"The future hasn't been determined yet, right?"
One of CLAMP
's longest-running manga (stalled at 18 volumes out of a planned 21 since 2003, with a few further chapters making a "Volume 19" never published in a tankoubon), X
is the story of Kamui Shirou - a boy destined to save the world... or destroy it. He is drawing the Dragons of Heaven, who are attempting to preserve the world as it is, and the Dragons of Earth, who wish to eliminate humanity's taint, to Tokyo
. Guided by Hinoto, a dreamseer (yumemi
), the Dragons of Heaven attempt to preserve the seven barrier structures situated around Tokyo. Kamui must decide if the world is even worth saving, and then choose sides... But what of the dreamseer's prophecy that there is another Kamui?
Note about the title: The true title of this series is simply X
. The manga was retitled as X/1999
for release in America by Viz to prevent confusion with an American comic book series also named X
The 1999 portion comes from the year the story takes place.
There are actually two separate animated versions of X
: the 1996 movie, which is a great deal of action and way too much information compressed into an hour and a half, and the 2001 television series, which at 24 episodes had more time to actually develop the plot and featured a very different ending. Both are missing elements from the most recent manga chapters, suggesting yet a third very different ending.
The characters of Subaru, Seishirou and Hokuto originated from another CLAMP manga, Tokyo Babylon
. Although it is sometimes referred to as such, Tokyo Babylon
is not a Prequel
, since the series predates X
and the stories are independent. It is, however, helpful to know the plot of Tokyo Babylon
before reading their subplot.
"Forever Love" by X Japan
used to go only by X before they hit it big outside Asian market) was written as a theme song for this anime, and is the ending theme for The Movie
Not to be confused with the 4X Space Simulator
, the Nintendo tank game X
, a reploid
, or with the '80s L.A. punk band X
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absolute Cleavage: Kanoe.
- Adapted Out: Keiichi didn't show up in the anime. The three main characters of Clamp School Detectives didn't appear in the anime as well (probably due to copyright reasons since Clamp School Detectives is animated by a different studio) but the chairman of Clamp School looked similar to Nokoru Inomoyama except he wears a Porn Stache.
- Kakyou didn't appear the movie considering he didn't made his appearance yet in the manga when the movie was released. His spot in the Dragons of Earth is filled by Canon Immigrant, Shogo Asagi.
- Adaptational Villainy: Kusanagi in the movie is much more ruthless and violent than his manga and anime counterpart. His relationship with Yuzuriha is also non-existent and he even kills her.
- Kanoe in the anime. Her motives for supporting the Dragons of Earth are just to spite Hinoto as opposed to free her from the burden of being a Blind Seer. Though when Hinoto kills herself, Kanoe mourns for her death.
- Affably Evil: Seishirou and Yuuto both qualify.
- One could argue that Seishirou is more Faux Affably Evil. Sure he's Unfunny at times, but you wouldn't be surprised if he whipped out a knife and started carving people up at any time.
- Alas, Poor Yorick: Multiple times.
- Kamui, Cradler of Decapitated Heads. Screamer of Anguished Screams. Especially in the movie.
- Almost Dead Guy: Saiki Daisuke, nephew of Dragon of Heaven Aoki Seiichirou, several other characters.
- Anti-Villain: Fuuma. Maybe.
- Anyone Can Die: Played straight several times, subverted once.
- Apocalypse of the Week
- Appendage Assimilation: Nataku's death in the anime
- Arc Words: Before Fuuma awakens as Kamui's twin star, "Kamui, I am your..."
- Similarly, when Fuuma's father dies, he tries to say " Fuuma, you are Kamui's..." but kicks it before finishing.
- Art Evolution: Faces especially get considerably more angular in later volumes, not surprising since it took over a decade to get the existing 18 volumes published.
- Asia Rune Chant - often used by mages.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Karen. Sorata aptly points out in the manga.
- Bishōnen Apparently, there is an unspoken rule that there must be at LEAST one on every page.
