Today I want to hit on one of the oldest and most popular CLAMP series, X (also known as X/1999). X is not as well known now as 10 years ago due to being put on hiatus for over 10 years now, with no end in sight (much like Nana). At this point many fans believe X will never get a “proper” ending, though it still remains a fan favorite.
With that said, the series itself cuts off more or less right before its climax. I can’t imagine it having more than 2-3 volumes more to illustrate the final confrontation and the ultimate conclusion, perhaps with some chapters of build-up in between. And the series itself focuses so heavily on foreshadowing that it isn’t too hard to guess what will come next, which is what I will be discussing today.
Note: the content below contains spoilers, so read at your own risk!
What We Know So Far
X, at its core, is a story about light and dark and how they are intricately tied into one another. Yin and yang, if you will. The storytelling and the huge mass of characters can get confusing, but within the chaos lies a brilliant, epic apocalyptic tale whose messiness adds to its very own charm.
On the surface, the story is simple. The world is foreordained to end in the year 1999. Multiple dreamseers have foreseen this, most notably Princess Hinoto, a dreamseer living under the Japanese Diet Building who traded all of her physical senses for the ability to see the future in her dreams. How the world will end is simple: Tokyo, an ancient cornerstone of the world, is covered with many spiritual barriers and other enchantments that protect the earth and keep it from falling apart. If all of the spiritual barriers in Tokyo were to be destroyed, the rest of the world will also crumble and suffer its end.
At the pinnacle of this stands the seven Dragons of Earth, the harbingers of destruction who wish to bring about the end of the world, and against then the seven Dragons of Heaven, individuals who wish to protect the earth. Note that the Dragons of Earth have their own logic – the earth is dying from environmental devastation, and rather than let the planet be poisoned, they wish to give the earth a chance to rebuild and bring about new life. The Dragons of Heaven are aware of this, but choose to defend the current situation anyway for various reasons.
At the center of the two sides stands Kamui, a boy with the power to choose either side of the battle. However, whatever side he chooses, there is “another him” who will choose the other side. The dreamseers cannot foresee what side he will choose, but they do see that no matter what he chooses, the Dragons of Heaven will lose. However they conceal this information hoping that perhaps the future could be changed.
Kamui eventually chooses to become a Dragon of Heaven because he wishes to protect the world that his best friends, the Monou siblings, live in. To his dismay, the older brother Fuuma is predestined to become his alter-ego, and once he makes this choice Fuuma takes on the personality of “dark” Kamui and becomes a Dragon of Earth, killing his younger sister before Kamui’s eyes.
The Endings that X Did Have
Let’s take a look at the endings that X did have.
In the TV series, all of the Dragons of Heaven eventually lose their powers to create spiritual barriers because they lose the most important people to them and the power to create barriers stems from the desire to protect. Princess Hinoto commits suicide to stop her “dark” alter-ego from hurting the Dragons of Heaven, and Kamui goes to confront Fuuma, his best friend and alter-ego. In the final fight, Kamui is killed, but manages to transform his body into a massive spiritual barrier that encompasses the entire world, and also manages to turn Fuuma back to his old self.
In the film, all the Dragons of Heaven and Dragons of Earth are eventually killed. In the final confrontation, Kamui kills Fuuma and is left grieving over the death of his best friend.
The Endings that X Cannot Have
(Note: The below discussion is my personal opinion, and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt.)
There are some key points that I haven’t yet mentioned in the summaries above, so let me get to them here.
1. Kamui’s wish is not what it seems to be
Kamui originally wished to protect Fuuma and Kotori. When all hell broke loose, he decided to walk the path of bringing back the Fuuma he knew, no matter what the cost. But Fuuma has made it clear repeatedly that this is not Kamui’s true wish which even Kamui himself is blind to, and that he will get nowhere until he is able to acknowledge the truth.
This makes it rather clear that X cannot end simply with Kamui achieving his goal of bringing Fuuma back. In order to reach a proper ending, Kamui must realize what his true wish is and come to terms with it. This is also, by the way, why I think the TV ending is total BS.
