Monday, December 6, 2010

RahXephon Review

Brief synopsis:  Ayato Kamina is a teenager from Tokyo who becomes entangled in a conflict between humans and trans-dimensional invaders known as the Mu.  He is called to pilot the RahXephon, an almost-mystical technological construct, and he becomes a useful tool of the Mulian defense organization known as Terra.  As the conflict with the Mu intensifies, so does his inner conflict as he struggles to find the truth about himself and those around him.

Initial thoughts:  I had seen parts of RahXephon several years ago and recently decided to purchase the boxed set in order to view the entire thing from start to finish.  I recalled enjoying what I saw of the show very much the first time around, and I was curious to see how the title held up during its second viewing.  This is my first time really trying to review something, so I'm going to try to tackle it by breaking it into sections.  Please keep in mind that this is all just my opinions based on what I have seen and felt.  It's really okay to have a different opinion.  I don't care for arguments and shitstorms.

Story: RahXephon is a complex show, with many references to music, literature, folklore, etc.  That being said, I definitely got more out of the second viewing than the first time I watched.  The show is often likened to Neon Genesis Evangelion, and it's apparent that RahXephon was influenced by Eva and various other shows in a number of ways.  However, RahXephon's basic plot is inspired by the 70's super robot show Brave Raideen, and it really has more in common with Raideen than Eva.

Brave Raideen

Like most anime fans, I have seen Evangelion, and I will admit that the similarities between some of the scenes in Eva and Rah are startling, especially toward the beginning of the shows.  However, as I watched RahXephon further, I noticed more differences than similarities.   I don't really see Rah as being an Eva ripoff.

Anyway, the characters in RahXephon are well-developed and complex.  I found most of them to be likable or at least very interesting.

Visuals:  I found RahXephon's visuals to be absolutely stunning.  I'm kind of an old-school anime guy, so I admit that I don't have a good feel for how they hold up against current titles, though.  I was pleased with RahXephon's beautiful imagery and smooth animation.  I loved the designs of the dolems used throughout the show, and I thought that the RahXephon's design was quite interesting and captivating, despite the clear influence of Raideen.

Music:  For a show that contains so many references to music, RahXephon doesn't disappoint with its powerful musical score.  It's opening song, Hemisphere, is definitely a standout anime opening.  Yoko Kanno and Maaya Sakamoto did a fantastic job, and I found the song to be unique and powerful.  Hemisphere was on heavy rotation in my mp3 playlists for some time after hearing it.  The ending song, Yume no Tamago, is amazingly beautiful, and is well-suited for the feel of the show.  In addition, the background music was used very well, and often complemented the scenes quite nicely.  One track that comes to mind off the OST is Second Sorrow, which was used to great effect in episode 19.  ;_;

The Requisite Rah vs Eva Section:  It's nearly impossible to talk about RahXephon without talking about Evangelion, and most discussions end in arguments about which is better.  I don't care to argue about it, but I figure I'll share my two cents on the matter.  Quite frankly, after seeing both, I vote for RahXephon.  It has stronger characterizations, more likable characters, better-grounded and well-thought symbols and references (not just there because producers thought it was cool), a clearer and more satisfying ending, and superior music and visuals.  That's just my take on things.  Don't get huffy.

Conclusion:  I found RahXephon to be a very interesting and riveting experience.  I blew through the whole thing very quickly, and when it was all over, I found myself sitting and thinking about it for quite some time.  Highly Recommended.  Do yourself a favor and buy a copy.


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