Julien Neaves, Editor
Between 2010 and 2011 four anime TV series and two direct-to-video films were produced in a collaboration between Marvel Entertainment and Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The four 12-episode series were based on Blade, Iron Man, X-Men and Wolverine. I checked out the last two recently on Netflix and for this article I will be reviewing the X-Men series (I’ll drop the Wolverine one some time soon).
Now everyone’s favourite colourful band of mutants has had several animated series adaptations before (four of them if you count the failed 1989 pilot Pryde of the X-Men) with the peak being the seminal 1990s animated series. So how does Marvel Animation: X-Men stack up? To be honest, it’s just pretty average. Here’s my brief and spoiler-free review.
The series follows a group of X-Men journeying to Japan to investigate the disappearance of a young mutant. During the mission they encounter enemies old and new, a vast conspiracy, monstrous experiments, and a devastating secret. The team starts off with Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Storm and Wolverine, with Emma Frost and young mutant Armor eventually joining the fold.
The animation is very well done, balancing the look of the X-Men with a more traditional Japanese anime aesthetic. And they couldn’t resist giving Storm and Emma those traditional ginormous anime boobs. That sauce won’t serve itself I guess. The voice acting (I used the English version) is also pretty solid and represents the characters well, though Storm sounded less like African royalty and more like the American accent Halle Berry used in the X-Men films after the original. And if you remember Berry’s accent in the original film, you would understand why.
As an anime version of the X-Men you would be expecting some epic action, right? Well, you would be disappointed. Now there is action, but the scenes feel too brief, and they kept nerfing Storm and toning down Wolverine for some reason. There are a couple of cool moments but not enough to satisfy your action jones. And instead of action we get long periods of exposition. This thing really drags at certain points.
The plot is also very complicated with multiple moving parts that lead to an okay if not great ending. Marvel Animation: X-Men had all the ingredients to be a strong entry to the franchise but sadly it fell short. It was still interesting to see the Japanese take on these beloved characters, but it can’t compare to the quality of a series like Wolverine and the X-Men nor the GOAT 90s series.
Editor Jules’ Score: 6.5 out of 10
For my thoughts on Pryde of the X-Men you can check out my article Five 90s Cartoons We Never Had here. And for all our Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.