X/1999 (エックス, Ekkusu) 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 shōjo 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 Shirō, 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 Fūma 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.
Kamui Shirou is the series protagonist, a powerful esper believed to be the one who holds the key to the fate of the world. He never knew his father and was raised only by his mother, Touru of the Magami Clan.
Kotori and Fuuma Monou are the children of the Togakushi Shrine. They were raised by their father Kyougo after their mother Saya died under mysterious circumstances. The siblings' friendship with Kamui stems from a promise the three made as children: to always protect one another.
Following Kamui's arrival the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth, the two factions in the final battle for humanity's future, vie for the young man's allegiance, each convinced that his power will assure their victory.
Dragons of Heaven
The Dragons of Heaven (天の龍, Ten no Ryū) are the first to contact Kamui. They are picked from various schools of religious thought in Japan, including the Shingon Buddhists of Mount Kōya and the Onmyōji. Also known as the Seven Seals (七つの封印, Nanatsu no Fūin?), the Dragons of Heaven are guided by Hinoto, dreamgazer for the Legislature of Japan. The Seals are the protectors of the kekkai (結界, kekkai), spiritual barriers that hold the fabric of nature together. As long as the kekkai survive, Judgment Day is postponed.
Dragons of Earth
The Dragons of Earth (地の龍, Chi no Ryū) are the counterpart to the Seven Seals in the X universe. Collectively, they are regarded as the Seven Angels (七人の御使い, Shichinin no Mitsukai), messengers of destruction. Their mission is to unleash death and famine so the Earth can be cured of the plague of humanity. The Angels are free agents with no sense of camaraderie who were assembled by Hinoto's sister Kanoe, secretary to the Governor of Tokyo.
X began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka on May 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?), "The Seven Stars" (七曜, Shichiyō), "The Holy Sword" (神剣, Shinken), "Kamui" (神威, "Kamui"), "The Dreamgazer" (夢見, Yumemi), "Kekkai" (結界, "Kekkai") and "The End" (終末, Shūmatsu), 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 Shōjo 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.