Kamina Ayato may seem like an average boy in a devastated world, but after being captured in order to save 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 a past love and grasping to keep his own humanity, he must struggle in this new world and realize his true potential. The RX movie is a condensed version of the TV series.
I wouldn't call this so much a movie as it is more of a complete waste of time to anyone who watched the series, even if you didn't watch the series, it's worth the extra 10 hours to do so. (Note the Animation and Sound portion are copied from the Series review, as they were identical) Story - 2/10 Unlike the series, the RahXephon Film takes a very simple look at a similar story. From the very start we learn who Haruka is, and she also is now the reason Ayato leaves Tokyo Jupiter. Essentially the story changes from his journey to find out about the blue blood and what was going on, into a journey to find his old love (they try to explain this all by saying people now only lose their memory when their blood turns, but everyone else in Tokyo Jupiter seems to be living like nothing changed, despite not all of them being Mu.) Along with that change we now have Quon being a sleeping Instrumentalist from the other dimension who only awakens to relay her visions, she'll finally wake for good when Ayato's blood changes. She's no longer a clone but Ayato's Aunt, who came from the Mu dimension with her sister, the other true instrumentalist. I guess the only bright side to this is finding out some information about Ayato's father. Most other plot lines and stories are just ripped out and thrown away, heck even the main story is just composed of bits from the series with a scene or two thrown in to make them fit, and many of the other pieces not fitting in the slightest. 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 OK 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 and 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 - 1/10 If you decided to watch this on it's own you'd be almost at a loss for what's going on. Besides a tiny bit of back story on Ayato and Hauka, there is absolutely no information given on any of the characters. At times characters just pop up, since their scenes are taken from the series and thrown into important situations without any explanation. Torigai one second is on the train with Ayato and Hiroko, some scenes pass and he's guarding Ayato's house, then all of a sudden he's controlling a Dolem, if you didn't learn the story from the series it would all seem like gibberish. They also decided to take out, or lessen, some of the more interesting characters from the series. Kisaragi is nothing more than a chaperone to Quon's sleeping corpse. Isshiki turns up and acts like a psychopath as he leads the attack on Tokyo Jupiter, but you wouldn't know why. Watari is no where to be seen, Elvy comes in for one battle, though you don't know why, and is then gone, and Uncle Rikudo, Yakuma, Bahbem and Megumi are all after thoughts used for a few seconds of story line. Overall - 2/10 I tried to come at the movie with fresh eyes, thinking it could be seen as a stand alone movie with a different telling of the story, but it just can't be done. If you watched the movie alone you would be more confused than if you watched only the series. They jump around so much that nothing actually connects together, it just seems like random ideas thrown at a wall. Watching it as someone who previously watched the series it's not so much confusing as it is just terrible. The changes make little sense and the simplification of the the story makes you feel like an imbecile. They went from giving you most of the answers, if you did some thinking, in the series, to just writing it all out for you. While I wasn't a huge fan of the series, I thought it had many good points and just needed some work, a few characters developed more here and there and it would have been a show with the potential to watch again, I can say I'm less of a fan of the film, hell I'm more of a fan of food poisoning than I am of the movie. Save yourself your time, watch the series and read a FAQ on it if you're confused, just stay away from this.
Okay, I won't say it was great, but it did cover a larger scope, even getting some of the plot holes from the series itself (aka Haruka Mishima being Haruka Shto) out of the way so that people would actually understand what the hell it was going on. Story Wise, unless you have watched the series, this is a compressed retelling of the events in the anime series, with a surprise ending. It has a lot of things different, but the story is kept the same.
As I have just reviewed the X movie, I thought I would keep going with the "movie retelling" theme and review the Rahxephon movie. Like the X movie, this Rahxephon outing has a few troubles with pacing. The execution gives the movie a collage effect as a whole and this does not really work when one compares it with the breathtaking pace of the series. I have to admit, I do not understand the purpose of this movie at all. It is even more incoherent than the X Movie (which is saying something) and pointless as a whole. It is impossible for a Rahxephon "newbie" to enjoy this as it relies on your knowledge of the story for it to make sense (the strange pace and editing job certainly won't help). Ones familiar with the story are doomed to see it as a disappointment as it does not bring anything forward that was not explored in the series. I must say I was disappointed with the animation here. It is not because of the looks of it at all, Rahxephon has NEVER looked bad. My gripe is with the excessive reused footage here. I would say about 75% of the visuals come directly from the series. They have merely extended some scenes and added a few to (attemptively) help the movie's flow. As it is, the movie looks good but more original footage would have not gone astray with fans of the show. I was especially disappointed with the way things were pieced together. The editing put scenes from the series out of order and in this new context it was either inappropriate or did not work. Scenes from the end finding their way at the start were okay at first; but the pacing made it so they would then jump to random scenes from anywhere in the series to try to get into Ayato's head. This played out like the last two eps of Evangelion when they were "piecing" Shinji together. I was not a big fan of it then and I am still not impressed now. The sound was another aspect that was okay overall. More unheard symphonies were on offer and they worked out quite well but most of the time the same sounds from the series were just used again. The voice acting was very good at capturing the characters with Ayato's angst very believable because of the delivery. The pacing made the overall effect strange though as you would have the characters going from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum within 30 seconds. The story is the aspect I had my biggest gripe with. What they did here ended up affecting all the other categories' in a bad way. Had they handled/edited the plot a little more coherently, the characters would not have come out so incoherent and the animation would have felt a lot more fluid. I will start with the good when it comes to the story though. First off, it revealed the series' biggest twist within the first five minutes and that allowed me to feel that they were actually trying to break away from the series and thus sucked me in. I was wrong however as what it does is retell the audience what happened in the series just with a different approach. I think that is pointless because when you get right down to it, Rahxephon fans are gonna be the ones who will watch this and they would have seen all this already. The second thing I appreciated with the story is that the excrutiable pacing and editing of the plot made me realise how good the TV series was in comparison. The bad is also inclusive of the characters so forgive me if I delve into them as I refer to it. First off we have Ayato and he is given centre stage. Within the movie's timeframe you get to see all the important things he went through in the series in a condensed format. This creates a lot of trouble as his journey of self-discovery is quite important. The way the movie was pieced together though made it so the side characters/love interests were barely present or would randomly disappear and reappear when need be. I am a strong believer of not using something at all if it drags down the effect you want to create AND having these side characters (ones that were ACTUALLY used) there just for show was one thing I would have done away with. Their inclusion here creates expectations for them that are just not met. The relationship between Ayato and the Rahxephon was not given enough time to develop either and as a result their connection felt forced. This can be said for a lot of the relationships here. Another good example would be of Mishima and Ayato. Although she is the one Ayato was looking for and was actually in love with the whole time (you can see it in the way they put references of her everywhere), the director included footage that had Mishima's sister and Quon as possible love interests. This would be fine if they went somewhere and when it seems to, we are teleported to a different story about Ayato and his relationship with a childhood friend who also has more than platonic feelings for him... All these things I mentioned that did not work here because of the time issue, are developed very successfully in the TV series. So I am a firm believer that you should definitely watch the series to get all the aspects of it. I think another thing that affected my enjoyment of it was that I could not stop comparing it with the series because of the parallels that it creates. I don't know if I was intended to see it on its own merits but I just could not detach it from the series because it was too much like it (it plays more like an Evangelion movie than the Utena movie). I don't think I can recommend this movie to anyone. I know fans of the show will want to see it and although you get to see this interesting cast again, there is not much beyond that. So watch at your own risks but Rahxephon newbies avoid this like the plague and watch the series instead.
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