Posted by psgels on 18 January 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




It’s amazing to think that even in the early days of Bones, they already managed to gather a ridiculous amount of talent. I mean, they immediately showed how good they are with animating down to earth fight scenes with Angelic Layer, they got to do the Escaflowne movie, which had some fantastic animation, and not to mention Cowboy Bebop’s movie (of which I’ve heard many good movies). Then they came with RahXephon and really cemented themselves as a unique production company.

First and foremost, RahXephon is an example of the heights that anime can attain when they make full use of of their creative liberties. For something that aired nine years ago, it just has absolutely fantastic ideas within its graphics. The mecha design is exquisite, and unlike any other series I’ve seen. The use of CG is brilliant, especially for its time. The cleanup animation may leave a lot to be desired, but this show more than makes up for it with its gorgeous artwork and animation. The scenes in this series are also really well directed: this show is full of ideas, from the small details to large plot twist.

Now, as for the story itself though, you’re definitely going to like a bit of a mind-screw once in a while if you want to be able to enjoy this series. In particular, this is in no way a series that tries to explain everything that’s going on through it’s airtime: it leaves a lot unmentioned, and it especially refrains from mentioning exactly why everything is happening in this series. Instead, it just leaves this up to the viewers to make their own interpretations. I personally really like these kinds of series, but if you don’t then prepare to go “wtf” quite a few times throughout the series’ airtime because even for my standards this show ended up leaving a bunch of crucial unanswered questions behind.

Now, one thing that annoyed me a bit is that the cast of characters in this series is a bit of a mixed bag. It can be very good, and the acting is mostly rock solid, and the backgrounds of the characters are overall pretty interesting, but at the same time this show also spends quite a bit of its time on teenaged angst, unfortunately to the point where it takes up too much of the storyline and just goes on for too long. Characters refuse to talk to each other for strange reasons, and various romantic relationships take ages to get from A to B due to superficial padding.

Overall though, while this isn’t a show to watch for its cast, it still has a lot to like here, and I’m impressed what the people from Bones pulled off here. And to be honest, I had a really difficult time deciding whether to give it a rating of 85 or of 87,5, because even nine years after it aired it still is unique. Unfortunately, I do have to admit that it had some parts that were annoying. Nevertheless, it did have got the kind of mindset that I really like, where it put more focus on being interesting than on being flawless.

Storytelling: 9/10 – A lot of subtle details in the storytelling, the pacing is slow, the story is vague on purpose and yet packs some great and interesting scenarios.
Characters: 8/10 – Too much teenaged angst and characters who make strange actions, but the rest of the cast is solid enough to make up for it.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Unique graphics for a TV-series. Brilliant use of CG, especially for its time.
Setting: 8/10 – Inspired by Evangelion, but packs more than enough great ideas and details of its own. Could have been more solid, though.

Suggestions:
– Neon Genesis Evangelion
Argento Soma
Darker than Black

43 Responses

  1. Avatar RollingCamel says:

    Not exactly the same sort of mecha but how is it in comparison with Last Exile?

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Rollingcamel: to be honest I have no idea, because I’ve yet to see Last Exile.

  3. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    @RollingCamel: I think that psgels hasn’t watched Rahxephon yet, but it is on his to-watch list. And I didn’t recall Last Exile having any mecha in it.

    On to the review then. I do agree to a certain extent with your review. My main beef was also with the characters, specifically Ayato and all his angsting. I really felt they stretched it a bit too long portraying his indecisiveness and his mood swings.

    As for the story, even now I still don’t think that I’ve grasped it fully yet. This series is really one of those that needs to be watched once, take a break and let you digest it a bit, then watch it a second time.

    Also, I really suggest watching the movie. Although the movie had a few differences compared to the tv series, I felt that the movie explained the main plot points better, and I understood more of the main story.

    Overall, I would say that this is definitely one of the most intriguing anime that I’ve watched, where you really need to switch on your brain while watching if you want to fully enjoy it.