2. Kamui cannot create a spirit barrier
This is something that’s emphasized throughout the series which all the other dragons of Heaven can do. Kamui cannot create a spirit barrier, and from time to time he’s shown feeling a bit down about it. But why is that? We know from the series that a prerequisite of creating a spirit barrier is the strong feeling of wanting to protect something. While his supposed goal is to bring back the “normal” Fuuma, the inability to create a barrier indicates that he either does not have anything he wants to protect, or he is unclear about what he wants to protect, which may very well be because the two most important people to him are now gone.
With this said, X cannot end without Kamui resolving this quandary, which may very well have to do with him realizing his true wish. I’m not saying he has to actually create a spiritual barrier by the end of the series, but there has to be a specific reason why he hasn’t been able to thus far that will be revealed before the end.
3. Fuuma grants other people’s wishes
While Fuuma initially appears to be the bad guy after his “change,” we soon see that he is much deeper and more interesting than he looks. He claims that he will kill Kamui, yet despite having multiple chances he doesn’t do so. He goes around rampaging and destroying parts of Tokyo, but we also get the sense that he only kills those who wish to die. For example, he kills Nataku who dies protecting Karen, and amidst Karen’s protests he tells her that it was his wish to die for her. We also see him in a fight against Yuzuriha where he asks her if she wants to die. She replies, “Of course not!” and Fuuma tells her that if she truly doesn’t wish to die, she won’t. This manifests in the subsequent fight, where Yuzuriha in her desperation was able to manifest a new inugami (albeit in puppy form) to her own delight, and Fuuma backs off with the parting words, “Looks like you truly did not wish to die,” seeming somewhat pleased himself.
This is speculation on my part, but I believe that X cannot end without Fuuma giving Kamui’s (real) wish some sort of closure, whether it be granting it or denying it. It’s the only ending that makes sense, as a wish granter. And here, the only good reason for denying Kamui’s wish would be if it were incompatible with his own wish, such that granting himself his wish would automatically deny Kamui his.
4. Fuuma has a wish that only Kamui can grant
We don’t know what Fuuma’s wish is, but even though at the beginning of the series he claims that he will destroy mankind and save the earth, he later reveals that he doesn’t particularly care about the fate of the earth and that he has a wish only Kamui can grant. In fact, it can almost seem like he’s stalling at times, and this would explain why he doesn’t kill Kamui even though he had numerous chances to do so.
And this leads me to believe that X cannot end without revealing Fuuma’s true wish. Both wishes are equally important, but in this case the evidence suggests Fuuma will not stop until Kamui is able to both realize and grant his wish, and the conversations Kamui has points towards the fact that he is close to some sort of epiphany.
The Ending that X Should Have
Again, this is speculation on my part, but we do have a lot of puzzle pieces to fit together. We need an ending that:
- Reveals Kamui’s true wish
- Reveals Fuuma’s true wish
- Has Kamui grant Fuuma’s true wish
- Has Fuuma either grant or deny Kamui’s true wish, if it is incompatible with his own
I’m going to go out on a limb here and add that it has to be epic, bloody, painful, and kind of a mindfuck because otherwise it wouldn’t be able to hold together with the incredibly violent and gruesome build-up thus far. They can’t end a series this dark with a sweet little Disney ending or the fans will puke and die of indigestion.
(Note that I’ve left out the part about the spiritual barrier as I believe that will automatically resolve itself with the resolution of the four above points.)
So what could Kamui’s true wish be? Many fans speculate that it is to die, and that is certainly one possibility. It’s a recurring theme in X that dying for the sake of the one you love is happiness, and having lost the people most dear to him, perhaps Kamui simply wishes he could die at the hands of Fuuma, his last living connection to the world. This parallels Subaru, whose one wish was to die at the hands of Seishirou.
However, we also know that in the beginning, the wish that triggered everything was to “protect the place where Fuuma and Kotori can live happily.”
The wording of this is a little tricky. Note that he says “the place” rather than simply “I want you two to live happily,” so it could mean that he wants them to live happily, which subsequently requires a place (the earth) to live happily at, or it could mean that he simply wishes to protect them from disappearing regardless of their own wishes, because he can’t bear to live without them.
Which of these might be Kamui’s true wish? Well, the second wish is consistent with Kamui’s desire to hold on to the “old” Fuuma and get him back at any cost, regardless of whether he would hurt Fuuma in the process. And we know that that’s not his “true” wish. Another clue we have is that Kamui is prompted to say this when he sees Kotori smiling happily despite not being wholly in her right mind. So let’s say his true wish is to protect the happiness of Fuuma and Kotori.
