August 14th, 2012
X is the subject of the 34th episode of Anime Abandon, hosted by Bennett the Sage. In this episode, Sage takes on one of his most-requested movies: the 1996 adaptation of the eponymous CLAMP manga. The review was posted to the website on August 14th, 2012, and was later posted to YouTube on October 31st that same year.
(Anime Abandon Opening)
(We fade in on Sage with his usual thousand-mile stare after witnessing animated horrors beyond his mental faculties)
Sage: Now I remember why I was putting this off for so long…
Sage (VO): Of the many titles I get requests for, one of the most suggested is definitely X. Based off a STILL-unfinished manga series by CLAMP that’s been on the shelf for the past 10 years, the film adaptation is equal parts Cardcaptor Sakura, Gothic-inspired art, and sheer what-the-fuckery.
Sage: I’m stone cold serious! Remember what I said about Vampire Hunter D in my review?
(On screen text: PREVIOUSLY ON ANIME ABANDON…)
Sage: This is one of the most maddening sits I’ve ever had to go through on this show. And it’s easily the worst stand-alone adapted anime film I’ve ever seen.
(Kevin Spacey’s Superman Returns “WRONG!!” as the text is plastered diagonally in red across the screen)
(Cut back to a short segment of clips from the film)
Sage (VO): I hate to prove myself wrong after only a month, but no: that title has been usurped by X. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that not only is it the worst adapted anime film I’ve ever seen, it’s damn near one of the worst animated films I’ve ever seen, period.
Sage: That’s right, I said it. I ain’t taking it back.
Sage (VO): I’ve never met anyone who says that X was a great film, but I’ve met plenty of people who give X a free pass because of its art. And I won’t lie: it’s very impressive. Both on a technical level, and an artistic level, the visual design and animation are some of the most striking examples of the medium, Japanese or otherwise.
Sage: I don’t want to downplay how good the film looks, or the obvious work that went into the visuals from the animators. So, get that, X apologists? Everything I say from here on out does not apply to the art! Got it? (Short pause) OK, good, because besides the visuals, X is a shit sandwich.
Sage (VO): You know you’re in for a sit when the very first scene is a guy’s mother appearing before him in the Negative Zone, before her clothes burn off, rips a sword with the Star of David on it from her own uterus, before finally exploding into bac-o-bits for no reason.
(Kamui’s mother does indeed explode, her naked body shielded from our eyes by Censor Kaiser.)
Kamui: MOOOOTTTTHHHHERRRRR!!!! MOTHER!!!
(Cut back to Sage, doing a stereotypical Jewish mother impersonation)
Sage: Oi, I always told ya I’d explode right in front of you while I was naked, but ya never listen do me, do you? Where’d I go wrong with you, Bobola?
Sage (VO): And then we abruptly shift gears to some…girl who’s dreaming about Bobola holding a glass world…and then there’s TWO of these assholes, and…we haven’t even reached the five-minute mark, people!
Sage: All right, to clear the air, on subsequent viewings, I can get the importance of scenes like this, but if this is the first time you’re ever watching X, this is like reading Finnegan’s Wake in Sanskrit.
(Cut back to film. Kamui is standing on top of a building…for some reason)
Kamui: I’ve returned to Tokyo, mother. What am I waiting for?
Sage: Oh, I don’t suppose you could be waiting for a…clear character motivation…maybe some nice exposition? Hell, at this point, I’d settle for a literal list!
Sage (VO): Well, my wish kind of comes true as Bobola’s dead mother somehow communicates to him that he should seek out the Dragons of Heaven and proceeds to list them off. Guys, I am so far beyond asking the how’s and why’s that I might as well be reading in Klingon.
(Cut back to Sage with a Klingon dictionary. Translation provided by Bing Translate)
Sage: poH ghaH (That will take time)
Sage (VO): And…bam! We cut to a fight scene between two people we’ve NEVER seen before, apparently duking it out because they hate each other. Not because they’re on opposing sides, oh no! The film makes it very clear they’re killing each other for personal reasons.
