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Rah Xephon is a mecha anime.
But that is a gross oversimplification.
Rah Xephon is a drama.
But that brief description does not do it justice.
Rah Xephon is about a boy and a mecha; the girl that he loves (which one?); the girl that loves him (which one?); the relationship between parents and children; the relationship between siblings; the relationship between friends; the relationship between enemies; war; peace; love; hate; fierce battles waged in the skies; sharp interpersonal conflicts...
...Wait. I'm getting ahead of myself -- let me start from the beginning.
The series does an excellent job of introducing the viewer to the protagonist, Kamina Ayato, and how he thinks before going into full swing. From the first episode to the last, I wondered. Who is Ayato, really? Why is there a war? And I also watched in wonder. Rah Xephon is a collage of visual splendor and incredible storytelling.
Visuals: 9 / 10
The animation is high-quality and modern; there are no stilted movements or empty frames, at least not that I could see. I was too busy enjoying the series, however, to be very critical of the animation; I suppose that in of itself is a compliment to the producers.
The characters all have a very distinct look to them, and although they all live in an exceptional world, and most of them are either exceptional themselves or have experienced exceptional things, they all know the same emotions that we know, and that is what ties these characters to the viewer. Love -- anger -- jealousy -- hatred -- it's all there, in one form or another.
Story, Characters: 10 / 10
From the beginning, things are unclear; as the series progresses, some of those things are revealed overtly, others are left to the viewer's imagination, and others still are left untouched, ready for a second season or a movie (which is indeed coming soon.) The joy of watching Rah Xephon is that you, the viewer, are treated to not only the solving of these mysteries through the eyes of the protagonist, but also the perspectives of all those involved. The story moves like the tide, sweeping back and forth between characters and events, punctuated by exclamation points of battle and periods of revelation. And as with the tide, I was helpless to stop it -- I let myself be carried with it, and that was not a hard thing to do, because it was a warm, comforting tide -- in other words, Rah Xephon has a superior story that moves the viewer through the strength of the plot and the exposition of the characters. As mentioned before, the characters all share the same emotions that we do, and react to events perhaps not in the exact same way that most of us would, but in a way that is eminently believable.
Audio: 8 / 10
The music, overall, is of a very high quality, and accompanies the movement of the story, the emotions of the characters, and the battles very well. There are no individual songs that made me think, "I must have this song" or "I must have the OST," but overall, the music was one more well-executed element that contributed to the enjoyableness of the series. (I'm told by several dictionaries that enjoyability is not a word.) There is no pop sound to the music; it has its roots in classical, I would think, but it's very hard to pin down a genre for it, as I'm not a very musically-inclined person (other than that I enjoy music in general.)
Overall: 10 / 10
Rah Xephon is one of those blessed few series that moved my heart in a way that only art of any form (movies, books, paintings, etc.) can. There is plenty of action and conflict that keeps the story from ever stagnating; the viewer is constantly involved, for following the details is an arduous task, though an extremely pleasant one at that; and when all is said and done, if Rah Xephon had anywhere near the effect on you that it had on me, then you will be able to say that you did not waste your time with it.