- Bitter Sweet Ending: The ending of the anime series: Kamui deploys a Thanatos Gambit in which his mortally-injured body turns into a barrier that reverses the damage by the Dragons of Earth, saving it from destruction in the process, while Fūma returns to his original self. In the last scene of the series, those characters who survived appear living happily: these include Arashi, Yuzuriha, Kusanagi, Aoki....
- Bland-Name Product: The computer Somy Vaoi that appears on the tv series.
- Break the Cutie: Kotori, Subaru, Kamui, Yuzuriha... most characters with any degree of cuteness, really.
- Bring Out Your Gay Dead: Kamui and Fuuma's mothers, who were lesbian lovers and arguably Seishirou.
- Characters Dropping Like Flies: In the film, everyone dies except for Original!Kamui.
- Cherry Blossoms: Subverted from their usual tenderness and love aspect, they are the creepy symbol of the onmyouji assassin Sakurazukamori - also known as Sakurazuka Seishirou. This is also somewhat of a departure from CLAMP's other works, which generally use the conventional cherry blossom symbolism.
- Cliff Hanger: The manga stops at Fuuma is standing over Kamui, holding the Shinken above his head. It drove readers crazy since 2003.
- Childhood Marriage Promise: Between Kamui and Kotori. Too bad the latter was decapitated before it could be carried out.
- Continuity Cameo: The CLAMP School Detectives characters and the campus of CLAMP Academy.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Several times and several characters, perhaps most Anviliciously this one◊ (spoiler warning). Kamui even retains scars on both hands.
- Date CrÍpe: Seishirou invites Fuuma to go get crepes with him (having just finished blowing up a major train line and a large skyscraper). His reasoning is that if they are going to destroy all of Tokyo, then they might as well get to sample delicious foods first. It's very romantic, in a creepy way.
- Death by Childbirth: Subverted, since Tokiko, Saya and in the movie Ill Girl Kotori die after giving birth to sentinent swords called, Shinken.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Seishirou's death while Subaru holds him. Ironic since Hokuto died in his arms
- And in The Movie, Yuzuriha and Kanoe die in Kamui's and Hinoto's arms, respectively.
- In the anime, we have Sorata dying in Arashi's arms, Hinoto dying in Kamui's, and Karen dying in Aoki's.
- Downer Ending: The Movie.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Seishirou; quite literally. Not only was the means of his death retconned in by way of Hokuto, but he was, in effect, committing suicide for having fallen in love with Subaru, something he had said he was incapable of and further mentally-deranging said love interest by making him the unwilling means of his suicide. Oh, CLAMP.
- Dueling Messiahs: Invoked by Kamui vs. Fuuma; Kamui is to decide whether the world is worth saving or not and to fight for whatever side he chooses, while Fuuma is destined to oppose him.
- Dying Declaration of Love: Seishirou's last words... we assume.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Karen is a pyrokinetic, Aoki has powers over wind, Yuuto manipulates water, Kusanagi has a power related to earth, Sorata seems to have an affinity with lightning as well as his esoteric Buddhism powers.
- Empathic Weapon: Played straight with the Shinken, but later on subverted; even though the two Shinken can be wielded properly only by Kamui and are shown to be genetically identical to human beings and are somehow understood to be "crying" in grief over humanity's gruesome destiny to be decided during the Final Battle, Kamui ultimately seals the power of the Shinken so that Fuuma, who has awakened as his Twin Star and is attempting to kill him, cannot use the first Shinken against Kamui, rendering the Shinken's power null and void for roughly half the series.
- Emotionless Girl: Arashi is essentially this crossed with a Deadpan Snarker, her usual response to Sorata being "...". She does gain more emotion as the series goes on and when this happens, it's her downfall, as she either dies (movie) or pulls a Face-Heel Turn (TV series, probably manga) Note that her Face-Heel Turn is halfhearted at best, and in the anime it results in the destiny that she was trying to prevent by changing sides. You Can't Fight Fate, you know?
- The hiatus-ridden 19th Chapter has Evil Hinoto claiming that she's going to make Arashi Brainwashed and Crazy to join the Dragons of Earth. Which makes... as much sense as her willing changing sides, I guess?
