Rahxephon-Volume 2: Tonal Pattern (2001)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-Jul-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
Credits-Clean Opening (1:31)
Credits-Clean Closing (1:31)
Interviews-Cast-English Cast (13:48)
Gallery-production sketches (4:08)
Trailer-ADV Previews (7:17)
Booklet-16 pages
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 94:23 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yutaka Izubuchi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Hiro Shimono
Chris Patton
Maaya Sakamoto
Mandy Clarke
Aya Hisakawa
Monica Rial
Houko Kuwashima
Kira Vincent-Davis
Mitsuru Miyamoto
Jay Hickman
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 (192Kb/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 Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode teaser after closing credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    RahXephon, the mystery series! If you haven't read my review of the first volume, I recommend you do so before reading this one. It won't necessarily help you understand the series, but you'll see the names of the characters, and something of the outline.

    This volume is not about advancing the big story. This is about illuminating various characters. That's not to say that we don't get some big fights — we do, but they aren't really central to the episodes.

    By now, Ayato is a little more settled in the outside world. He's not completely happy with piloting the RahXephon for TERRA, but it seems that no one else can do it. He's living with Haruka and Megumi, both of whom seem fond of him, although Megumi is the one who gets jealous.

    The episodes on this disc are:

6 23:36 Obliterated Cities Lost Songs Forgotten Melodies An attacking Dolem makes things sink into the ground — this same Dolem devastated Australia years ago, killing Kim's parents
7 23:36 Day of Assembly Phantom in the Clouds Elvy's new squad team with the RahXephon to attack a huge Dolem that's approaching
8 23:36 Bitterly Cold Holy Night The Dreaming Stone Sayoko Nanamori receives a gift that has bad consequences; Ayato receives one with much more meaning that he realises
9 23:35 Small Shrine of Time Sanctuary Ayato and Quon disappear when they're relaxing at the beach with the others

    Only four episodes this time — I prefer more, but at least four feels like reasonable value on a disc. It's when they sink to three, or even two, that I start to feel cheated. I've noted two titles for every episode above — one (shown on the left above) shows up in the English subtitles, while the other is burned into the titles. I cannot explain why there are two.

    The sixth episode introduces us to Kim Hotal (another one of the team working in TERRA's command centre). Kim is deeply troubled by the death of her parents — they died when she was young because a Dolem attacked the city they were visiting (Kim was left at home). She wants revenge, especially when the same Dolem appears again.

    The seventh episode gives us a little more insight into Elvy, the hot-shot pilot who is friends with Haruka. She gets a new squad, clearly pilots she has worked with before. The squad looks almost self-consciously ethnically diverse (let's see, Elvy's Indonesian, and we have a freckle-faced busty blonde American gal, and a black guy, what should we make the last team member? Nah, an Eskimo guy in a wheel-chair might make the type-casting too obvious...).

    The eighth episode, while focussing in part on Nanamori, and her relationship with her boss Itsuki (now, there's a slimy character!), also gives us some further insight into Haruka, and her feelings for Ayato — insight that is almost more confusing than enlightening...

    The ninth episode provides more mystery. Was there some reason behind the disappearance of Quon and Ayato? I expect we'll get some illumination of this in a later episode; or rather, I hope we get some illumination...

    Introduced in the sixth episode is a brash reporter, Futagami, who gets an invite to visit Nirai-Kanai for an exclusive story. He pops up at intervals in the rest of the episodes on this volume (at least). He seems to know a lot of background on some of the characters, belying his apparently bluff exterior — another character who is clearly more than his initial appearance indicates.

    I don't like the attitude displayed by some of those higher in authority in TERRA towards Ayato. They may be frustrated that only this boy (OK, late teen, almost adult) can pilot the RahXephon, but they could at least be nice to him about it.

    Reiko Mishima continues to appear, acting like Valeria to Ayato's Conan — a guardian angel who steps in when her charge is about to succumb.

