Ayato Kamina may seem like an average boy in a devastated world, but after being captured by TERRA, a military organization set on saving the world from the Mu, an alien race set on "tuning" the world, he realizes he is an instrument in deciding the fate of humanity and piloting RahXephon. Not only is Ayato the only person who can control the mecha, but he also has a terrible fate of his own. Holding onto memories of his old life and grasping to keep his own humanity, he must struggle in this new world and realize his true potential with RahXephon.
- Animated by studio BONES, which automatically translates to great ideas, amazing production values, and shitty storyboard. - Conceived and directed by Izubuchi Yutaka, who is mostly a designer than a director. This is in fact his only directing work outside of the remake of Space Battleship Yamato, so he doesn’t have much of a roster although both titles created a sensation. Rahxephon will forever be remembered as “the Neon Genesis rival” and for that reason it can never stand on its two feet as a stand alone series, much less a cornerstone of anime in general. I mean, it tried hard but eventually I don’t believe it managed to add anything to the plate, other than proving how a good series needs to be entertaining first and intelligent second. Before I say anything else, I do admit it somewhat stirred the industry and it still has its supporters even today who still refuse to accept it is just inferior to Neon Genesis. Ok, good to them; it is not a bad show to not deserve some support after all. It is just that meta-series speaking, Rahxephon hardly had a huge impact as NGE did. It didn’t shake anything to the point of all later shows taking pointers from it in terms of storytelling or character archetypes. It didn’t gain the sympathy of the viewers of its era by identifying with their problems. In the contrary, Rahxephon itself feels like a tribute to NGE by having a lot of similarities to the above (not gonna bother mentioning which) yet it did all that in a time when the social crisis was hardly as vivid. So no, little love for the time it came out.Beyond that, the production values of the series are very good for its time, both artistic and detailed, easily transmitting feeling to their viewers. The unique architecture of the Mu culture, as well as the dreamy soundtrack easily make the series to stand out from most other shows, a thing which gives it artistic value and makes it more memorable. Unfortunately no amount of good visuals or sounds could save the show from feeling boring. For a mecha show the mecha action is plain bad and even repulsive for many. What you practically see is big ugly looking robots humming and using simplistic attacks for a few minutes. Everything looks so stiff and hardly exciting. The idea behind how the Dolems as they call them work is very interesting; as you see it needs for the pilot to sync with the machine through singing and dies if the Dolem dies even if they are far apart from each other. Being interesting and being entertaining are two different things though and as robot action, which by default it’s supposed to be KEWL, it is lame instead. Even without the action, the story also suffers from slow and dull pacing. Although the main scenario is close to amazing in its themes around reality having to retune through music, most of the presentation is plain horrible. What is the point of having a city detached from the rest of the planet, both in time and space? Why is the lead running around fighting monsters? What the hell is his mother doing? Nothing happens for several episodes. Some revelations are like watching a movie directed by M. Night. Boring action! Boring finale! The storyboard is a mess and it is very easy to give up on it. But then again this is a BONES show so it was expected to suck. Even without the story, the characters also suffer from a serious case of nihilism. They are so serious and emo, you just don’t feel a connection to them. They are distant to the most part and feel like machines following a program. Although all the main ones have interesting backdrops, their development is not only slow but also feels unimportant because you don’t identify with them. To be honest I hardly remember most of their names and faces exactly because they felt too boring to care remembering. Nobody is memorable for any reason, their development happens in an absurd way, their catharsis means nothing to you. It is a good show but only in theory. I blame BONES for having incompetent staff in the storyboards.
IntroAyato has been living an ordinary life for 17 years. Hoever, he's just about to find out, that the world he believed in is not what he thought it was...Story: 10I must say that I am biase when it comes to this show. Rahxephon for me was one of the first animes that I ever watched and still to date remains in my top 5. The reasoning for this lies mostly within the story of the show. There isn't that many shows out there where the writers would spend a year writing it and adjusting the storyline before even starting on animations, just so they had it right. It portrays messages and plot on multiple different levels at the same time and while with most shows, once you've seen it, its hard to rewatch. But with RahXephon, every time to see it, there is something new to discover which you didn't see before. At this point I have to bring up a topic that I really loathe doing, but have to address since many anime fans out there will talk about this. While Neon Genesis Evangelion set the trend for mecha anime, anyone who strives and talks about how RahXephon is nothing but a rip-off from NGE, should be shot. I say this metaphorically, but these types of people really annoy me. RahXephon does what NGE only dreamed of doing; creating a show with a plot which had not only a definate end, but also has a magical quality that goes beyond what should be in a show.Animation: 9Its been a while since I watched this show, but upon rewatching it, I found that the animation quality hasn't aged that much during this time. While some other shows age poorly, RahXephon is still one of the best animations that BONES have ever produced. The dolems in the show are each unique and bring with them the life and culture of the Mu. In the final episodes of the show, the quality becomes some of the best I've seen and really impresses upon the climax of the show.Sound: 9Lets get the bad out of the way to start with. The ending piece, Fledgling Dream, is somewhat a desired taste and while I like it, I understand perfectly why most people don't. However, I must say that although Hemisphere (the opening) is seen by some as the weakest of Yoko Kanno's openers, it still is a great tune and one which is somewhat adapt for the series. Considering that RahXephon is based deeply within the world of sound and colour, the soundtrack produces some charming, and at times, perfect music that helps bring the raw emotion out. The show does contain one of my all time favourite...err...note(?) during the first opening which literally sends shivers down my spine. The dolem incidently are all named after music terminology, showing how much sound has on the show.Characters: 10This show has quite a few characters in it and some get more screen time than others. While this means that there is somewhat of an unbiased towards character development for some rather than others, it does mean that the background information you get on some of them is deeper than that seen in most other animes. The trouble in talking about RahXephon is the inability to suitably talk about characters in the show, without giving away the plot. But lets say that the series contains a moment of pure genius about halfway through the series which literally made me cry due to the emotion displayed.Overall: 10RahXephon for me is a show which is always going to be close to my heart. While for some people they may claim it is a rip-off from another well liked mecha series, RahXephon will give you a sense of wonder and achievement when you finish watching it. Just the first episode gives out questions, some of which remain unanswered for most of the show, but what makes this stand out is that all the loose ends are tied up and as such, no follow up was ever needed. A brilliantly thought out show that deserves a better reputation than it has.(Incidently, this is also a prime slot to bring up the topic of the manga. Its worth a read and takes a different approach to the series, so is also well worth reading.)
