Rahxephon-Volume 1: Threshold (2001)

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Released 15-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Credits-Clean Opening
Credits-Clean Closing
Trailer-Japanese promo
Gallery-production sketches
Trailer-ADV Previews (6)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 118:16 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yutaka Izubuchi
Studio
Distributor
Bones
Madman Entertainment
Starring Hiro Shimono
Chris Patton
Maaya Sakamoto
Mandy Clarke
Aya Hisakawa
Monica Rial
Ichiko Hashimoto
Laura Chapman
Yuu Sugimoto
Christine Auten
Ayako Kawasumi
Hilary Haag
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Ichiko Hashimoto


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
English Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, teaser for next episode

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I like to be able to give you an idea of what a series is like when I write a review. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can do that this time. I've watched the first five episodes of RahXephon, and I'm not sure how to explain it. But I'll try, anyway.

    This series is mostly experienced through what happens to Ayato Kamina, a 17-year-old student. We meet him staring at a painting he has done that shows a young woman. He's running a little late for school. On his way to school he gets the feeling he is being followed (he is). Then he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a battle — there are two kinds of planes dog-fighting overhead. He tries to escape the falling buildings, and comes out where he sees a woman who looks startlingly like his painting, and who he recognises as a schoolmate, Reiko Mishima. She is singing a note to the battle — odd.

    Then a super-weapon appears. It's a Dolem, but we don't know that yet.

    Ayato's life is starting to get complicated, and it gets a lot worse, very fast. At least two groups are after him, and he has no idea why (we do — it's because he's the Ollin, whatever that is). Ayato has some nasty shocks ahead of him.

    Despite the appearance of the RahXephon, this is not Neon Genesis Evangelion. There are moments that seem similar, even down to the red versus blue blood. Unlike the undercurrent of Christian mythos that pervaded that show, this one is more concerned with music, with objects called Allegretto and Fortissimo, for example. Add in the facts that the DVD volumes are called "orchestrations", and the episodes are called "movements", and the link to music is strong. That makes it curious that the enemy are called the Mu...

    Talking of music — this show has some fascinating music, composed by Ichiko Hashimoto. The opening theme is really interesting, reminding me of Kate Bush in places. The closing theme, surprisingly, is sung in English for the odd-numbered episodes — even-numbered episodes have the closing sung in Japanese.

    The episodes on this disc are:

1 23:31 Invasion of the Capital Ayato's day started normally enough...
2 23:56 God and Man Awaken Can Ayato return to the life he thought he knew?
3 23:36 Welcome to Our Town Ayato gets an introduction to how things really are
4 23:36 His Own Watch Things aren't just strange, they are stranger than he can imagine
5 23:37 Nirai-Kanai How will they make Ayato feel at home, and why should they?

    There is something mysterious, yet compelling, and strangely beautiful about the sequence of events. There seems to be quite a large cast of characters, and I am not at all sure which of them will continue.

    There are some things that are comprehensible. Mankind is in conflict with the Mu. Ayato is important, in some way we don't really understand. And most of what Ayato thought he understood turns out to be incorrect.

    The most important thing I can do is not to give away anything more! You will need to see this for yourself..

    The start of the fourth episode provides something of a re-cap that puts some things in perspective (and confuses others!).

    This is modern anime at its best — I sincerely hope the rest of the series is as good as this.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. Not a big surprise for a series that began on television.

    This appears to be a traditionally animated series.

    The picture is sharp and clear (except where deliberately blurred). There's no film grain, and no low level noise.

    Colour is wonderful. The colours used for foreground objects are drawn from a wide palette, with some lovely subtle shades used. Backgrounds are painted in a fair bit of detail. The only negative is that the first episode seems a bit over-blown, as though the brightness was set just a bit too high.

    I didn't spot any film artefacts.

    As always with this style of animation, there's some aliasing — the black lines around the characters and other foreground objects make it pretty much inevitable. It's not overly disturbing. There's no real moiré or MPEG artefacts. This is a lovely clean transfer.

    Once again we get two sets of English subtitles (and nothing else). The first set only subtitles signs (and there are plenty to subtitle). The second set subtitle the dialogue, too. They are easy to read, and seem rather well-timed. They don't match the English dub, but we expect that.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, probably formatted RSDL. The layer change isn't visible, but it's located between episode 3 and episode 4.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, as expected and hoped for. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps, but the Japanese is only Dolby Digital 2.0, at 224kbps. Although this might look like a bias towards the English, it is actually a reflection on the producers of the English dub (ADV) — the original Japanese sound was stereo, but ADV chose to make the English dub 5.1. We haven't been cheated out of a Japanese 5.1 soundtrack — there isn't one.

    The English dialogue is rather well-acted, with some familiar names in voice-acting appearing in the cast — there are no dialogue sync discrepancies. The Japanese dialogue sounds fine, but I can't assess the quality of the voice-acting because I don't understand Japanese; but I can note the occasional slip in sync between the voices and mouth flaps (such as around 19:07 in the fifth episode). It's interesting to note that the composer, Ichiko Hashimoto, plays Maya Kamina, as well as singing the closing theme/s. The Japanese voice actress for Reika Mishima, Maaya Sakamoto, sings the opening theme.

    The music, composed by Ichiko Hashimoto, is really quite special, and includes some unusual elements.

    The English soundtrack offers some very good surround sound, especially on battle sequences; it also makes use of the subwoofer, but the use is subtle and well-integrated. The Japanese soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, so it provides no signal for the surrounds or subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are animated with music. The main menu is nicely designed, but easy to use.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The strange but beautiful opening, without credits.

Clean Closing (1:33)

    The English language closing, without credits.

Special Japanese Promo Trailer (2:32)

    A longer trailer.

Gallery — Production sketches (4:08)

    A free-running montage of sketches of all the main characters.

Trailers — ADV Previews

    Six trailers that can be selected individually:

    All these titles are already released.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc was released earlier this year. As far as I can ascertain, the two versions have the same features: they have the same episodes, same extras, and the R1 even has the same arrangement of soundtracks, with the Japanese being stereo, and the English 5.1.

    You can probably be happy with either the R1 or the R4.

    The R4 is available in two versions. The disc is the same in both. The only differences are that the more expensive version has the collector's box and a T-shirt. The collector's box is sized to fit all the volumes when they are released — the artwork on the box is attractive, and the box itself is well-made. If you like to keep all the volumes of the set together, and you expect to get all the volumes of this series, then the box is worth having. The T-shirt has a reasonable picture of the RahXephon on the front, and nothing on the back (I liked the Noir T-shirt better).

Summary

    A beautiful, intriguing new anime series on a high quality DVD.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are reasonable, but not extraordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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