We continue with X/1999 and with what might be the manga’s most violent volume yet, and most plot significant.
Title: X/1999 Volume 7 – Rhapsody
Written & Illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by Lillian Olsen
Retouch & Lettering by Wayne Truman
Originally Serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Asuka
Kamui’s mother’s twin has just died horrifically in front of him and Fuma, “giving birth” to the opposite number to the sword which was stolen earlier in the series from Fuma’s father. This leads to horrific revelations about the death of Fuma’s mother, and Kotori’s discovery of her own power.
The High Points
This sort of dreamscape realization of Kotori as she discovers her power, while she also tries to cope with the horrific events that just unfolded in front of her (and while getting past her own mental blocks to the trauma she encountered last volume), is quite impressively done.
Also, I like the idea of Kamui having an opposite number, destined to turn evil if he turns good, and vice versa. Considering the series’ general theme of “you have to fight fate” this could lead to some great story developments in future volumes.
Our secret origin story we get for Satsuki Yatoji is also interesting, though it doesn’t give her much of a motivation aside from “I’m a sociopath which can psychically link with computers” which we already knew.
The Low Points
So, why would “breaking a seal” under Nakano district lead to the terrible destruction? What kind of seal?
Aside from that, my other minor complaint is that the other Dragons of Heaven do very little in this volume.
This is the most bloody and gory volume in the series thus far, as well as containing some nudity, complete with the opening splash page of the volume (no pun intended) being a naked woman exploding.
Originality: This volume isn’t exactly original for the series, as it spends a fair amount of time providing exposition in dreamscapes. However, I’m having difficulty thinking of other manga that will spend a volume doing visually stunning exposition in a dreamscape. 5 of 6
Artwork: Say what you will about CLAMP’s plotting at this point in their career, but they can do visually stunning dreamscapes like nobody’s business. I would seriously like to see Mid-90s CLAMP do art for a Neil Gaiman story. 6 out of 6.
Story: I like the volume’s character development, and we do get some interesting questions here (as opposed to annoying questions, like explaining the earthquake) which should lead to interesting developments later. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: We get some backstory for one of the Dragons of Earth (which is a nice change), though unfortunately no explanation for her motivation (“She’s a sociopath!”). However, the development for Fuma is more interesting Maybe he’s not psychically being messed with.. 3 out of 6.
Emotional Response: The death of Kamui’s aunt isn’t particularly too significant, as we didn’t see very much of her, and her character appeared to fit into either the kind of niche filled by either “the treacherous family member” or “the parent figure who will die tragically to progress the plot.” 4 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: We get some more useful backstory development here, but not much more action. 4 out of 6.
In Total, X/1999 Vol. 7 gets 32 out of 42.