Rahxephon Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Friday, March 19, 2004
Release Date: Monday, February 16, 2004



What They Say
Tremors ripple through the city as new Dolems attack, but the most dangerous shock waves of all are the mental assaults that now threaten to overwhelm Ayato's grasp of the physical world itself. As new players enter the deadly game between the humans and the Mu, the young pilot finds himself alone and without backup, struggling to rebuild the foundation of his own reality as the universe threatens to collapse beneath him. The secrets of Ixtli begin to reveal themselves in the fourth shocking volume of RahXephon

The Review!
We are back to four episodes in this volume.

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. 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.

There was a tiny glitch in sound in the preview segment for episode 16, but it is almost so small as to not to be worth a mention.

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, a real pleasure to view on the big or little screen.

Packaging:
The front box cover Vermillion, ready to launch. 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 front cover.

The insert booklet is very good, it?s about 14 pages long and full of art work, character bios and interviews, so read and enjoy.

Menu:
The menu is presented in a blue, whilst playing in the background is a short piece of strong incidental music (discord). We have the four episode links as well as Scene selection, Languages and Extras. All links worked and no dead ends were encountered.

Extras:
You also get clean open\ close. The Production sketches are good (as usual) and we get Hemisphere played again. The small jewel here is the ADV cast interview, which starts slow, but picks up later. If you are interested in how to become a VA, then check this out.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Episode 13 opens with an investigation into Quon?s background, and this proves interesting as it appears that her records are false. This leads many interested third parties to review Quon?s background and it?s connection with the appearance of the Mu. And it?s clearly stated ? yes, we had already surmised this - that Quon can interpret music into words and that it is a very desirable and deliberate talent. In fact most of this episode centers on who or what is Quon? And we finally begin to understand that she has a strong link to the Babhem institute as their ongoing experiment.

Meanwhile Ayato is getting back into normal life, although he now appears to be ?aware? of Haruka not just as a comrade, but as a women (see episode 11). In fact Ayato continues to get a little shy around all women all through this episode. Although he has quite a set-back when he catches Haruka and Dr Itsuki rekindling an old flame.

A new Dolem (Arpeggio) appears in orbit around the earth, and it?s song stirs memories in both Quon and Ayato, causing them to react strangely to the ?evil? aria only they can hear.

Episode 14 is full of little tidbit secrets; Dr Kisaragi finds out that Nanamori has been passing confidential information to outsiders; Brabhem Institute finds out that Dr Itsuki has been keeping secrets about Quon?s condition; Quon has blue blood; Brabhem Institute has created it?s own Dolem device (aka Vermillion); Haruka may be related to Ayato in some way (on her Uncle?s side of the family). And that?s just in the first 10 minutes!

It isn?t long before another Dolem turns up, which is good, as everyone ? especially Helena Brabhem - seems to be very keen on trying out the new Vermillion in a combat scenario. Although the battle goes well (scratch Dolem Alternate) for TERRA, it?s result leaves Ayato a very bitter individual.

Episode 15 opens on three children playing with something that looks like a living rock, in an old ruin. After a while we realize that these children in fact a young Isshiki Makoto, Kisaragi Itsuki and Helena Bahbem. This episode is totally devoted to a particular incident in their early childhood, and is quite revealing of just how insidious the Brahbem Institute really is, and how these people are connected.

Episode 16 finds the grown-up trinity from episode 15 cooking up something that involves Quon going away. We?re not sure what it is they are up to, but we do know that they now consider Ayato to be of no further use to them and their nefarious plans.

Really this episode is about truth and consequences; we follow various characters to see the results of learning the truth after hiding behind a lie. Some handle it better than others, and you really feel for the characters involved, as their dreams whither on the vine. And the Haruka\ Ayato unexpressed love makes you bite your knuckle in frustration on more than one occasion.

The end of the episode sees Quon and Ayato leave to go back to Tokyo Jupiter, to see things for themselves and to learn the truth. Although you can?t help but feel that Quon may have some other task to perform (and I don?t mean sending back a postcard).

Despite not having quite as much battle scene as previous volumes, this is an excellent disk which manages to add plenty of new intrigue, whilst hinting at a resolution to some of the old intrigues.

In summary-
Like a good soup, the plot thickens quite nicely when the story elements are stirred up a little, and then left to simmer. I, for one, await the ladling out of the next volume, with my bread roll at the ready.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles ,Printed booklet ,Production sketches ,Clean opening close animation,Interview with the Cast II

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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:!
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: RahXephon