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The X-Men reunite after the death of a teammate in order to track down Hisako Ichiki (Armor), a missing teenage girl in Northern Japan. There, the X-Men encounter the fanatical anti-mutant group, the U-Men, and discover what was important enough for Xavier to bring them back together. The answer is something that could potentially bridge the gap between mutants and humans, or tear the two species apart forever.
Wolverine, Cyclops, and a core group of Marvel Comics' venerable X-Men head to Japan to prevent a mutant uprising in Marvel Anime: X-Men, a stylish revamp of the long-running franchise that's strong on action, if less so on plotting. That's an unfortunate situation, especially given the brand's history of complex and mature storylines; here, the action hinges largely around the capture of Armor/Hisako Ichiki by the mutant-eugenics squad the U-Men as part of their plan to create a mutant super-army. From there, the story splinters into subplots involving the Inner Circle's Emma Frost and Mastermind, as well as the rise of a mysterious condition affecting mutants across Japan. The disparate elements never quite jell into a cohesive story arc, leaving much of the storytelling weight to rest on the numerous action sequences, which are plentiful and animated with kinetic power by the animation studio Madhouse, which partnered with Marvel for X-Men and three other franchise revamps (Iron Man, Blade, and Wolverine). X-Men is unfortunately the most lightweight of the quartet, suffering from weak characterizations, dull antagonists (the U-Men, while unpleasant, are second-string villains when compared to the operatic heights of Magneto, among others), and some unfortunate anime renderings, most notably on Storm, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost, who are built along decidedly titillating (and therefore sophomoric) lines. Sadly, the final episode suggests that the second season of X-Men would introduce some of its classic heels, but it remains unreleased at this time. The two-disc X-Men set includes both the original Japanese audio track (with subtitles) and the English-language dub, which features Scott Porter as Cyclops and a host of veteran voice-over talent, including Steven Blum, Travis Willingham, and Michael Sinterniklaas. The set is rounded out by a handful of making-of featurettes, all driven by interviews with the animation team. --Paul Gaita