After two volumes of consolidation, pieces being moved and character development RahXephon returns to now twisting matters nicely with good revealations. Ayato and Quon are intercepted by the Vermillion and as hoped Elvy baulks slightly, trying desperately to avoid having to fire on the RahXephon. In keeping with her character she doesn't come right and say this but rather drops hints for Ayato to figure out. It is a nice character touch showing that she is prepared to bend the rules but not quite break them.
Although with Isshki now blatantly pulling the strings at TERRA will she step up to open disregard for orders? My suspicion is that she wouldn't unless Commander Kunugi has a little chat about what his obedience to orders at all costs has brought to pass. Perhaps the most significant thing mentioned while leading up to RahXephon's entry back into Tokyo Jupiter is Quon's comment on the Vermillion itself. Something designed to warp the Ollin's tone? Interesting indeed, it is increasingly looking like the fighting is all over controlling Ayato and the RahXephon. Vermillion has been created as a safety measure perhaps in case the Ollin being shaped fails to perform as desired. Or is it just to counter the opposing Ollin?
After all we now have the revealation that Tokyo Jupiter was created purely to provide some form of shelter for Ayato. Is this another case for the duality of Ayato/Quon? Quon is the Bahbem Foundation's Ollin and Ayato is the Mu's. If that is the case then are we seeing a schism between factions of the Mu over how to recover from the original cataclysm that claimed their continent? Also one has to wonder about the time delay between Ayato and Quon's 'awakening'. Is contact with the RahXephon itself required here? Considering that Quon is some twelve years out of step with Ayato then it does seem odd that her awakening is coincidentally so close with Ayato's. Certainly it seems to have only really kicked into gear as she came into contact with the RahXephon itself.
What does seem clear is that the Absolute Barrier is a way of keeping the instrumentalists disjoint from the world. This seems to prevent their synchronisation with the dolems. Indeed it seems likely that the dolems are stepping stones designed to permit the Mu to shift probably just their consciousness across to our dimension. Why they need to be shifted in such a fashion when others, like Maya, seem able to be shunted across in toto is not clear. Presumably Maya had to be shifted across to prepare the ground for the easier and less difficult trick with the dolems.
The other big revealation this volume is that the dolems are tightly linked to people on both sides of the dimensional rift. As expected the blue blood was an indicator of this but I wasn't expecting the twist that the dolems aren't the Mu per se but rather are still seemingly a seperate entity. Ayato is bound to be a mess after this as he must now deal with the fact that he isn't just killing enemy hardware but also is killing people he has known inside Tokyo Jupiter. In particular he now has the blood of Asahina firmly on his hands.
There is one curious point. Ayato still has red blood, yet he is synchronised with a Dolem - namely Rah. I have this niggling feeling this is a plot point that it isn't enough to dolem subvert a person for the task that Ayato has been groomed for. It seems it is horribly important to grow a human, synchronise them with the Rah Xephon and get them to choose how to shape the world. It is also significant that Maya uses the term 'salvage' when referring to the Mu. Clearly the Mu have been trapped with whatever happened to them and it has taken some time to develop a way of returning them. Is that what Rah Xephon represents? The final culmination in technology that probably caused the Mu to be lost in the first place but now also allows them to be restored back again...
The connection to Churchward's work is no longer in question. A kind reader, thanks Matt, pointed out that Ayato and Itsuki refer to Churchward explicitly in episode five. So clearly the creators of RahXephon have read and are aware of this somewhat obscure book, leaving nice clues for the viewers to catch up on. And I had thought I had been clever catching on to the Naacal Trading Company reference. *sigh* Sneaky sneaky people.
We also have two old rascals to consider. Shogi Rikudo and Futugami. Both know a lot more about what is going on and we are getting hints that Futugami is quite senior in the Federation but is independant of the Bahbem Foundation. He seems concerned at the activities of the Bahbem Foundation and as such may be one of the few non-Mu tainted organisation leaders we see in the series. It seems likely we will get to find out more about him over the next few episodes, hopefully not shortly before he gets killed. To his credit Futugami really doesn't like Isshki at all. But we still know next to nothing about Shogi. He remains the enigmatic but knowledgable uncle to Haruka.
Another interesting note is that we had forewarning of Asahina's feelings for Ayato in volume three when he is trapped in a mocked up version of Tokyo Jupiter. Clearly the choices the Mu were presenting to him were real choices as we already know Haruka still cares deeply for Ayato and we now had confirmation that this held true for Asahina as well. To then have Ayato be the instrument of not only her death but also the discoverer of exactly what killing a Dolem entails will have to have some serious impact on Ayato. He is going to have to evaluate exactly what he is fighting for and why - probably down to choosing to defend Haruka at all costs.
Special mention has to be made of the music for these episodes. The series as a whole has made good use of music throughout, including the 'Mu theme' of Borodin's Polovtsian Dances, but the handling reached especially good highs with the break into Tokyo Jupiter by the Vermillion and the whole mood setting for Asahina and Ayato's trip in the real world. It established mood pretty much perfectly allowing what could have been a boring moment (especially the jump scene which does devolve into two still frames with computer generated swirls running over them) to remain tense. Very well done guys.