But… if that were his true wish, there is no reason he wouldn’t be able to create a barrier, because a barrier stems from the desire to protect. What’s going on here? This two-page scene below gives us some very big clues:
In fact, Kamui has pretty clear inclinations from the beginning towards becoming a Dragon of Earth. We saw him fighting in the first volume without any care whatsoever for the destruction of the streets. His own mother died as a shadow puppet taking on the suffering of “earth” itself, indicating that she herself was on the earth side, and the above scene proves that Kamui himself feels that the rebirth of earth would be more beautiful than the continuation of the current system. If Kotori and Fuuma weren’t around, it’s very likely that he would have become a Dragon of Earth and not of Heaven. And here we can find the truth behind “light” and “dark” Kamui – there is a part of Kamui which wishes to protect Fuuma and Kotori, but also another, darker side which wishes to lead the rebirth of the planet, a crueler side which may be willing to kill those closest to him to cut out any lingering affections.
I believe that this dilemma creates a deep conflicting desire inside Kamui. His true wish is not to bring Fuuma back or to protect Fuuma and Kotori’s happiness, but rather “to bring about revolution without having to do horrible things.” He wants revolution, but he doesn’t want to dirty his hands. And this, my friends, is what creates the Fuuma that we know today. Fuuma is a substitute for Kamui’s darker self, taking on the burden of enacting the revolution, of killing Kotori, of bringing about the change that Kamui secretly desires all the while letting Kamui play the role of the good guy.
We know that Fuuma also has a wish, and that wish can only be granted by Kamui. Many readers believe that Fuuma’s true wish is to be killed by Kamui, but I’m not so sure of that. After all, Fuuma is pretty interesting. At first, after his personality “change,” he simply appears to be the bad guy. But as things progress, we get to see more and more of him. Take, for example, this exchange with a little girl in Ebisu, right before he breaks the barrier.
He tells the little girl to leave because she does not “wish” to die. This is the same thing that happened with Yuzuriha, and I might mention that in the same scene he twists Kamui’s arm and tells Kamui that if he fights back, his arm will break. At the end of it he adds, “Or… do you want it to break?” This hints strongly that Fuuma may cause death and destruction, but he does it because it’s what the people wish upon themselves. And I might add here that Fuuma doesn’t always seem particularly happy about this. In volume 18.5, Kamui remembers Karen telling him this:
This is a throwback to volume 18, when Fuuma kills Nataku, who refused to let go of Karen and died protecting her. Fuuma tells Karen that Nataku’s wish was to die at the hands of the one he loved most and to protect the person who is most important to him. He adds that Nataku saw Karen as his mother (the one most important to him) and Fuuma as his father (the one he loved most). Karen is outraged that Fuuma is able to kill despite knowing this, and tells Fuuma it is never OK to kill, even if the person wished it so. Fuuma responds with this:
And this is the key to understanding Fuuma. Take a look at the sorrowful expression on his face. It speaks volumes about how he truly feels on the inside.
I mean, if you think about his question, the answer is pretty simple. If it’s not OK to kill or hurt because “it will make others sad,” then it certainly shouldn’t ever be OK to kill, hurt, or sacrifice yourself for the sake of someone else. And this is something we see clearly come up again and again – Karen isn’t the least bit happy that Nataku died for her. Subaru does not appreciate Hokuto’s sacrifice. Kamui himself was devastated by Kotori’s death. It seems, for all intents and purposes, that the point Fuuma is trying to drive home is that it’s not OK to sacrifice yourself for someone else’s sake, because they definitely wouldn’t want you to.
With that said, he also seems to believe that it is better to grant the wish if that is what they truly desire, and he truly does think that it makes the person-in-question happy. When discussing the incident at Rainbow Bridge with Kakyou, he expresses that he believes Seishirou and Hokuto were truly happy, because they were able to die for the ones they loved.