- Nataku and Satsuki count as well.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Kinda the whole point.
- Emphasis on the "As We Know It" part. Basically, the Dragons of Heaven are fighting to protect mankind, and the Dragons of Earth want to wipe out mankind to save the Earth from the evils of man. The great thing about this story is that no one is in it For the Evulz... Except Yuuto. Maybe, because it is Yuuto.
- Evil Albino: Subverted; Kamui is at first downright hostile toward the white-haired Princess Hinoto, but she turns out to be a pretty gentle person. Until, of course, it's revealed that Hinoto has a latent Evil Twin persona residing within the depths of her soul who gathered the Dragons of Heaven together solely so that she could dispatch them each to their own ironic deaths. Oh, CLAMP.
- Also eventually subverted with Nataku, who was less "evil" and more "didn't know better, stopping killing, and then performed a Heroic Sacrifice for Karen."
- Eye Scream: Subaru. Because it's not a CLAMP manga until someone loses an eye.
- Face-Heel Turn: Arashi becomes a Dragon of earth, though it is subverted in that she did it to protect Sorata from his pre-ordained death, and in the anime eventually rejoins the Dragons of Heaven.
- Also, Subaru replaces Seishirou as a Dragon of Earth in the manga. OTOH, it's unclear as to whether he really accepts the offer to change sides. He takes the offer to become the Sakurazukamori, but as to whether that means he's going to act as a Dragon of Earth isn't shown. Though he is shown in the half volume 19 to be with Fuuma during the Final Battle, apparently to help Kamui realize his "true wish".
- Femme Fatalons, Kanoe has long, most likely faux nails.
- First Kiss
- Flash Forward, in particular Kamui's recurring dream of the Final Battle.
- Functional Magic: Two onmyouji, and a bit of esoteric Buddhism.
- Friend to All Living Things: Kotori, Yuzuriha and Kusanagi, notably subverted in that the latter is a middle aged man in the Self-Defense Force.
- And that Kusanagi is a Dragon of Earth, which makes him more of a "Friend to All Living Things Other Than People." The trope does not apply at all in the movie, in which Kusanagi - one of the characters most altered by the adaptation - comes across as more of a violent thug and helps kill Yuzuriha without ever establishing a relationship with her.
- Gaia's Avengers: The Dragons of Earth
- Genki Girl: Nekoi Yuzuriha, though not nearly so over-the-top as most instances of the trope.
- Geodesic Cast: Seven Dragons of Heaven on the good guys' side, and seven Dragons of Earth on the bad guys' side. Plus two dreamseers who are sisters on each side.
- Gorn: Most deaths in the Manga are extremely gory, often with the intestines coming out. In example, Kotori's death by stabbing and dismembering was so bad that the TV series drew the line at the "dismembering" part.
- Several deaths from the movie aren't exactly pleasing to watch either. DAMMIT, YUUTO!
- Green Aesop: In the anime, Fuuma repeatedly delivers a Hannibal Lecture to this effect.
- Hack the Traffic Lights: Satsuki Yatoji's introduction: hacking a street light from her cellphone.
- Hacker Cave: The headquarters for the Dragons of Earth, built around the supercomputer Beast.
- Heel-Face Turn: In the TV series, Dragon of Earth Kusanagi threatens to kill Fuuma for trying to finish off Yuzuriha. Later he defects from the Dragons of Earth to protect an injured Yuzuriha. Arashi's U-turn applies here as well.
- In the manga, Nataku also makes a Heroic Sacrifice to protect Karen. It's sort-of explained in that she looked like the mother of her past self Kazuki and she tried to reach for him before his death.
- Heroic Albino: Princess Hinoto. Subverted, as she's genuinely heroic... but her Superpowered Evil Side is more or less planning to allow mankind to be wiped out so that she can continue to be the Dreamseer. Hinoto herself is pretty horrified at that idea.
- Heroic BSOD: Several characters, most notably Kamui after Kotori is brutally killed.
