RahXephon is pretty hard to describe... Well, no, I guess it's pretty easy to describe, but then after that it's hard. See, RahXephon is cloned directly from Shin Seiki Evangelion. Almost character for character and scene for scene... That's the easy description.
But after the initial cloning procedures, RahXephon takes on a lifeforce of its own. And it is good. Below you will find the complicated description of this series. I will try to keep spoilers at a minimum since going in blind is the best way to experience the whole damn thing. As a matter of fact, go out and watch it all right now, then come back and read the rest of this review.
Okay, are you done? What'd you think about that ending? Zany, huh? Anyway, everything starts out in the late teens in the 21st century. The Earth has been invaded by some kind of things and Tokyo is the last city on the planet that's still standing. It's here that we meet 17 year-old Ayato (aka Shinji's clone, just a lot cooler and not whiney in the least) and his friends... and Ayato's stalker, a hot girl with nice legs and some mad kung-fu skillz. Then one day, the city is attacked by what appears to be alien invaders. During the attack Ayato's friends are hurt so he runs off to find help for them, but instead runs into the girl that he's been dreaming about (it's more of a "remembrance dream" than a "wet" one), and the woman who's been stalking him. The dream girl, Mishima (aka Ayanami Rei clone number 1) and the stalker girl, Haruka (aka Misato's clone) then lead Shinji to the city's uber-giant-robot-secret-weapon, the RahXephon (aka the EVA-01 clone).... If none of this sounds familiar, then you must be either very new to anime or you suffer from SIDS... that's the disease where your attention span is smaller than a gnat on the crack rock, right?
So Shinji is forced to make a decision, either be a wuss or fight for the lives of his friends and those he comes to care about... Well, he's forced to make that decision after he joins up with the secret global organization, TERRA (aka NERV's clone), that's been set up to stop the invaders, the Mu (aka the Shito clones), and their unknown plans. Wait, I forgot to mention that Tokyo isn't really the last city on Earth, it's really just the only one conquered by the Mu and held in some kind of time and space field that, from the outside, looks like the planet Jupiter. And some of the people inside this Tokyo Jupiter have blue blood. And there are also other giant robot-like things that seem to be made out of clay and like to sing (that's their "twist" to the giant robot genre... Instead of giving the giant robots extension cords and Reeboks like the EVAs, they give them wings on their heads and make them sing). Soon Shinji is forced to live with Misato and Asuka and their good natured Uncle and a cat (aka the clone of Pen^2). The two clones of Gendo (one who wears Gendo's glasses and one who simply acts like him) who work in that giant pyramid that sits on the bay of the TERRA island (the pyramid being a clone of Geofront), start to set the rest of the confusing plot into motion while the second clone of Rei and her brother (the clone of Kaji, who has the hots for the Misato clone and who's toying with Ritsuko's clone) add more and more mystery as things unfold. After a while the plot seems to make a bit more sense, but that's when Keel Lorenz's clone makes an appearance and we learn that he's the one who's really behind everything... Or is he?!? But before we can think too much about that, Kaworu's clone meets up with Shinji and then there's some heavy betrayal action and then the cloned End of Evangelion sequence occurs and giant deities of light with the faces of the beings trapped inside of them do battle to see who or what gets to reshape the world.
Did you get all that? If not, who cares. Just sit right back and enjoy the show, or get high while trying to figure out that whole time dilation effect that occurs in Tokyo Jupiter (for example, if time inside Tokyo Jupiter crawls by at only 1/6 the pace of real time, then that would mean that Shinji was 5 years-old when he first met his dream girl... But then when the real time caught up with him and the singing of the clay robots made him a clone of that eye patch dude then everything became a part of the lost continent of the Mu and Churchward then didn't have anything to write about... no, wait. Ah, just forget it).
Now, I hear you asking how a show that just rips off another great show so completely could be any good in the least. First of all, fuck off, it just is. Secondly, I don't know. I just don't know! I sincerely don't know how something like this could happen. Up till now, Evangelion was the greatest "teenage boy forced to pilot a giant robot in a war he doesn't understand" story ever told (trust me, there are at least 150 anime series and movies that fall into that sub-genre). But then RahXephon came along and said, "You know, EVA, you're good and all, but just not mysterious enough. And your main character is a little bitch-boy that ya just want to beat the living fuck out of everytime he says 'I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away.' What you need is more mystery, less religious and historical context, more cloning, more cute girls, and robots that sing." Bingo.
