Monday, October 8, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Marvel Anime: X-Men

Marvel Anime: X-Men was first aired in 2011 in Japan. The series has since re-aired in the United States and been released on DVD. All total there are twelve episodes.
Marvel Anime: X-Men
Of the three Marvel Anime projects that 1LR has reviewed (Blade, Wolverine, X-Men) this is clearly the best. Of course, that may not be saying much since the first two we reviewed both got "Misses!" Let's start with the positives.

First, the story slowly unrolls in an intriguing, twisting manner. Each episode ends in a cliffhanger that begs you to watch the next one. The X-Men consist of Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, Professor X and Storm with Emma Frost and Armor being added later (a dead Jean Grey is seen in flashbacks throughout the series). The series really focuses on Armor - a flesh change after seeing the same seven mutants featured over and over again in X-Men media. The X-Men are balanced very well against one another, each given their own emotional storylines that develop across the series. Even Professor X is given a new backstory that is sure to surprise some viewers. The villains are the U-Men from Grant Morrison's New X-Men run and the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club (most notably, Mastermind).

Additionally, the show's creators make efforts to address the X-Men's long history, placing the story in a greater context. Sometimes the characters make an off-handed reference to an absent character such as Magneto. A number of other characters are shown in the final episode including Captain Britain, Deadpool, and Iron Man. These type of references are not only cool for fans but give the story a sense of connection to a larger universe, causing it to feel less isolated and meaningless.

Also, the art style is perhaps the least stereotypically-anime of the Marvel Anime shows thus far. While this may seem to defeat the purpose of the project, I, for one, appreciated this toned down anime effort. So, yes, there are still close-up shots of someone with their pupil pulsing in shock. The backgrounds are still ultra detailed. But the X-Men's character designs take much more inspiration from the original source material than Ghost in the Shell. Some of the villains suffer more from anime influence but that's to be expected.

Now, it's not all pixie dust and unicorn smiles. There are times that the animation makes it difficult to follow what's happening (in particular I'm thinking of the Wolverine fight against the bat thing on the Blackbird). Wolverine's claws are shown to be ridiculous in length (also, the characterization of Wolverine seems to be slightly too cerebral and rational as presented). The story drags a bit and becomes formulaic in at least one place.

But perhaps the biggest strike against the show is the facelessness of the villains. In the end title sequence we're shown Juggernaut, Magneto, Mystique, and many other awesome villains... none of which appear in the series. Instead, Mastermind hides behind a dozen or so mostly forgettable monsters before being revealed toward the end of the series.

Overall, Marvel Anime: X-Men is a good show and it marks the the strongest effort in the Marvel Anime line I've seen to date.

1LR REVIEW - 14 out of 20! It's a Hit!

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