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X Vol. 5
Date 15 Mar 2010
With X entering its penultimate DVD volume, you might be forgiven for expecting it to pick up the pace and shift things up a gear as it sets its sights on a huge climax with the entire future of the Earth at stake. However, you might want to hold those expectations in check as this fifth volume opens with... a recap episode.
Yes, that's right ladies and gentleman, despite having moved through sixteen episodes at its own often sedate pace, for some reason the producers of the series decided that a recap was required, framed via the world of the Dragon of Earth's Dreamseer in conversation with Kamui to give it some context and with additional material to give at least some sensation of plot progression to this particular instalment.
Thankfully things take an altogether more interesting turn for the other three episodes on this disc, returning to the story proper by reuniting Yuzuriha Nekoi and Shiyu Kusanagi before throwing the former into the heat of battle and the latter into a crisis of conscience that leaves him torn between his role within the current proceedings and his need to protect young Yuzuriha. This is followed by a chance to delve into both the past and present of Karen Kasumi as she too joins the ongoing fight between the Dragons of Heaven and Earth, before this volume's final episode really goes for the emotional jugular by casting its eye over Arashi's growing feelings for Sorata despite what that might mean in terms of destiny and prophecy.
With this series continuing to treat every episode as almost a stand-alone effort focusing on just one or two characters while still weaving each instalment into a part of the wider narrative, it is perhaps inevitable that the quality of any given episode is dependent upon more than the broader story, creating something of a wider variance in terms of its enjoyment level for the viewer from one part to the next. Nowhere is this demonstrated more vividly than within this fifth volume of X, from its recap episode that shows off the impressive visuals of the series but little else for anyone who has been following the show from the start, while Yuzuriha and Arashi's respective episodes had enough emotional strength to carry them through far better than Karen's rather flashback heavy effort sandwiched between them.
In fact, it's this occasional over-reliance on flashback and delving into the past of X's characters that has frequently threatened to trip up the series while much of its present-day focus offers up far more action and character development more often than not. Thankfully, this volume is relatively short on that, and it's telling that the episodes which avoid going down that path on this volume are some of the strongest of the series so far. While this still means that X isn't quite the fantastic series it had the potential to be (and it's probably too late to expect any massive changes from the final batch of episodes), it still remains a visually impressive piece of work that has a fair amount to offer when it manages to avoid its own limitations.
English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 audio, English subtitles, screen shot gallery, trailers.
After a dismal start to the disc, this volume of X unveils some of the best episodes of the series so far.