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“X” 3-in-1 Vol. 1 by CLAMP (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 31, 2011 by  



“X” may be one of the earlier works from the manga group CLAMP but the storyline still holds up 20-years-later.  Possibly one of their more bleaker, tragic and violent manga series, “X” is also one of their more deeper storylines as it takes on the apocalyptic fiction genre with great efficacy.  And if you have always wanted to read this manga series, best time is now as you get three volumes in one 3-in-1 release.  Definitely recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 1992-1993 CLAMP. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: X 3-in-1 Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Clamp

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kadokawa Shoten

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on November 8, 2011

Each of VIZ Media’s X releases bundles three complete manga volumes and features 24 pages of gorgeous, full-color illustrations never before published outside Japan! The pages are also printed in their original right-to-left reading order and presented in the highest quality.

As X (previously released in the United States as X/1999) opens, Kamui Shiro is a young man followed by mystery. He was taken from Tokyo by his mother while still a child and had to leave behind his dearest friends, including the gentle Kotori and her brother Fuma, following a terrible incident that claimed their mother’s life. Returning to Tokyo following his mother’s death, Kamui is a changed young man – moody and distant to his old friends, yet determined to protect them from the dark forces that swirl around him. It turns out that he is the nexus of a great cataclysm to come, and the inheritor to a strange destiny that could decide the fate of the entire world.

In Japan, the manga artist group known as CLAMP are one of the most well-known manga groups internationally.

Seen as a mysterious group who rarely makes any appearance, the group which began as an eleven-member dojinshi circle in the mid-’80s are now a four member group featuring Satsuki Igarashi, Nanase Ohkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi and Mokona.

Known for titles such as “RG Veda”, “Tokyo Babylon”, “Magic Knight Rayearth”, “Cardcaptor Sakura”, “Chobits”, “xxxHolic”, “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle” but also one series that introduced them all over the world, “X” (or “X/1999”).

“X” made its debut in May 1992 and currently, it’s one of the few manga titles by CLAMP that has not been completed.   With only 18 of the expected 21-volumes having been published.

In 1993, for the earlier anime fans, they were first exposed to “X” through a music video that was released in 1993 and tied to Japanese rock band  X Japan.  In 1996, a feature film directed by Rintaro (“Captain Harlock”, “Doomed Megalopolis” and co-scripted by Nanase Ohkawa was released in Japan but also the United States.  The film also featured a collaboration with X Japan as leader Yoshiki wrote the ending theme “Forever Love” after reading the manga and was used as an ending theme to the film.

In 2000, “X” the anime TV series was released and was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (“Wicked City”, “Ninja Scroll”, “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust”) and was released on DVD in 2006 and re-released in 2010.

As for the manga series, it was serialized on Viz Media’s “Animerica Extra” in the US and the 18 volumes were released by Viz Media in 2005.  And in November 2011, Viz Media is releasing “X” 3-in-1 featuring three graphic novels per 3-in-1 volume.

“X is the newest series to join our library deluxe collector’s edition manga titles, and its gripping story will resonate with a wide array of readers,” says Andy Nakatani, Editorial Director. “The manga creators of CLAMP forged new ground by blending the intricate artwork characteristic of the shojo, or girls, manga genre with the graphic action more often found in ‘seinen,’ or manga aimed at older male readers. This edition is a great way for fans to revisit the series in a new way, and is also an entry point for new readers to discover the riveting and sometimes controversial manga works created by CLAMP!”

For the first volume of “X” 3-in-1, the manga begins with Kamui, a teenager gifted with special abilities making his return to Tokyo.

We are then introduced to older brother, Fuma and his younger sister, Kotori (who has a weak heart).  Both siblings live with their father, their mother passed away six-years-ago.  Kotori has had a dream about Kamui coming back to Tokyo but it’s a farfetched dream as both she and Fuma have not seen Kamui since they were children and he and his mother have disappeared.

We then see Kamui going to school and being attacked by shiki, but he quickly defeats them.  Observing him are mysterious people wondering if he is the “Kamui” of prophecy.

At school, Fuma sees Kamui but he doesn’t respond.  Is this the same person he grew up with?  Then Kamui is then seen by Kotori, but as she tries to talk to him, he acts as if he doesn’t know her.  When Kotori tries to confront him alone, he tells her to not get involved with him, to not talk to him ever again and to leave him alone.

Kotori is shocked by what has transpired and remembers her childhood when Kamui asked her to be his bride.  She has loved Kamui since they were a kid and now, to see him mean to her is too much for her and she collapses.

That night, Kamui is attacked by another being with special abilities but Kamui manages to beat him.  But at the same time, he has suffered a bad injury.

As Fuma goes out to buy a notebook, he notices damage nearby, in the streets and buildings.  He wonder if there was a gas explosion.  But then he finds an injured Kamui.  Fuma carries him back home and their family doctor is able to help him with his injuries. As Fuma goes to walk the doctor back to his office, Kotori watches over Kamui.

