In the year 2012 Japan was invaded by the Mu. Human-like beings from another dimension with blue blood.
In the year 2015 Tokyo is attacked by invaders, who are repelled by a humanoid weapon called a Dolem. During the chaos, Ayato Kamina meets Reika Mishima, a classmate.
During that same day, he is attacked by government officials but a woman named Haruka comes to his rescue, informing him that she was sent to get him by the Organization TERRA, and that Tokyo had been sealed in a time rift where time flows one third as fast as the outside world.
He flees from Haruka onto a train where he sees Reika once more. Arriving at the Room of Rah, he follows her to a tremendous egg where the Dolem RahXephon is hatched from, and upon her singing his mother appears atop the Dolem that had stopped the TERRA Invasion. In the battle Ayato's mother is injured, and Ayato flees Tokyo Jupiter with Haruka.
#1: "Yume no Tamago" ("Fledgling Dream" English version) by Ichiko and Mayumi Hashimoto (ep 1, 5, 15-16, 19, 25) #2: "Yume no Tamago" by Ichiko Hashimoto and Mayumi Hashimoto (eps 2-4, 6-14, 17-18, 20-24) #3: "Before You Know" by Ichiko Hashimoto (ep 26)
To start off, I'm going to say I am not a big mecha fan. All I knew when I started this series was that it was a mecha/sci-fi/action anime that some of my friends looked down upon due to its unfavorable comparisons to Neon Genesis Evangaleon (which I haven't seen). Other than that, I had no idea what I was in for, and that's how I like it. What I got, in short, was a surprisingly great show, well made, that really grew on me very quickly.
STORY: The story can be the weakest part for some people, it isn't simple or linear, but, I think, it's not too, too complicated. You are in Ayato's shoes at the start, and it's very understandable to be confused as to what's going on. With a little faith and some brain power, keep going forward and it'll all be revealed if you keep your eyes open. The story is woven well and, without giving much away, I'll say that it's about Ayato's journey to learn about: the world he's in, the real world, who he is/was, who the giant flying robots are, and what his purpose is in relation to the people around him. Vague, right? I know, this area is pretty sketchy, and intentionally so. The story is deep, the story is more than slightly convoluted, and the story is good. Give it a chance. 8/10.
ART: One of the things I instantly liked about this show was the art. I knew this anime hadn't come out yesterday and, despite being a guy who just has to have what's new and now, I really liked the animation. The colors are great, everything is well drawn, with special detail to the mechas (which, surprisingly, some mecha animes overlook, go figure). I didn't find anything that really stood out as bland and there were few- if any- weak points in the animation. It didn't feel dated at all despite having come out 6 years ago. 9/10.
SOUND: The Opening/Ending to RahXephon really caught my ears, just like the art caught my eye. The ending theme is beautiful, and sent me to sleep (in a good way) more than once while watching the episodes back to back. The music always fits the mood, the sound effects are great, and a lot of the tracks are lovable. Indeed, one of the 'themes' of the show is about sound, and there's a bit about singing, which I won't get into unless I want to get into spoiler-land, but Sound is definitely one of RahXephon's strong points. The voice acting is top notch, if you're someone like me who always wonders whether to bother with the dub, well I loved it. Ayato's voice was great, the supporting character's were pretty good, and Vic Mignogna was... well, he's Vic Mignogna. 10/10.
CHARACTER: Second to Sound, here's where the series shines the most. And yet it gets an 8- why? Because of the unavoidable connections between Character and Story. The complexities of the Story mixed with the large cast of characters sometimes made it hard to keep track of who was who, something I found really disappointing. Also, aside from Ayato and the main, let's say other two, it was difficult to tell who the main characters really were. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, but the ambiguity, imo, could have been handled a little better. Nonetheless, the characters themselves, once you've gotten to know them, will blow you away. I really connected with Ayato and many of the supporting cast. A lot of them are deep and, over the course of the series go through so many intense emotional periods, the most passionate parts of their lives. You see them at their best and their worst, really getting to know them, and though it can get kind of tricky keeping track of them all, you'll definitely have an opinion of them if nothing else. 8/10.
