£14.99 Online, £19.99 High Street
When I sat down in the cinema to watch this movie for the first time at the Anime All-nighter a week ago and watched this, I was tired, grumpy and I felt like my mind had just been violated. I am, by nature a bit of a Rahxephon fan boy. I admit my bias and the first time I watched this series was at Ayacon 2003. After the first two episodes I felt lost, but highly addicted, and I needed more and 6 months later I had seen all of Rahxephon, and was not satisfied. I watched it again, and finally it all clicked. By the third viewing I felt I understood the series, I was close enough. I was complete, happy... content.
Rahxephon the Motion Picture is a retelling of the story in the space of 2 short hours. The series, as reviewed here: http://www.uk-anime.net/review.asp?IntID=16 spans 7 volumes with 12 hours of pure mecha bliss. It is a masterpiece in its own right and it must be seen. The motion picture however, is not this masterpiece. It uses the same characters, the identical setting, and retells the story, sort of.
The story is based focussed on the relationship between Ayato and Haruka rather than the intense battles between the Mu dolem and the Rahxephon. In this version, the battles play a very small part, and can only been seen in “passing” as the film progresses. The motion picture starts with a quick awkward moment between Mishima Haruka and Ayato (Note Haruko’s name at this point). They are a young couple and are very much in love. Haruka goes away and as she leaves Tokyo, the Mu Invasion begins. The Mu quickly erects the Absolute Barrier around Tokyo, separating the couple on either side of the barrier. 3 years later (Tokyo Time) Tokyo is attacked by a mysterious force which obliterates most of downtown Tokyo in the process. Ayato is caught in the fighting and finds himself in a subway with a bunch of the Mu’s “men in black suits”. Out of the blue, a woman quickly rescues him, and offers to tell him the truth. Sit back; this is where it begins to hurt…
For those familiar to the story of Rahxephon and who know the series quite well, the following hour after this is pretty much identical in content to the series. Most of the scenes and artwork is taken directly from the series, and you can, with a bit of patience, name exactly which episode each passing scene is from. In this little, centre segment of the series we do get introduced to Quon, who in this version is not a part of TERRA as such, and spends the time sleeping, with Professor Itsuki watching over her. She plays the same part as she does in the series, which is to be the Instrumentalist in the Tuning of the world and for the most part, the ending is very similar, but not the same, as such. At this point, I don’t want to give any more away as there is quite an interesting twist in the story.
The disc itself is presented very well with a high quality dub of equal quality to that of the series, stunning 5.1 surround sound and artwork that will simply make your eyes bleed at times with the gorgeousness. Yes, it fits the same high quality of the series, and yes, it does come with a very useful guide on the movie which gives details of the characters, a basic run through of the story, as well as some very handy notes on Rahxephon, and a director’s written commentary all of which is very good to read and quite informative.
My overall position on the movie is that it’s meant for standalone only. With watching the series in conjunction with the movie, it only adds confusion in my very honest opinion. I would have been much happier with the movie having no action, than having little teasing of action which occurs at numerous points in the movie it does leave you very unsatisfied and lusting for more. The compactness of the movie disturbs me a little. You have all the banter about Bahbem, The Rahxephon System near the end, without actually being introduced to them correctly. The whole “tuning the world” idea does come very suddenly, and is not at all well explained. For a standalone movie, this really should not happen. The “brain rape” effect comes simply from the sheer amount of information you have to absorb and process in order to understand the movie. The series does at least give you time to take care of the essentials and allows for understand to gradually build up.
By and by, the movie can be classed as OK. It’s been produced very well, it does tie in with the series and overall my gripes are completely of my own opinion and buried deep inside of me for releasing during fan arguments only. If you are a Rahxephon fan I do implore you to make your own decision on the movie rather than take the opinions of hardened critics such as myself completely to heart.