A few months ago when I first saw the trailer for what was to be an upcoming anime based off of my beloved X-Men comic series I was both ecstatic and horrified. My logic was simply based on the fact that as a child growing up I had a love for the X-Men comics and well essentially everything X-Men. I sort of related to them, being a social outcast of sorts because I was a total nerd. I have read every single issue of the Uncanny X-Men comic series and I have to say it’s quite good. Upon entering high school I myself got into anime. Although over recent years I have strayed far away from it, for reasons I am not quite certain of. An X-Men anime seems wrong. It seems unnatural. It seems well uncanny.
I recently had the privilege to watch the episode. I had written a sub par review and posted it. Yes I was watching the episode as I was typing my review and I guess maybe my love for the X-Men canon literally destroyed any hope I had of enjoying a new take. Growing up as a kid I watched that classic cartoon show from the ’90s. I had a crap ton of the toys. It was a good time to be a kid. Then the movies came out. I enjoyed the first two, and then the third happened. We don’t speak of it. We also got the so-so cartoons X-Men Evolutions and Wolverine and the X-Men. I watched them both.
My thoughts raced quickly from immediate hatred for the anime to defend my fanboyism. The show, having all Japanese dialogue, seemed odd and well strange considering the X-Men are American in almost every way. I had to rewatch it just to throw away my disdain for the change in style and cultures. X-Men now isn’t about America but the world. That’s what was so great about the comics, the X-Men represented something totally different, they were your outcasts, the nerds, the band geeks, the Trekkies. The ones that the jocks hated. That the girls wouldn’t date. That’s why I latched on. I apologize
to anyone who read my first review since well, it was poorly executed. So now I go into a new version.
I am torn still on the art style. Growing up on the way the characters are drawn here in the comics versus what we’ll see in the show is a huge leap.Characters like Xavier, Storm and Cyclops (well everyone) has that distinct action anime style to them. The details are impressive and well it’s pretty neat. But if you are used to Cyclops looking well I’ll let the pictures describe it. As you see in the image to your right, the detail is well slightly different. Even notice in Wolverine compared to the image below. If you are really into anime and kind of like the comics that are X-Men then the chances are the art style won’t bug you. The fact that Wolverine looks the way he does out of uniform slightly bugs me, but it’s not as bad as he looks in the Wolverine manga. Storm on the other hand doesn’t upset me as much. They tried to achieve some sort of sex appeal with her, although I never found Storm to be the sexually attractive one it was more Emma Frost for me. I’ve touched on three of the characters now but let’s touch Xavier. Now keep in mind the style is Japanese here not American. That was a huge thing I was going to wonder about. Was the show going to be in Japan, have it changed so that the X-Men are based in Japan and the characters are Japanese. Early images of Xavier seemed to be so. Looking at him he looks like he’s at least of Asian descent as compared to anything else. Maybe it’s just the angle in this promo shot or it could be those eyebrows who knows. And then the inclusion of the character who looks like your stereotypical Japanese anime school girl. Turns out it’s Armor. You know the girl created by Joss Whedon in Astonishing X-Men. Yeah she apparently is worthy of being cartoonized.
Alright let’s actually move onto the show itself shall we. The episode doesn’t begin with opening credits cuz you know it’s the first episode. It begins with our intrepid X-Men fighting off a giant ball of fire. Oh wait it’s Jean Grey. Wait, is this really the first episode or is it a later one. I can’t tell. I really can’t. As it turns out they totally and utterly start with the ending to the Dark Phoenix Saga, which is one of the greatest X-Men arcs ever, and go from there. That takes balls. It really does take balls of steel to do it. Of course once Jean dies the X-Men essentially disband and we get the freaky deeky opening credits.
Marvel fans weep. Jeph Loeb’s name appeared in the opening credits. Loeb ruins Marvel stuff. It’s true. So what he does for this show I am now more and more skeptical. Of course as time passes I slowly realize that the art is a Japanese take on Warren Ellis’ run on the series, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Maybe it will make it easier to watch. The plot of the first episode is very simple. Reunite the X-Men to find a missing girl…in Japan. This is where we meet the X-Men, again. The voice over from Xavier at the beginning I think is more or less meant to introduce us (new people) into the concept of X-Men. Or maybe just to do what they did in the first movie. Of course Xavier is at the grave where Jean’s “body” is buried and we get cuts to the other members being normal.
Storm saves cruise ship people from Somalian pirates, they are happy about her helping. Which I found odd. Humans hate mutants, or have we not achieved that in the anime yet, or are they going to ignore that. Who knows. I hope they don’t. I really enjoyed that about the comics. After we get Jean, we go to Logan, Wolverine, who is at an airport. TSA obviously doesn’t like him as he shows off his claws when Xavier contacts him. Beast is giving a lecture at a university. Strange I don’t quite understand what he’s going on about but he gets a call and has a squid replace him. Oh joy. Meanwhile Cyclops is mourning. Yes, perfect. Cyclops mourns Jean’s loss. Seems like they got that character perfect! I mean seriously how long does it take for Cyclops to stop being a whiny pussy in teh comics and become a leader who is semi-bad ass but still a total fucking douche? Well never happens kind of.
The show closes with the team reuniting to find this missing Japanese mutant girl and to be honest the first viewing I honestly hated it. I threw up a bit in my nerd corner. I quickly turned to my Magneto action figure sitting on top of my desk next to several other X-characters and turned them around. I wrote a review hastily. Watched it again. Trying to accept what it was instead of what it wasn’t.
Everything about the show was different than the actual comics. Yes it started with the Dark Phoenix Saga closing but from there it branched out into a whole new segment. It was actually interesting to an extent. Although I have seen something like this hashed out time and time again in both cartoon and comic form I couldn’t help but appreciate the admiralty of the situation at hand. While I most likely will not watch the entire series I think I’ll be more willing now to give it a few more episodes. My first thoughts were disdain, change of my known X-Men but now I see that coexistence is possible, if not unlikely, but still as long as Magneto doesn’t look anything like Cyclops I think I’ll be alright with this existing and me not watching.