X/1999 - THE LAST LEGEND OF EARTH BEGINS HERE

CLAMP * ART * CONTROVERSY


Prior to X/1999, there has been RG Veda, a story based loosely on an indian epic poem, and Tokyo Babylon, a supernatural saga with Tokyo as centrestage - two gems that have considerable influence on Shoujo manga. However, neither has paralled the magnitude achieved by 'X', which has stunned fans and critics alike. Seasoned readers of CLAMP are disappointed with the mediocre characterization and plot design compared to earlier works, albeit the artwork maintains its superb quality. New readers curious about all the hype surrounding the four females mangakas who have taken Asia and America by storm (and the craze looks set to hit Europe and South America) are shocked (and awed) by the artists' graphic depictions of violence and love. It seems incredible how the characters managed to emerge from throat-cutting battles in one piece. Talk about miracle. I too, remembered having a strong reader reaction against RG Veda, describing it as "perverse, extremely overboard ...". It was referring to the norm-defying relationships between the characters.

Many characters in CLAMP's works die eventually, a development that is not met without objections. My guess for the thinner characterization in 'X' is that the manga's selling point is its violence, twists and sexual overtures. For a plot like X/1999, it has to be fast paced so less relevant scenes good only for character buildup need to go. Perhaps Clamp prefer readers to have less emotional attachments to the characters as some of them will inevitably, you know.


Wind If Tokyo Babylon is a work that explores the dark side of humanity underscoring a social message (hailed as the mangakas' best offering to date), and RG Veda is an attempt to recreat mythical legend (this they did successfully) then 'X' marks their effort to tamper science fiction by incorporating certain aspects of karma --- retribution and providence, and the religious vision of doom. 'X' relates to the problems of the current world, dabbling in unsolved environmental and social issues. The entire of the first ten volumes of X/1999 portray an overwhelming sense of despair though the characters persevere in their ideology. It is not intented as a platform for complex world issues. It merely deals with the characters' internal conflicts complicated by the workings of the 'invisible hand'. Having received acclaim for one's talent, it is an artist's impulse and perogative to expand his horizon. This should have been the philosophy behind 'X'.

Personally though, I'd prefer them to strive for more dimension in scriptwriting and characterization. After all, it's always people we care about. The camp for CLAMP has not told me that beside being awed by the brilliant artwork, I can be bored by repetitive lines and flashbacks. I certainly hope that the latest volumes of 'X' will throw up real surprises, in particular Subaru and Seishirou. CLAMP's manga "X" was adapted on the big screen but many people felt that it cannot fully deliver the essence of the manga. You can visit the Anime Powerlinks (see homepage) for the "X" movie coverage.

Those of you who haven't picked up any of the volumes or on the brink of abandoning the title, you can perhaps consider reading vol. 4 first. Be prepared for violence, repetitions and some nudity (look out for Kanoe, a goddess in her own right). I enjoy the manga's action, the art and its narrative style with its twists and turns. It has the potential to woo shonen and older fans.



*X/1999 SYNOPSIS*

Six years after his departure, Kamui Shirou returned to Tokyo. It was no longer the city he knew, his heart filled with bitterness. Six years ago, a tragedy took him away from two close childhood friends. His mother's death brought him back. Utterly baffled by the course of events, he nonetheless complied by his mother's wish to collect the 'magical sword' from the Monou family. The reunion with Fuuma and Kotori Monou proved ominous as they were continually pursued by people of mysterious identities.

Hinoto, a dreamgazer and prominent prophet, communicated with Kamui on several occassions for an unusual purpose --- to save the world from total annihilation. She uncovered certain mysteries surrounding Kamui but he was skeptical. By this time, clashes had already occurred between the two camps that could account for Earth's future. Hinoto stood by the Seven seals (or the seven'Dragons of Heaven') to safeguard Earth and maintain its status quo. The 'Dragons of Earth'(the 'Angels') belonged to the opposing camp who yearned for Earth's rebirth, possible only with the death of Man. Kamui alone possessed the power to play either of the two faces: become a 'protector' or 'destroyer'. In the name of love he chose the former. Providence had destined Fuuma to fill up the gap left by Kamui as the seventh angel. Under the influence of the evil 'twin' of Kamui, Fuuma killed Kotori. Kamui was shattered but was bent on seeking the real Fuuma, to keep his promise. And a reason to live.



Strength"If he regains consciousness, will you tell him the truth ? And suffer the condemnation ? Even when nobody understood your heart's desire ?" -Kakyou. "The world I know is where I find my loved ones. If they no longer exist, neither does the world." - Kamui


End of synopsis for first 10 volumes. The manga is still being serialized. Translated texts may vary. Currently, there are 16 volumes of X. The title is serialized in Asuka Magazine.


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Updated 3 Aug 2000 : What's New?
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