  4. Avatar Meep says:

    For some reason, I really couldn’t get into this one. I’ve had the boxset for years and only managed to watch halfway; now it’s been so long that I have to re-watch it. =P I saw someone mention Last Exile though…no, it’s not mecha, but it’s quite amazing, and it was my favorite anime for a long time. Gorgeous airship battles and interesting characters except that Claus might come off as a little boring at first. xD

  5. Avatar Da5id says:

    He posted a review of a show he didn’t watch?

  6. Avatar RollingCamel says:

    @gandalf8: I take mecha with a more general view so it covers electromechanical, mechanical and bio machines. The Guild machines were mecha too.

    “I think that psgels hasn’t watched Rahxephon yet”
    Huh?!

  7. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    Oops. I meant he hadn’t watch Last Exile yet. But it seems hes already answered that.

  8. Avatar Ransom says:

    RahXephon will have a special place in my favorite anime series of all time :)

    I don’t pay too much atention to characters unless it’s a commedy or some type of drama but I certainly enjoy stories and RahXephon had a good story to tell.

  9. Avatar Sarynn says:

    To those who didn’t quite grasp what was going on, just check out this link:
    http://www.kenoki.com/nko/faqs.html

    It will explain the backstory of RahXephon where we normally had to guess and fill-in-the-gaps ourselves.

    Of course, if you prefer having your own personal interpretation, ignore that link. :P It was great for me though, I was like “Oooh… that does make sense… WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST SAY SO?? Still, cool story.” Knowing this backstory made my RahXephon rewatch last week even more fun.

  10. Avatar Frost says:

    I dropped this halfway through, not a fan of mindfuck and yeah, too much angst (just like Evangelion…)

    Ill take the classic Gundam franchise over “experimental mechas” anyday :P

  11. Avatar Watcherzero says:

    The music stays with me, surprised you didnt mention how excellent it was (what with sound being an element of the plot too).

    It is a mind fuck, it does leave unanswered questions and it does have that kind of ending where you yell at the charachters they should have done something differently, however its an amazing tale. Also this isnt called the Evangelion clone for nothing, if you like Evangelion or religious allegory but wished it had higher production values this is the series for you.

  12. Avatar Cerrian says:

    I hope you watched it past the credits of the last episodes cause there was a nice scene to conclude the series with.

    As someone else mentioned earlier, you should watch the movie since it retells the story from Haruka’s point of view and greatly develops the relationship between her and Ayato. It is one of the better tv series –> movie conversions that I’ve seen.

    As for Last Exile, you’ve already been reviewing some great classics of late…Maison Ikkoku, Cowboy Bebop, Witch Hunter Robin…might as well add Last Exile to the list.

  13. Avatar Puran says:

    So, now that you’ve seen this, are you getting a Rahxephon vibe from the paintings in Star Driver?

  14. Avatar Ransom says:

    I agree with Puran! I think I mentioned that in a comment from one of your Star Driver posts.

  15. Avatar Somnium says:

    I actually just finished the series, I thought it was well done. The teenagers’ attitudes wore on me, especially since I watched it over the course of just a few days, but all and all I thought it was good. The series uses a a lot of symbolism, which I did like. One scene that really stands out was in the final episode, I won’t go into much detail, but two characters were in a subway station. Another thing that I loved was the emphasis on music, I’m a huge Tolkien fan and I saw an important similarity to a section of The Silmarillion.

    As for Last Exile, the two don’t really compare well. Rahxephon is a heavy drama, while Last Exile’s world is bright and beautiful, not nearly as oppressive as the setting from Rahxephon. Last Exile is more of steampunk styled world with these awesome flying ships. A big part of its plot revolves around the world itself, not the flying ships. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but as I don’t think I wouldn’t compare the two series as they have many differences.

  16. Avatar Animeguigas says:

    Ah RahXephon.I really liked this show when i watched the 1st time. But at the 2nd time i was just like Sarynn “Oooh… that does make sense… WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST SAY SO?? Still, cool story”, then i started to love this (my favorite mecha anime, and i’ve seen virtually ALL mecha animes out there).

    RahXephon is the only anime i enjoyed much more the 2nd time than the 1st time, mainly because i managed to understand many things that i missed the 1st time i watched (i already rewatched this show 4 times, hell yeah RahXephon).

