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Blowing Up

The emphasis is on cosmic explosions in Japanese anime 'X'

By Richard von Busack

ANIME LIKE X makes it hard to get excited about the end of the world. Too late for the millennium, this is a story of cosmic warriors fighting a battle for the fate of the planet. X is based on the Japanese comic published in Asuka by the collective Clamp (Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona Apapa, Nanase Okawa and Mick Nekoi), which is noteworthy for being an all-female group. The material, however, is so unrelentingly standard that it's impossible to divine a woman's touch, except for the welcome absence of the sexual violence frequently found in anime.

Still, the gore quotient is as high as ever. The one-named director Rintaro presumes advance knowledge of the characters, and even seeing X from the beginning is like walking into a movie halfway through. The characters are introduced hurriedly--sample: "Usini Nagoi is the granddaughter of the grandmaster of the Nitsumini Shrine. She is always accompanied by Muki, a phantom dog. She is the youngest member of the Dragon of the Heavens." The Dragon of the Heavens is a troupe of cosmic fighters arrayed against the evil Dragon of the Earth, which wants to purge man. Fair enough, but why does the Earth-favoring force dress like Hong Kong triad members and dominatrixes? Because it would be impossible to tell good from evil otherwise.

The bloody battling gives X some momentum, but Rintaro and his animators are really interested in blowing things up, which they do competently enough. The destruction of the Tokyo television tower is a highlight. As for the characters, I've got action figures with more emotion and range of expression. The film is titled X, but ZZZ might be more like it.

X (R; 98 min.), directed by Rintaro and written by the Clamp group, opens Friday at the Towne Theater in San Jose.

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From the April 20-26, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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