- Also, Subaru. For the second time in his history, though the first was before X began in a series called Tokyo Babylon.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sorata and Karen in the anime, Kotori and Nataku in the manga, fully half the Dragons of Heaven in Taking You with Me moments in the movie.
- Also, TV series!Hinoto, who stabs herself to death to kill her Superpowered Evil Side and save Sorata and Kamui.
- High-Pressure Blood: Mostly in the movie.
- Hime Cut: Arashi.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Karen, a Soapland call girl, who, interestingly enough, is Catholic.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kusanagi and Yuzuriha in the anime. Justified, as he's a grown man (albeit a particularly huge one) and she's only 14.
- I Have the High Ground: virtually every single character at one point or another.
- Instant A.I., Just Add Water
- Invisible to Normals: The battles are contained in alternate reality pockets called kekkai, or barrier fields. However, the damage to the real world becomes quite real if the person who created the barrier is killed. See: Phantom Zone.
- Japanese Christian: Karen Kasumi
- Joshikousei: Arashi's early appearances.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Subaru has to use this to bring Kamui back from an epic Heroic BSOD.
- Kick the Dog: Played straight a few times, then totally subverted when Fuuma doesn't kill a little girl and her little frog toy because she wants to live.
- Kill 'em All: Definitely in the movie, where everybody but Kamui is dead by the end. And it seems the manga might be heading towards that, too.
- The manga, not so much, considering several beaten Dragons are still alive and kicking. But yes, in every version there are several casualties. The anime is particularly light on the casualties , so the manga seems to be walking the line between the two.
- Kill the Cutie: Kotori. At least she was in an Angst Coma when her brother murdered her.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Though it's treated as a major surprise when it happens, the fact that Fuuma pulls a Face-Heel Turn and becomes the main antagonist is pretty evident after one look at the official art of the opening of the TV series. It's also foreshadowed pretty heavily in the manga, but the twist is in how it happens: Kamui is forced to pick which side he wants to fight on, without knowing that his decision will compel Fuuma to fight for the opposite side, no matter what. And his decision is based on his desire to protect Fuuma and Kotori. OW. It's little wonder it puts him in a Heroic BSOD that requires a Journey to the Center of the Mind to snap him out of it.
- Literal Genie: Fuuma, who is just about the embodiment of Be Careful What You Wish For.
- Love Makes You Evil: Subaru becoming the Sakurazukamori after Seishirou's death in the manga, although it's not loving him that do it so much as getting tricked into killing him. Also, if we count sibling love, in the manga and the movie Kanoe's motivations to lead the Dragons of the Earth is her love for her sister Hinoto, whom she wants to free from her Blind Seer position which is tightly tied to her leadership of the Dragon of Heaven.
- Mailer Daemon: Beast, Satsuki's computer, which is obsessed with its builder and owner. And territorial to boot.
- That Man Is Dead: "Kishu Arashi of the Dragons of Heaven is no more. I am with the Dragons of Earth!"
- Matricide: Seishirou Sakurazuka killed his mother Setsuka not because of hate, but simply because that was the main requirement to become the Sakurazukamori. In fact, Setsuka knew it'd be like that ever since she had him, and she even got to Go Out with a Smile in her son's arms while telling him that he would die in the same way.
- The Minnesota Fats: Sakurazukamori, and the "other" Kamui Fuuma.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Kanoe.
- Canon Welding: The series has been tied with CLAMP School Detectives, Tokyo Babylon and the Alternate Universes of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle/Xxx HO Li C.
- Moral Dissonance: Kamui promises to save Fuuma, even if it means doing him physical harm, to which Fuuma implies in response that Kamui will have to be willing to do much more than harm him. He finds a sort-of solution in the TV series. Emphasis on sorta.
- Mr. Exposition: Sorata, especially in the anime. Hinoto chips in.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: The Dragons can innately sense when a kekkai is raised or broken (and often who raised it), which usually indicates that a battle is imminent.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: The Dragons of Earth, with elements of Social Darwinist and Gaea philosophy.
- Noblewoman's Laugh: Kanoe, and a damn scary one it is, too.