    Unfortunately this anime will be forever doomed as a clone of EVA (its kinda alike, but for me Rah is superior to EVA; Ayato humiliates whiny Shinji and the end of RahXephon is 1000 times better than EVA’s end) but yeah, this anime is definetely not for everyone, the plot is thick and the lack of good action (the battles are lacksture, don’t watch RahXephon expecting great fights, you ‘ll be disappointed), fanservice, and a straightfoward story (the show will provide the pieces of the story, its up to the viewer to piece them together, so you have to use your brain constantly to understand WTF is going on) will push away many casual watchers.

    I love this anime because almost everything that happens on RahXephon has a purpose, its not like other “mindfuck animes” that makes a bunch of questions without providing us the necessary information for us to drawn our own conclusions.

    And i reccomend (specially you Psgels) to enter at the link Sarynn provided; the information there will clarify many questions that the show didn’t “answered in a clear way” for us viewers.

  17. Avatar Julius says:

    Psgels said: “even for my standards this show ended up leaving a bunch of crucial unanswered questions behind.” I disagree. This show answered, at least for me, most of the questions left behind. If you rewatch RahXephon i am preety sure you will agree with my point of view. Just a few questions weren’t ansewed. You’ll see what i am talking about when you visit the site Sarynn provided us.
    The link: http://www.kenoki.com/nko/faqs.html

  18. Avatar Hades says:

    NGE is good, but RahXephon is fantastic.

  19. Avatar Vanny says:

    Oh man, you’ve got to watch Last Exile.

    I preferred it over Rahxephon (I love them both) but Last Exile’s genre is steam punk, not mecha.
    Beautiful anime and story.

  20. Avatar sato says:

    Please watch Last Exile and Kurau now!

  21. Avatar jzar says:

    It really was a great show and one of the few I have a box set of. Seeing it here and being reviewed makes me want to go watch it again.

    It really was so much better the EVA but it did look to be inspired by it. So yes many will see it as a clone but as others mention RahXephon is really a stand out story and the art is nothing but awesome.

  22. Avatar Chris says:

    Has it really been nine years? Jeez, you’re making me feel old.

  23. Avatar Uzir says:

    I always wonder why people said rahxephon is copy of NGE? Other than plot of protagonist change the world,Rahxephon is so much better.For me, it got better design,plot,character development and personality. It just a little bit hard to understand the whole story since it got a complex world and character relationship.
    Need to watch it twice to understand it.

    • Avatar Quiddity says:

      Those that call it a copy of NGE for the most part have an ignorance of their mecha anime history. RahXephon is heavily inspired by old Sunrise mecha anime (ex. Brave Raideen), similar to how Evangelion was heavily inspired by old Sunrise mecha anime (Ideon, Gundam, etc…). Because Bones was made up largely of people from Sunrise, it makes total sense.

  24. Avatar Westlo says:

    “It’s amazing to think that even in the early days of Bones, they already managed to gather a ridiculous amount of talent. ”

    They really didn’t gather that “talent”, more like Sunrise’s “talented” people left and formed Bones.

  25. Avatar RollingCamel says:

    I haven’t seen RahXephon but from the description and art they looked somewhat similar. Mecha or not it doesn’t matter plus in the end someone is piloting something no matter how sophisticated it is.

    On another note, I was ranting before about 3D CG in anime, Last Exile shut me up.

  26. Avatar Pax says:

    Most people drop this series because they say it’s a bad Evangelion clone and so on, actually from what information I was able to find RahXephon borrows a lot more from Raideen and Megazone 23, when I say that it borrows I don’t mean it in a bad way, after all even Evangelion borrowed a lot from other anime too. I did not finish RahXephon, watched about 20 episodes a few years ago, I definitely can say I found it to be more enjoyable than Evangelion, I liked the ost better and do I even need to compare Shinji with Ayato?

  27. Avatar Gabriel says:

    Okaaaaay! this will be in my watch list this weekend. I’m going to have an anime marathon this weekend?

    http://answers.jpn.com/questions/38/just-finished-my-first-set-of-anime-marathon-can-you-recommend-another-good-one-that-i-can-start-on

    any recommends? like same genre with death note, code gease or something like that?

