Series Recommendation: RahXephon

Who am I? With blue and red blood?
But I must tune the world!

Mecha and psychology is a tricky combination and few mecha series really nail both let alone one. The explosive potential of gigantic entities and the emotional depths of a human psyche is like two polar opposites. But if done well, it will bring about a relatable experience of inner conflict that manifest in the material world – where the mechs themselves act as the extension of the pilot – an outlet for their anger, their sorrow, and happiness.

People often cite Evangelion as the perfect combination of the two, but there’s another series that pull off the trick just fine. And it is RahXephon – a 26-episode series premiered in 2002. It contains hard-scifi elements combined with religious and mysticism aspect. Its starting premise and mecha design will surely hook you in, before captivating you with relatable and emphatic characters.

+ Plot: RahXephon follows Ayato Kamina – a teenage boy who enjoy painting living in Tokyo. One day, as he was enjoying his day with friends, Tokyo was attacked and he encountered a woman named Haruka. She revealed to him that his world has been a complete lie and that he needed to leave. Ayato was confused and further distraught after finding out his mom might not be who he think she is. His world got thrown upside down, but the girl from his painting and also his classmate – Reika Mishima – led him to a giant egg. He awakened the giant god known as RahXephon and began to tear down the illusions that surrounded him, and brave a completely new world in a completely different time.

RahXephon has a lot of characters introduced in the first few characters, and many of them are shrouded in mystery with very brief background that was intentionally obscured to feed into Ayato’s apparent confusion. We as the audience can share Ayato’s feelings and go along with him as he discover truths about himself, his mom, the people in his life as well as the worlds that he lived in. Furthermore, each character struggles feel very…personal and relatable. The film shows that at the end of the day, we’re humans and we have instinct and emotions that might seem mundane, but it can lead to world-changing effects that can go in a different direction just with a small change. The character drama in RahXephon was very well done.

+ Animation: RahXephon is a beautifully animated series. But first, it should be pointed out that RahXephon does not have a lot of mecha action. Most of the screentime of RahXephon is it absolutely demolishing the opposition with ease. The fights between RahXephon and its enemies are similar to how the Evas go against the Angels. It signifies a challenge (mentally or physically) that the pilot – in this case, Ayato – has to overcome. On the other hand, the character animation and imagery in this series is gorgeous. If you can watch the BD version, you will see that there are many sakugas and beautiful frames in the anime.

+ Mecha Design: RahXephon’s design are actually quite…biblical. The RahXephon itself is humanoid, basically the same as a human but with a stylized hoof-feet. But the head of the RahXephon having wings like an angel is quite smart. Furthermore, in its “closed’ state, the RahXephon’s eyes become like that of a beast, which obviously carries symbolism that you will understand when you watch the movie. The series’ use of music-related theme also play into RahXephon’s design.

Aside from that, the Dolems (enemy)’ designs are pretty much super arbitrary and abnormal just like the Angels in Eva. They all have music-related names, weird shapes and bizarre abilities.

+ Music: Of course, for a mysterious music-related series with ancient religious undertone with uber character drama and conflicts, the music also differs from your usual cheery, genki pop/rock/ballad style that mecha usually has. The OP song is not sad, but rather filled with emotion but still has a tinge of sadness about uncertainty and destiny. The ending is a pretty somber song with some obscure lyrics that definitely works as your sleeping tune.

+ Conclusion: It may sound ironic, but RahXephon is definitely a mecha series that focus on the characters along with their development. But that’s not to say the giant robot bits aren’t important. The RahXephon acts as a resolution and the key to unlock certain plot elements. But the main enemy in the series aren’t other giants, but rather the characters themselves. RahXephon is pretty much a dramatic telenovela with heartwarming moments, intriguing premise, mysterious undertones and some very, very unexpected twists. So if you’re looking for a well-done Evangelion that actually has great characterization and looks amazing, check this series out.

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