ENJOYMENT: I really don't know what it was. Could it have been the 'artsy' undertones? The score, the production, the characterization? Or maybe I'm just a mecha fan underneath who hasn't come out of his shell, I don't know, but what I do know is: I really, really liked RahXephon, and I put it up there in my top 3 favorite animes ever. I forget how I stumbled across it, really, but I'm glad I did. What began as a way to kill time ended as really something of an experience. I understand this series has many parallels to NGE (see above), and after watching this I started to understand why NGE fans so vigorously shoved it into my face, for I was doing the same with RahXephon. You COULD say having to watch the series a second time to understand everything counts as replay value, maybe, but who knows? I know I didn't fully get everything on the first go around (which is really what keeps this thing from truly, truly being perfect). 9/10.
OVERALL (aka: tl;dr version):
STORY: Ayato's journey of self discovery takes him into his own mind and places far beyond. Well written, but very complex; worth giving your full attention. 8/10.
ART: Fluid, beautifully done, smooth and nicely drawn animations that keep your attention. 9/10.
SOUND: Amazing English dubbing, and the japanese voices are nothing short of what you'd expect either. Spectacular music, OP/ED, and overall great OST/sound effects. 10/10.
CHARACTER: A (perhaps too) large and real cast of characters, very real, very human, that may or may not make or break the series for you. 8/10.
ENJOYMENT: I'm not sure on this one. Watch the first, let's say 6 or 7 episodes, wait for things to really get rolling, and if you don't like it/are totally lost/absolutely hate it, don't watch it. I for one could not stop watching this anime. 9/10.
So how do two 8's, two 9's, and a 10 average out to an overall 10? I have no idea, but I cannot recommend this anime strongly enough. It truly is a work of art.
[This was my first review; if you did not find it helpful, please let me know. I'm always happy to talk about this series!]read more
Where to begin. First the disclaimer: RahXephon is definitely not for everyone. It's usually best to have little to no expectations so as to not contaminate the experience. With RX there are some things you should, and a lot of things you should NOT, expect.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention how significantly challenging of a show it is to get into. You certainly have to be in the right mood/mindset for it. It is easy to label this show as an action, drama, sci-fi mecha romance (or whatever), but what does any of that mean? If you've seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, expect this show to have a very familiar... setting. This is usually the first thing people notice (and usually complain about). Mecha is probably the least important aspect of this show however. The story is also very heavily character driven, so the pacing is very slow and the action is sparse. Coupled with this, the sci-fi aspects of the show are limited and more of a sub-plot if anything. At its heart however RX is ripe with drama and romance, but above all else, it is a very well written and a stunningly artistic show.
That being said, if you are the kind of person who likes to analyze things and gestate them and appreciate the fine art in works, then RX has a lot to offer. This is not to say that RX is an intellectual tour de force meant only for the highest of brows, but rather as a hint for people who like that kind of stuff. If this is not your style or what you are in the mood for, then there is a very good chance you will find this show simply boring, meaningless, and/or just an inferior version of NGE.
I initially tried to watch this show with my brother and we were both wondering "when does anything cool happen?" Some months later I tried watching the show again, by myself this time, late at night. Under these conditions I was able to just sit back and enjoy what was going on. So I definitely recommend watching this under similar settings where you have time to view at least a few episodes and focus on them.
There's not really much to say about the story that isn't covered in any synopsis. There are elements of mystery that can be confusing at times, but get more or less resolved/explained eventually (with minor exceptions). Some of the temporal ideas they play with are kind of interesting. The way information is revealed is pretty well done. You slowly get immersed into the world(s) and things become more intriguing and entertaining the more you get to know the characters. What's more, it actually has a conclusive and COHERENT ending, which is more than I can say for the majority of anime. There's nothing I hate more than getting really into a series only to have it end in some crazy, sudden, ambiguous, and/or arbitrary manner. I HATE THAT SO MUCH. *deep breath* Ok, so, stories with good endings get high marks from me. I can't really say what it was I liked so much about the ending without essentially spoiling it, but suffice to say I found it very.... emotionally satisfying.
