Finally the battle lines are drawn in CLAMP’s apocalyptic series.
Title: X/1999 Volume 4 – Intermezzo
Written & Illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by Fred Burke
Retouch & Lettering by Wayne Truman
Originally Serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Asuka
We finally get the battle lines laid out – the Dragons of Heaven (aka the Seven Seals) who want to preserve the Earth, lead by Hinoto, and the Dragons of Earth (aka the Seven Harbingers), who want to destroy everything and start anew. We also learn that the tipping point in this conflict is Kamui, who is able to join either side, and apparently whatever side he joins is likely to win.
While this volume also has a lot of exposition to it, the volume has more eye candy than dialog – but the eye candy we get is very impressive, and keeps the book moving. I also liked the little name-drop reference to Tokyo Babylon, though Subaru hasn’t shown up yet.
Kamui is still an obnoxious jerk, and putting the fate of the world on his vicious, violent shoulders doesn’t make me like him more.
Still lots of blood and gore, and still some near-nudity.
Originality: This volume continues to put their little spin on some of the biblical stuff from prior volumes of the series. 4 out of 6.
Artwork: Best artwork in the series thus far. In particular, the art in this volume feels like they were doing a pitch for the film. 6 out of 6.
Story: This volume does a good job of finally laying out what the factions are, who the bad guys are, and who the good guys are. The only thing we don’t get in this volume is a handy chart labeling the factions, but that ruins some of the fun. 5 out of 6.
Characterization: I still can’t stand Kamui, but now I can say that many of the other character’s motivations have become clear. 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: Not as strong here as in earlier volumes. If anything, the reaction I got from this volume is “Good, now we’ve gotten that out of the way.” Then again, I knew this revelation was coming eventually, if only from watching trailers for the X TV series on various Geneon anime DVDs. It doesn’t help that Kamui hasn’t done anything to make me actually like him yet. 3 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: This is a very pretty volume of the series to read, and the plot developments we get here (even though I knew they were coming) were handled very well. 4 out of 6.
In Total, X/1999 Vol. 4 gets 32 out of 40.