What I love most about RahXephon (and what ultimately makes it better than shows like Evangelion and clones like Argentosoma) is that while most series will have one or two massive revelations that will make you shout "WHOA!" at your dog and make him pee the floor while you watch the anime, the RahX had one to two massive revelations per episode. And these aren't run of the mill "Luke, I am your father" type revelations. These are seriously bizarre and Joker-smile inducing plot turns that will make you pee your pants just like your dog did to the carpet. And if you don't, I will be forced to come over there and pee them for you... and maybe crap your trousers for good measure too.
What I love second most about RahXephon is the emotions that are painted on the characters' faces. Each and every character in the show emotes differently to everything that happens to them. Say, for example, that everyone is in Command Central and another clay singing robot appears in the skies above HQ, Misato will more than likely show worry and maybe start to tear up as she thinks about Shinji going into battle again; Gendo Number One will smile to himself and then frown when he realizes that just by smiling he probably ruined his own secret agenda; Asuka will look a bit afraid about being the newbie, but then set herself to do the job at hand; Rei will slightly smile and close her eyes as she listens to the songs in her head: etc etc... You might argue that the same could be said about EVA, but you would be wrong. Go watch one episode of RahXephon (any one, doesn't matter), and then go back and watch the matching episode of the fan favorite original Evangelion. The difference in detail (to expressions, to settings, to animation) will astound you, and possibly make you pee and crap your pants yet again. So just be careful.
So, like I said at the top of this review, RahXephon is the bomb. Go watch it. You don't have to sit there and take notes about the mind-numbing number of similarities to EVA (I'm a professional, that's just what I do), just watch and fall in love with a cartoon again. Whoa, speaking of "love", that's really what RahXephon is about. It's really just a twisty turny love story in which you can actually root for the two characters doing the love-falling. I mean, none of the characters involved in the many love triangles/pentagons really do anything that I wouldn't do if I were in their unfortunate situations.
After all is said and done, and I've watched this series twice in a row, there's really only one question left in my head as I ponder over everything that I just wasted 26 hours of my life on: Would a global, highly trained military force really make its women officers wear skirts that short as part of their mandatory uniform if those were the only chairs that the women folk were allowed to sit it?
UPDATE: 11/25/2003 - Just a quick RahXephon Review Update concerning the Rahxephon Movie. As you prolly know, it's basically 1 hour and 45 minutes of TV show animation with 15 minutes of new footage. Most of this new footage is in the very beginning of the feature (cool stuff, but total spoiler material for those who haven't seen the entire show beforehand [and trust me, to appreciate the storyline better, you really should see the TV first]). Then the only other notable use of new animation is the scene where Shinji's clone and Misato's clone physically get their freak on. Yes, in RahXephon the Movie they fuck like bunnies.
Now, the closest description I can think of as to what to expect with the RX Movie is Macross Plus - the Movie. It's just a re-edited version of what we already saw, with just a few tweaks and some heavy cuts. But with MP, they didn't have to really cut much, since the whole series was just a little over two hours and the Movie was a little over two hours. The RahXephon people, however, went a little nuts with the scissors... But they kind of had to in order to fit everything into a 120 minute cinematic event. I can accept that. What I can't accept is the fact that they changed the storyline. Not just the perspective, but the entire plot of the series. I expected that entire characters and threads would have to be burned for the sake of our bladders, but they changed relationships, motivations and reasons. This is not just a different look at RahXephon, this is an alternate universe. It's more along the lines of Macross and DYRL. Or Escaflowne and Retarded Girl in Gaieiaiaiei. Just with recycled material instead of all brand new showy animation.
Arrrrrrrrrrr. I... I mean... Arrrrrrrrrr.
Maybe.... Nope. That singing robot did... Arrrrrrrrrr.
I think I be bashin' in the Rossman's brains tonight fer makin' me get all philosophical and the like. That not be what the Skipper here is all about.
Holy sweet Buddha! I don't know if I can wait until 2015 or whenever for those ancient aliens to show up! That will be like Christmas and Halloween all rolled up into one day of massive dissecting and study for this here doctor!
Think about it, blue blood! What is it made out of? How does it transfer oxygen from the lungs to the heart? Does it move Hydrogen instead? How does it taste? Can I use it as ketchup like real blood? Do I have to mix it with oregano or paprika or something just as tasty? And what about those Mulians and their anatomy? Can I pay to have sex with them like a normal person? Would I have to print up some fake blue currency in order to get them in the sack? The questions go on and on.
Unfortunately I believe that this anticipation is just like that time the Rossman convinced me that some giant meteorite was going to plop down right into Antarctica in the early fall of 2000. Death and cadavers were supposed to pile up like slabs of burger patties. Hot spring penguins were supposed to rule the world and they would all be led by a human-esque lion cub who would lead them all to Atlantis before the 12 apostles came and fucked everybody up the ass with lasers and giant eyes in space. Low and behold I'm still awaiting that prophecy to be fulfilled.