RahXephon - Orchestration 2: Tonal Pattern Review
The stage has been set and as the Mulian forces continue to wage war against the Earth, TERRA must use their last hope, the RahXephon. Ayato refuses to be a part of the destructive force that serves to free the world but there are many contributing factors that will change his mind during the course of events - someone whom he thought was dead has returned, Quon is advancing toward him and now he is lost in a world that he long thought was dead, struggling to make sense of this new time frame and his role within the defence force.
Volume 1 left us clinging on for more after Ayato began to try and make sense of what was happening around him. Now after settling in his new home his reluctance in piloting RahXephon is all too apparent. Volume 2 takes us right into the action for the opening episode when another Dolem, the Ritardando attacks. It also houses four episodes that further develop existing characters while introducing a few more.
With the attack by the aforementioned Dolem comes the introduction of another character. Kim is bent on revenge since a tragedy became her family when she was a young girl and much time is spent on her background and emotional state in this opening episode, which is just what I had hoped for - that Volume 2 would begin to flesh out the major players. While Kim gets full treatment Ayato must decide what it is that he will do to protect those that need him - back out or become a pilot? Guiding him is his angel, Reiko who appeared to have died but mysteriously creeps into Ayato's conscience, something which raises many questions over her death (is she alive?).
Haruka's friend, Elvy joins the air defence force with her new team and also receives plenty of attention in this volume, as does Nanamori and her boss Itsuki. Quon is continuing to be elusive to the viewer. Little is given away as to her role but we learn a couple of things, the main one being that she dislikes the cold. She keeps waxing lyrical but her significance is yet to be revealed.
Another addition to the series is a reporter named Futagami. Invited to Nirai-Kanai as part of a story he is working on Futagama is another character with an air of mystery surrounding him. While he appears mostly in episode 6 he clearly has more to offer in later volumes as he isn’t letting on to others what he knows about various players. His primary interest seems to lie in finding Ayato, just when I thought we had enough characters to deal with along come more. The series is growing in its cast but this keeps it healthy and varied enough to sustain interest.
Character relationships are further studied here. Ayato and Haruka draw closer to one another but are often forced apart due to Haruka's commitment to TERRA. The authority figures heading the team show little compassion for Ayato's situation though they should be more grateful that he is on their side. When we last saw Ayato and Megumi together it seemed as if they were predictably heading for a romantic entanglement but these following episodes suggest that despite the fondness they have for each other they are interested in forming more meaningful relationships with others. It seems more apparent that Megumi's concerns lie with her sister and her growing attraction toward a young man, thus playing the age card. Megumi is attracted toward a fellow TERRA officer named Yagumo and she has her own problems to deal with.
The episodes on offer here aren't without their slice of action. Once again we are introduced to some unique designs in the way of the Dolem ships. The Forzando is a gigantic station that hides above the clouds with only its protruding non-functioning legs reaching sea level. From this comes the Dotem and Sforzando, responsible for levelling Sayoko. This can change the effects of weather and plays an important part in episode 8 with regards to one of the characters. The Ritardando is an interesting ship that carries an Egyptian quality, not unlike RahXephon though the shape is far different. This destroyed eight cities, fourteen years ago and has now come back to haunt the memory of Kim, it appears at the same time as the Aurora Borealis.
Will all of these invaders it makes for some fine action to be had, made all the more enjoyable by the high standards of animation on offer. RahXephon is one of the finest looking animated series from 2001 and it is still great to see that it has a fine mixture of everything so far.
Volume 2 contains the following four episodes that will contain minor spoilers:
Sixth Movement: Obliterated Cities - Lost Songs Forgotten Melodies
A reporter named Futagami visits Nirai-Kanai, looking for Ayato. The Ritardando attacks Tokyo Jupiter with its power to sink objects into the ground. Kim Hotal recalls the time when her family was killed in Australia fourteen years ago for which the Ritardando was responsible and now she wishes to exact revenge. Meanwhile, the only person who can help her is deciding whether or not he wishes to become RahXephon's full time pilot.
Seventh Movement: Day of Assembly - Phantom in the Clouds
Elvy joins the military flight squad and assembles a crew to help RahXhephon fight against a Dolem known as Forzando in this action packed episode.
Eigth Movement: Bitterly Cold Holy Night - The Dreaming Stone
Itsuki gives a crystal necklace to Nanamori which soon begins to grow in size. It calls the attention of Sforzando that then takes Nanamori hostage and encases her in its crystal chest. Quon stays in her room and looks out at the snow that she is incapable of enjoying and Haruka shares a close moment with Ayato.
Ninth Movement: Small Shrine of Time - Sanctuary
The friends head out to the beach for a little R&R. Ayato and Quon soon disappear...
ADV presents Volume 2 in the same vein as the first one. The cover depicts the Dolem known as the Forzando. Again we get a high quality booklet that features some wonderful drawings, translation notes and interviews; including mecha animator Hirotoshi Sano, actress Aya Hisakawa, mech designer Michiaki Sato and actress Houko Kuwashima.
The series looks near flawless and this time round I didn't notice as much of the digital colour banding. For a series as aesthetically pleasing as this one, ADV have done a wondrous job in porting it to DVD.
As standard there is a choice between the original Japanese Stereo track and the English 5.1 offering. Depending on your set up you may want to go for the English dub so you can enjoy the heavy battle sequences in 5.1. If you prefer your Japanese acting then stick with the original like I did as the nature of the voice work is superior on this track, particularly for a show with plenty of emotional performances that the ADV dub cast tend to be lacking in whenever their characters come under certain stress.
It has got to the stage where I just ignore these now after the first volume. ADV needn't keep putting them on their subsequent volumes.
The same sentiments apply, while nice additions these extras begin to serve more as something to bulk up the lack of heavier features on most releases.
Interviews with English Vocal Cast
This is a better offering from ADV. Running for about 13 minutes it features three principal actors; Chris Patton, Kira Vincent-Davis and Monica Rial. They are interviewed separately using the same basic question list that asks how they feel about their characters, their difficulties in voicing them and their thoughts on the direction in which the story is taking.
Another 4 minute feature that shows plenty of character and prop designs.
Trailers for: Noir, Boogiepop Phantom, Dirty Pair Flash and Dai-Guard: Terrestrial Defence Corp.
The series remains involving as RahXephon has established more of the character's roles and eased itself into the developing story arc. There's no clear indication as to where it is heading just yet with this Volume ending on another cliff-hanger, but I shall look forward to seeing how the next volume pans out.