RahXephon Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Saturday, May 22, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, April 01, 2004
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
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 otherworldly MU - those responsible for Tokyo's capture.
Tokyo citizen Ayato Kamina's life is about to undergo a drastic change. MU agents attempt to kidnap both him and his childhood friend Reika, and a sassy TERRA operative brings him face-to-face with the mythical giant robot RahXephon - a force he along has the ability to control. With everything he has ever believed in falling to pieces around him, Ayato resolves to fight the MU and protect Reika at any cost.
Today I am taking a look at Viz's Barnes & Noble/BDalton exclusive sci-fi comedy RahXephon. You heard me comedy. Let's do the time warp again!
Viz uses the original cover art for this volume. It is covered with blues and greys and features Ayato with Reika in front of the Egg of Xephon.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... Viz uses one of the two logos present on the Japanese cover. Obviously the used the English logo but they changed the color from blue to a multi-tone (with yellow to orange to navy). The cover is less cluttered than the Shogakukan version and in my opinion looks better.
The printing for RahXephon looks pretty good. I have not seen the original to compare this with but some of the tone and alignment issues that are present in other titles are not making an impression here. This volume features a message from the mangaka, an ato-gaki, and creator info. There are also ads for: Mobile Suit Gundam 0079, Tuxedo Gin, Great Dangaioh DVDs, and Viz's Takahashi Rumiko properties.
When I read that Momose was the first choice for the anime's character design I was shocked. While I love his designs they really suit his style of etchi/comedy more so than a sci-fi drama.
Momose?s designs are cute and have a slightly round feel. For the most part there really is not much detail to them but when needed he might toss in a cheekbone or wrinkle to spice things up. His profiles can be a little awkward as his jaw lines can be funky. He doesn't really show much depth so his characters have a flat feeling but his females are often cute and curvy. What really impresses me about his work is his costume work. It reminds me of some Murata Range works at times, as he likes tight fitting costumes with buttons and interesting line placement. His characters are always to scale and they tend to look good in the backgrounds he draws (when he draws them). I have to say that I was disappointed with his backgrounds not used enough and the simple layout.
The fanservice is pretty high as there are a few scenes with a lot of skin, panty shots (which Momose and Izubuchi make fun of), along with a few pages of frontal nudity.
Presented right to left in a tall B6 this series has its SFX translated with overlays. The touch up is pretty good and never really compromised the art (but there was at least one SFX that was still in kana).
With this being my first experience with the RahXephon manga I am not sure how good the translation is but everything sounds good. I will say I have experience with Momose works and the dialogue and tone sounds very much like him (yup, that is how much this series different from the anime).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tokyo in the year 2015, not much has changed. Early summers seem to move slow and vacation seems to be too far away. Right now there is nothing Kamina Ayato would like to do more than chill in the summer heat. He does not want to deal with classes or with his relative Mishima Reika. But school is still in session and Reika happens to live with Ayato. To Ayato, Reika is like the little sister he has had to watch over day in and day out. Despite Reika's attitude towards him, he can only imagine her as a close family member and because of that his protective instincts are very strong towards her.
Today, July 6, 2015, Ayato will have to go beyond his own abilities to protect Reika from danger that is very close to home. Actually he might have to save himself as well from forces that intend to use him to defend against each other. But his first priority is Reika; having her survive even if it means getting kidnapped by a stranger is the only choice for him. He has no choice but to head the words of this UN/TERRA spy, Shitow Haruka. She is the only person he thinks he can trust, but after what he has gone through so far he is not sure what to believe.
Today, July 19, 2033, TERRA has launched their operation to collect Ayato. Their purpose is to uncover the MU by using the young man to take control of the Egg of Zaphon and eventually regain control of what is now known as Tokyo Jupiter. As Ayato is the only one who can control this "Egg" the MU will do anything to keep Ayato.
None of this makes sense to Ayato. He cannot understand how he could have been in a dome all this time, much less how come is currently more than 18 years faster outside of the Tokyo area. Inside Tokyo everyone received false memories and experiences. It was all done to keep the populous under control. Outside, the world has been advancing its technology to get Tokyo back since the RahXephon arrived. Now with Ayato TERRA has a chance. From the egg RahXephon is released to control time and space but will it be able to send Tokyo to 2033?
Now in TERRA custody, Ayato and Reika are under constant supervision. To TERRA they (mostly Ayato) are tools to use in their plans. Those two are tested, locked up and traded like animals on the whims of the TERRA commanders. Even with the abilities Ayato possesses he is expendable for now. But Ayato has a purpose and that is to take care of those close to him: Reika and now Haruka.
Momose took a great sci-fi drama and modified it to fit his style of etchi comedy action. It is a completely unique interpretation of BONES' original concept and while it may be fun it the presentation is a little weird.
Much like Momose's other title, Miami Guns, this title has quite a few etchi scenes taking advantage of his fun character designs. That etchi feel is surrounded by some decent action and comedy that tries to cover up the lack of character and plot development. Not to say that Momose's interpretation cannot be appreciated by those looking for a light hearted version of the RahXephon story, but this version is so different it is almost as if Momose had never seen the original idea only its characters. So instead of working with the great story that would have been fleshed out or tightened up by another perspective readers get something completely different (which left me confused and disappointed).
For those looking for another interpretation of the RahXephon story this is quite different. Characters are different; the plot is different; the mood is different resulting in something that may look slightly familiar but is unique and entertaining in its own way.
For those looking for a faithful interpretation you will be disappointed. Izubuchi's complex drama has been turned into a romance comedy that leans on etchi scenes and fan service instead of a deep sci-fi story with drama, subtle comedy and character growth.
Having had some experience with Izubuchi's animated version I was disappointed with this interpretation. As fun as it can be I really could not get into the cheesy etchi feel and the awkward direction. There is such a great story to work with and Momose took those characters and made something that would have made for a funny parody doujinshi but feels cheap as an official manga.
Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left