Rahxephon: The Movie (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Paul Jacques
Review Date: Thursday, February 10, 2005
Release Date: Monday, February 21, 2005



What They Say
Return to the world of RahXephon, where humans and Mu fight for dominance over a shattered Earth, and giant statues are the ultimate weapons. Where music forms the fabric of the universe and the link between two hearts is the thread upon which the fate of humanity hangs.

It is still a love story, but it is not the same story. Not exactly. Prepare for new visions and new revelations, as the other side of RahXephon is finally revealed.

The Review!
Hmm, can you get 26 episodes down into 2 hours? This film is a re-working of the original series. Is it better or worse? We shall see. I’ll try and draw comparisons between this and original where possible, just to give you a feel for the differences, as such it will contain spoilers.

Audio:
Well, it looks like we can eat our cake and have it, as we get Japanese and English tracks in glorious 5.1. I swapped between the two and found no fault in either. So go for whichever pleases you the most. I went with the Japanese track for the most part.

The incidental music is great (lightly revised version of the original), dramatic with plenty of urgency and discord in just the right places. In fact music and sound is very central to this story, so pay attention.

They have looked back at the series and said, this isn’t broke, so let’s leave it alone- wise decision.

Video:
A pity they couldn’t have taken the opportunity to go for the 16:9 aspect, but to be honest there wasn’t much wrong with the original TV 4:3 aspect. 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.

They have looked back at the series and said, this isn’t broke, so let’s leave it alone- wise decision.

Packaging:
The front box cover has RahXephon, Ayato and Mishima Haruka, set on a background of orange and yellow. The disc itself is printed with almost the same cover image, but with an additional Ayato sketch.

The insert booklet is very good, it’s about 14 pages long and full of art work, character bios (plus mega spoilers), commentary and a good story explanation of what is going on. They have included a useful relationship diagram in this booklet- we could have done with this in the series, ah well, better late than never. Once again I caution you to read the booklet AFTER you have watched, as it really does contain all the secrets and twists.

They have looked back at the series and said, this isn’t broke, so let’s leave it alone- wise decision.

Menu:
The menu is presented in a yellow and orange motif, whilst playing in the background is a short piece of strong incidental music (discord). We have the “Play main feature” button, as well as “Scene selection” and “Languages”. All links worked quickly and no dead ends were encountered.

They have looked back at the series and said, this isn’t broke, so let’s leave it alone- wise decision.

Extras:
None offered.

Content: (please note that this review will contain spoilers from the start to the finish)
OK, lets find out if 10.8 hours can be condensed into 2 hours.

We get a new start, with a very young and awkward Ayato and Haruka going for that first love’s kiss. Only to be interrupted by Hiroko, who was intent on giving a valentine style card to Ayato. Of course Hiroko is a tad upset at the sight of the two love birds getting lovey-dovey.

As holiday season is upon them the Haruka’s family decide to take a few days out of Tokyo in order to visit relatives. It’s while they are en route that the Mu attack and capture Tokyo, and thereby form the Tokyo Jupiter bubble, forever sealing off Tokyo. Ayato and Haruka are now separated by an impenetrable barrier.

Jump forward sixteen years to find the Bahbem Foundation examining a stone tablet. This, finally, allows us to hear the explanation for the divergence of the Human and Mu world, and what the RahXephon system can be used for. Oh yea, this was the part that was sorely missing from the original series.

Anyway, we then go drop back into the original series footage after about 10 minutes, with Ayato living in Tokyo Jupiter, along with 23 million other people, under the assumption that the rest of world has been wiped out. Enter a much older Haruka, via the subway, to try and get Ayato out. Along the way they pick up the Xephon (as you do) and skedaddle back to the real world.

Once outside the Tokyo Jupiter influence, Ayato begins to see that all he was led to believe was not the truth, he also suspects that what he is now being told by the forces of TERRA is also dodgy.

As per the original series, Ayato settles down to live life at Haruka, Megumi and Uncle’s house. And as to not let the grass grow under our feet we get some of the fight scenes from the original series arbitrarily thrown in along the way.

Although 99% of the characters remain true to their original presentation, Quon isn’t. She is portrayed slightly differently, more of a sleeping oracle than a odd character with a penchant for music. A cynic might say that this allows them to not have to explain Quon’s many superfluous scenes. Anyway, they save her for the end game as a bit of eye candy. It should also be noted that some of the B string characters get little or no air time at all in this film.

At some point Ayato goes back home to Tokyo Jupiter to see his mother, Hiroko and Mamoru. I like the fact that they have made Ayato’s mother slightly less of a Queen bitch, and that deep down she’s still a mother. And as per the original he escapes the Mulian’s attempts to mess with his mind, and he escapes with Hiroko in Xephon to the outside.

Back in the real world they go on the lamb, and this ultimately leads to (arguably) the best scenes from the original series- Hiroko’s death. Even if in it’s significantly cut form it’s still a powerful death scene, although not anywhere near as moving as the original full length version. Man, that part still drags a moist eye from me when I watch it.

TERRA capture Ayato and throw him in custody, Haruka finally gets around to taking advantage of the situation to get some “quality” time in bed with Ayato….. yes, a new scene for sure ;-)

About 75 minutes into the film we arrive at what would have been the last volume in the series, with the arrogant fruit-loop Makoto Isshiki going on the offensive against the Mulians and Tokyo Jupiter, that if you remember that you’ll remember it all goes horribly wrong, allowing Mu to cover the earth in their floating cities.

Meanwhile in a new scene Itsuki Kisaragi makes Ayato wake Quon up from her slumbers with a kiss (some guys get all the luck). Quon flies off to “tune” the world for Mulian’s, this forces Ayato to take RahXephon out to oppose her. For this we have an all new departure scene between Haruka and Ayato to accompany this revised history of events.

The end to this story is very much the same ending of the series, but rather than the past being rebuilt, it is the future that changes with the aid of an alternate set of memories. I guess one night of love and some borrowed memories was good enough for Haruka after all.

In summary-
I’m extremely happy that they looked back at the original series and realised that nothing was broken in terms of presentation, and therefore it was left alone.

The opening is especially good, with great back-plot information that makes you understand people’s motivations later in the series. Not to mention the who-did-what and why answers that the series made you crawl over broken glass to get. What this film does is take all the guess work out of the series, and allows you concentrate on RahXephon as an action- love story. If the series put you off because of obtuse references, but you liked everything else, then this very linear plot film is right up your alley. Of course some people may find it too simple, I know I did.

So who might buy this? I’d say anyone. If you have the series already, but had a whole bunch “huh?” questions at the end, then this is for you. If you were put off buying the series and just want the espresso version, then step right this way.

Did I enjoy this film more than the series? I’d have to say no, but only because the film feels chopped together too much (which it is). On the plus side this film does answer all the nagging questions I had left over from reviewing the series.

And so to my opening question, does 10.8 hours go into 2 hours? The answer is, not quite, but it got close. Maybe someone who hadn’t seen the series would be perfectly happy watching the film? Also you could watch this film, and then watch the series with a more in-depth understanding?

Features
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles ,Printed booklet

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: B
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: RahXephon