- No Ending: The last manga chapter was released in 2003. CLAMP last seriously talked about the series in 2005, saying they were still looking for a publisher to handle the series. The increasingly violent content in the series created problems as some of the events ended up very reminiscent of real-world disasters at the time. Now that we're a decade in, it's seeming increasingly likely that CLAMP has simply moved on and will leave the series unresolved.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted, and in a series where the destruction done by the battles can be retconned out of existence by way of barrier fields, no less. Lets you know how rough the fights usually are on the heroes.
- Odd Friendship: Yuzuriha (a schoolgirl) and Shiyuu Kusanagi (a middle-aged man in the Self-Defense Force).
- Friendship. Riiiight. Yuzuriha definitely has a crush on him. For the most part he acts like a responsible adult though.
- Oedipus Complex: Seishirou, who had an... interesting relationship with his mother, Setsuka before he killed her and took over her position.
- Off Model: The anime. Apparently QUALITY faces are a side effect of the Shoujo Armageddon.
- And this is despite being a work by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who is known for mostly averting this.
- Older Than They Look: Seishirou's mother looked barely the same age as him when he was a teenager, which he lampshades in the dramas. Also, Hinoto (she definitely doesn't look older than Kanoe).
- One Steve Limit: There's a Seiichirou (Aoki) in the Heaven Dragons and a Seishirou (Sakurazuka) in the Earth Dragons. To avoid confusion, the former is commonly referred by his surname.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Kamui and Fuuma, Subaru and Seishirou.
- Only One Name: Hinoto and Kanoe.
- Ordinary High-School Student: Fuuma and Kotori at first, subverted with Kamui, who in the anime series used his powers to fight other kids. In the manga, the younger Seals try to keep up this cover story by transfering to CLAMP Academy. Subaru does a REALLY poor job of passing for an Ordinary College Student.
- Keiichi is a more straight example.
- Parental Abandonment: Several cases, ranging from simply sad to downright terrible: Poor Saya and Kyougo.
- Perpetual Molt: Both Kamui and Fuuma, apparently, to produce the huge number of loose feathers drifting through Important Scenes.
- The Polly Anna: Keiichi.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Fuuma◊ in the anime series, in contrast to his gold-eyed manga counterpart.
- Refusal of the Call: Kamui, at first, with elements of The Call Knows Where You Live, though it turns out his mother, Tohru, essentially killed herself to force him to go.
- Roofhopping: This is apparently the only way to get around, and yet no one ever seems to end up getting a Panty Shot of Arashi. Also, no bystanders seem to take notice.
- Rooftop Confrontation: In the film, the final battle takes place on the roof of a tall building.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Fuuma in the manga, though it's more to indicate that he's awakened as the "other" Kamui than to hide his feelings.
- Scry vs. Scry
- Single-Stroke Battle: Definitely in the X movie, much less in the TV series which has time and SFX monies for big fight scenes. The TV series was closer to the manga in terms of fight length.
- Shadow Archetype: One interpretation of Fuuma's strange anti-Christ character is that he's a reflection of Kamui's darkest thoughts and desires.
- Shoot Your Mate: More like "run your mate through". With your hand. Seishirou can give you tips on proper technique. And also Fuuma, who seems intent on running his pal Kamui through with that 5-foot long sword of his. Best friends: always there to kill you off with a giant pointy thing in the CLAMP universe.
- Shout-Out: Characters appear from CLAMP School Detectives, an earlier series by the same authors. In addition, Aoki is based on one of CLAMP's editors.
- Subaru, his twin sister Hokuto, and Seishirou are from a series called Tokyo Babylon.
- Slap Yourself Awake: Karen drugs Aoki in order to take his place in an upcoming duel she believes he won't survive. Aoki stabs himself in the leg with a kitchen knife to keep himself awake long enough to stop her. She still dies.
- The Spock: Satsuki.