So what does this have to do with Fuuma’s own wish? Here’s what I think – Fuuma loves Kamui deeply, not necessarily in a homo way but just as his closest friend and the last important person left in his life. He appears to have the ability to see people’s deepest wishes and also to grant them (which often results in their deaths), but when it comes to Kamui, he is reluctant to grant Kamui death, even if that is what Kamui wants. His deepest wish is for Kamui to understand this, and understand that to the people important to you, the last thing they would want is to see you hurt.
To sum it up, Fuuma’s deepest wish is for Kamui to live on, keeping the memories of those who had passed away with him in his heart.
The Granting of Wishes
Basically, for Kamui to grant Fuuma’s wish, he just has to not die and continue living with their treasured memories in his heart. However, for Fuuma to complete his role of Dragon of Earth in Kamui’s stead, he has to kill Kamui. This is in line with Kamui’s own wish to go through with the reformation of the earth. We also know that in Kakyou’s dreams, Kamui never realizes what Fuuma’s wish is up until the bitter end, and we end with a scene like this:
So with all this information, there are now several possible endings:
- Kamui never realizes his own deeper wish or Fuuma’s wish until the very end, just as Kakyou predicted. Fuuma kills Kamui with the Holy Sword, and is left clutching his dead body, his own wish unrealized. He has done the ultimate in terms of “protecting” Kamui, from beginning ’til end, but he himself is left lonely and forlorn, the silent wish-granter with no one to grant his own. A slight variant of this is that Kamui does realize what Fuuma’s wish is, but too late (aka Kamui still dies).
- Kamui realizes his own, deeper wish to join the Dragons of Earth and bring destruction to the world. In realizing this, he also realizes what Fuuma has been going through as his stand-in. He takes responsibility as Dragon of Earth himself, sparing Fuuma his duties. He may or may not also decide to kill Fuuma to cut his attachment to the world, though if he does it will surely be a painful affair that he does not enjoy, and he will respect Fuuma’s wishes and live on, keeping the siblings in his heart.
- Kamui realizes his own, deeper wish to join the Dragons of Earth and bring destruction to the world. In realizing this, he also realizes what Fuuma has been going through as his stand-in. This knowledge touches him so deeply that his original feelings towards the destruction of the world is overcome and he truly wishes to protect for the first time in his life the Fuuma in front of him, who is in essence the same Fuuma he knew, just playing the role of a bad guy in order to protect him.
Personally, I think all 3 could be likely endings. CLAMP isn’t usually the type to end on the note of “you in fact can’t change fate,” so everything happening exactly as Kakyou foresaw doesn’t seem likely. Still, X is so dark and depressing that I could see it doing exactly that (a la Greek-tragedies). CLAMP has mentioned before that the series Devilman had a heavy influence on X, and a semi-tribute version of this could be Fuuma giving a speech like “I’ve granted your wish, Kamui. This is what you wanted to see, right? You wanted the world to be destroyed…” all the while holding onto Kamui’s dead body.
As for the second ending, my personal theory would be that Kamui realizes his true wish to destroy the earth, and regretfully kills Fuuma to assume the position of the Dragon of Earth, feeling that he must do so for whatever reason. Some variant of–
Kamui: But you know what would happen to you if I became the Dragon of Earth, right?
Fuuma: Yes, and I’m prepared for it.
Kamui: *crying* I’m not going to back down any longer. I will take responsibility for my own actions this time.
Fuuma: *smiling* Okay.
Kamui: *kills Fuuma with the Holy Sword while still crying*
And then he can go on to reform the world, holding Fuuma and Kotori with him in his heart and hoping (perhaps) to meet in the next life. I think it’s also possible that after he kills Fuuma, he realizes that he has made a grave mistake in wishing for the destruction of the world, and apologizes but this is far too late because Fuuma is already dead.
The third ending I believe would still be just as tragic, because at this point the world is pretty much destroyed. Kamui might realize that he finally has something he wants to protect, and Fuuma might revert to his gentler self because he’s no longer acting for Kamui’s sake, but at the same time… the flooding has started, and there appears to be nobody left in the world except the Dragons. He might learn how to put up a spirit barrier, but he can’t undo the damage that has already been done. It’s too late for this world.
At this point they could die together with the old world or decide to stay alive to witness the birth of the new world. Assuming there is no reincarnation, the second is more likely based on all the messages of “don’t sacrifice yourself” that have been planted in the series so far.