  28. Avatar AKI says:

    “Oh man, you’ve got to watch Last Exile”

    I agree. Last Exile is way much better than RahXephon. And yeah, there ain’t any mecha on Last Exile. Just flying ships and airplanes!

  29. Avatar Watcherzero says:

    Well the guild ships are transformable mecha, but its not really a mecha series.

  30. Avatar Will says:

    I heard that the show was somehow a carbon copy of Evangelion, how true or false is this statement?

  31. psgels psgels says:

    Will: it’s definitely not a carbon copy. It’s merely inspired by it, in the same way that Evangelion was inspired by the giant robot series. Both have enough of ideas of their own.

  32. Avatar Will says:

    That’s good to know. I’ve been watching lots of series with little or not originality whatsoever lately. I think I’ll pick up RahXephon.

  33. Avatar AKI says:

    NGE inspired a lot of anime like RahXephon and Gasaraki, which brings to me to question if you have already watched it (Gasaraki)?

  34. Avatar B says:

    Yo Gabriel, I confirm that you should have a look at Last Exile …. I will post a note to your “anime marathon” thread

    Any other suggestions?

  35. psgels psgels says:

    AKI: yup, I watched Gasaraki, and liked it even more than Rahxephon.

  36. Avatar DangerMouse says:

    “Oh man, you’ve got to watch Last Exile.

    I preferred it over Rahxephon (I love them both) but Last Exile’s genre is steam punk, not mecha.
    Beautiful anime and story.”

    Agreed Vanny, Last Exile is one of my favorite anime of all time. :)

    As sato said Last Exile and Kurau (another really good Bones show) should definitely be watched :)

    Great review of RahXephon, really impressive show and I loved the way they put all their ideas together.

  37. Avatar Tan-Tan says:

    Just finished this. Really awesome anime I’d recommend to anyone. It kind of got boring in the second half. That is if you’re sick of all the hold-up to the real plot haha. But the sidestories add to the solidness of the show. Just now a fan of some characters.

  38. Avatar Redtail says:

    After 18 episodes I can not watch this anymore. It’s ridiculous.

    Protagonists reason to fight: “Because I can.” Protagonists second reason to fight: “Because I’m here.”

    Are you kidding me? Am I watching a bad translation? And all the unanswered questions, seriously now. THIS THING HAS NO PLOT. IT JUST TUMBLES DOWN THE STAIRS.

  39. Avatar Redtail says:

    After 18 episodes I can not watch this anymore. It’s ridiculous.

    Protagonists reason to fight: “Because I can.” Protagonists second reason to fight: “Because I’m here.”

    Are you kidding me? Am I watching a bad translation? And all the unanswered questions, seriously now. THIS THING HAS NO PLOT. IT JUST TUMBLES DOWN THE STAIRS.

  40. Avatar Hades says:

    @Redtail

    “And all the unanswered questions, seriously now.”
    You didn’t even had the decency to finish the show so why are you complaining about “unanswered questions”? Maybe if you finish the whole thing you might be able to fill in the blanks like I did. Finish the anime before bashing it dude.

  41. Avatar Digi says:

    To be honest , This anime is better than Last Exile and very similar to NGE , Ill still rate it among my top 20 or top 15 , Its a really good show, and it seriously impressed me .
    Star Driver sucks -_- and Last Exile doesnt match up to this, also , Last exile is more like an action adventure show, they really dont compare

  42. Avatar garrat Cooper says:

    I’ve got to say that Rahxephon was a big disappointment to me. I’m an avid Eva fan and seeing this was a slog. I wanted gto quit so many times and eve3n though the ending is great I honestly feel like half of this show could have been cut out and it would have had greater impact on me. A lot of the supporting cast seemed superflous and by the time things got real I was nearly disinterested primarily through the lack of tension.

    I like how people say this is better than Eva but this explains less than Eva did, Ayato angts more than Shinji while having fewer problems than him. Also isn’t the main couple incestuous? All of which I’ve seen leveled at Eva at one point or another. But this anime gets a pass on that. Oh well I will say that the final minute of this show puts nearly everything in context.

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