RahXephon - The Motion Picture: Pluralitas Concentio Review
Those of you who have read my previous reviews or have indeed seen the series for themselves should not need the storyline explained, so I'm not going to bother. Getting straight into the review then I shall take a look at Studio BONES's reconstruction of the events that took part during the 26-episode run.
RahXephon managed to divide viewers into separate camps. Some felt the series was far too convoluted and not as self aware as it made out to be. Others say it's nothing more than a Neon Genesis Evangelion rip-off and then there are those who think it's a masterpiece, much like myself, even if it does deal with themes that we've all seen a dozen times or more in past anime, television and cinema releases. Essentially RahXephon is a love story and one that echoes the message that love will free our world. The series was quite a slog to get through, with many things it wants to impart right through to the end where it begins to cram in more developments and mind boggling situations for the viewer to interpret. The strong themes of love and destinies entwined was something it dealt with quite heavily, while in the background, several other factors that constantly begged the question "why?" remained to be generally obscure. After much debate between fans, creator, Yutaka Izubuchi went back to construct a new take on the tale, this time concentrating on the relationship between Haruka and Ayato, as seen through the eyes of Haruka. Some characters have been given tweaked roles, whereas others have been practically eliminated from this feature.
As mentioned RahXephon is not without its faults. As great as I believe the series was it could definitely have ended far sooner than it actually did, with instances where the creators were intentionally dragging out the story by including things that were also insignificant. This motion picture is a welcome addition, especially for those who still require answers in the aftermath of the series but despite the studio’s claims it can be enjoyed by newcomers the film is strictly for those accustomed to the series; anyone who tries approaching RahXephon for this first time by watching the motion picture is going to be left disappointed. Dealing with the series' human and emotional developments it coherently clears up the story so that the series can be watched and appreciated again with a greater understanding to the show.
BONES have included some new animation for this movie, a lot of which is centred on Haruka and Ayato, in addition to reworking the score to accompany its dramatic leaning. Though still a piece of science fiction the movie glosses over a lot of the action sequences and paces itself differently. For close to two hours the film does whiz by and this is where some of its problems lie. Condensing approximately 600-minutes into two hours probably shouldn't be considered, let alone attempted but BONES aren't strangers to this, having developed the beautiful Escaflowne movie. Like that they've taken newer liberties with its cast to provide something a little fresher for fans to rejoice in but with this adaptation they struggle to maintain any kind of consistency. RahXephon - The Motion Picture is great as a character study, it does make sense and never grinds to a halt but at the same time it's a rapid succession of twists that play out as if it were a selection of clips, rather than a finely tuned story that can stand on its own two feet. What we have is basically a collection of scenes that have taken place outside of what is presented onscreen in the series and mixed in with those that featured more prominently. If at any moment during the series you wondered what might have happened here or there, it most likely presents itself in this film. So Ayato, Haruka, Mishima and the Bahbem Foundation all get ample time in being fleshed out, with the rest of the cast relegated to mere seconds of screen time. Some of the motives behind the Mulian race and the Foundation are made clearer than they were first time around and come the final moments of the series everything is nicely tied together.
It's hard to recommend this film to anyone who has never seen an episode of the series. It feels like the sole purpose of the motion picture is to fill in the blanks for an audience who couldn't wrap their heads around it in the first place, and while achieving this it seems all the more forced and unnecessary. Still it does have some nice moments and the closing minutes here should have been included in the series as that would have provided a perfect and much more emotional ending to the original run.
The movie is presented in a standard amaray case with a cover that features Ayato, Mishima and RahXephon on the front cover. Inside the case is a very nicely put together booklet that features various facts, character profiles, Mecha and Dolem profiles, translation notes, commentary and a character correlation map.
Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the movie looks as expected. Nothing has been altered from the original series as much of this is made up from re-edited bits and pieces. The transfer is very strong with great detail and wonderful colours. Edge Enhancement is minimal, banding is slight and if you're well accustomed to the look of the series on DVD already then this will pose no problems whatsoever.
Here we have a choice of Japanese and English 5.1 surround mixes. For my listening pleasure I went with the original Japanese track which is almost sensational, with the occasional action set pieces and accompanying music being carried across the speakers considerably well. Dialogue is clear but the problem which occurred on ADV's recent Evangelion release pops up here again. Speaker direction at times is oddly marred as suddenly voice levels rise above the norm for no apparent reason.
Optional English subtitles are included and like the series these are bold, with a yellow face. When background dialogue is translated an extra set of white subtitles appear.
Very disappointing, considering the price tag. For this we only get ADV previews for Generator Gawl, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum, Kino’s Journey, Last Exile and Gad Guard
RahXephon - The Motion Picture is a fine companion to the series but should not be watched by those unversed in the story as it simply does not work. Skimping on details in some areas it provides plenty of insight to others, along with a greatly enhanced score that really does some particular scenes proud.
I'm a little disappointed that this release is practically bare bones, with the exception of some ADV Previews as some interviews would have been very beneficial. It would have been nice to hear from the studio and learn about the making of this piece.