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.)
Fascinating design and style subverted by a confused and broken plot. The ideas about war, surviving, being human are all present but overshadowed by shallow romances and love triangles. It has a classic 2000s look to the animation and character design which I like but overall I wouldn't recommend this anime over others. Unlike other military oriented mechas, this one's foundation for world building falls flat with lack of information, too little reality and lack of cohesiveness throughout the episodes. Large plot twists mirror more popular animes and so they also hold no impact even for shock value. And because it relied largely on challenging the real world nothing felt real so nothing felt shocking. The idea of aliens being among humans to challenge what it means to be human is an interesting idea but it was explained poorly how these aliens came to be and the idea almost crumbled throughout the show. If maybe they had focused on one idea in the show, it could have come together but there was so many subplots, the main plot lost focus. Good points for me in this anime included the opening which had a great song, the robot designs and singing which was unique, and the soul searching dialogue. Bad points included the forced romance between the main character Ayato and almost every female character he came in contact with which gave it a shoddy harem feel, the lack of proper world building that left a lot of components of the story in the dark and the reliance on memory alteration/memory loss to create plot. RahXephon loved the idea of getting rid of fake memories/recreating oneself/becoming oneself and women desperately in love with men. If we had removed all the unnecessary romance, I think this anime would have come together. If Ayato hadn't been the main character, while his journey to understanding himself IS important, I feel the themes and other characters could have given a great narrative about war, human vs robot, memories, guilt and family. It had obvious Evangelion ideas and imagery taken to form its base but it could have also had its own message if it had been cleaner about its purpose throughout the episodes. Maybe if we had followed Haruka as our main character the ideas of identity, love and purpose would have come together better. I hate to say it's trying to be another Evangelion but it was obvious that there was inspiration from Eva. I think there are more interesting animes that question the self and reality but it wasn't the worst out there.
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