This week I’ve got a review of the next volume of X/1999, where the plot is now kicking into high gear.
Title: X/1999 Vol. 8 – Crescendo
Written and illustrated by CLAMP
Translated by Lillian Olsen
Lettering by Wayne Truman
Originally Serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Asuka
Available from Amazon.com and RightStuf.com.
3 men from CLAMP School (yes, that’s its name) have come to collect the sword and bring it back to the school for safekeeping until the day to come – when Kamui decides whether to join the Dragons of Heaven and protect the Earth and humanity, or to join the Dragons of Earth and destroy humanity and remake the Earth as they see fit. Kamui chooses to join the Dragons of Heaven and protect Fuma and Kotori. However, this decision forces Fuma to join the Dragons of Earth, changing him immediately into a psychopath, who then crucifies Kotori and then stabs her with the sword..
Meanwhile, Seichiro and Subaru re-unite, now on opposite sides of this war – Subaru with the Dragons of Heaven, Seichiro on the Dragons of Earth, and Subaru makes his first attempt at revenge for the death of his sister (in Tokyo Babylon).
The High Points
Kotori’s trauma is played fairly well, and Kamui’s concern for her, and for Fuma works very nicely. Kamui has displayed a lot of character growth from the start of the series, and it gives the impression that Kamui’s decision is very well thought out.
The Low Points
After the glacial pace of the past few volumes, this one feels extremely rushed. I almost wonder if the release of X: The Movie forced CLAMP’s hand here. Since the movie entered production while the manga was underway and reveals Fuma joining Dragons of Earth and Kotori’s crucifixion and death by her brother’s hand, I feel like CLAMP realized “Oh, crap, the movie will completely ruin the impact when we get to this point in the manga, so we have to get there first,” but in the process they lost much of the impact that scene would have had if they’d taken their time to get there.
While this volume is relatively gore free, we still have a great deal of blood here, particularly since the beginning of the volume has Fuma, Kotori and Kamui at the scene of Kamui’s aunt’s death, with Kotori still cradling Kamui’s aunt’s severed head in her arms.
Originality: This volume includes the continuation of the crossover between Tokyo Babylon, as well as a tie-in to CLAMP’s earlier work “Clamp School Detectives”. 4 out of 6.
Artwork: The art is fantastic as always, and in particular, the first fight between Subaru and Seichiro is splendidly done. 5 out of 6.
Story: Unfortunately, this volume feels incredibly rushed compared to earlier volumes, particularly considering how fast we get from Fuma turns evil to Fuma crucifies and and murders his beloved sister in after Kamui makes his choice. 3 out of 6.
Characterization: While Kamui’s choice makes perfect sense with everything we’ve seen before, the response from Fuma is so sudden that I practically got whiplash. Fuma goes from good guy to evil incarnate faster than Anakin did in the prequels. 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: The fact that I saw the movie before I read this volume aside, the sudden boost in pace for this series really hurts the emotional response for this volume. If paced properly this volume could have delivered two solid emotional body-blows. However, because of the rushed pace, they were delivered less solidly then they could have. 3 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: This volume was almost perfect. If we’d gotten some more chapters between Fuma’s turn to the dark side and his murder of his sister, this would have been perfect. However, the pacing problems really hurt this volume instead. 3 out of 6.
In Total, X/1999 Vol. 8 gets 28 out of 42.