooses to become a Dragon of Heaven to protect them, but ends up losing them for it. Other characters are also at the mercy of fate. Sorata Arisugawa is destined to die for a woman; but, unlike Kamui, the warrior monk embraces his preordained future and chooses Arashi Kishu of the Dragons of Heaven as the one he'll give his life for. Subaru Sumeragi expresses no interest in the future of the Earth, but still he and his counterpart are drawn to Tokyo on the Promised Day. Even with the fatalist atmosphere that persists in the series, Ohkawa is convinced individuals exert control over their destiny the same way they choose between right and wrong.
X began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka on May 1992. Publishing the series proved troublesome on account of its subject matter, which depicted disasters reminiscent of real events in Japan such as earthquakes or murders committed by juveniles. Serialization stopped in March 2003, and in March 2005 Clamp stated they were searching for a proper magazine to conclude it. The chapters were collected in a total of eighteen tankōbon volumes, with the first one released on July 29, 1992, and the eighteenth on September 17, 2002. On September 26, 2006, Kadokawa Shoten published Clamp Newtype Platinum, a special Clamp edition of Newtype. The issue includes the "X 18.5" supplement, a re-print of five previously uncollected chapters. The series was expected to reach twenty-one volumes upon completion.
The North American version of the manga, retitled X/1999 in its initial printing, was serialized in Viz Media's Animerica Extra and released under the Shōjo imprint. In July 2001, Viz Media removed the series from Animerica Extra due to licensing issues, but it later returned in its issue published in March 2003. All eighteen volumes were released by Viz Media, ending in 2005. Beginning in 2011, Viz re-issued the series in North America as three-in-one volumes, unflipped, titled X.
On November 21, 1993, SME Records released X² (ダブルエックス, Daburu Ekkusu), pronounced in English as "Double-X", a short film based on Clamp's manga, set to the music of rock band X Japan. X² features a slideshow of X artwork set to a medley of X Japan's "Silent Jealousy," "Kurenai", and "Endless Rain" with the "X" music video directed by Shigeyuki Hayashi.
The X Character Files (キャラクターファイル, Kyarakutā Fairu) were released from June 1996 to December 1996 by Victor Entertainment. The seven audio dramas, scripted by Nanase Ohkawa, focus on the thoughts and motivations of the individual Dragons of Heaven and Earth. The Character Files are performed by the feature film voice actors. They were created to promote the film version of the manga.
The X feature film, directed by Rintaro (Captain Harlock, Doomed Megalopolis) and co-scripted by Nanase Ohkawa, premiered August 3, 1996, in Japan. The supernatural thriller focuses on the roles Kamui, Kotori, and Fuma play in the Apocalypse, reducing the Dragons of Heaven and Earth to peripheral characters. Even though the abbreviated story fails to place the characters' action in the proper context, the film is praised for its dreamlike atmosphere, powerful imagery and visually engaging action sequences. The film was given a limited release in the United States in early 2000 and released to DVD on September 25, 2001. X: The Destiny War, a comic book based on the feature film, was released on September 30, 1996 (Kadokawa Shoten: ISBN 4-04-852714-2). The X Japan song "Forever Love", composed by Yoshiki, was chosen as the film's theme song, and was later used by the former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a campaign advertisement in 2001.
The episodes from X anime television series were directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, being first announced on October 18, 2000. In anticipation to the series premiere, X: An Omen (エックス - 前兆, Ekkusu - Yochō) was released direct-to-DVD on August 25, 2001. Written and directed by Kawajiri, "An Omen" tells the story of the upcoming battles through the prophecies of Kakyō Kuzuki, dreamgazer for the Dragon of Earth, and acts as primer for viewers not familiar with Clamp's manga. The series premiered October 3, 2001 on WOWOW satellite television and finished on March 27, 2002, totaling twenty-four episodes. A total of twelve DVD volumes from the series, each containing two episodes, were released in Japan from February 25, 2001 to January 25, 2002 by Bandai Visual. The music for the series was composed by Naoki Satō with two original soundtracks being released.
Pioneer Entertainment claimed ownership of the series for distribution in North America in March 2002. Geneon collected the series and the OVA in a total of eight DVD volumes released between September 24, 2002 and November 25, 2003. Two DVD box sets of the series were also released on January 11, 2005. In 2006, Geneon released the X TV Series Re-Mix, which was composed of five individual DVDs released between July 11, 2006 and November 14, 2006, as well as a DVD box set on July 11, 2006. The series aired in the United States on Encore Action in March 2007. The DVDs came with re-mastered video and audio, including remastered and remixed 5.1 Dolby Digital AC3 surround sound for both the Japanese and English tracks. In September 2009, Funimation announced that it had acquired the rights to the anime series and OVA. They were re-released them in a DVD box it on June 15, 2010 using the original Geneon dubbing (provided by Bang Zoom! Entertainment) for the English-language audio track.
X: Unmei no Sentaku (X ~運命の選択~, lit. X: Fateful Choice) was released for the PlayStation on August 22, 2002 by Bandai. The fighting game features a story mode, set in the television series continuity, and a versus mode, which allows players to compete against each other using any of the Dragons of Heaven or Earth. The game was not released outside Japan and it has two different endings.
In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson wrote "even without a proper ending, the series has a lot going for it. For one, it's absolutely gorgeous", adding "the Storytelling isn't Clamp's best, but it's hard not to get swept up in the momentum toward the day of destiny". The film is considered a technical masterpiece, but it lacks plot and character development. The television series is considered a better adaptation than the feature film. The 2001 incarnation makes use of its longer running time and episode format to explore the original mythos and works the characters' back-stories into the narrative through the use of flashbacks. Bamboo Dong of Anime News Network finds that the series "tries hard to please everyone, and comes daringly close to succeeding." Zac Bertschy comments that "the animation quality is consistently very high" and that the characters are "never off model" and "each episode is animated with an amazing flash of style and fluidity". Though the manga has some elements that neither the film, nor the TV series had adapted, each is treated more or less as its own interpretation of events, especially when it comes to how each adaptation ends.
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