    This story bodes ill for Australia — the 6th episode makes special mention of the destruction of Canberra (mispronounced!) and Sydney by a Dolem, but the map they showed made it look like it was Sydney and Melbourne that were destroyed, plus six other "cities" that don't exist — one of them might (with a lot of generosity) be Kalgoorlie (hardly a city), but the others lie at points where there is next to no population at all — one looks to be in iron ore mining country, another halfway between Darwin and Alice Springs, another on the south edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria. I guess Australian geography is not high on the list of skills an animator is expected to master...

    Beautifully drawn, you can appreciate this anime as a work of art, even before paying attention to the storyline. The music combines beautifully with the drawing. If it maintains these high standards this will be one of the best-looking anime series ever. Recommended.

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 looks like a traditionally animated series, with ink-drawn foreground characters over backgrounds that seem to mix ink and watercolour. It wouldn't surprise me to learn, however, that the animation was "drawn" on computer.

    The picture is sharp and clear (except where deliberately blurred, mostly by a glow). 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. Occasionally, a scene will look a bit over-exposed, but I suspect that's a deliberate effect.

    I didn't spot any film artefacts. It is possible that this series was transferred digitally, without a film intermediate, which would explain the complete absence of 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 fairly minimal though, and never really makes its presence felt. There's no moiré or MPEG artefacts. There some interleaving, but once again it's not visible at normal speed.

    Once again we get two sets of English subtitles (and nothing else). The first set only subtitles signs. The second set subtitle the dialogue, as well. 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, dual layer, probably formatted RSDL. The layer change isn't visible, but it's located between episode 7 and episode 8, so it's hidden in the brief pause between episodes.

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 192kbps. Although this might look like a bias towards the English on the part of the DVD authors, 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. There's no point in complaining about the lack of a Japanese 5.1 soundtrack — there wasn't one made.

    The English dialogue is well-acted, and 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; however, there continue to be mismatches between the voices and mouth flaps (for some reason, the character Souichi seems particularly prone — maybe his voice actor is less experienced?).

    The music, composed by Ichiko Hashimoto, is marvellous, and a highlight of the series..

    The English soundtrack offers some excellent surround sound — the press conference in episode 6 is a good example. It gives the subwoofer a bit of a workout, too, but the use is well-integrated into the soundtrack. The Japanese soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, so it provides no signal for 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.

Booklet

    This is a real booklet, not a folded piece of paper. 16 pages long, containing drawings of the Dolems we encounter in this volume, plus a number of the characters. It also contains interviews with Hirotoshi Sano (director of mechanical animation), Michiaki Sato (mecha designer), Aya Hisakawa (Haruka), and Houko Kuwashima (Quon). The interviews (below) with the English language voice actors include those playing Haruka and Quon, plus Ayato, so we can compare what they have to say (not that they get space to say much).

    Aya Hisakawa played Sailor Mercury in Sailor Moon, and Skuld in Ah! My Goddess. Houko Kuwashima plays Kirika in Noir.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The strange but beautiful opening, without credits. Exactly the same as on the first volume.

Clean Closing (1:33)

    The English language closing, without credits. Exactly the same as on the first volume.

Interview with the English language cast (13:48)

    This is rather interesting — we get to meet some of the voice actors for the English dub, and learn that they know almost as little about the characters as we do! Interviewed are:

    The first two faces are familiar because they appeared in the extras for Steel Angel Kurumi (Kira played Nakahito, while Monica played Saki).

Gallery — Production sketches (4:08)

    A free-running montage of sketches of a variety of characters and things. The theme music (an extended mix of it) plays over it. Note that although this montage is the same length as the one on the first disc, this one shows different sketches (it shows sketches particular to this volume, in fact).

Trailers — ADV Previews (7:17)

    Four trailers that run one after another (three of these appeared on the first volume):

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 recently. As far as I can ascertain, the two versions have the same features, the same episodes, same extras, and even the same cover artwork. By reports, the transfer of the R1 is excellent, too.

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

Summary

    More episodes in a beautiful and addictive 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...)
Monday, July 14, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Elvy - Keegan REPLY POSTED
Disc count - Keegan
Kuwashima Houko - Anonymous REPLY POSTED