RahXephon Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: RahXephon

RahXephon Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 04, 2003
Release Date: June 17, 2003


RahXephon Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Just when Ayato thought he had finally learned the truth, the walls between the world of the Mu and our own "real" world begin to crumble once more. With the enigmatic Quon and Reika as guides, he must discover the truth of his own nature or be forever trapped inside a prison of his own dreams. Reality and fantasies intertwine in nightmarish rhythm, but the ultimate horror is yet to come as the fabric of time and space itself begins to unravel in the third volume of RahXephon!

The Review!
As if I wasn’t enjoying the hell out of this series already, one of my favorite scripters comes in to play with a few episodes here and helps elevate the series even higher.

Audio:
With so many of my favorite actors filling in the roles here, we were very committed to the Japanese language track with this release. Presented in its original stereo mix, the audio here sounds fantastic. Dialogue is crisp and clear and allowed for some excellent nuanced moments of dialogue to shine through. The music, a gorgeous part of this show, makes out extremely well with the stereo channels and sound lush and warm.

Video:
This recent transfer is another one that is indicative of some of the changes made in the past few years, where it’s showing off so many details that you’d normally not even think of seeing in a show like this. Colors are gorgeous, especially the lush blue sky backgrounds or the water sequences. Cross coloration is non-existent and there was only one or two very brief moment of aliasing that stood out. This transfer looks essentially flawless, and with all the original text being done over by soft subtitles, there’s nothing that I can even nitpick at here.

Packaging:
This volumes uses a similar style of artwork like previous volumes with the somewhat abstract backgrounds and line work. The main image this time is of Ayato and Mishima with the RahXephon’s face set alongside them. The shows logo retains the original font and has the added volume numbering and volume titling on the front, a rather nice plus. The back cover provides a few screenshots from the show as well as a listing of the discs technical specs and extra features. A summary of the show and a listing of the main production credits is also included. The booklet included with this release is again fantastic. There’s details on the various Mu as well as some of the secondary cast. There’s a brief section of translator notes as well as smaller interviews with the sound director and three of the voice actors.

Menu:
The menus use the abstract artwork from the cover to provide the basis here with a small area playing animation from the show while a portion of the score plays. The layout is pretty simple and easy to navigate with each episode selectable from the main menu, no transitional animations and quick access loads.

Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal here, though there is one intriguing piece. We get another look at the textless opening and ending sequences, but it’s the “early production promo” that was used to sell the show that really got us here. It’s about 3 minutes long and shows off the series in varying ways that really pushes the story and the artwork for it. This is just a neat little piece.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After flying through the first two volumes, this third volume really manages to capture our attention even more as we get more familiar with each of the characters and the continual growth of their little nuances. And strangely enough, even though the episode count was reduced down to just three here, I found myself savoring each episode even more knowing there was less.

The show opens with the fairly quick dispatch of the latest attacking Mu craft, which brings in the comments among the command staff that Ayato has really settled into his life of being a pilot and dealing out the fighting required to accomplish the missions. This brings a stark contrast to many other shows with similar themes, where they focus quite a lot on a character who simply does not want to do what he does. Ayato does fit in that category, but he doesn’t complain about it now and just does everything to the best of his ability and all without having spats with those he works with before, during or afterwards. That’s a step up right there.

With a quick action sequence drawn up here, this allows the show to them move on to more character driven moments, this time bringing the focus onto one of the more intriguing characters. Little has been said about Kunugi in general, though he’s the fairly quiet and always serious type, striking me as a more somber version of Goto from Patlabor, someone with a wounded past. Taking the day off from his command, he heads off for a special encounter to deal with his past. Playing parallel to this is something of an amusing non-date between Ayato and Megumi. Though that does help to lighten the overall mood of the show, the focus is squarely on Kunugi.

