Rahxephon Vol. #1 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Release Date: Monday, September 22, 2003



What They Say
The city of Tokyo has been overthrown, taken over by invaders who have devastated the rest of the planet. For 15 years, the remnants of the human race have fought a loosing battle against the Mu and their Dolem, knowing that the key to victory lies within the doomed walls of Tokyo Jupiter, where time flows in a different path and none of the mind-wiped citizens even know that the city has been conquered. But no one has been able to get into Tokyo. Until now.

The Review!
First there was EVA. After EVA came Gasaraki, and after Gasaraki comes RahXephon (queue dramatic music).

Audio:
5.1 English is certainly welcome in my room any day of the week, but to be honest they didn’t seem to make much use of the surround capabilities. The Japanese stereo track is good with no problems detected. I swapped between both tracks and got equal enjoyment from both languages. If you’ve got a 5.1 speaker system then by all means go with the English track for that extra sound depth.

The open theme song “Hemisphere” is a corker with a good toe tapping beat, but you don’t get to hear it until the start of episode 2. The closing song is called “Fledgling Dream” and is a nice and soothing ballad.

The incidental music is great, dramatic with plenty of urgency and discord in just the right places. In fact music and sound is very central to this series, so pay attention.

PS You didn’t hear if from me, but the Production Sketches music (in Extras) appears to play the entire opening theme song “Hemisphere”.

Video:
The presentation is a done in nice pastel colours, with a clear definition to the characters physical lines. All-in-all very nice to look at with no visual problems detected.

Packaging:
The front box cover is a striking white colour with RahXephon ready for action. The rear of the box contains the anime premise, credits and three stills. The disc itself is printed with the same image as the box cover.

The insert booklet is very good, it’s about 20 pages long and full of art work, character bios and interviews.

Menu:
The menu is presented in the same colour scheme as the box cover, with translucent clips playing in the background accompanied by a short piece of strong incidental music. All links worked and no dead ends were encountered.

Extras:
The clean open and close are welcome, as is the promo trailer which is pieced together from episode clips. It’s the production sketches that is the thing to go and see in this section, with plenty to look at.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
It’s kind of funny, but the back of the box and booklet pretty much tells you everything that happens in this first volume – ok it’s thin on detail, but it covers the bases none the less – so following the plot shouldn’t be too hard, but may spoil your enjoyment if you like to work the plot out yourself. So it might be better to not read anything until after watching the disc, I’ll try not to reveal too much after the initial opening events.

The opening shots are grand; classical music overture; big aircraft carriers gearing up for an attack; plenty of dramatic angle shots. So right from the start we know that big events are about to take place. It then cuts to a tranquil scene where we find young Ayato getting ready for school.

On his way to school with his friends (Hiroko, Mamoru) the city of Tokyo is attacked by the forces we saw preparing in the opening scenes. During the battle Ayato meets someone he doesn’t know at first, then recognizes as an old friend- Reika.

Somehow Reiko disappears and Ayato is taken into custody by government officials. Only he doesn’t stay that way for long as another women, Haruka, “rescues” him. Only she isn’t what she seems either! It’s at this point we discover the government agents have blue blood! During Ayato’s escape he runs into Reiko again, and she leads him to the government’s secret base which houses the giant Dolems. Reiko enables Ayato to awaken the nescient RahXephon, but the “why” is not explained at this stage of the plot. Later Reiko will enable Ayato to merge with RahXephon and make a dramatic escape in it. We also discover that Ayato’s mother has a day job, running the secret base!

The story continues and we learn that the world wasn’t destroyed, but that in fact the Tokyo area – later referred to as Tokyo Jupiter - was absorbed into a time bubble that stops the rest of the world getting in. This assimilation was done by a race blue blooded people called the “Mu”, and they have convinced the 23 million citizens inside the bubble that the 6 billion people outside no longer exist.

We learn that it has been Haruka’s job to enter Tokyo Jupiter and bring Ayato out (for reasons unknown). As such the Earth forces (Terra) are very happy when Haruka not only brings out Ayato, but also a Dolem (RahXephon) into the real world outside the time bubble.

The rest of the story on the disc concerns itself with establishing the main characters motivations and relationships. Ayato trying to discover what is going on, as well as dealing with his feelings of loneliness. A decent battle is thrown in for good measure, when an attack by an unknown Dolem is foiled by Ayato and RahXephon, so worry about things staying quiet for too long.

Do we learn everything there is to know in this volume? No, there is still plenty to work out from future volumes. I also advise watching this disc twice, it gets even better with a second viewing (honest).

In summary- What’s not to like? It has action, enigmatic plot, quality presentation and strong characters. From every angle this series great to watch.

Features
Japanese Language DD 2.0,English Language DD 5.1,English Subtitles ,Promo trailer,Clean ending and ending,Production sketches

Review Equipment
JVC 28" Pure Flat Wide Screen TV, Pioneer 454 Progressive Scan code free DVD player, Logitech Z-680 THX DD/DTS receiver & Speakers. Secondary equipment, 21” Sony Trinitron monitor, ATI 9700pro & PowerDVD v4, Creative Audigy 2 & headphones.




Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: RahXephon