Rahxephon-Volume 4: Dissonance (2001)

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Released 20-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio
Booklet-16pp
Credits-Clean Opening
Credits-Clean Closing
Interviews-Cast-42:28
Gallery-production sketch montage
Trailer-ADV previews (5)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 94:28 (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
Aya Hisakawa
Monica Rial
Houko Kuwashima
Kira Vincent Davis
Ayako Kawasumi
Hilary Haag
Mitsuru Miyamoto
Jay Hickman
Maaya Sakamoto
Mandy Clark
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 Song Lyrics
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode preview

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

Plot Synopsis

    And I thought I was confused by the events in volume 3 of RahXephon? Does this volume introduce new information to make things clearer? Like that would happen! Nope, things are becoming (to paraphrase a great word-smith) a conundrum wrapped in a puzzle inside an enigma. As usual, I suggest you start by reading my review of the first volume. Then read my review of the second volume, and perhaps volume 3. You won't understand the series any better, but you'll have some context for what I'm going to say.

    The four episodes on this disc are:

13 23:37 Human Specimen 1 Sleeping Beauty Haruka remembers her past as she investigates Quon's past, and finds that Quon's history appears to be complete fiction
14 23:37 The Boy in the Mirror Time After Time Ayato is tortured by an accidental revelation, and ends up in conflict with Elvy on their next mission
15 23:37 The Children's Night Child Hood's End An illuminating expedition into the past of three of our protagonists
16 23:37 Island of Others The Moon Princess Megumi's long-anticipated promotion isn't the opportunity she'd hoped for; Ayato makes a big decision

    There are four episodes this time — I like that, because it feels like better value. Paying the same amount for three episodes feels a bit unfair.

    Once again, there are 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 still don't know why there are two. Note that the Moon Princess reference in episode 16 is to the story of Princess Kagoya (this is explained in the booklet), not Sailor Moon.

    This volume is very much about learning more of the background to our characters. Episode 13 explores the backgrounds of Haruka and Quon in parallel, which is an interesting contrast. Episode 15 gives us a deep and fascinating insight into three characters (you will learn who they are soon enough — it's more interesting not to know beforehand). Episode 16 lets us below that sweet exterior of Megumi, as well as giving us a glimpse of others.

    In episode 13 Ayato and the RahXephon manifest a new power, and the strangest part is that Quon seems very unhappy that he/it are going down this path.

    Elvy gets a new toy — the Alpha V-1, or Vermillion, which is an appropriate-enough name, given that it is vermillion in colour (it's amusing that her headset is labelled "VERMIRION", possibly simulating how the word is pronounced by a Japanese speaker, but the gun is labelled "VERMILION") — in episode 14. She likes it a lot — it's a much more powerful weapon than the Shinsei, and puts her on a much closer footing with the RahXephon. Ayato is less enthusiastic, as it makes him feel less needed. He feels a lot worse when he learns something about himself. Strangely, Reika Mishima takes a part in this that is different from what we have come to expect.

    The influence of mysterious / sinister Bähbem Foundation appears more, and we learn that they are an important backer of TERRA. Helena seems to wield considerable power, and she continues to be perhaps the most easily disliked character. Her background, and that of the Foundation, becomes more sinister as we learn more.

    There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and I must admit to getting a little confused occasionally, especially when a character appears out of their usual environment.

    I'm beginning to feel that I'll need to watch this show through again after I have all the discs, so I can see how the plot develops — that way I'll be able to see how the various threads of the plot develop and weave together.

    This is the kind of storyline that I find so compelling in seinen anime: complex, interweaving, with interaction between quite a few characters, and story elements that are left hanging (seemingly to tantalise the audience).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. That's the intended aspect ratio for this series.

    The picture is sharp and clear, essentially in perfect focus almost all the time (there is a rather disappointing lapse in focus on one shot). There's no film grain (except for a hint around 1:40 in episode 15), and no low level noise.

    Colour is gorgeous, just as on the previous discs. The foreground objects are coloured simply, mostly in swathes of single colours with one colour shading, but the colours used are well-chosen from an extensive palette. Backgrounds use more detailed shading, which is not an uncommon effect. There are some scenes with very bright backgrounds, but this is a deliberate effect, and does not detract from viewing.

    There are no noticeable film artefacts.

    There's about as much aliasing on this disc as on the previous one, but I don't find it at all troubling. There's no moiré or MPEG artefacts, and only a trace of background shimmer. If you single-frame the disc you can find some interleaving (you have to look for it), but it's not visible at normal speed.

    We get the usual two sets of English subtitles (and no others). The first set mostly subtitles the opening and closing songs. The second set subtitles the dialogue, as well. They are easy to read, and seem well-timed.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, but not RSDL formatted. The layer change is placed between the third and fourth episodes (episodes 15 and 16), because of the long interview extra one assumes. The layer change is essentially invisible.

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 is best for anime. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps, while the Japanese is only Dolby Digital 2.0, at 192kbps. This is the original Japanese track. Only the English was made in 5.1.

    There is some noticeable crackle at 5:04 of episode 13 in the English soundtrack — all the more noticeable because the soundtrack is generally so clean.

    The English dialogue is well-acted, and there are no dialogue sync discrepancies with the animation (indicating the amount of effort they put into the dubbing). The Japanese dialogue sounds fine, but it's quite difficult for me to assess comprehensibility.

    I really enjoy the music in this series (you'd hope to enjoy the music in a show so concerned with musical themes). Ichiko Hashimoto has produced an excellent score. The opening theme gets stuck in my mind every time I watch this show — it's an awesome tune from the brilliant Yoko Kanno with some cool vocal gymnastics by Maaya Sakamoto, and while it sounds very good in 2.0, it sounds marvellous in 5.1.

    The English soundtrack offers good surround sound on occasions, and gives the sub plenty to chew on at times, such as at 18:41 in episode 14. The Japanese soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, so it provides no signal for the surrounds or subwoofer, although bass management will send some sound to the sub if you have it enabled — this soundtrack is full-range.

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

Extras

Menu

    All of the menus are animated with music. They are easy to use.

Booklet

    This is a real booklet, not a folded piece of paper. It's 16 pages long, and contains short interview pieces with a couple of the crew and three of the Japanese voice actors, in addition to colour drawings of characters. Don't look at it before you watch the show.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The strange but beautiful opening (I love the song), without credits (or subtitles). Exactly the same as on all previous volumes. It pales as an extra every time it appears.

Clean Closing (1:30)

    The closing, also without credits. An extra that gets less exciting as it appears on every volume.

Interview with English Voice Cast, Part II (42:28)

    A long, and mostly interesting, interview with four of the members of the English language cast. They don't restrict themselves to talking about this show, but spend much of their time talking about voice acting in general. The voice actors interviewed are:

Gallery — Production sketches (4:09)

    Another 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 ones on the first three discs, it shows different sketches (it mostly shows sketches particular to this volume, although it does show one character who only appeared in episode 12).

Trailers — ADV Previews (4:02)

    Five trailers that run one after another:

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 mid-2003. As far as I can tell, both versions have the same features, the same episodes, the same extras (except for the choice of trailers in the previews), and even the same cover artwork (although theirs looks a little more deeply saturated). It sounds like the R1 transfer is at least as good as this one.

    You can probably be happy with either the R1 or the R4. I am happy to have bought the Region 4 for my collection.

Summary

    Four more episodes of an intriguing, involving, and exquisitely-drawn anime series, on a high quality DVD.

    The video quality is very good, although slightly less good than the previous volumes.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are better than last time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, January 08, 2004
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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