RahXephon Vol. #7 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • 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. #7

By Chris Beveridge     January 16, 2004
Release Date: December 02, 2003

RahXephon Vol. #7
© ADV Films

What They Say
At long last, the war with the Mu reaches its climax. The truths that have been hidden are finally revealed. As Ayato stands on the brink of making the ultimate choice, the future of not just one man and one woman, but of two sentient races, hangs in the balance. The symphony of light and terror, of treachery and love, at last completes itself in the final astounding volume of RahXephon.

The Review!
RahXephon comes to an end with both a bang and a whimper, pleasing those who want the action and those who want one of the more complex plots animated to come to fruition.

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.

The final cover to the series goes to the title character itself, with a close up shot of the RahXephon with its face partially covered by the winged section. Though I’m probably in a minority on it, I rather enjoyed the artwork for the covers to this series and how they came out. 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 again fantastic. The included booklet once again tackles many of the same subjects, showcasing some artwork, providing interviews and pointing out numerous spoilers in general. These booklets will be very useful on the second viewing of the series.

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 for this final volume are pretty good with an interesting mix. The opening and ending sequences obviously are done again here with the clean versions. I had hoped that the ending to the final episode would get presented in its original form with Japanese text but that was not to be. There’s an informative twenty minute interview section with the Japanese cast and staff, with plenty of time spent explaining how all of this came from the director during the course of many drinking sessions. And in addition to another set of production sketches, there’s a four minute “Fate of Katun” music video included as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final three episodes of RahXephon brings the series to a close and completely rewards the viewer who has been able to pay detailed attention to the show. Those who weren’t able to keep up completely will enjoy much of this, but some of the larger epic elements may not come across, which in the end leaves you wondering what the heck just happened. For those folks, the end of RahXephon becomes a series where the journey was much more enjoyable than the destination.

For myself, I’m in the latter category mostly. There is plenty in these final episodes that is highly visually pleasing and gives nods to the bigger storyline that’s framed within the personal journeys of the characters, but I have seemingly missed much of things implied throughout the previous six volumes that indicate the scope of what’s going on. Only after finishing the series and reading some discussions on it did things start to become clear. That doesn’t actually bother me all that much though, since I went through much the same with Evangelion (as did many others) and I’ll admit that with a series as complex as this one was, it’s easy to start missing details when it’s spread over as many months as the release was (and you’re also watching dozens of other series at the same time). RahXephon is a series that is a must for marathoning.

From where things left off previously, the series takes an almost slow episode to take in the damage inflicted upon humanity from the Mu’s movement out into the world from Tokyo Jupiter. Much of the time is spent with the surviving cast members trying to figure out what’s going on and coming to terms with everything. With the size of the cast, that takes up a decent amount of time, plus it allows for revelations about relationships that I don’t think were too clear before or known at all, particularly of seemingly secondary characters that now have greater importance. One of the best moments though comes when Megumi finally gives up on Ayato and tells both him and Haruka before she evacuates the current base. The look Haruka has as she realizes what Megumi is really saying is perfect, as is the way she and Ayato deal with each other at this point, only a few short minutes before she has to leave as well.

All of this is prelude though to Ayato taking on the RahXephon and “completing” it, as is his supposed reason for being born. Helena tells this to him again as she has come representing the Foundation and Bahbem again to further their own goals. Being the manipulative person she is, she continues to let him believe that he can keep his humanity when he takes on this role. Ayato simply sees this as something he can retain and finish out something that has been started before he was born and strives to do so. His merging with the uncompleted Xephon changes it in a very eerie way, with it taking on many of his visual characteristics but also those of the Xephon itself. The malleable looking nature of the body, the unfocused eyes and the wide spread wings… the non-human nature of it is very strong here.

Ayato’s merging takes place at the same time that Maya has sent forward the Mulian forces into the world while Quon prepares for what’s coming next for her and Ayato. The battle scenes with the human made Xephon style mecha with the various Mulian forces are fantastic, richly detailed and quite devastating as characters continue to die. This is the time in a series where you start to feel that nobody will survive this chaos as one by one they all fall apart as the Mulians get closer and closer to tuning the world and bringing them to dominance over this dimension. Add in Ayato’s rival Mulian, his former friend who still aches over Hiroko’s death, and these sequences really do reach that classic epic level.

As stated in the beginning, much of what is trying to be accomplished in the tuning was lost on me during the moment but figured out later in discussions about the final episodes. All the hints and information on it is in there, as pointed out to me, but it’s not in such a confusing and seemingly chaotic as another series this is often compared to. Upon reflection, and this is a series that demands that, there’s a real beauty to these final episodes. Not only in the story itself, but the way it’s told visually with the colors and style. With the starkness in some scenes, such as any of the church based sequences where the real revelations of the Bahbem Foundation material comes out, are striking. With the look and the raw emotions coming out of it, in both languages no less, it was so easy to get caught up in the moment of it all and become entranced.

In Summary:
RahXephon is one of the more complex series that I’ve had the pleasure of watching throughout 2003 and one that I’m eager to revisit in a shorter timeframe to put all the pieces together more carefully. With so many seemingly offhand comments actually being integral to the overall plot, nothing is done here without a reason. Though the overall storyline itself is simple, it offers no simple answers and forces these flawed characters to make choices that will change them. Hopefully in time as more and more people see RahXephon, people will stop associating it as a knock-off of Evangelion and see it for the brilliance that it is on its own. Very highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with the Japanese staff and RahXephon cast,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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