RahXephon (novel) Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, April 21, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Translated by:Gretchen Kern
What They Say
The cover art features Quon and Itsuki. It's a whimsical drawing of the two with umbrellas in the foreground. Quon is in a blue outfit with her everpresent life module on and a matching umbrella. Itsuki is in brown with a brown umbrella. The anime logo is displayed along the top in blue.
The cover art is much better than the previous two issues. It's cleaner and the colors are brighter. There are still some hatch marks, but the color scheme of the drawing hides them well. My main complaint is that the blue anime logo almost blends into the blue of Quon's umbrella. Again, the back cover design is plain blue with the story synopsis, which unfortunately has a grammatically confusing second-to-last sentence.
The paper quality and volume length is comparable to Volume 2. Extras consist of three pages of character profiles a la RahXephon anime art book, two pages of afterword ramblings 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 RahXephon and a Vermillion fighter; three pen and ink sketches of Haruka, Haruka and Itsuki, and Matoko and Itsuki; and three watercolor (?) drawings of RahXephon, the Vermillion, and a Dolem. The 2-page spread of the mecha is very sharp and nicely detailed. Unfortunately, the quality of the rest of the drawings is not nearly not as high. The character sketches are sloppier than in the previous issues. The 1-page watercolors (again it's hard to tell in black and white whether they're watercolor or pencil and charcoal drawings) of RahXephon and the Vermillion are mediocre. The Dolem drawing is extremely rough; it looks more like an odd mushroom than something menacing.
The translation for this volume is comparable to Volume 2. In other words, there are still consistency problems and spelling and punctuation errors. At one point, they even misspell RahXephon as "Rahzephon." A few page headers for "2nd Movement" are mislabeled "1st Movement." They've dropped all Japanese honorifics in this volume, and started using military titles for Terra personnel more regularly. There are several areas where the translation from Japanese to English is awkward. As in previous volumes, a combination of awkward translation and poor formatting makes it difficult to tell who is speaking in several dialogues. At one point in the 5th movement, a quote from Rikudoh is erroneously attributed to Haruka.
All in all it makes for a bumpy read.
This volume opens with Ayato engaged in battle with a Dolem. However, this isn't ordinary warfare, but psychological warfare. The Dolem attempts to overpower Ayato by making him believe he's in a world that is the embodiment of his desires. Fortunately, Ayato senses the falseness of this illusion and is able to break free of the spell with help from Mishima Reika.
However, the Dolem's psychological attack has an unexpected side-effect upon Quon, who is somehow linked to Ayato. She falls into a coma, and when she awakens, she wakens to consciousness -- and a new power that enables her to appear unexpectedly in RahXephon during a confrontation with yet another Dolem.
Quon's "awakening" has weighty implications and triggers a behind the scenes power struggle- with Quon as the prize. Ultimately, she is claimed by the shadowy Bahbem foundation, but not before the file for Quon -- otherwise known as "human specimen number 1" is strategically leaked. These events lead up to considerable angst between Haruka and Itsuki and to reunions of sorts between Helena Bahbem, Makoto, and Itsuki, who have a mysterious history of their own.
Helena arrives to Niraikanai ostensibly as part of Bahbem's technical crew to test out their newest weapon, the Vermillion. Elvy test-pilots the mecha and is exhilarated by its capabilities, which are comparable to RahXephon's. The arrival of this new weapon as well as an ill-timed revelation has Ayato feeling rejected and questioning his reasons for staying in the world outside Tokyo.
Translation issues aside, the content alone of this volume is confusing. For starters, the volume begins with Ayato trapped in a Dolem's illusory world. There is no preamble, no indication to the reader that what Ayato is experiencing is anything but reality. Perhaps Ohnogi did it for impact, but I just found it confusing. That section is closely followed by a large chunk of Quon's stream of consciousness babblings. Some action is intertwined into her dreams and recollections, but it's difficult to tell what is real and what is imagined with her as speaker.
Inserted in the middle of this volume is "The Chapter of the Children's Night." Those who've seen the anime will recognize this as the flashback episode involving Itsuki, Helena, and Makoto. Up until this point, the default point of view has always been Ayato's; all others are indicated in section headers. However, for this section, the default POV changes to Makoto without warning, and a reader who hasn't seen the anime could get confused with the point of view switch in this section.
I can't say I'm particularly impressed by Ayato's character development at this point in the story. He's yanked out of the only world he's ever known, treated rather shabbily by almost everyone around him, fights in RahXephon without much recognition or reward, and he still is overly concerned about people accepting him!? I should think that a more believable response would be him being upset at being used. When Ayato hears the truth about his Mu phase response, his initial reaction is a guilt complex, despite the fact that he has put his life on the line to protect humankind several times already. Even if his reason for wanting to be accepted by everyone stems from his attraction to and desire to stay with Haruka, that reasoning is rather weak considering Haruka is among those who have lied to Ayato. Ayato isn't quite as wimpy and frustrating as Shinji from Evangelion, but he's starting to get close.
The novel is rated 13+ for strong language, sexual situations, and Quon's weird stream of conciousness-speak.
Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: C-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
Orientation: Left to Right