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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rah Project

If you're feeling a strange, intangible excitement, a sense that something wonderful is immanent, rest assured that it's not just your imagination: I've started rewatching Rahxephon, and I'm going to keep you posted on an episode-by-episode basis. You're welcome.

Why am I doing this? Because I bought the whole series (I don't know why, I just did, okay?) and might as well get my money's worth. Plus it's out of print apparently, and unless people discover a way to, I don't know, download bootleg copies of video material from the Internet or something, it may be hard to find, so someone should keep some kind of anecdotal record.

Having rewatched the first two episodes: Okay, blandly attractive boy has goofy friends (whom I found tiresome the first time I watched it, but now prefer to the endless fighter-jet and giant robot routines. This is a rare instance of something from a anime becoming LESS tiresome to me over time.) KABOOM military attack, fighter jet porn, and his friend-who's-a-girl gets a slight cut. Wait a minute, her blood is red; as I recall a key plot point about seventy episodes later is that her blood is blue, indicating that she's unknowingly a Mulian (the filthy rotten alien invaders.) Is there a continuity screwup here, or do they justify it later? Something to watch for.

So protagonist-boy runs around bumping into several Mysterious Girls. Rei Ayanami of Neon Genesis Evangelion started an anime fad for Mysterious Girls, so this show has a bunch of them. One of the other big trends in anime at the time was the so-called harem anime, in which a nebbishy boy socializes with five or six hot girls. Rahxephon tries to subtly cater to the same adolescent-boy urges while maintaining plausible deniability with furrowed-brow Lost-style seriousness and plot complexity.

The only interesting things in episode one are

1. the Mulian giant robot things look like art projects: pseudo ethnographic, with broken doll heads and such. Sadly the main herobot, Rahxephon, looks much less interesting, like a big boring robot toy, plus feathers.

2. One of the mysterious girls is actually a mysterious woman, with hips and body fat, and therefore more interesting to look at than the usual willowy mysterious girls.

The only interesting things in episode two are

1. the inevitable connection between the boy and the robot is kept uncertain for a while, which in giant robot shows represents an innovation.

2. The boy's Mom is an evil scientist who, like all scientists everywhere, is doing something nefarious. Plus her minions seem to be keeping tabs on the boy hero for some reason. Some of the best episodes will revolve around Satan-Scientist-Mom. The Japanese, like the ancient Greeks, always do well with lurid family conflict.

3. The version of Tokyo where this takes place kinda sorta reminds me of Birmingham, and all the running and driving around prettily painted urban locations sweeps me back to happy days of tooling around The 'Ham. Cheap instant nostalgia is half of what anyone watches anime for.

So far there doesn't seem to be any compelling reason to keep watching this thing, but as I recall other fans who had seen more assured me that the series gets more interesting once it's established its giant robot bona fides, and they turned out to be right. One of the reasons I found this show compelling was that each episode had its own identity, even if that identity was often not much of an identity. It never quite felt as if I'd watched slight variations on the same episode three times in a row, which can't be said of most anime.

P. S. this is dated September 15 because I started writing it then, but I posted it October 2nd. Thanks, Blogger. What do you want for free?

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