A fair amount of revelations come about from this episode in regards to his past and his involvement in the first arrival of the Mu in earthspace. The cagey reporter who knows much more than he lets on manages to ramble forth a few key moments from Kunugi’s past to him, catching him completely off-guard. The revelations bring a fair amount of new information on the events of the arrival of the Mu, while subsequent moments between Kunugi and someone else from his past bring a sad point of closure to other things. This episode worked very well on a lot of levels.

And as good as that was, it only got better with the next two episodes as one of my top scripters, Chiaki Konaka, stepped up to the plate to deliver his goods. The psychological episode is delivered beautifully here, as we have Ayato taking the RahXephon to meet the latest enemy, a winged liked enemy that manages to quickly wrap itself around the RahXephon and transport it within its own time/space, leaving only the halo-like ring in its place near the border with Tokyo-Jupiter.

The initial transition through the gate has Ayato nearly going insane from the pain and intensity of it all. But as he struggles through it, he finds himself once more inside Tokyo-Jupiter, but in a time where nothing that had happened to him in the city before had occurred. Ayato ends up falling back into his life in a somewhat listless way, as his friends are once again with him and even his mother is close to him again, going so far as to spend time with him and actually cook him a meal. Ayato realizes that this must be a dream, but he finds it alluring enough that he starts to fall for it.

Other aspects of the dream world are given to him, such as when he comes across Haruka inside a little restaurant. The question of reality comes up between them, as well as the classic piece about being the butterfly that’s dreaming of being a person. Haruka ends up pushing him to take advantage of this false reality to let his inner feelings out, feelings he continues to deny he has. This brings the scene to a really well done moment, where it transitions to her being on the bench, partially undressed, with Ayato over her and his hand on her breast. He fights off this temptation and deny he has those feelings as she continues to pull on him to do whatever he wants.

When Ayato does manage to finally extricate himself from this reality, done in another very strong sequence, it allows the show to progress along in another way. His time spent inside the other place has had a devastating effect on Quon, pushing her into a coma of sorts. Even after Ayato escapes and returns to the base, Quon isn’t responding at all, which causes the Foundation to step in and send some of its own people to examine her.

Ayato’s return has definitely changed his ability to interact with those around him. This is most apparent as he can’t even look Haruka in the eyes anymore, a moment that must strike Haruka painfully considering how scared she was for him during his time spent in the other place. Her inability to understand what has happened, since he refuses to talk about it, only makes it worse and threatens the dreams she harbors inside herself for the two of them.

A lot of the focus here shifts to Quon, as she awakens with something new inside of her. There’s something crucial that she’ll likely perform at some point in time, and the transition she undergoes here is a key part of it even though she now seems like she’s more cracked than before. Ayato ends up having to deal with another attacking Mu, but as it times with the disappearance of Quon, he’s surprised to find her inside the place where he pilots the RahXephon. The two of them being together inside this place brings about some truly gorgeous and creepy moments as they battle the Mu.

There’s a lot of very neat elements brought into play here. I was excited to see the Foundation pieces brought into play as opposed to just dialogue, as well as seeing one of their bases, never mind the potential creepy nature of their long lives. The symbol of the Foundation also brings out an interesting piece, as it looks like it’s the same as the markings on Quon’s body, a sliver I hadn’t realized before.

Another aspect I enjoyed a lot is the ability of the RahXephon when it’s in fighting mode. When it gets sucked into one of the attacking Mu, but then simply reaches around and crushes the face of it before swinging its fire blade up all through it, it’s a visually breathtaking moment. There’s a real power to the imagery here and it’s done in a very fluid way. Add in that Ayato has no issues in attacking and killing these things, and the sequences play out very well.

This round of episodes added so much more to the show, more than I expect at this range of episodes, that it was almost a bit overwhelming. I love the way all the relationships are going and the mistakes various people are making. As said elsewhere, these are flawed people but not flawed to the point of insanity. The cast is large, but they’re all given the right amount of time to move things forward and still be interesting. This show is a continual surprise to me and each episode only gets better and better.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Printed booklet with information about characters staff interviews and translation notes,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation,Early production promo

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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