Do not be fooled. Even though the Japanese love to throw robots into almost everything, RahXephon is scarcely a mech show except in the most token of ways. The fights involving mechs are brief and mostly forgettable. They really serve more of a symbolic and artistic purpose than any kind of technical combative entertainment. This is most prominently exemplified in episodes 19 and 26. The sci-fi part of the story is mostly nonsense, but it's very pretty looking and sounding nonsense. This is what really counts here. It doesn't matter if the plot is silly or has been done before, what matters most isn't what is said but HOW it is told. The real story lies beneath the surface of the sci-fi mecha mumbo jumbo, and if this isn't clear by the end then you've really missed something.
NGE vs. RX:
If you've already seen Neon Genesis Evangelion then you might be put off by how strikingly similar this show appears to be. It's true; the parallels between RahXephon and NGE are uncomfortably pervasive. They both have a young male lead thrust into piloting a mech for some organization to fight against abstract enemies. They both have an older female character who introduces and protects/shelters the main character. They both take place, obviously, in (post-destruction) Tokyo and of course are mankind's last hope against a prevailing alien threat. Coincidences like these will probably catch your eye throughout the show, however, RX is not the blatant ripoff one might think. These common threads are superficial and are no more egregious than two shows having the same "harem of girls fawning over an awkward guy" plot.
Here's where the shows stop being similar: NGE provided a more realistic mech story with deep psychological overtones and Christian themed undertones; RX centers around capturing a certain... aesthetic more than anything else. So if you are going to watch RX, it is important to bear in mind that the thing you'll take away most from it is not the "edge of your seat action" or the "mind blowing concepts" but one thing: aesthetics. Here RX triumphs over NGE most magnificently; it is simply and stunningly beautiful.
The character designs put me off a little bit in the beginning. There was something so simple and plain about them that didn't sit right with me. Their colors were too solid and too flat. The designs are definitely different, and after a while I either grew used to them or stopped caring, because everything else about the art in RX is just amazing. The time and effort they put into the backgrounds are absolutely breathtaking. The other thing I liked about RX is that even though the enemies are abstract looking, they're not just weird floating giant eyeballs or anything obnoxious like that. The abstraction in RX actually retains a certain "realistic" genuine design, they look like something someone might actually build.
I'd say the sound in this series shares in the same spirit of aesthetics. I mean, how could it not? The plot revolves around the idea of a world suffused with sound. If you are spinning a story that is largely character driven and are trying to immerse the viewer in visuals then it is equally important that the music draws them in as well. Some of the melodies are really solid/memorable, but the most important part is that the mood and tones are always set just right. Since music/sound is supposed to be a big theme of the show, it would've been nice if there had been more distinguishable harmonic singing as opposed to the mostly tonal chanting that goes on. In this area I don't feel they really tapped into their full potential beauty and the incessant droning can get a little annoying...
The Op/En themes were alright, maybe a little too tranquil for my tastes. The dubbing was surprisingly good. I usually watch an episode or so dubbed and then watch a couple subbed before deciding how to watch the series, but the dub was so well done that the thought to switch over never even came to me. This is not to say it was flawless, Vic Mignogna's voice didn't seem to quite fit, but whatever. Comparing it to the subtitling, I might even go as far as saying that the dubbing was possibly better...
The main character is a refreshing alternative to your typical amoral badass or whiny, obnoxious brat. No stupid sidekicks or comic relief here, no retarded antics and none of the usual cliche archetypes that make up your usual lineup. Most of the characters are really well done, a few of the minor characters could've been better developed, but they're all fairly believable and likable. With the exception of Makoto, who is just an unbelievable prick. It's never really explained why he's such an insufferable douche bag either. This ultimately doesn't matter, some people are just bastards for no good reason, but it would've been nice if at least A reason was given. In fact, it would've been better if some of the characters motives had been elaborated on more.
If you've seen and liked Eureka 7 (also by Bones) then you already have an idea about what a story driven by wonderful characters is like. Of course, having good characters alone is not what makes this show unique. More so than the visuals or the sound, where RahXephon really excels is how heart warmingly romantic it is. I don't mean this in some cheesy, lovey-dovey, soap opera kind of way. It's somewhat hard to explain. You can watch this show and not even pick up on it, but that's part of the magic. It's not overdone and it's sort of subtle about it but still effective.
