A mysterious orb envelops the city of Tokyo. All forms of communication are severed, leaving the inhabitants of the newly dubbed "Tokyo Jupiter" ignorant to their fate. Along with the United Nations, a special organization known as TERRA is formed: their mission is to liberate Tokyo from the otherwordly MU -- those responsible for Tokyo's capture. (Source: Viz Media)
I found this manga utterly incomprehensible, to the point where it became impossible to care because I just didn't understand what was happening. There were plenty of beautifully-drawn shots of mecha battling, but at no point in time did I ever understand who was in what mech, who I should be rooting for, what was happening in the battle or even who was winning and who was losing. It may partially be that I was younger when I read the series and thus had a more difficult time picking up on the more unspoken rules and stylistic choices of manga in general, but even going
back and looking now it's barely comprehensible. It definitely feels like a work that is only going to be palatable to someone who has seen the anime it was based on, though I don't honestly know what someone would get out of the manga that they didn't get out of the show, not having seen it myself. For anyone who lacks the context of the anime it's based on, this series has very little to offer besides some well-drawn panels.
The first time I saw the anime version of Rahxephon, I quite liked it- it had fantastic art direction, beautiful character designs and decent enough exploration of its characters to feel satisfying. A perfect tone-piece. Manga version, on the other hand, lacks anything that made the anime so special and ends up feeling like pointless drivel that barely has anything to do with the anime in the terms of quality.
The story of the manga differs *significantly* from the anime-, especially in the latter half. Changes made to the storyline are absolutely devastating- the story does not give enough time to explore any of the
characters properly- most of them you won't know anything about unless you have watched the anime.The last three chapters are only the only slightly better parts and carry some emotional weight.
The main protagonist Ayato is just a stereotypical anime protagonist with basic motivations to do what he does best, - fight in the mecha. That basic motivation is his girlfriend Reika Mishima, which is another jarring thing about the manga version- her whole design and personality do not even remotely resemble her anime counterpart, and she ends up just being this pretty submissive female character. Other characters are basically just a bunch of faces who spout dialogue with barely any depth to speak of.
Only a couple of characters look great, and that is mostly because they resemble the designs from the anime. Designs that do not resemble the anime are very, very poor- Reika, who had one of the best character designs ever in her anime form, here in the manga looks beyond stereotypical. Also, it does not help that there is a lot of pointless fanservice- upskirt shots or just body-tight female outfits that serve no purpose whatsoever and often appear at the most inappropriate moments. Mechas look similar to anime and are overall OK.
I had difficulty paying attention since I stopped caring about the characters, and I am not sure if manga deserved my attention. Overall, the complete contrast to the anime in the terms of enjoyment- I binge watched all of it throughout one week, but here it took me three weeks to finish it since I found it either boring or insulting to the intellect. The last couple of chapters are the only ones that had my attention but are barely worth it.
A jarring anomaly that barely resembles the fantastic anime show it is based on (or is anime based on the manga- I found conflicting information regarding this). Overall, I do not recommend it to anyone- go watch Rahxephon the anime, and do not touch the manga. I feel sorry for the trees that were wasted so this could be printed.