DVD Review: Marvel Anime: X-Men


Marvel Anime


The X-Men travel to Japan to find a missing mutant girl, and in the process find a much larger plot that threatens to destroy the world.




It’s amazing how comfortably this Japanese-made series fits in with the American X-Men animated series of the ’90s.  The characterizations are spot on, the plot structure, and the overall tone are highly reminiscent of the classic.  Were it not for the cleaner, more angular art design and slightly more complex plot, one could easily consider this a second series.

This similarity, of course, is for both good and bad.  The action is good, the world is interesting, and the characters form a dynamic team; but the characters are one-dimensional.

The newest member of the team, Hisako, has the most detailed story arc, owing mostly to the discovery of her mutant powers and subsequent training.  But aside from the occasional freak-outs when things get hard, there’s no real depth of character.  She’s the stereotypical meek but caring anime schoolgirl.

The series is set a year after Jean’s death in the Dark Phoenix Saga (I’ll assume you know what I’m talking about).  The X-Men have disbanded, and only come together again at the behest of Professor X, to find a missing girl (Hisako).  Cyclops, Jean’s lover, is most reticent to rejoin, but eventually comes aboard when convinced that it’s what Jean would have wanted.

Cyclops shows some emotion over the course of the series, but it’s the most obvious kind.  The woman he loved died, and he’s sad with a pinch of survivor’s guilt.  I suppose in the context of an action series (let alone one made for children) it’s enough to keep things going; but anime and modern superhero movies have done better in this regard.

The story has more depth than the characters living it.  The mystery the X-Men encounters has several levels; each leading to a new, greater enemy.  There’s an emotional underpinning to the story, but it’s rough and lacks nuance.

Like the Iron Man anime, the animation, outside of a few fight scenes, is limited.  X-Men‘s character designs are less pleasant than that other series’, Wolverine is overly muscular to a degree that is only slightly less believable than the size of Emma and Storm’s breasts.  The music fares a bit better in this one, but is all instrumental (which is a very non-anime thing to have).

I’m nitpicking, of course.  This X-Men series is at least as good as the enjoyable American counterpart; and in some regards (such as the serial storyline) is better.  X-Men is a classic, comic book style show with archetypal heroes engaging in rousing adventures.  The characters are thin, but the story is satisfying, and the disparate parts are brought together nicely in the end.

The two disc DVD set contains all twelve episodes in anamorphic wide screen with both English and Japanese audio and English subtitles.  Extras include some making-of featurettes.


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