Meanwhile, spying on them is a young priest named Sorata Arisugawa.  But immediately, another being named Yuto Kigai shows up and attacks him.  To protect the city from damage, Sorata puts up a “kekkai” (a barrier which protects the city, but the more damage it takes will lead to a probably moment in time in which that portion of the city will take damage someway in the future).

But their fight is disrupted when Fuma walks into the Shikai (which is not possible as the barrier prevents anyone from coming in or out).  Both men in shock, they decide to call their battle a draw.

As Kamui is still unconscious, he is contacted by a blind seer who warns him about the dangers.  He reminds him of what happened to Fuma and Kotori’s mother (Kamui found her dismembered) and that his mother took him away from Tokyo to protect him until 1999.  But he is then given a vision of Kotori dying.  She tells him that he can protect her but he needs her to protect the world.  Kamui is angered by what he shows her and damages her without even being present.

But unknown to Hinoto, her younger sister Kanoe is observing.  And we learn that Hinoto leads a group known as the Seals who want to save the world.  While Kanoe leads the Angels, a group that want to destroy the world.

Both are after Kamui for some unknown reason.

CLAMP’s epic and tragic story “X” gets re-released  as part of their 3-in-1 line.

This is perhaps one of their most violent action manga series they have released and my first exposure to “X” was actually the 1993 music video as it was one of my first purchases as even back then, CLAMP was highly regarded for their work.

But it wasn’t until 1996 when I first watched the animated movie of “X”, I was shocked about how tragic and deep the overall storyline for the movie was.  But at the same time, knowing that the film could be one interpretation of the story and an alternate reality (the manga series tends to show probably alternate realities that can be changed) or perhaps something that can be true, as the manga series has not even been completed yet.

And several years later, fans of “X” were treated to a TV adaptation which was another version of the story much different than the film.  So, suffice to say, with the manga series put on hold with three more chapters left to complete the series, for now, fans have two different realities of how the storyline of “X” would end through the film and TV series adaptations.

But focusing on the manga series itself, the storyline of “X” is quite enjoyable as Kamui is somewhat unknown.  We know as a child, he and Kotori and her older brother, Fuma were normal, happy children until the death of Fuma and Kotori’s mother, Kamui is taken away by her mother for protection until 1999 as he must fulfill a destiny.

We don’t know what destiny but we see two opposing forces wanting to get Kamui.  The Seals who want to protect him in order to protect the world and the Angels who want to get him to possibly destroy it.  Not much is known but we know that these opposing forces have been waiting for Kamui’s return to Japan.

And as Kamui makes his return, with unique special abilities, to throw a twist in the storyline is when the seer, Honoto now has a dream of two Kamui’s.  And of course, throughout this first volume, we learn that Fuma was able to break into Kekkai quite easily.  It makes you wonder if this other Kamui can be him…and also if he has some special ability?

Needless to say, comic book fans can see somewhat of a Professor X and the X-Men vs. Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants, two opposing forces dedicated to their own sense of how the world should be.  But the primary difference is “X” deals with the apocalyptic genre tied into Christian eschatology and also CLAMP’s own mythology of the fate of the world (the series has ties to CLAMP’s other series “Tokyo Babylon”).

While an earlier series of CLAMP and they have released so many other titles since “X” that many feel are among their best in terms of art and storyline, still, “X” manages to hold up rather well as the artwork is beautiful (especially the color pages showcasing their artwork) and also the interior pages as well.

The characters are also fascinating, especially each with their own special abilities and for this first 3-in-1 volume of “X” alone, it’s a really intriguing and exciting storyline that literally makes you craving for more!

I have always loved this series because it was so bleak and different from other manga out there.  And while many are used to seeing the film and TV series, while both have some finality of how things should be ended, until the manga series is completed, then we will know how the series should have actually been finished.

The question is when will that be?  When I first was introduced to “X” through the music video, that was back in 1993 and here we are now in 2011, and while the 3-in-1 will re-release the series, it makes you wonder if the series will be completed within 25-years since its initial release.  I guess we will find out if CLAMP intends to come back to the series and finish the final volumes in 2017.  The manga series is expected to last 21 volumes but I suppose anything can happen, especially its ending as it could be much different from what we saw in the film and the TV series adaptation.

“X” may be one of the earlier works from the manga group CLAMP but the storyline still holds up 20-years-later.  Possibly one of their more bleaker, tragic and violent manga series, “X” is also one of their more deeper storylines as it takes on the apocalyptic fiction genre with great efficacy.

But for now, if anyone has wanted to read the work of CLAMP, especially for those who missed out on the manga series five years ago and wants to read the 18-volumes but also saving money at the same time,  then these 3-in-1 releases are fantastic!  Three graphic novel volumes per 3-in-1 one volume is wonderful and readers would be caught up with all 18 volumes by the fifth 3-in-1 volume of “X”.  Definitely a great deal!

“X” 3-in-1 is definitely recommended!

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