RahXephon Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • 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: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: RahXephon

RahXephon Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 18, 2003
Release Date: July 29, 2003

RahXephon Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
Tremors ripple through the city as new Dolems attack, but the most dangerous shock waves of all are the mental assaults that now threaten to overwhelm Ayato's grasp of the physical world itself. As new players enter the deadly game between the humans and the Mu, the young pilot finds himself alone and without backup, struggling to rebuild the foundation of his own reality as the universe threatens to collapse beneath him. The secrets of Ixtli begin to reveal themselves in the fourth shocking volume of RahXephon

The Review!
Moving past the center point in the series, this volume provides some new revelations, a serious look into the past and a not so subtle way to say goodbye.

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.

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.

This volumes uses a similar style of artwork like previous volumes with the somewhat abstract backgrounds and line work. The central image for this release goes back to the mecha and uses the newly arrived Vermillion craft locked into its carrier as the primary image while having some sinister eyes in the background. 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 once more fantastic. Between the liner notes, bits of information and all the nice artwork as well as the really nice booklet material, these pieces continue to be a highlight to the release.

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.

The extras are familiar yet new, as we get the traditional opening and ending sequences in textless form as well as another round of the art gallery pieces. What’s really new here and enjoyable for a good chunk of fans is the Meet the Voice Actors segment, which takes a lot of the actors from the English dub and goes through all sorts of things about them and the series. While the content is enjoyable, the setup is not. In addition to not being subtitled (which makes it difficult for me to go through the entire piece since it has to be loud to hear properly with the noise around me), everything is done in one single chapter. You can’t skip to the individual questions and then go from there, which is a real shame. With it running at forty two minutes in length, it’s a great feature for dub fans. Sub fans can put it on and play it at 20x speed and find themselves coming up with interesting games.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this installment of RahXephon, we’re thankfully again at four episodes and that means we get a lot of content. And much like past volumes, it’s loaded with information about the world, the characters and their frailties. Yet the mantra stands true I think as we get deeper into their minds; these are flawed people indeed and there is no way around that, but they’re not so deeply flawed as to be caricatures.

Relationships seem to be one of the key aspects of these episodes, as we focus more on the past, including a very brief and enlightening segment in the first episode that talks about the destruction of Sendai when everything went to hell so many years ago. With the relationships, we start to see people realizing where their feelings lie and to start making some move towards it instead of keeping it all inside. This has some amusing moments such as seeing Ayato put sugar on his rice like Haruko does. I was just glad to see he avoided putting the mayonnaise on it since even that would have made me cringe.

Itsuki’s relationship with his “sister” Quon comes into a changing phase here as well, as he continues to try to keep the pretense up that she’s not recovered from before, but Helena has found out and made moves to get her moved to the Bahbem Foundation. Itsuki’s been with her for some time now that he’s not quite sure how he’s going to deal with it, but the worst part comes in learning who had betrayed him over it. And as we later on learn more about the relationship between the two, re-watching these earlier episodes brings a whole new light onto things.

For Ayato, his time here changes drastically after a comment made by Yagumo in the heat of the moment that Ayato was never supposed to hear. For him, this changes his view of everything since he came out of Tokyo Jupiter and causes him to reevaluate every relationship. With the belief that everyone had been laughing at him and making fun of him the entire time, nothing anyone says really gets through to him anymore and he finds himself on a path to where he wants to be and with someone who will accompany him with no questions asked. It’s an interesting turn of relationships to be sure, but one that makes sense based on the past couple of episodes.

One of the best episodes on this disc is one that takes place in the past, where pretty much the entire thing is given over to tell the tale of a young Itsuki, Helena and Makoto as they are brought up as the gifted children of the future inside the Bahbem Foundation’s mansion. The three children are being instructed rather tightly, including an interesting sequence right from the start where they have a ruler taken to their hands under the premise that pain reminds them to be good children. Watching these three as youngsters, even as advanced as they are, gives a real insight into their core personalities and can completely change your view of Helena in the present as well as Itsuki.

The story that gets told there is very interesting and brings some new elements to light that make you wonder how it will fit into things overall. Of course, that’s something of a running theme in general. In the present, with the introduction of the Vermillion craft that can allow anyone to take on the Mu craft, there’s some definite arrogance by the pilots, especially in regards to how they’ll be the ones to fix everything with them. This arrogance sets off an interesting chain of events though that leads to a dramatic change later for Ayato.

There is just simply so much going on in each of these episodes that to say one thing spoils huge amounts later, making it difficult to tiptoe around the content. The pace in the show pretty much continues on with some nice quiet and almost casual moments, such as being envious of Ayato having the time to lay in the grass, or to moments where you feel the pain so strongly of what the characters are going through, such as when Kim and Megumi come across each other in the hallway after Megumi has just gone through something pretty much all teens go through. Add in the really well done combat action sequences with the RahXephon and the fallout from previous episodes and it’s just packed.

Toss in the continually enticing music and beautiful character designs and it’s little wonder that I get excited every time I get a new volume. I even make sure I save these volumes for when I know it’ll be a little bit quieter and calmer than normal so that I can savor it more – and that’s a hard chore in a house with a three year old and a nine month old moving about. RahXephon continues to be an engaging series whose journey is exciting and intriguing.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Printed booklet with information about characters; staff interviews and translation notes,Production sketches,Part II of the RahXephon English Cast Interview

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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