RahXephon Orchestration 1 : Threshold

Image of DVD cover (37k jpg)

Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Region: Four.
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Disc 1:

This series opens with an enigmatic warning of war begining as unusual fighter planes take off and the central character of the piece, one Ayato Kamina, wakes to another normal day & contemplates the painting he has crafted of a young woman on a bluff looking at a confusion of geometric shapes. Despite his assertion that all is well in the world we quickly learn that to be wrong with the same mysterious planes engaged in dogfights over Tokyo. Watched by men in suits as well as a camera wielding Haruka Shitow we get to learn with Ayato just how wrong things really are with the world.

For starters the belief that Ayato has that Tokyo is all that is left of a devestated world is just the first of many things Ayato has wrong. Worse yet is the presence of blue blooded strangers who seem very interested in Ayato. Exactly why becomes clearer when he is lead by Reika Mishima to the shrine of Xephon. Within it is the mecha featured on the cover and something that not only has no place in a normal Tokyo but also seems to have chosen him as it's pilot.

Would it surprise you to learn that the world gets odder as Ayato discovers exactly where those fighter planes came from?

It is a bold series that by episode three has not only established a lot of how the universe works for the central character it is going to follow but then proceeds to turn that entirely upside down. Ayato learns that literaly everything and everyone he has known is either unaware or complicit in a grand lie. To say much more would spoil half the fun of watching this but it's deft direction means that we get enough time to appreciate Ayato's world and know how much of a wrench it is when he finds nothing is as he thought.

Exactly where this series is going to is hard to tell, what we can say already is that music is an essential part of it. For starters the more unusual gadgetry literaly sings at it's enemies and a lot of the incidental dialogue plus naming conventions reference musical terms. Supporting this is a fairly diverse musical score that deftly shifts from orchestral tracks to jazz all without sounding out of place. We also get with the egnlish dub not only a solid vocal cast, including the excellent Monical Rial and Chris Patton who both fit their roles well, but a strong 5.1 audio mix which is very enjoyable with some good use of direction cueing.

Combine that with some quite beautiful animation and you have a series that is going to be a whole heap of fun to enjoy. I had heard a few comments about RahXephon but really knew very little going in which is the best way I think. That is why I have tried to be fairly vague in this overview of the first DVD. Some have complained this is a close copy of Neon Genesis Evangelion but from what I have seen thus far it misses on the heavy Christian mythos references and has a central cast of characters who are considerably less neurotic than Shinji, Asuka or Rei ever were. So I would say it simply shares a not uncommon predilection in anime for giant mecha, school age pilots and political machinations. If anything the more assured and clear storytelling bode well for a series that is less infuriating by series end than Neon Genesis Evangelion was.

There is a lot to think about already with the series, if you are interested I have some speculation and thoughts here coming from watching the first volume. This is spoiler rich so read it only if you have seen the episodes in question.

Philip R. Banks
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