X-Men Anime – DVD Review

So I watched the first three episodes of the X-Men Anime last night. I’d never seen this program when it originally aired, because I’m pretty sure I don’t get whatever network it airs on (G4, a real shame).

Let me say this is the real thing, not some made-to-look-like-anime but really just American-style animation story. It’s full-bore Japanese madness, but with recognizable X-Men characters. The opening sequence has Jean Grey going all-Phoenix in a scene that reminded me of Akira.

X-Men Anime - Beast, Armor, Emma Frost

Three Guesses Who the Busty Woman Is. I Do Like Beast’s Stylish Jacket.

If you don’t like the slower frame rates and slowly-paced storylines of anime, you won’t like this. Everyone from Cyclops to Professor X broods. Many tend to overreact by American standards, such as when Professor Xavier is calming all the frightened little X-Men children, then notices he can’t read the mind of one of the children. He stops down with a mental gasp and begins to zone out from his calming lecture to the children. It’s great.

But before I go too far, let me spell out where I’m coming from anime-wise.

My Anime Scouting Report

My anime bona fides are pretty typical. I love anime, at least the anime I love. Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Samurai 7 are some of the finest things in the world, but I can’t think of anything too exotic I enjoy. Gunslinger Girl introduced me to The Delgados. Full-Metal Alchemist I really enjoyed, except for the ending and the movie–neither of which did much for me. Hellsing was great.

As for the American comics/tv forays into anime, I haven’t liked much of it. The Batman anime was only so-so and could have been so much better. The Witchblade anime I could hardly sit through. (Sara Pezzini was replaced by Masane Amaha, who I seem to recall had a child, and that child cried a lot.) The Supernatural anime was missing something essential and Supernatural is my absolute favorite tv show right now. So that’s where I come from anime-wise, what I’d consider an average fan.

X-Men Anime Random Thoughts

I have to say I like what I’ve seen so far. Here are some random thoughts I had while watching these three episodes. I’m pretty sure the whole season/series is on this one disk, so that’s nice.

  • If you ever thought Cyclops was brooding and overwrought before, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Anime-Cyclops is in a league all his own.
  • You never see Wolverine trying to go through a metal detector in Marvel Comics. It kind of makes you wonder why he’d even try. You have to ask yourself why he gets angry enough to pop his claws when they give him trouble, especially post-9/11.
  • Anime-Wolverine is quite at home in this setting. It’s like he’s got a stipulation in his contract that he gets to pop his claws at least once in every scene. They really play up his and Scott’s dislike, but that only seems to grow over time, anyway.
  • At least in her first solo scene, Anime-Storm seemed to have a whimsical quality I don’t remember from the comics. That rakish little trick with her hat had me in stitches. I found it more stylish than I’m used to from Ororo.
  • By the way, Anime-Storm looks a lot like Halle Berry. I wonder why?
  • This is old news, but The Beast has that new funny animal look I hate so much. I understand it’s character development to have him go through another mutation, but I just wish it was a cooler or more menacing looking mutation. Even in the most serious situations, I look at Hank McCoy and think of Dr. Seuss.
  • Especially during the battle with the delivery boy mutant (but to a lesser degree, other times), Anime-Cyclops‘s laser blast appears to be somewhat like the Wave-Motion Gun. I think it’s an improvement.
  • Anime-Emma Frost doesn’t quite have the same look as her classic incarnation, but she embodies the three qualities the White Queen should have: pouty, busty, and slightly aristocratic. “Aristocratic” might not be the best term for someone whose costume is underwear, but I mean somewhat regal in bearing, but with a hint of decadence. The term hellfire club originally meant a secret society for persons of high breeding to engage in immoral acts, after all.
  • I liked how they introduced Emma, with her connection to Hisako Ichiki, aka Armor. Anime-Armor is really young, wears the requisite Japanese schoolgirl outfit, and has the just-as-requisite bangs. She cries a lot, but that’s not out of place in this production. You get one scene where an X-Men kills another mutant, and both of them are weeping over that fact.

X-Men vs U-Men

Beast from the X-Men as You've Never Seen Him

The X-Men’s Beast as You’re Never Seen Him Before

The U-Men were turned into classic anime villains, too. They seemed to embody moral decay–just a bedraggled, dissolute lot. One of them prattled on about how data collecting was the key to battle. Another sipped wine while he spied on the X-Men with his cameras, commenting to himself, “I will have to pay you a visit one day, Professor X”. Still another calmed the others by claiming their science was all they needed to defeat the X-Men. Their one wiry old leader had the shaggy hair that only a moral degenerate would wear, at least when it’s combined with a pseudo-military outfit.

I loved this one preview for a next episode: “Todd, a leading mad scientist with the U-Men, attacks.

Todd proved to be one hell of an opponent, too. My favorite line of his was, “Organs! Organs!

This was followed by Emma Frost trying to get inside of his mind, then (wisely) hesitating to do so. Her reasoning was sound: “He’s completely lost his mind.”

Early Review

As I said, I like what I’ve seen so far. It’s different. After so many X-Men tv series, that’s not easy to do. I can’t wait to see the anime version of all the X-Men’s opponents, as it appears they’ll show up from the end credits. Stay tuned for further reports on the X-Men Anime.

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4 comments

  1. Bubbawheat

    I saw this at the store and if I had the spare money for it I would have picked it up (and the Supernatural anime series as well), it looked pretty interesting and I’m glad that it actually is pretty good. Will have to find a way to watch it sometime.

  2. Cardinal Vickers

    I haven’t seen the X-Men anime yet, but it sounds like one I’m going to have to check out. I love the idea of an even more over-the-top Wolverine. I hope he gets to say, “I’m the best at what I do, and what I do isn’t very nice.” 🙂

    As crazy as it may be, I’ll bet it’s not nearly as nuts as the early X-Men issues written by Stan Lee. If you’ve never seen them, go back and give them a look (they’re all available online through Marvel’s subscription service). Professor X is totally off the rails, and guys like Beast and Iceman spend most of their time arguing and playing jokes on each other. The team is also really raw, and they end up screwing up much of the time and getting yelled at by Professor X (who likes to shout telepathically).

    Thanks for the review!

    • jamiewild

      Anime-Xavier is Professor X in rare form. Later in the series, he’s stuck flying the blackbird for something like 3 episodes (one flight). Mastermind is attacking him the whole time, so it’s less like a flight and more like some battle from Dreamscape, the “classic” Dennis Quaid film from the 80s. I’ll post my full thoughts on the rest of the X-Men Anime sometime soon.

    • jamiewild

      I’ve got to go back and read the early X-Men Comics. A friend of mine got the early stuff on a CD-Rom and claimed in Issue #4 of the X-Men, Professor X (in a thought balloon) admitted to being in love with Jean Grey. Then it was never mentioned again…wild. I also like the idea that Scott Summers was called “Slim Summers” back then.

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