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X (Ekkusu, エックス) known as X/1999 in North-America, is CLAMP's foray into apocalyptic fiction. It combines elements from various end-of-the-world scenarios, both secular and religious, with its own mythos.
The story takes place at the end of days, in the year 1999. The series follows Kamui Shirou, a young esper who returns home to Tokyo after a six-year absence to face his destiny as "the one who will determine humanity's fate". The series is intended for a female audience, so X is drawn in the ornate style characteristic of shojo manga but with the emphasis on moral conflict and gruesome violence expected of seinen works. The story is influenced by the works of Go Nagai and Kyokutei Bakin.
The unfinished series spans 18 collected volumes and five uncollected chapters. The manga was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka from May 1992, until the magazine's editors showed concern with the increasingly violent stories and stopped publishing it on March 2003. X has since been translated into English, Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Polish and Spanish and adapted into a series of audio dramas, an animated feature film and television series.
The events takes place in 1999. The end of the world is fast approaching as superhuman individuals gather and take sides in the city of Tokyo, the battle site of Armageddon. The key player in this day of reckoning is Kamui Shiro, a young man who returns home to Tokyo after a six-year absence to protect those dearest to him, Kotori and Fuuma Monou, and fulfill his mother's dying wish.
Unbeknownst to the three friends, Kamui and Fuuma are destined to fight each other during the end of the world. The first half of the series focuses on the gathering of the soldiers in the final battle and culminates with Kotori's death at the hands of her brother Fūma, sealing Kamui's choice as the protector of mankind and Fūma's place as his foil. The second half follows Kamui as he grows into his role as savior while the world moves along toward its inevitable destruction.
The story is Kamui's heroic journey, where the narrative places an emphasis on his choices and how they affect the world around him as he attempts to reconcile his dual destinies.
|司狼 神威, Shirō Kamui|
|桃生 小鳥, Monou Kotori|
|桃生 封真, Monou Fūma|
|皇 昴流, Sumeragi Subaru|
|有洙川 空汰, Arisugawa Sorata|
|鬼咒 嵐, Kishū Arashi|
|蒼軌 征一狼, Aoki Seiichirō|
|夏澄 火煉, Kasumi Karen|
|猫依 護刃, Nekoi Yuzuriha|
|麒飼 遊人, Kigai Yūto|
|八頭司 颯姫, Yatōji Satsuki|
|桜塚 星史郎, Sakurazuka Seishirō|
|玖月 牙暁, Kuzuki Kakyō|
|志勇 草薙, Shiyū Kusanagi|
X began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka on May of 1992. Publishing the series proved troublesome on account of its subject matter. As the series portrays earthquakes as a sign of the end times, the motif became a point of contention after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995. Following letters from concerned readers, the manga was temporarily pulled from Kadokawa's magazine. After the murder of eleven year old, Jun Hase in 1997, the attention shifted to X's gruesome imagery and the series was pulled once again.
Serialization stopped on March 2003. The editors of Monthly Asuka were concerned with the increasingly violent stories and, rather than censoring themselves, the artists opted for a hiatus. Columnist John Oppliger, however, is of the persuasion the members of Clamp do not have a clear ending in mind and, contractual obligations notwithstanding, the rumored dispute should not impede publishing the remaining chapters.
The series is divided into seven story arcs:
- "The Beginning" (嚆矢, Kōshi) volume 1-2
- "The Seven Stars" (七曜, Shichiyō) volume 3-6
- "The Holy Sword" (神剣, Shinken) volume 7-8
- "Kamui" (神威, "Kamui") volume 9
- "The Dreamgazer" (夢見, Yumemi) volume 10
- "Kekkai" (結界, "Kekkai") volume 11-16
- "The End" (終末, Shūmatsu) volume 17-
Starting in volume seventeen. Volumes five through seventeen of the Japanese release include short stories detailing the individual backgrounds of the Dragons of Heaven and Earth.
On September 26, 2006, Kadokawa Shoten published CLAMP Newtype Platinum, a special CLAMP edition of Newtype Magazine. The issue includes the "X 18.5" supplement, a re-print of five previously uncollected chapters. The series is expected to reach twenty-one volumes upon completion.
The North American version of the manga, retitled X/1999, was serialized in Viz Media's Animerica Extra and released in graphic novel form under the Shojo imprint. Chuang Yi handles distribution of the English language version in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The series has also been translated into Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Polish and Spanish.