RahXephon (novel) Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, April 15, 2006
Release Date: Friday, September 09, 2005
Translated by:Rhys Moses
What They Say
The cover art features Ayato and Haruka. Haruka is in her familiar red and black outfit (although her headband is colored white instead of yellow) and has her gun out. She looks as if she's protecting Ayato, who's cowering behind her. Rahxephon looms in the background behind them, and the anime logo is displayed along the top in blue.
While the cover art is an improvement over the last volume's in terms of color appeal, it's not a very flattering picture of Haruka. Her legs are drawn at a funky angle that makes them look misshapen. There's also a number of hatch marks in the drawing that give it a rough quality. You can't see much of Ayato, who's hiding behind Haruka, but at least Rahxephon looks decent. Again, the back cover design is plain blue with a blah story synopsis in boring font.
The paper quality is thinner weight than for Volume 1. This volume is also noticeably shorter than Volume 1. Extras consist of two pages of character profiles a la RahXephon anime art book, two pages of commentary by the author, and ads for upcoming DrMaster releases.
Art in this novel consists of a grand total of 7 black and white drawings. They consist of a 2-page spread illustration of Haruka and Buchi; three pen and ink sketches of Ayato in his FH suit, Sayoko and Haruka, and Ayato and Megumi; one watercolor (?) drawing of RahXephon; and two battle scene watercolors. The 2-page spread is actually quite charming. I also like the character sketches which reflect the styles used the anime but look more like conceptual drawings than typical manga illustrations. (Sayoko looks positively possessed in her illustration with Haruka.)
I am less enamored of the 1-page watercolors (hard to tell in black and white whether they're watercolor or pencil and charcoal affairs). One battle drawing is extremely poor as it lacks detail. The other battle drawing and the RahXephon drawing are better, but not particularly inspiring.
To my relief, the translation for this volume is an improvement over the last. There are still grammatical errors, but they are sprinkled lightly thoughout the book, instead of ubiquitous. They're inconsistent with honorific translation. The honorific "san" has been translated into "Mr." or "Ms.", but Ayato is often called "Ayato-kun." I wish they'd just pick one and stick with it. I also wish they'd be consistent with their terms. In Volume 1, an "out of place artifact" was an "O-part", but in Volume 2, it's an "OOPArt." Volume 1 uses the terms "life module," "Life Module," and "front hook"; Volume 2 changes it to "FH Suit."
The translation quality is sufficient to figure out what's going on in the story, but it lacks the nuance to really individualize the characters' voices. A combination of awkward translation and poor formatting makes it difficult to tell who is speaking at times. The only places where their translation really works is when Quon goes off into stream of consciousness mode (because she's not really making sense anyway).
Ayato is settling into life outside Tokyo. He is living in the same house with Haruka, Megumi, and their uncle and working for Terra, as he is the only one who can pilot RahXephon. But piloting takes getting used to, and even learning how to intentionally get into the mysterious mecha is its own trial. Ayato is initially reluctant to fight the Mu and argues that he is a pacifist. However, as he gets to know the people around him and how they've suffered from the Mu, he eventually changes his mind.
Having Ayato on the battlefield evokes mixed emotions for a number of people, including Elvy, who hates the idea of civilians having to fight, and Haruka. However, they have no choice. After a long period of dormancy, Tokyo is sending out dolems to the outside, and RahXephon is their only hope. Something is stirring, and strange things are happening in its wake, including snow on tropical Nirai Island and a dolem that over takes Sayoko!
In the meantime, reporter Futagami, who has exclusive coverage rights on Terra, is snooping about. He says he's doing a story on the organization, but he seems to know more than he should. He also manages to dig up a lot of dirt on the lives of Terra personnel in the process, not the least of whom is Kunugi Jin, for whom the events of the Great Mu War sting with the pain of personal tragedy "and guilt.
While this is an improvement over Volume 1, again, I would not recommend anyone picking it up unless they've seen the anime. It's long on character thoughts, but short on description- I can't imagine visualizing the backgrounds or action scenes with any success without the benefit of having seen the anime.
However, if you want to delve into RahXephon character backgrounds and survived Volume 1, give Volume 2 a try. While the first chapters focus on Ayato, the later sections of the book shift the spotlight to others. For those interested in secondary characters, Futagami's report gives a rare glimpse into a number of minor characters.
One thing that is much more striking in the novel than in the anime is the amount of resentment Itsuki harbors towards RahXephon and Ayato. He comes off as aloof in the anime, but in the novel his bitterness is hard to miss. However, the novel, like the anime, never clarifies why Itsuki gives Sayoko the "blue jewel." My impression from the anime was that he knew exactly what the consequences of his actions would be, but in the novel, it is clear that he never suspected that the "jewel" would cause any trouble. Either way, he's still a cheapskate and a jerk for trying to pass a bit of dolem debris off as a gift.
Kunugi, on the other hand, is revealed to be a much more sympathetic character. He comes off as cold and uncaring in Volume 1 and in Volume 2's 3rd Movement (Chapter) when he tells Ayato to take down the dolem without any regard for Sayoko's safety. However, the 5th Movement shows how he too has been a victim of circumstance and his superiors and suffered greatly for it.
As Ohnogi mentions in the Afterward, Volume 2 covers up to Episode 10 of the anime, and he changes some of the detail, omitting the entire contents of one episode. However, the tone of the novel does not stray far from the anime. Had the editing been better, this novelization probably could have been enjoyed by a larger spectrum of the RahXephon anime fandom.
Again, the novel is rated 13+ for strong language, mild sexual innuendo, and Quon's weird stream of conciousness-speak.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: C-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
Orientation: Left to Right