This was recommended to me by Netflix’s algorithm (probably due to me having watch both comic book adaptations and anime, I guess…) and I thought “Why not? It’s only 12 episodes and I am interested to see how they handled it!” I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it a lot, it actually took a unique look into the world of X-Men rather than focus on villains like Magneto, and was all the more interesting for it. Let’s take a look!
Following the death of Jean Grey the X-Men are reassembled by Professor X to travel to Japan following the abduction of several local girls in the area. When they arrive they find the anti-mutant organisation known as the U-Men, and someone far more sinister pulling their strings…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
In terms of opening shots, this is one of the more spectacular ones! (Wait, that’s Spider-man…)
What I like is that instead of this being some sort of done-to-death origin style story it actually starts with the end of the classic Dark Phoenix storyline, as Cyclops fails to save Jean Grey after she became possessed with the evil cosmic entity, the trauma of which causes the team to split. A while later we see Professor X (voiced by Cam “Liquid Snake” Clarke in the dub!) gather together the team for a new mission; this X-Men team being a grief-struck and erratic Cyclops, and regular Storm, Beast and Wolverine (who is voiced by Steve Blum, who, spoiler alert, is far better in the role than the stand-alone Wolverine anime I’m looking at next week…) and they’re off to Japan. They soon meet up with not only experimented-on mutant child Hisako but also Emma Frost from the Inner Circle, the group responsible for Jean Grey’s self-destruction.
Everyone’s natural instinct is to distrust or flat out kill her as she sleeps, but eventually they work together to escape the lab (operated by the “U-Men”, which sounds so… so stupid, yet “X-Men” doesn’t. Go figure.) and Emma and Hisako join the X-Men back at Prof. X’s mansion. Emma allows X to probe her mind and shows that she left the Inner Circle before the Dark Phoenix incident after being fed up of their ways, and so she gets a spot on the team. Hisako also joins, given the name “Armour” and a harsh training session with Cyclops. So again seeing Emma Frost as part of the team is a lot like the more recent comics and therefore makes this feel different from a lot of the other cartoons and films. Everyone is sent back to Japan and visit the lab of Yui Sasaki, who turns out to be a former lover of Professor X who was actually keeping X and her’s son a secret, locking him up deep in the basement because his extremely powerful psy abilities were out of control.
Even in the anime they quickly dropped the full head mask look… Admittedly nine times out of ten it did look a bit shit.
The X-Men have to do battle with several members of the Inner Circle, including their mastermind… erm, Mastermind, who manipulates Takeo (X and Yui’s son) to unleash all his power and become some towering mass of psychic energy that threatens the world. Luckily Hisako was a member of the same school as Takeo growing up and she manages to get through to him long enough for X to make amends. Takeo seemingly ends his own life to stop himself, and everyone… well, I won’t say “live happily ever after” but Cyclops comes to terms with his grief, Emma Frost and “Armour” are full-fledged members of the X-Men and X and Yui… talk about how much of a failure they were as parents… okay, scratch that last bit.
The action is frequent and well animated, and the plot was unique, so overall it was a fun watch.
Now there’s a villain straight out of some sort of cheesy 80s anime… Shame he’s part of a group called the “U-Men”…
There was a sub-plot revolving around some of the mutant children and Yui’s lab assistants’ X-Gene going out of control and mutating them until they become monsters, then just killing them. I found this rather dull, and just an excuse to end some episodes with the X-Men fighting a large monster without having to use an existing X-Men villain. Thankfully it doesn’t impact it too much.
Otherwise the series is good fun. I’m not saying it should’ve won any awards or anything, but it exceeded my expectations, I’ll say that much.
Remember this image of Wolverine for next week’s anime review…
Marvel Anime’s X-Men show was a good watch: a solid and original plotline, some decent animation and a good English voice cast which just felt right for an X-Men show. I’m happy I watched this first because Wolverine was technically out before this and if I’d watched that first I wouldn’t have bothered with this one… There’s another teaser for next week… ANYWAY. X-Men anime = good.