(To save viewers time that might’ve been spent looking it up, the Dragon of Heaven in white is Subaru Sumeragi, and the Dragon of Earth is Seishiro Sakurazuka.)
Seishiro: The Dragons of the Heaven that you represent will meet my Dragons of the Earth. But that is for the future. This is a fight to the death between two personal foes.
Sage: Why do these two nameless D-bags hate each other? I’d like to think it’s because one of them caught the other cheating on them with their immigrant landscaper Raul. Just as good a reason as any.
Sage (VO): And not three minutes later, the two of them unleash unholy hell on each other and kill themselves. (Sarcastically) So soon?! Darn it! I was getting so attached to what’s-his-face and what’s-his-face!
Kotori: I had a dream last night…about Kamui. It’s six years since I last saw him, so I don’t know what he looks like now…but I know it was him in my dream. Grown up and good-looking. Strange thing is that there were two of him! What an odd dream it was…
(Cut back to Sage doing an impression of Kotori’s voice actress)
Sage: But what made it really odd was when they double-teamed me and I squealed like a stuck pig! Normally I’m very quiet during nasty group sex!
(Cut back to the film, continuing the scene)
Fuma: We miss him, don’t we?
Kotori: Yes, even now, after all these years.
(Cut back to Sage, once again doing an impersonation)
Sage: Yes, all these years he spent…uhh…doing…things. Are we gonna explain one goddamn thing in this movie or am I just pissing in the wind?
Sage (VO): These are our supporting characters: James Haven and Angelina Jolie!
Sage: If you’re confused about my nicknames for them, just…wait a little bit, you’ll catch the reference.
(Cut back to the film and we see Fuma staring into the camera, when all of a sudden he is wracked with pain and grabs his chest. And then we inexplicably cut to Kamui falling out of the air…in front of a Cola-Cola neon.)
Sage: Subtle product placement there, pazzi. Well, you can count on me to keep artistic integrity and keep corporate sponsorship at a bare minimum…just like the prices at your local Sizzler!
Sage (VO over a short montage of the Sizzler logo and pictures of the restaurant): Sizzler! Where you don’t have to feel guilty for ordering the salad bar, and then filling your plate with fried chicken. Sizzler: at least we’re not Denny’s!
(Cut back to the film and Eldritch horror cables attacking Fuma and Kotori. Sage isn’t surprised.)
Sage: I’ve seen enough hentai to know where this is going…
Sage (VO): But luckily, Bobola drops in and saves his two childhood friends from the violating tentacles of the violating computer machine of the Earth Dragons! Who attacked them because…umm…uhh…
(Breaks off thought and starts a new one) So Bobola and James start hallucinating and bam, more trippy scenes. Apparently, Bobola is destined to decide the fate of the world, so says this floating girl in a bubble with hair that would make Yunalesca weep with jealousy. However, in a clever twist of fate, it seems that James is destined to oppose whatever decision Bobola makes, so says Floating Girl’s evil and much hotter sister Elvira.
Sage: God dammit, does evil have the market cornered for stacked chicks?! Why can’t the good guys load their side with bountiful blast bunnies?
Sage (VO): But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Time for more time-wasting battles! Some Earth Dragons corner the three and demand that Bobola come with them, but luckily the Heaven Dragons have Bobola’s back.
Earth Dragon: Don’t forget if the creator of that Power Shield is killed, which he could be at any time—drowned for argument’s sake—then the power of the Shield will be nullified, and the full force of the damage will be felt.
Heaven Dragon: Well, that’s the theory.
Earth Dragon: I’ve seen it with my own eyes. A Dragon of the Heavens died and the shield crumbled. Let me…show you how it was.
(As the Earth Dragon did his best William Shatner impersonation, Sage follows suit)
Sage: Ooh man! He…Shatner’d that line…baaaad!
Sage (VO): While everyone is busy with their Super Kamehameha Wave attacks, Elvira kidnaps Angelina from under their noses. But James manages to get after her.
