So, the X TV series has finally come to the end of its run, and I can't say that I'm sorry to see it go. The main plot of the series has been a real mess, at least to me, and the finale doesn't do anything to make it any more sensible. At least there's still some interest in the supporting cast to keep the interest ticking along...
21 - Current
Satsuki and Yuto are looking forward to the end of the world as we know it - although Satsuki is wondering, given the suffering this will cause, whether they're really doing the right thing. For Yuto, the important thing is to just go with the flow of destiny - appropriately enough, for a water user. Arashi, meanwhile, has disappeared - she left the house occupied by the other Dragons of Heaven shortly after Sorata awoke, apparently set on avenging what the Dragons of Earth had done to him, but nothing's been heard of or from her since. Seiichiro, meanwhile, is preparing for a rematch against Yuto - a rematch he doesn't intent to lose...
22 - Betrayal
Hinoto is mourning the loss of yet another Dragon of Heaven, pained by her inability to do anything other than sit and watch. Kamui's hardly living up to his destiny as saviour of the world, either - so far he's done nothing of note, and just sits on the sidelines while his comrades do the fighting and their numbers continue to dwindle. Seeing an opportunity, Fuma dispatches Nataku to fulfil his role and finish off the Dragons of Heaven, as forseen. Kamui, though, has realised a connection between recent attacks that is leading him to have doubts about Hinoto, with evidence suggesting she may have been behind some of the attacks on him and the other Dragons of Earth - but why would she betray her own side..?
23 - Earth
Arashi has finally reappeared, but her demeanour in front of Nekoi and Sorata indicates that something's wrong. Sure enough, she soon announces that she's no longer one of the Dragons of Heaven - she's joined the Dragons of Earth. She refuses to talk about the reasons for her change in allegiance, even to Sorata, and before he can press her on the matter, she disappears. That's not the only problem for the remaining Dragons of Earth: the seal on the Divine Sword has been broken by Hinoto's death, meaning Kamui must now take custody of it. Sorata, meanwhile, believes he's worked out why Arashi has switched sides and heads out to confront her again - but she's already doing her best to kill Kamui...
24 - Legend
Sorata's dying blow may have seriously wounded Fuma, but his regeneration powers are strong, and it's not long before he's back at full strength again. Destiny is a tricky thing to deal with - it has decided that Fuma and Kamui will meet in a showdown to decide the fate of the world, and no matter how events unfold that meeting, it seems, can simply not be avoided. Tokyo Tower calls the two Kamuis forth for the last time - and Fuma quickly gains the upper hand...
This has turned out to be something of a strange series: the "main" story, of Kamui and his destiny, has for much of the series been pushed into the background by other things - which frankly is no bad thing, as for most of the time it makes very little sense. And that's before you even consider the "handicap" it has from Kamui being generally unlikeable. While the main story has been a complete bust, though, the stories on the fringes, dealing with the various members of the Dragons of Heaven and Earth, have been far more successful, and this volume keeps that trend going. The four episodes here focus on three sets of fringe characters for a while before moving onto the "main event", and it's those two side-stories that save the volume from being nothing more that mediocre.
First up is Seiichiro, his growing connection to Karen and his confrontations with Yuto and Satsuki. To Karen, Seiichiro is simply too nice to die - he's been kind to her when no-one else would, and he has a family who will need him in the future, and that moves her to intervene in battles that really aren't hers to intervene in. At this stage in the series, battles tend to have unhappy endings for one of the participants, and Karen's confrontation with Yuto sets the tone for the battles that will follow in the rest of the series. Let's just say that the Dragons of Heaven don't seem to be the best of fighters.
Nekoi also falls foul of a confrontation with a Dragon of Earth, but she fortunately has a protector: Kusunagi, who she has come to trust implicitly, unaware that in reality he's one of her enemies - or at least, should be. He seems to at least appreciate her feelings for him and her clear innocence, and assumes the role of guardian angel for her. Now, on one level there's a "Dude, she's 14!!" aspect to this, but to be fair it's never shown that Kusunagi has anything other than pure, protective feelings for her, but I did often find myself wondering just why these two became so enamoured with each other - it just seemed to happen, without any real prompting other than Kusunagi's ability to see Inuki, and progressed from there for no apparent reason. While their relationship is touching and cute, then, it's also a bit of a mystery.
Those first two pairings get time of their own, while the third runs throughout the disc, taking on nearly joint billing with Kamui as the show reaches its climax: Arashi and Sorata. Sorata has been relentless all series in his attempts to impress Arashi, while Arashi has been equally persistent in brushing him aside, but in these episodes he finally makes his breakthrough - only to have something turn the whole thing on its head when she switches sides and tries to kill Kamui. There is an explanation given for why all this happens, but frankly it made no sense to me (it seems to boil down to her anger at seeing Sorata put his life in risk for her - to which her solution is to try to end the battle between the two sides by killing Kamui. Would it not have made more sense for her to try and kill the leader of the enemy? Go figure. While the arc takes on major importance, then, it undoes a lot of its own good work by simply not making sense.
As for the main event, where Kamui and Fuma finally come together to decide the fate of the world... well, "underwhelming" is as accurate a description as you're ever likely to see. Part of the final episode is wasted on scene-setting flashbacks, when the time could have been better used dealing with the confrontation itself; and when the confrontation does come, there's depressingly little real fighting involved, quite surprising given that both men are wielding huge swords. The whole experience is almost beyond disappointing, especially when the stories involving the allegedly "fringe" characters are so much more enjoyable to watch.
Colour me less than impressed, then, which has pretty much been my opinion of X throughout. The series isn't a total bust, thanks to those fringe characters we've already looked at, but in terms of living up to its billing as a battle between good and evil for the fate of the world, it fails miserably. Not a complete waste of time to watch, but certainly one that you should try before you buy.