After a long hiatus, I’m returning to X/1999 with volume 9.
Title: X/1999 Vol. 9 – Requiem
Written and Illustrated by CLAMP
Translation by Lillian Olsen
Lettering and Touch-up by Stephen Dutro
Originally Serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Asuka
Kotori is dead. Fuma has become the “other Kamui,” on the side of the Dragons of Earth, turned by Kamui’s decision to become a Dragon of Heaven to protect both Fuma and Kotori. Now Fuma seeks to become the only Kamui, by killing the real one.
Kamui becomes comatose, requiring Subaru Sumeragi to dive into his subconscious and pull him back out. In so doing, they bond over their common tragedies – Kotori’s murder by her brother, Hikaru’s murder by Seichirou (in the conclusion of Tokyo Babylon). Meanwhile, Fuma approaches the comatose dreamseer Kakyo, one of the Dragons of Earth, to learn more of what is to come.
Finally, the Dragons of Heaven truly assemble for the first time, on the grounds of Clamp Academy, to lay Kotori to rest.
Kotori’s final scene in the dream realms. While her death itself is gruesome and sudden, this sequence does a good job of providing some closure for the character.
Similarly, the meeting of the Dragons of Heaven on the Clamp Academy grounds is also very well done. The characters had all met previously before, but this is the first time they are truly together as a cohesive group. They really had a sense of unity here that they didn’t have before.
The inclusion of Clamp Academy (from the Clamp School Detectives manga and anime) doesn’t quite fit here. The characters from the manga drop in, more or less unexplained, and leave just as quickly. I wouldn’t have known that they were important if I hadn’t looked them up online.
Also, having Seiichiro Aoki working at Kadokawa Books (considering who publishes the magazine the series was serialized in), felt a bit artificial, and took me out of the book a little bit. While I realize that Kadokawa is one of Japan’s biggest publishers (if not the biggest publisher in Japan), it still felt odd.
This volume contains a great deal of blood and gore, as we get the aftermath of Kotori’s grisly death at the hands of her brother. Additionally, much as the last volume had Kotori cradling Kamui’s head in her arms in a state of near-catatonia for much of its length, a portion of this volume has Kamui in a near-catatonic state cradling Kotori’s head in his arms. Considering that the film ended in a similar fashion except with Kamui holding Fuma’s head, I’m sensing a theme.
Originality: This volume isn’t totally original, in that it plays a lot off of backstory from Tokyo Babylon, with Subaru diving into Kamui’s subconscious to heal the wounds in his psyche, much as he did in Tokyo Babylon with one of his friends from school, though more subtle elements of the method are different here (with Subaru using his common trauma to draw Kamui out). 3 out of 6.
Artwork: The artwork is, as always, excellent. As this volume is mostly spent in dreamscapes and in Kamui’s subconscious, CLAMP is able to indulge themselves with spectacular environments. 6 out of 6.
Story: This volume makes for a very good act break in the storyline. The forces of good are now finally assembled and are ready got get to work. However we still have the second and third acts to contend with. 5 out of 6.
Characterization: The development of Kamui’s trauma is well done, but I really feel like this volume could have spent more time on developing Fuma’s new personality is. In the film, Fuma became a murderous psychotic who killed Dragons of Heaven and Earth indiscriminately. Here, his personality is different, but it’s not clear how different quite yet. 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: The Kotori’s farewell scene in the dreamscape, Kamui’s healing process, and the final scene with the Dragons of Heaven together are very well done. That last scene in particular is a group-shot that feels earned. However, I don’t quite know how to respond to Fuma yet. I feel like that the reader should hate him for what he did to Kotori, but aside from that, this new personality hasn’t done anything to earn my enmity yet. 4 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: Again, this is a really good act break. If my hiatus from reviewing this series hadn’t been due to outside situations (the Tsunami), I would have put it here. 4 out of 6.
In Total, X/1999 Vol. 9 gets 32 out of 42.