Oh, so this is why Gravion is a series based 100% on innuendo jokes. Story - 7/10 There is so much promise in RahXephon but in the end it never lives up to that potential. I was surprised too at the originality and twist it put on plot points we'd seen before, but just when it got to something we'd be derailed by a complete change out of no where or a useless battle. I fully enjoyed the story of the two worlds and how basically all the lives of the people we know were connected. Even the back stories, though often confusing, added more than one could have thought given the short amount of screen time some had, but that gave the show a good mystery appeal, forcing the viewer to pay attention and try to connect the dots here and there, though without help you may end up connecting them incorrectly. Midpoints were the relationships themselves. You kind of understand where everyone connects, but then you'd read material about the show and find out you were a bit off. If they added more information on the creation of the Dolem, the tuners and the Mu themselves they might have averted some confusion that messed with how you view the series. As with most shows I would have loved some of the time be spent on minor characters who are actually extremely important and maybe drop some of the love story aspect of the show, but I guess they want to appeal to as wide an audience as they can. Finally the bad. While it's not the story itself, the fighting between the Xephon and Dolems becomes far beyond pointless, we don't need a battle every show. In my foreword I mentioned the innuendo jokes in Gravion, I have a feeling this series is where all the jokes come from, as every episode has a useless fight out of nowhere and the good guy somehow manages to always find a new weapon that easily disintegrates the Dolem, if they wanted to put in battles have a big one every few episodes. One of the other downsides is how they pieced the story together. For all the information and content we get it's just too jumbled up, with good plot points being broken up into small 20 second clips and placed throughout a show. With a show so confusing sometimes just keeping things together can save wear on the rewind button. Animation - 6/10 The character animations for this series were very disappointing. You get the DVDs and everything has amazing art, the Collector's Box, the DVD cases, the booklets, but then watching the show you're just given cookie cutter faces for the characters, who are the meat of the series. The other parts of the animation are very good, but the Xephons and Background art are just 2/3rds of the series and can't help give the show that lasting quality when it comes to art. As I mentioned in my soft open, there is also something about the Xephons that, well, lets say is a bit disturbing. They all have a very sexual look to them as if this is the art teams little inside joke. Sound - 5/10 For a show that is about Instrumentalist and how they must find their song in order to control the RahXephon they really didn't put too much effort into the music of the show. There are a few tunes that are good, but for the most part it's uninteresting mood music that doesn't show too much originality. The English Vocal performances all were very good, and thats the only reason I gave the show an okay score, they fit the character personalities well and were very diverse. That being said there was one issue that got to me in the English version, so I decided to switch over to the Japanese track to check. During a few scenes Quon sings her song to the Rahxephon, it just seemed a bit off so I switched over and listened to the Japanese version, it was a nice low song that fit her personality, in the English version it was like a crazy woman screaming at a group of cats in her backyard, it was terrible. I can only guess that the woman they had do the voice over had a terrible singing voice so they just told her to act like an idiot. The voice of Quon also changes the way you perceive her, in the Japanese version she just seems like a soft spoken girl, in the English version she's brain damaged, it's really one of the worst lost in translation moments I've seen in an Anime, a dumb "acting" choice ruins a character. Characters - 5/10 The show was all over the place when it came to characters, while still being pretty standard and somewhat boring. The main characters, Ayato, Haruka and Hiroko had very little originality and never seemed to be built as more than just semi-annoying children. Worse than that, two of the three seem to have multiple personality disorder, as Ayato can't make up his mind about helping Terra or not, or about being in love or not. As for Haruka, when we first meet her she's a tough secret agent who fights off bad guys and saves Ayato, then she returns to Earth and becomes a shrinking violet who can't say what she feels or stand up for herself, everything feels like it took a bad turn with many of the characters. There are only a few likable characters in the show, two of which are drawn completely different to what their personalities would tell you, Capt (Major? Leader? Sergeant? I can't remember) Kunugi and Watari both are good people who have actual redeeming qualities, but they decided to draw both like typical bad guys, which I guess is a nice change of pace, but could be a bit confusing. Overall the characters weren't so much bad as they were frustrating. You want more from those who are supposedly saving the world but you just don't get that, if they wanted to give us characters like this they should have made them flawed in someway, but instead they just made them incomplete. Overall - 6/10 RahXephon could have been a great series, but they let little useless things get in the way of building a really good story, most notably how they were all over the place with important plot points. I guess like all Mecha series they need to show the vehicle as much as possible, but having a useless 3 minute fight in every episode took away from areas where they could have build up a character or two. The show isn't bad, but unfortunately you may need an extra viewing or two in order to really understand what was going on, and with so many exceptional shows to watch I don't really know if I'd want to spend another 10+ hours rewatching everything, as again there's just no one to root for. Here's hoping the Movie gives a better telling of this story with so much wasted potential.
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