Even the characters are beautiful in a way. I hate stories where characters act or react in ways that have no bearing to real life, so when they interact believably it just makes it that much more enjoyable for me. Let's take harem shows for instance where the main male lead is either painfully oblivious to (or shows no interest in) any of his would-be female suitors. Or, when there's some ridiculously breasted female character (and there's a lot of them in anime) and people just act as if it's the norm, when you know, YOU KNOW, every single male (and lesbian?) eye would be locked on to that woman all-the-time; everywhere she went. I HATE when shows do that.
So I was SO glad to see RahXephon took that extra step to make the characters feel more real rather than just inundate the viewer with more of the usual idealistic/innocent baloney -- and I'll always love it for that. The characters are so sincere and so genuine with one another that it made watching them gripping. In that same vein of realism, I absolutely loved how... amorous the characters were. You'll see scenes where cleavage might catch someone's eye, or where there will be an air of sexual tension, or proximity promiscuity, and all these other sensual elements that were deliciously but tastefully mature. This extra layer made the characters so much more... human. I really loved this about the show, and it is probably what I'll remember most: just how playful and fun and passionate and real they appeared to be. So by the time I got to the end, it was such a memorable and moving journey that I was sad when it was over. The characters were just so alluring and endearing.
There are a lot of mysteries in the show I never understood like who Kamina's parents were, or how Haruka found him at that gateway after the disappearance, or the whole clone craziness, or the whole elaborate setup at the end, or why the mu were on earth or where they came from... but none of that really matters. I can't really do justice to how much I liked this show, but there's a review of it on ANN that puts it into much better words than I have. This is a show anyone who values substance owes to themselves to watch.read more
Preface (let me get this out of the way): Rahxephon certainly draws strong influences from various sources; Robert. F. Young's The Dandelion Girl, James Churchward's The Lost Continent of Mu, and most famously, Neon Genesis Evangelion. In fact, the latter's impact was evident to the point where Rahxephon was often called an "Evangelion ripoff", and while it should cry out indignantly against having such a name, there are certainly numerous parallels in presentation that almost seem as if the show was paying homage to NGE. Now, that said...
Our love for our favourite shows by no means dissipate after their credits roll, much like how a note lingers long after it is played. Instead, the fondness we've had in their duration is redirected, as if seeping into our very veins, in which they are subsequently etched into our minds. It's a feat which is rarely achieved but immensely gratifying when realized; and few shows have been able to do so at the same degree of Rahxephon, where science fiction, romance, and sound are topped off with a breathtaking presentation; the result is a beautifully crafted experience thanks to the combined efforts of its enrapturing plot and delicate, but equally stunning character relationships.
The show begins with a mysterious invasion on Tokyo, and Ayato Kamina, high school student and avid painter, is placed right in the midst of it. A brief encounter with an apparent classmate, Mishima Reika, quickly strings him along a number of mysterious events. Ayato is attacked by government agents and subsequently rescued by the mysterious Haruka; Tokyo is isolated from the rest of the world by a time dilating barrier, and his mother's blood turns out to be blue. After being led to a shrine where he awakens the cryptic Xephon, he quickly makes his escape from Tokyo alongside Haruka, who claims to have the answers to these revelations which seem blatantly contrary to what Ayato has always been led to believe.
What follows is an ambitious plot which spans thousands of years, bridging the gap between worlds and species. Beautifully implemented and thematically resonant, what's immediately evident - apart from the prevalence of symbolism - is the show's large emphasis on sound, from the mysterious "Dolems" to the ubiquity of terms such as "timbre" and "instrumentalist". Subtle hints and details are provided at a dynamic pace, and witnessing such a grand, yet complex tale unfold is alluring and, in the end, extremely rewarding.
Rahxephon's storytelling occurs centripetally; we begin with a series of cryptic events, and are quickly told right from the get-go that few characters are to be trusted. Yet, mysterious layers are shed as we creep ever closer towards the centre point. Things begin on a grand scale, with our characters' personal stories seemingly detached; yet both plots of varying sizes eventually coalesce. As if woven by an invisible thread, we watch as our cast's relationships ebb and flow between one another; as their intertwined trails are gradually elucidated upon, our attachment simultaneously grows with familiarity. It's a largely brilliant cast - almost every main character is both multidimensional and likable, and although many could still be categorized with familiar tropes, the majority are simply developed so well that the walls of their caricatures fail to keep them within the realm of the cliché.
