Drawn and Quartered 

X: Bad, Though Popular

THE WORLD OF JAPANESE ANIME is like an oversized carousel operated by the Marquis de Sade. The lights are too bright, it spins too fast, everyone around is screaming out of control, and in the end, all you want to do is throw up.

The problem lies in the lack of appreciation for simple stillness. Sure, it's an animated movie, but does everything have to move every single second? Are they afraid that a calm moment amid all the bright lights and buzz is going to make their movies seem low budget? What's worse, barring gems like Wallace and Grommet and The Simpsons, few animated works are written, in the full sense of the word. They don't have stories or characters, just excuses for trippy, undeveloped mutations. These movies are visually and aurally irritating, never as well drawn as people seem to think, and they rarely make sense.

X, based on a popular manga by comic studio Clamp, was filmed with partially computer-generated images and directed by Rintaro (most famous for Astro Boy). By anime standards, this is probably pretty good stuff. It has lots of beheadings and spearings and takes place in the genre's favorite pre-apocalyptic setting. In this case, Kamui is sent back to earth (Where did he come from? Who knows?) to save Tokyo from the Dragons of the Earth because he is The One Who Must Engage In "The Final Battle to Decide the Fate of the Earth," blah blah blah. WHO CARES? The plot doesn't make any sense, even when the movie stops every five minutes so yet another new character can explain everything all over again to Kamui, Fuma, or the audience.

X is oddly inactive for anime. There is a lot of incomprehensible chatter; some of the portrait-still head shots are like the old series Clutch Cargo. The only difference is the lips don't even move. The action consists of too-familiar explosions and thunderbolt tossings by stern-looking youths whose hair blows gently in the wind over their Keene-sized eyes. Even these rare bits of drama dully take place on either the roofs of high rises or in a subway.

In X, the Dragons of the Earth are parodies of eco-terrorists who want a "thorough cleansing" of the earth after the "obscenity, corruption, and pollution" man has created. After only 100 minutes of anime, I know exactly where they should start.

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