What’s it about ?
The X-Men disbanded a year ago, due to Jean Grey’s death in the Dark Phoenix incident. But Professor X gathers the band back together when he learns of numerous mutant disparitions in a district of Japan.
They’ve gone for an iconic line-up for the X-Men, with Professor X as the remote mentor, Cyclops as field leader, Wolverine, Storm and cat-form Beast. (The OP promises Emma Frost, but she hasn’t shown up yet.) Professor X carries most of the narration and exposition. Cyclops is the best at what he does, and what he does is whining over Jean’s grave (seriously, it looks like he’s spending days at a time there). Beast had gone back to teaching college courses, but he’s pretty happy to go back into action and leave his class to his uplifted squid. Wolverine is more tolerable here than in his own series, and Storm plays mother hen.
Hisako (aka Armor) is our token young mutant in distress. She barely shows any personality yet, before captured by robots halfway through the episode. (If you’re wondering, she’s a character created by Joss Whedon when he wrote the X-Men comics six years ago.)
We start with an extended flashback to the end of the Dark Phoenix incident, where it’s clear Jean is manipulated by Mastermind and his Inner Circle (they’re kept in shadows, but I see Blob, maybe Toad, and another prettyboy I can’t quite identify). It looks like she commits suicide, but considering the epitaph on her memorial (“She will rise again”) and the fact they’ve bothered to show us all this, I’m sure she’ll eventually show up again.
The next episode preview suggests that the X-Men are going to face the U-Men. That’s an interesting choice (they’re quite a recent creation), although it makes perfect sense when considering Warren Ellis wrote this story (the man loves his transhumanism themes).
The ED shows some iconic X-Men villains (Magneto, Mystique, Juggernaut) that I doubt will actually show up… and Stryfe, for some reason.
I’m not fond of Madhouse’s style for the Marvel adaptations, and it looks especially messy here, but it does the job. I like the character designs quite a bit, to tell the truth.
I’ve always had big expectations for this particular Marvel Anime series, and it doesn’t disappoint. It manages to perfectly recreate the X-Men experience, especially the sense of a vast tapestry of former continuity that will eventually become relevant. Sure, it doesn’t exactly hit the ground running (the X-Men aren’t even in Japan yet), but that’s the cost of fleshing out the five main characters as well as explaining the gist of the Dark Phoenix incident.
I’m biased, of course : I’m a hardcore X-Men fan. Still, this is by far the best Marvel Anime series, with strong characters and a plot that feels appropriately epic.