However, this raises what is perhaps the show's only caveat: its character relationships are complex, but the show does very little to reinforce this information to the viewer. I understand that fitting the pieces into place is a major aspect of the experience, but it's much too easy for such important material to simply escape the viewer's grasp. Because, in the end, Rahxephon tells a complete, coherent story, and making room for ambiguity isn't among its primary concerns. Certain characters could have also flourished with more development. Case in point, the enigmatic, soft-spoken and seemingly omniscient Quon remains so right up to the show's last few episodes, with little evident progression - despite enormous potential.
Despite being filed under the genre of mecha, such a categorization is misleading - in fact, the so-called "mechas" aren't even machines to begin with. Rahxephon is primarily a tale of time-transcending romance and conflict between and among species; its elements of action and mechas can be seen as auxiliary instruments used to tell such a story. Action scenes are scattered about to be sure, but battles are used to develop characters above all else, and rarely extend beyond brief exchanges, ending in uses of deus ex machina. By no means is this a detriment to the series, however, as Rahxephon is home to one of the greatest, most memorable romantic relationships I've seen yet.
There should be little doubt of Studio Bones' illustrious reputation, and Rahxephon's consistently fluid animation serves as a testament to their impressive résumé. Character, mecha, and environment designs are excellent, although it certainly won't strike a fine chord with everybody. And what would such a series do without an incredible soundtrack? The musical pieces harmonize exquisitely with the on-screen events; Yoko Kanno's beautiful, heart-stimulating opening serves as a magnetizing introduction, whereas the ending piece invokes an ineffably dreamlike, reflective sensation. Ichiko Hashimoto's background pieces are not only beautiful, but diverse, ranging from upbeat electronica and jazz to the slow and surreal; there are even some classical pieces tossed into the mix, with few hints of dissonance.
If Rahxephon's introduction is the desolate aria, then surely its finale is the orchestra's grandiose culmination. It's a finale which is immensely satisfying; cathartic, invigorating, yet oddly poignant, few shows have left in their wake such a powerful, incisively lingering reverberation. Its brilliantly realized cast and intertwining relationships, engaging plot, and immaculate presentation make for what is one of the greatest anime experiences I've had yet. Slow but captivating, complex but worth every second, dense but ultimately coherent; watch it with an open mind, and perhaps you may find its lavish beauty quivering long after its credits roll as well.
RahXephon is a Shounen, Sci-fi, Mecha, Romance, Drama about a high school boy Ayato Kamina, who believes in the reality that is present before him. However everything changes once he discovers the truth about the world, that humanity is at war.
From the very beginning you will be thrown right into the thick of it, knowing very little about the plot, story and overall premise. However as the show goes on it slowly reveals, bit by bit, what it is all about, which is about humanity's struggle against some weird invaders. The story is told well because everything is straight forward and you won’t feel overwhelmed with the back story and all the terms given. However this anime series may lack some originality because it is not too difficult to spot the numerous parallels between RahXphon and the ever-so-popular Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both series about boys being thrust into a war against unknown beings, plus having romantic interest on the side. Nonetheless, RahXephon does manage to become an anime of its own.
The characters are fairly well-defined and well developed but only Ayato Kamina stands out, as the protagonist. Yet every episode usually focuses on one of the supporting characters, developing them further. Nevertheless there are times when the characters’ actions and thoughts are confusing or just don’t make any sense.
The animation and music quality is the sort of thing to expect from BONES. Even though the animation style is somewhat dated, the way in which everything from the amazing fights to just simple talks is animated so well. Whereas the music adds to the impact of the action and drama, seeing that music is a major element in the show. Yet the music does get fairly repetitive.
Overall RahXephon has proven to be a Mecha anime worthy of being included in any mecha anime fan’s collection. The combat is pretty impressive and so is the musical score, which goes well with the artistic concept. This shouldn’t be a tough show to understand however at times things end up being explained poorly, which can confuse us viewers making the show less enjoyable to watch. I recommend this anime to anyone who doesn’t have anything against Mecha anime.
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