X - Volume 2 Review
For an anime series that deals with no less a subject that the complete destruction of the Earth itself and the extinction of all humanity, the apocalypse brought about in an epic battle between the Seven Seals of Heaven and the Seven Angels of Earth, Volume 2 of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s 26 episode OVA version of CLAMP’s X is surprisingly rather slow moving, the series at this early stage taking its time to establish the backgrounds of the young people with special powers who will fulfil these preordained roles in Earth’s final days.
The four episodes that make up Volume 2 essentially introduce another four characters in more detail, two on either side of the opposing forces. On the side of the Angels of Heaven are 14 year old Junior High School student Yazuriha Nekoi, with her invisible guardian dog spirit Inuki, and Firemaster and Nightclub hostess Karen Kasumiti, who both soon bond with the other team members. Rather more interesting is how the stories of the one of the new Angels of Earth is related – Satsuki Yatouji, a young girl connected to a vast computer called The Beast whose presence creates a rather tense situation and more volatile dynamic between the other members of her team, which is also joined in the final episode here by illusion maker Seisho Sakurazuka.
Essentially however, this all feels very much like going through the motions of character development, in most cases the backgrounds of the young people revealing them as loners who have suffered the traumatic loss of parents in their childhood. There are a few other less predictable elements however and the running thread of the roles and relationship between Kamui and Fuma to keep the series progressing forward towards its set-piece final battle, but thus far, there is precious little demonstration of the powers that each of the characters possess. Although some of the minor skirmishes show potential, the character designs are not great and animated movement is limited, so there are still some doubts at this stage about whether the series can carry off the battle as spectacularly as Rintaro’s 1996 theatrical feature version of the story.
The 2001 OVA is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. Inevitably standards converted from NTSC to PAL, there are some minor issues with the transfer in terms of interlacing and a little bit of shimmering in the breaking up of fine lines, but there is not so much movement that this becomes a serious problem. Colour banding and discolouration of solid blocks of colour that I didn’t detect in Volume 1 are somewhat more noticeable here. Both the Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track and the alternative English Dolby Digital 5.1 dub are strong and should more than meet requirements. Optional English subtitles are bright yellow and literal rather than dubtitles. An Interview with the Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (9:10) on his intentions for the series is the only significant extra feature.