Kanoe: Kamui’s beloved…you will bring your lover here to me so that I shall know his future…
(We see Fuma break through and reach for Kotori. This catches the clairvoyant Kanoe off-guard)
Kanoe: Fuma! Do you come uninvited to share this dream? Or are you the lover Kotori summoned?
(Cut back to Sage, who has a knowing look on his face. He’s scarred.)
Sage: Yup! Her lover…is her brother…! Excuse me for one moment!
(Sage continues to give his “help me” stare to the camera, while he reaches off screen for something. It’s a pillow. He calmly puts it to his face and gives a muffled shriek of horror)
Sage (VO): Wasn’t this movie fucked up enough with-OUT having to throw incest into the mix?! Talk about derailing a movie, you could throw in random shots of Holocaust survivors, and it STILL wouldn’t be as jarring as brother fucking!
(Cut back to Sage, who is more than a little concerned about getting hung up on this like he did with Doomed Megalopolis)
Sage: Dammit, I’m gonna be hung up on this if I don’t find something to snark on fast…Quick, movie! Give me a stupid line!
Kanoe: So I have found him! The Kamui who will defeat Kamui! His twin star; his other being. No matter which Dragon Kamui becomes, Kamui will always be there to counterbalance what Kamui does, won’t he, Kamui?
(Cut back to a satisfied-looking Sage)
Sage: That’ll do, movie. That’ll do.
Sage (VO): So it’s here that Elvira imparts onto James his destiny to oppose his best friend Bobola and join the Earth Dragons, sacrificing humanity so nature can go on without the depredations of man. So…James knows that Elvira captured his (with a tinge of sickness)…sister-lover…and he’s being asked—BY HER—to join her in killing his best friend and all of humanity. Why in the holy hell would he agree to this?
Kanoe: Who will do the will of God on Earth? But there is another who has the power to defeat him. Who will put the Earth before everything? That is you. Join the Dragons of the Earth, join us in destroying Tokyo’s Power Shields as a first step to saving the Earth…and saving Kotori as well, your sister and your love.
(Cut to Sage making a stereotypical stupid man’s voice)
Sage: Dahhhh…wait a minute, I thought I was trying to save her from you! Wah, I can’t say no to jugs like those. (Makes a limp-wristed groping motion) I like to play them…
Sage (VO): Bobola is led to meet Yunalesca in person who imparts onto him…again…that he needs to save the Earth by becoming a Dragon of Heaven. And to drive the point home, she shows himself killing Angelina if he doesn’t become a Dragon of Heaven.
Sage: So Bobola has to be COAXED into doing the right thing and be proactive? Why should I root for this asshole again?
(Cut to the film where the supposedly evil Kamui pulls on a string, decapitating a crucified Kotori)
Kamui: KOTORIIIIIIIIII!!! OH GOD!!
(The vision shows Kamui holding Kotori’s head while weeping, but Sage has other ideas. He mimes the scene, but then he looks around and then…he mimes putting the head in between his legs, simulating oral sex. Ick.)
Sage: So, with the lines drawn and alliances forged, Bobola and James, once childhood friends, are now fated enemies: destined to fight until one perishes. But that will have to come later as the story grinds to a halt so that we can watch the OTHER members of the Heaven and Earth Dragons duke it out and kill each other! So…why is Bobola here all that important? Yeah, I know he’s destined to save the world and junk, and he has awesome power, but how come the story treats him like he’s made out of wet tissue paper? He doesn’t fight anyone outside of those two from earlier, until near the very end of the film. And even in that fight he was pulled back so that the OTHER Dragons of Heaven could fight HIS battle!
(Quick cut to what ends up being the final battle between Kamui and Fuma, then to another inconsequential battle earlier)
In fact, Bobola doesn’t even draw his sword that his mother KILLED HERSELF TO GIVE HIM until the very last act of the film. Most of the fight scenes are between these warring Dragons that we don’t know—nor will we EVER know—because their fight scenes always end up with one or both Dragons dying! So we get fight scenes between people we don’t give a shit about, while the main hero—who we REALLY don’t give a shit about—dicks around and acts like an asshole!
