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ADV Films presents
RahXephon #3: Harmonic Convergence (2002)

"It doesn't matter if you are dreaming of being a butterfly, or the butterfly is dreaming of being you."
- Haruka (Aya Hisakawa)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: August 10, 2003

Stars: Hiro Shimono, Maaya Sakamoto, Aya Hisakawa
Other Stars: Houko Kuwashima, Ichiko Hashimoto, Hirofumi Nojima, Yumi Kakazu, Yuu Sugimoto
Director: Yutaka Izubuchi

Manufacturer: MOFC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for violence)
Run Time: 01h:12m:00s
Release Date: June 17, 2003
UPC: 702727039225
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Here we are with the third release of RahXephon, and the story hasn't even started yet. Sure, the characters have been more or less established, and the world they inhabit has been fleshed out. But when is something going to happen?

The show continues to show a lot of promise, story wise. I'm still counting on the good faith engendered by the first five episodes, which pulled an effective switcharoo that allowed the scripts to abandon much of the "Neo-Tokyo" crud that populates most post-apocalyptic anime. The hero, Ayato, is a much more appealing hero than many whiney anime teens. The supporting characters are intriguing, particularly the unusual Quon, who seems to have an unspoken connection with Ayato. And then there is the beautiful artwork, some of the best I've ever seen on a television budget. The RahXephon, the robot Ayato pilots, is a unique design used creatively for action scenes, and his opponents, crafts sent by the alien invaders that are the series' antagonists, are always eye-catching and unusual.

But here we have three more episodes (one less than the norm, as ADV is stretching the series to seven volumes) in which more questions are posed and no answers are provided. I appreciate a slowly developing mystery, but it feels like the show is spinning its wheels, substituting obtuse weirdness for actual storylines. I'm sure things will develop eventually, and maybe these episodes will feel more substantial once I know how everything turns out, but as of now, they feel like fluff, and that's a problem for a series that costs $30 per installment.

That said, it's entertaining fluff. The first episode is rather jarringly light-hearted for this show, as we get to know some of the supporting characters a bit better, and the love triangle between Ayato and two of his co-workers is developed. The second is a familiar but effective alternate reality show. Ayato is sucked inside of an attacking ship which causes him to have delusions of his life before his discovered the truth about the aliens invading earth. In the final episode, we get to know a little more about Quon, and there is a confusing end sequence that implies that she and Ayato may be somehow integral to the planet's survival.

I'm still sort of enjoying RahXephon, with the expectation that my time investment now will pay off with subsequent volumes. Anime fans who have seen the entire series indicate that things take off with volume four; let's hopeŚwe're nearly halfway through the series, and I'm all out of good faith.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This recent series looks excellent on DVD. Colors are strong and solid with no blooming. Detail is good, and there is no noticeable artifacting or aliasing. Up there with Noir in terms of video quality from ADV.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese Stereoyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in either Japanese Stereo or an English 5.1 remix (note that the back of the box incorrectly labels the Japanese track 2.0, an error I failed to note in my reviews of the first two volumes). The 5.1 mix is flashier, anchoring the dubbed dialogue into the center channel and spreading score and sound effects across the front soundstage (with limited support from the surrounds), but I prefer the original language track, even in plain stereo. The dialogue is clear and the score and effects feature good dynamic range, and the mix features good directionality and stereo separation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Steam Detectives, Super Gals!, Noir, Voices of a Distant Star, The Devil Lady, Spectral Force
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Early Production Promo
  2. Clean Open and Closing Animation
  3. Production Sketches
Extras Review: This volume includes more of the same and one new feature. If you still haven't had your fill of the clean opening and closing animations, they are presented here for the third time along with another gallery of production stills (in an animated gallery set to an expanded version of the theme). New to volume three is the Early Production Promo, a four minute teaser for the series that features line drawings, color sketches, and preliminary animation along with text trumpeting all the big names involved with "this century's first high density sci-fi animation" and a "big project, finally here."

The ADV trailer gallery offers a few new and interesting clips this time around, including alternate trailers for the current releases. Check out Steam Detectives, Super Gals!, Noir, Voices of a Distant Star, The Devil Lady, and Spectral Force.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Though I still find RahXephon to be more about visuals than narrative, the story picks up somewhat in this volume with a few trippy episodes that, at least, forward the plot along a bit. I still feel like the series is mired in establishing tone, world, and characters, but supposedly things kick into gear with the next volume.


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