RahXephon Vol. #5 - 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: RahXephon

RahXephon Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     September 24, 2003
Release Date: September 09, 2003

RahXephon Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
As the Mu’s grip on the city of Tokyo tightens, Ayato now finds himself pursued between two worlds, with close friends on both sides seeking to destroy him. Even after all he has experienced thus far, the newest shocks he receives are the most terrifying of all. The secret power source of the Dolems is about to be unveiled, and that secret will haunt him to the grave. In order to live, he must be prepared to sacrifice anything… even the life of a friend. The blood of the innocents will flow in the fifth horrifying volume of RahXephon.

The Review!
After all the revelations of the previous volume, you might think things would slack off a bit. With the journey into Tokyo-Jupiter, it’s nothing but new revelations.

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 volume uses a similar style of artwork like previous volumes with the somewhat abstract backgrounds and line work. Going back to the title mech, the Xephon gets the front cover here with the imagery of a shattered shell around it as well as a bit blue sky. 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 are 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. Though it’s worth saying, don’t read much of these until you get past the episodes on the volume, especially the character snippets.

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 a bit lean this time around but there’s some good material here. The opening and ending sequences are done up in textless form again. These continue to be segments that I love to watch repeatedly. Hiroki Kanno get a nice 10 minute interview here and talks about the show at length. Another round of production sketches is included, but my real favorite here is the original Japanese cover artwork section. These beautifully painted covers exude such a strength to them as well as raw sensuality that it’s a shame that they couldn’t be used.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this installment of the show, we drop back down to three episodes. The down side is obvious in that we lose one episode. The upside is that we get a nice self-contained arc that ends on a huge emotional note, which allows the show to really feel just right in how it’s presented.

With the sheer number of revelations made during the previous volume and the ramifications of it, we’re back in the chase mode as Ayato and Quon are on the move and heading towards Tokyo-Jupiter. The two of them are in the mindset of seeking answers to the questions they have now, as well as Ayato’s belief that people – humans – had been making fun of him since he arrived and that he was basically being mocked. So with the Xephon under their control, they head home.

This of course doesn’t go over well at Terra and they send Elvy off to capture the Xephon at any cost – even the life of the people inside. Elvy breaks protocols some by letting Haruka tag along in one of the smaller compartments since she figures that Haruka may be helpful in subduing Ayato once they catch up. Little does she know that Haruka has plans of her own.

Though with some difficulty, both end up inside the Tokyo-Jupiter field and the time shift begins. Inside, the world of Tokyo-Jupiter has changed completely from what it was before. Though only a month has passed here while six months have passed outside for Ayato, the changes are noticeable, at least to him. All around the city he can now see the dolems hanging in the air. Trying to figure out what’s happened to him as he’s awakened in a hospital, he waits for his mother to arrive so he can get answers.

For Haruka and Elvy, the find that the dolems aren’t exactly after them if they leave them alone. Securing the Vermillion, the two head into the city, with Elvy letting Haruka lead the way since, as we learn here that Haruka grew up here before things changed. This came as a surprise to me, unless I missed it before, but the revelation that Haruka used to be in middle school with Ayato all those years ago came as a shock and completely changes the perception of the relationship between the two. It also indicates to Elvy that Haruka is not here to help in the sense that she had hoped, but she starts to understand things better now.

Within Tokyo-Jupiter, the population lives on much as it had. The dolems hanging in the sky are completely visible, but their control of the populace is so strong that they’re really invisible. There’s a complacency among the people, they live their lives and seem to be generally happy, but they’re missing important information. And not everyone is as they seem, as the control has been used to alter perceptions. During one particular dust up between some of Ayato’s friends, one of them is shocked when she realizes that her blood, which she had seen many times over the years as red, is suddenly blue. The Mulians have been living within society here for some time now and have been hiding themselves, even from each other.

There is so much that is revealed slowly through these episodes that it’s like watching a painter start with a canvas and reveal what he’s painting only in pieces as its built. It’s fascinating to watch, with its pace slowing down nicely here and giving the cast time to really try to figure things out. Revelations are teased out, not fully given, but done so that the viewer has to work a bit to make the connections.

The final episode here is one that’s vastly interesting, but difficult to talk about with being completely spoiled. Suffice to say, I found it to play out very well, building upon the many hints and snippets shown during previous engagements with dolems and those who control them. This episode really brings a strong impression to mind of the relationship between a Mulian and the dolem that they become bonded to, as previously it had been somewhat abstract and played in the background. Combined with the strong raw emotions of two youths who are trying to figure out who they are, it’s really powerful – and that’s saying something in a series with many powerful moments.

This particular arc with the journey into Tokyo-Jupiter follows up the revelation episodes nicely, giving us time with just a few characters and clearing up some subplots by making things more obvious. Though it’s done through painful moments, it becomes all the more important to how the final episodes will play out. And those can’t get here soon enough.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Original Japanese cover art,Interview with Hiroki Kanno,Production sketches,Clean closing and opening animation

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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