(Cut back to Sage mocking the aforementioned “X Apologists”)
Sage: “But at least the art’s pretty!” (Sage then grumbles and silently seethes)
Fuma: So I am the other, huh? Who decided that? Just because Kanoe told me does that make it so? Do dreams really tell us what may be? Kotori, where are you?
(Cut back to an increasingly frustrated Sage)
Sage: You dickhole! You know Elvira has kidnapped your sister-lover! Choke the bitch until she squeals!
(Cut to a “running to nowhere” scene with Kamui’s inner dialogue)
Kamui: What does it mean…to save the Earth? From what? For what? For the scorpions and centipedes that survive the destruction of man? I came to Tokyo to protect the people I love, and I’ll fight for them!
(Cut back to Sage, now incredulous)
Sage: WHEN?! When will you fight, asswipe?! You protected two of your friends from extension cords, and since then all you’ve done is whine and mope! You know what? Fuck both of you shit stains! I hope you choke on each other’s severed dicks!
Sage (VO): Bobola finally runs into an Earth Dragon himself, and the little pansy is knocked around like a ragdoll. Luckily for him, a 14-year old girl saves the day. Can’t she be the chosen one? She seems WAY more capable than this asshat.
(Real quick, these two are Arashi Kishu and Sorata Arusigawa)
Arashi: That’s Yuzeria’s Power Shield!
Sorata: So she’s under attack. Yuzeria’s just turned fourteen. She’s nothing more than a kid! She’s never been in love, never started down her own road. It’s tough. Maybe we should’ve told her to stay down with Hinoto.
Arashi: Going soft in your old age?
Arashi: You think we could help her out?
Sorata: Bet we could.
Arashi: Let’s go.
(Cut to a scene of them walking at a leisurely pace. Umm…wasn’t Yuzeria in trouble? Sage shares our sentiment with a monotone voice)
Sage (VO): Oh my god. Look at those two speed demons go. Trying to save their ally in the nick of time. Don’t twist an ankle, you two.
(Cut to a fight scene between Yuzeria, Kamui, and Nataku)
Sage (VO): So in the last 25 minutes of the film, Bobola FINALLY uses his powers in a fight…barely. Meanwhile, James dukes it out with the remaining Dragons of Heaven—even though we’ve never seen him obtain magical powers—and then he BAMFs away because…uhh…and this causes Bobola to stall because…uh-uh, the story needed the 14-year old to sacrifice herself?
(Cut to Yuzeria dying in Kamui’s arms)
Yuzeria: I’m sorry…I wasn’t much good to you, was I? I’ve never…been in love as a woman can be in love. I’d like to have known someone would cry…when they buried me. Kamui…promise me would fight to protect those you love!
(Sage is unimpressed by the surprisingly emotional scene)
Sage: Fuck, at this point I’d settle for the guy fighting for the people he met on a bus!
Sage (VO): And then…the movie cuts to an Earth Dragon wrecking shit in Tokyo! I don’t know if this is supposed to be James or what. In fact, I’m not even sure why this scene is in here in the first place…outside of being expensive padding. So, Bobola wakes up from the destruction to find himself cornered by one of the Earth Dragons. But then James shows up and kills the Earth Dragon…even though he’s on their side.
Sage: You know what’s sad? James, the bad guy? Does WAY more to stop the Earth Dragons than Bobola ever does.
(Cut back to Fuma wrecking the other Earth Dragons’ shit in their own headquarters)
Sage (VO): I’m serious! James goes mad with power…I think, and he winds up killing the rest of the Earth Dragons! Why? Who cares! Someone has to save humanity! Might as well be the guy who’s allied himself with the people who’s trying to KILL humanity!
Yuto Kigai: You killed Kusanagi on the roof and now…apparently it’s my turn. Why? We’re allies!
Fuma: You’re wrong. I don’t remember allying myself with anyone.