- Spoiler Opening: Showing Fuuma engaged in combat with Kamui and looking evil.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: Kamui's mom Tohru spontaneously combusted in the Back Story. The reason for this, however, was made pretty clear: She made herself a shadow sacrifice of the entire planet Earth and, by burning to death, delayed its destruction by Global Warming. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Sprouting Ears: Mostly on Yuzuriha, possibly a reference to her connection to dogs.
- Or cats, given her last name (NEKOi) and occasional sprouting cat tail.
- Summon to Hand: Inverted- Arashi's sword is summoned out of her open palm when needed.
- Storyboarding the Apocalypse: There's a reason the series is referred to as either "The Emocalypse" or "Shoujo Armageddon".
- Sword Fight: With capes and living swords for the fate of the world, no less.
- Take My Hand: Kamui has two scenes in which this trope is used, they are parallel: in both he saves Kotori from plummeting to her death, once when they were both children in a flashback sequence and later during the story proper.
- In the movie, he gets an extra one to save Yuzuriha to plummet to her death during their fight against Yuuto and Kasanagi.
- Taking You with Me: Karen to Yuuto in the TV series. It seems to fail when she dies, but he ultimately perishes as well. In the movie, Subaru to Seishirou, Karen to Shougo and Aoki to Nataku. Not yet invoked in the manga. Notice the yet.
- Tarot Motifs: There was an actual X tarot deck produced as a promotional item, and all the major characters are associated with one of the major arcana cards.
- The Tokyo Fireball: Each time a barrier is destroyed, it gets progressively worse.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe, rather literally, as the many kekkais in the city must first be removed before the Apocalypse can proceed elsewhere.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Poor Kotori.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: When it started publication, at least. Now it qualifies as Alternate Continuity and the creators admit they guessed wrong on some technological details, like failing to anticipate the rise of cellphones.
- The Unreveal: Since the manga's hiatus, Fuuma points out that Kamui's "true wish" is not restoring him to his original self. Hence, he cannot still create a kekkai in which its shape is unknown (though the movie and anime shows his kekkai is a spherical one).
- Urban Fantasy
- Villains Out Shopping: Seishirou, Yuuto, Satsuki, and Fuuma; when they're not busy rendering smouldering ruination of monumental Tokyo skyscrapers, they take time for tea parties and trips to gourmet ice cream joints. Of course, Seishirou's been pretty much doing that for years.
- Virgin Power: Arashi's, apparently. An alternate interpretation is that the character just thinks this is the case and it's psychosomatic. Her mom went through the same trial, after all.
- She still has her sword afterward. Just saying.
- Waif Prophet: White-haired, child-like looking Hinoto-hime has been blind, deaf, mute and weak-limbed since birth. Also, Kakyou, who's been slowly dying in the grips of a coma for years.
- Wham Episode: Kamui chooses to be a Dragon of Heaven, Fuuma in turn fills the role of Kamui in the Dragons of Earth and kills Kotori by crucifying, stabbing and then dismembering her and licking Kamui's neck while pinning him to a wall with shards of glass, leaving Kamui in an absolutely epic Heroic BSOD, which in the manga has him cradling Kotori's severed head a la Devilman. All this is less than 23 minutes in the anime... And the first 10-15 minutes of that episode is mostly exposition.
- Worth Living For: Kamui needs saving.
- Will They or Won't They?: Though in one case, they actually do ( Arashi and Sorata) and it's a big deal for both plot and characterization.
- Yaoi Guys: C'mon, it's a CLAMP series... Seishirou and Subaru are the clearly preexisting relationship in this case.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Though, there are elements of Because Destiny Says So as well. CLAMP's newer series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and Xxx HO Li C suggest that their view of fate is complex but that it can be altered to some extent.
- It's interesting to note that in said series, in Acid Tokyo, Fuuma and Kamui are leading the opposite groups to what they do in X, which are, incidently the sides fate had destined them to fight on in X before Kamui decided to choose otherwise.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the movie Kusanagi and Yuuto (OUCH!), in the TV series Nataku, in the manga Hinoto (or better said, her Superpowered Evil Side invokes this against her own sister Kanoe.
- In the anime, Nataku didn't outlive his usefulness. It's just that he became more useful by not living.