Wednesday, May 29, 2013

X/1999: Hope that the World is Still Worth Saving, and That (Queer) Love Will Save It

X/1999 by CLAMP

Heart-racing fantasy action and soul-crushing drama fill the pages of CLAMP’s classic masterpiece, X/1999.

After the violent death of his mother, sixteen-year-old Kamui Shiro returns to Tokyo, the home of his childhood friends, Fuma and Kotori Monou. There he encounters the seven dragons of heaven and the seven dragons of earth, supernatural warriors who all have their own deeply personal reasons for either loving or hating the human race. In time, Kamui learns that the future of the planet lies in his hands. Will he choose to become a Dragon of Earth and destroy the world, or will he choose to become a Dragon of Heaven and save it? As the war for the future rages on the streets of Tokyo, friendships are forged, impossible dreams are cherished, and love struggles against all odds for survival and triumph.

LGBTQ content is limited at the beginning of the series, but it bursts forth with gusto around volume ten. Trust me, the wait is worth it. It is difficult to explain who loves who and in what way without spoiling shocking plot twists. Suffice it to say that angsty and passionate romantic tension builds between two characters of the same gender.   In addition, readers of Tokyo Babylon will be thrilled to discover that Subaru and Seichiro burst onto the scene half way through the series. How could one not be enthralled by the tragedy of the gentle exorcist and the heartless assassin?

Anyone struggling in the depths of despair must read this manga. Running through the story is the theme of hope, that despite the grinding forces of destiny which seem impossible to control, the future has yet to be decided. Kamui and Subaru and all the other unforgettable characters face daunting adversity and crushing discouragement, but they continue to find dignity in the choices they make and never stop fighting for a better tomorrow.

X/1999 is currently being republished in six multi-volume editions under its original Japanese title, X. 

This manga contains graphic violence and occasional nudity, so I would have felt ready to read this manga when I was sixteen-years-old.

This is the third title I’ve reviewed by CLAMP. Can you tell how much I love them?

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of "X/1999" in comments!


Anonymous said...

Was this series ever completed? I've seen the more recent TV adaptation of the manga, and the ending was awful. My understanding was that the manga was still going (or has ground to a halt and remains unfinished), so from what I saw of the TV series, the writers were flailing around and grasping at straws.

That said, the Seichiru x Subaru scenes were so fraught with romantic angst.

Aaron Walsh said...

Hi Hayden!

This is Aaron, and you have an excellent question! Here's what happened.... The manga was building to a huge climax which involved lots of earthquakes and destruction. Then, in real life, a giant earthquake shook Kobe, Japan. Many people lost their lives. CLAMP and their publishers felt it would be insensitive to keep going with the story in light of the tragedy. They temporarily discontinued the series after 18 volumes and have yet to pick it back up. That was several years ago.

This chain of events makes me very sad and I hope they complete the manga someday. However, it is interesting to note that at the heart of the manga is the question of whether or not the future has yet to be decided. The fact that the story remains unfinished, that the future for the characters continues to be alive with possibilities, is thematically compelling and mind-blowingly deep.

And you are so right! The romantic angst between Seichiru and Subaru is out of control! My pulse goes up so high whenever they have a scene that I fear I might have a heart attack!

Have a nice day : )