Reviews: X 1999

Violent Seinen seen by Women

X/1999 is a big Take That to the beliefs that Shojo Tastes Like Diabetes and that women can't write anything worthy of consideration.

CLAMP is the Moustache De Plume of a group of female writers. Yes, all women. And they rock.

X/1999 is basically a complete subversion of the Shojo tropes. Even though we still see the usual romance and Ship Tease that are the defining trait of the genre, the high degree of violence, the focus on morality rather than feelings and the intricate symbolism are completely alien to a classical female-oriented and female-written media. Actually this mix of genres has appealed to a larger demographics than expected.

The story itself uses a lot of Seinen elements and all characters are developed sufficiently, given their own motivations and moral conflicts, all struggling with a supposedly inevitable fate and driving the plot relentlessly towards its climatic conclusion. The pace is steady and , despite being stalled in the manga, and walks the line of the Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism, using a lot of references of various religions, tarot, Japanese culture and even Freemasonry.

The series is declined through 3 media: the manga that remains unfinished but that is still enjoyable albeit frustrating since it leaves many questions unanswered; the film that is based on the manga and follows it loosely and gives a massive Downer Ending; and the TV animé series, that is more faithful to the manga and offers a more uplifting yet Bittersweet Ending.

All declinations are worthy by themselves but This Troper has a preference for the Animé that offers more interesting and in-depth perspectives than the film and that, unlike the manga, doesn't frustrate viewers with unfinished business. On the other hand, the film had to condensate which is a little difficult given the plot's intricacy.

Bottomline, it's a very creative and original series that refreshes Seinen standards with the sensitivity of women, yet is still very violent, cynical and dark, hence by no means intended to young children or squeamish viewers.