RahXephon Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 1-59116-427-3
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

RahXephon Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 28, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2004

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Momose Takeaki (Created by: BONES)
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Two weeks have passed since Ayato and Reika arrived in the "real world" of Nirai-Kanai. As Ayato undergoes training to become a pilot for RahXephon, Reika continues to be tested by TERRA's scientists as they attempt to ascertain the strange bond she shares with the mythical robot. Ayato's girlfriend, a recent refugee from Tokyo Jupiter, brings tidings and memories from home, but her motives are more than innocent.

As further secrets about the MU come to the fore, Ayato
resolves to see for himself the exact nature of the frighening conflict both he and Reika are now in the middle of. Hijacking the RahXephon and reentering Tokyo Jupiter, Ayato's encounter with his mother sheds a disconcerting new light on the very nature of his existence.

The Review
Presented in a tall B6 volume, two features Ayato and Reika, in an etchi looking form-fitting costume, in front of the RahXephon. The cover is full of reds and violets is pretty simple, but lead me to feel that there is something larger than life coming in this volume (I was right).

Inside, Viz's production features some nice printing, the original volume header, artist notes and an ato-gaki - The Making of RahXephon 2. There are also ads for: Saikano, Battle Angel Alita, Project ARMS, Megaman NT Warrior, Key the Metal Idol and Takahashi Rumiko works. All in all a decent, production without problems,

Momose's designs are cute but simple, though whenever he has a chance he will always give them that special touch of fanservice that has made him so popular (IE: Miami Guns). His designs really do not much detail to them, but when needed Momose might toss in a cheekbone or wrinkle to spice things up. His profiles tend to be a little awkward as his jaw lines are 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). While I love his designs, they really suit his etchi comedies more so than sci-fi dramas. 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. Like Murata, Momose takes care in his placement of seams and buttons to maximize etchi-ness.

This series has its SFX translated with overlays. The touch up is pretty good and never really compromised the art. 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).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Recently, things have settled down for Ayato and Reika. Reika is starting school in Nirai, while Ayato is quickly becoming adjusted to his new role has a pilot and defender against the MU. On the surface these two seem to be doing well with their new lives, deep down they are struggling with their basic needs... Being together.

It's tough to tell just what Reika feels about Ayato. There is no doubt she loves him, but the kind of love she feels for him remains a mystery. At times she is the cooky relative running around practically nude. There are times when she is the jealous girl, pouting over the fact that Ayato may get attention from his female co-workers. Sometimes, she is the whiny little sister type that needs Ayato for comfort, support and protection. Making things even more confusing is her ability to change at will sending off mixed signals. Luckily Ayato is at the point where all he cares about is her well being.

Ayato may not have have the same feelings towards his distant relative, but there is no doubt that the young man needs Reika. From the start of the series, she is his family and the source of his strength. and as such he feels he must protect her from harm. Like a brother looking after his younger sister, Ayato's feelings are unconditional and strong enough to break the barriers that may come between them.

So when Reika's life is in danger, Ayato quickly takes the situation into his own hands by challanging the MU and Tokyo Jupiter on his own. Unfortuantely, this plan turns out to be a major mistake. Up to a few days ago, Tokyo was home where family was and where his friends lived. Now, Tokyo was the center of the force that is threatening the Earth with techonolgy that cannot be matched by conventional means. Back in the place where he grew up, he discovers that life in Tokyo used to be an illusion, a bunch of made up memories created to keep the populous within the city under control. All of his experiences, his personal history, relationships may have all been a farce that looked, felt and still feel too real. If fighting against one's own home was not hard enough; accepting that your life was just a part of a program created by your enemy could be impossible to handle quickly. If all of that is true, what would happen to his relationship with Reika? What about his other family and friends? If his past was made up, has his destiny been as well?

After volume one started off with a lot of fun and some curious storytelling, Momose goes into volume two with a new twist on the title and a different perspective on the relationship between Ayato and Reika. If you have read the first volume, the role of Mishima Reika is very different from Izubuchi's (BONES) original concept. She plays a more active role in his life throughout this series, and with Momose's unique interpretation of the MU, she appears to be someone completely different altogether. Conversely, Ayato's character is not very different from how viewers of the anime may remember. Obviously with the MU being a little different there have been a few changes to his past, but essentially his personality and determinations are the same. With that in mind, Momose is starting to come into his own with this title as his interpretation gets fleshed out. There is still plenty of comedy, but the drama and character development is coming in quickly as the plot builds to a climax. With the excellent original work to build on, at this point I feel confident that Momose should finish this series with style and a completely different look at Ayato's destiny.

When looking back at this volume, I am glad I did not read it immediately following the start of the series. While Momose's etchi-comedy was entertaining in volume one, the drama and storytelling in volume two is actually a big surprise. I will not categorize this with an excellent dramatic work like Nausicaa, KareKano or even Saikano, but with his limited time frame Momose has nicely created his own version of the RahXephon concept and made it his own. There still is plenty of fanservice, lots of comedy, and SD art but then there are some well done moments filled with tension and plot development. Fans of the RahXephon anime may not like how much of the excellent original story was left out or changed, but if readers can come into this series knowing Momose's history (he created Miami Guns) and looking for stylish etchi sci-fi they should be in for a good fun read.



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