(Cut back to Sage, who seems to just want this nightmare to end)
Sage: Then how the fuck did you get your powers? Collect enough box tops?!
Sage (VO): More than that, James finally gets it in his head that Elvira can take him to his sister-lover, and forces her to do just that. But instead of trying to save her, James rips his own sword out of her uterus.
Fuma: It is time, Kotori…time to give Kamui what is his! Have you forgotten? The first sword? It belonged to the Dragon of Heaven, but you carry another sword, Kotori…inside you…which belongs to the Dragon of the Earth! I must take what’s mine!
(Cut back to a wide-eyed Sage. It seems he has realized something horrible.)
Sage: Guys…it just hit me. If his sister is his lover, and she has a sword for him in her uterus, does that mean Bobola’s mother—
(Cut to a panning shot of Kamui’s mother holding him under a cherry blossom tree. It confirms what Sage thought. He shrieks in terror for a good ten seconds before a first from off-camera punches him in the face to snap him back to…well…as normal as Sage could be)
Kanoe: The shields that enclosed Tokyo and guarded against destruction could resist any attack…but you didn’t reckon on the Dragon of the Earth. The Dragon of Heaven will be defeated, and Tokyo’s Power Shields destroyed…
Sage (VO): James pretty much cleans house with the rest of the Dragons of Heaven, leaving only Bobola left.
(Cut to the crumbling Japanese Diet Building. Hinoto speaks to Kamui.)
Hinoto: I will send you to the Tokyo Tower, Kamui. The final Shield. There, you will play the drama to its conclusion.
Sage (Sarcastically): Holy shit, people. Strap yourselves in, this oughta be be riveting.
Sage (VO): The final showdown between childhood friends, turned mortal enemies. The ultimate battle that will decide the fate of the world. How will this epic confrontation play out?
(Fuma, with all his rage, gives a DragonBall Z scream as he charges towards Kamui. Kamui follows suit. Fuma leaps and gives an overhead chop towards Kamui. Kamui responds by swinging his sword and makes contact with Fuma’s. Fuma’s sword breaks, and the shard decapitates him. Wait…that’s it?!)
Sage: One. Single. Slice. Goddamnit, I already used my Tenchi joke last episode!
(Cut to the end of the film, Kamui holding Fuma’s head in his arms)
Sage (VO): Yeah! That’s it! Everyone on either side is dead, Tokyo is a wasteland, and Bobola plays us out with the mother of all crygasms.
Kamui: I wanted it to work! This isn’t how I wanted it! What happened? (Sobbing) FUMAAAAA!!!
(As we pan out, we’re played out by “Forever Love” from X Japan. But this does not please Sage)
Sage: You know what? No. No, I’m not gonna let you have this, movie. You don’t get to have a sad ending just because you want to have a sad ending. You gotta earn that shit. So no. You’re not gonna end like this. THIS is how you’re gonna end.
(Cut back to the same scene, cut to Sage’s satisfaction. Take the same lines, but add farts after every line.)
Sage: Oh, I will lower myself to fart jokes if I can take this titanic piece of shit with me! Fuck this movie!
Sage (VO): X is nothing but overblown visuals with almost no story to back it up. What little coherence there is, is hopelessly distilled and nonsensical, leaving the entire plot a jumbled mess. Yeah, I’ll say it again, the visuals, taken on their own, are nice, but if the audience has no investment to the characters, or they don’t care what’s at stake, then the action is BORING! And I hate this film because of it.
(Cut back to Sage holding the X DVD case)
Sage: As I stated before, there are many kinds of stupid movies. And X is the WORST kind of stupid movie: the kind that’s so up its own ass it’s popping out a hole in its neck. Feh. (Sage tosses the DVD off-camera, as per usual.)
Sage: Although…it’s not like I CAN’T enjoy a stupid movie.
(Sage holds up next episode’s subject: it’s a VHS of Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)
Sage: …’Till next time.
Footage and Sound SourcesEdit
-Ren and Stimpy