The Tragedy of (CLAMP’s) X
The Earth’s fate, whether it lives or dies, rests on the choices of an asshole. Will Kamui Shiro, the protagonist, become a Dragon of Heaven, fighting to defend the world as it is, or a Dragon of Earth, fighting to change the world (by purging humanity)? Joining him are twelve other superhumans fated to take part in the end of the world by either defending or destroying Tokyo. So is the main narrative of X, CLAMP’s tragic unfinished manga.
Like Cardcaptor Sakura, X is a great manga. Indeed, I freaking love this series. There is a maturity and depth to the series that is, honestly, often lacking in other manga series. And there is a disturbing amount of gore, which ultimately proved the series’s downfall (in terms of publication).
What I find most interesting about the series, honestly, is how the apocalyptic forms the backdrop to the various human tragedies that befall both the protagonists and antagonists. Especially Kamui Shiro, the main protagonist who is, initially, a jerk.
Until the tragic turn, Kamui is an uncooperative asshole. He is fighting his destiny and the attempts of his friends, both old and new, to (re)connect. He gradually begins to open up again and care about his loved ones. And then he makes the fateful choice to defend the world as it is.
Is Kamui truly an asshole in those early volumes or is he putting on an act? Is he trying to save his friends by pushing them away?
The evidence points to an act. He does open up to his friends before making his choice. After the decision, he becomes positively passive. Indeed, as the arguably most powerful member of the Dragons of Heaven, he is cripplingly weak in fulfilling his mission.
Has the trauma of his decision shattered his confidence, along with his unwillingness to attack Fuma? Or has some of Kamui’s darker personality traits been transferred to Fuma, the Kamui of the Dragons of Earth?
Is the change in Kamui’s character a good thing or a bad thing? Would the series have been better or worse if Kamui kept some of his asshole character?
Personally, I rather liked Kamui better earlier in the series. He is, I think, more interesting. He’s okay after the choice, but I find myself annoyed with him on numerous occasions.
Kamui, however, isn’t the only character to let his personal drama detrimentally affect his mission as a Dragon of Heaven. Subaru Sumeragi, the main protagonist of the earlier Tokyo Babylon, has never recovered from the tragedy that befell him. He does manage to pull himself together enough to pull Kamui out of his catatonia, but his final confrontation with Seiishiro shatters whatever drive he still has left.
Not even the erstwhile antagonists are free from drama. Kanoe, the benefactor of the Dragons of Earth, wishes to save her sister, Hinoto (the prophetic benefactor of the Dragons of Heaven), from her destiny as an oracle. Nataku, an adrogynous artificial human, sacrifices hir life to save a Dragon of Heaven from Fuma/ Kamui, thereby enacting a twisted family drama.
Honestly, Heaven and Earth should be asking for refunds. In the end, it is human desire, so often self destructive, that will decide humanity’s (and the world’s) fate. Therein lies the triumph and tragedy of X.