This volume is a lot more action based, which means the plot goes a little on the back burner. However the characters start to develop. This makes up for the slow movement of the plot, as the characters are great, with some of the more shadowy characters being extremely interesting.
My only complaint is that the end to one of the combat sequences seems a little shallow, but watch it and you may disagree.
On the whole an excellent title, well worth buying if you own the first volume!
Battle is waged using Dolem, constructs who can sing destruction. RahXephon is able to counter the efforts of the Dolem and destroy them, but there is a stead cost to Ayato. Fortunately, the headquarters of TERRA, the Mu opposition force is on the beautiful tropical island of Nirai-Kanai. There Ayato can relax and work his way into the complicated relationships among the cast members. And it is work, for both Ayato and the viewer. RahXephon's cast is large, and the plot moves fast enough to make it hard to keep the characters, and who is on what side, straight in one's mind.
Perhaps the most important new character is Quon Kisaragi, who quotes poetry and seems to be watching a different world. She is drawn to Ayato although the attraction seems to be spiritual rather than physical. Another female character, Haruka Shitow, who first appeared in the previous DVD is also showing signs of unexpectedly strong feelings for Ayato, who is 12 years younger. Now should we leave out Reika Mishima, who might be a school friend of Ayato's, or who might be something else entirely. Other relationships fan out from these core characters, and it is still too early to get a clear picture of how everyone will inter-relate. In contrast, Evangelion's character development is almost simplistic.
Neither the battle action (which is plentiful) or the character development take a secondary role in the story. Instead they alternate and interweave. And the excellent artwork provides a distraction of its own. Fortunately, the DVD's do include cast booklets, so I expect some order will arise out of what sometimes feels like a chaos of loose ends. There is simply too much of a good thing here right now, and director Yutaka Izubuchi fully intends to get all the key pieces in play before letting patterns emerge. This series has all the ingredients to be a smash success, and I'm looking forward to coming episodes.
Video and audio quality of this DVD edition is very good. Most anime fans dislike dubbing and prefer to watch Japanese sound with English subtitles. However, subtitles are not that good. I found out that listening an important conversation, which you couldn't understand it at first, for a second time is much more efficient than figuring out what happened from subtitles. You should notice that there are actually two English subtitles. First subtitle is the regular one and the second one is similar to the "Pill" option of Akira, it only translates Japanese words on the video and background conversation on scenes such as a news heard from a TV. This second English subtitle is benefical to turn on.
Leaflets on DVD's are very wellcome and useful. There are fully coloured drawings of mechas and persons together with a brief information. The leaflet of this first volume also includes short interviews with Japanese cast and translation notes. These notes are subjects related to Japanese culture and used in the series and they are very wellcome for me. Other extras in this DVD are :
- Clean opening animation : Animation is very good but the music is spectacular. I really love this opening music, even though I mostly listen to metal music. You can watch the animation and particularly listen to the music over and over again.
- Clean closing animation : Closing music is boring for me, but you may want to watch it as the words are closely tied to the overall story.
- Production sketches : These are clearly drawn in full color and the fantastic opening music accompanies them.
- Interview with the English cast : Voice actors of Quon, Haruka and Ayato answer a few questions, respectively. The questions are somewhat cliche but I enjoyed watching this.
- Oh, the ADV previews are also there, too.
Second volume keeps up the good pace of the first one with the next four episodes of the series. I, as a science fiction fan, give five stars to this volume as well as the other three and I am looking forward for the rest.
My only complaint about this DVD and the one before it is that ADV, its American release company, made some horrible changes. In the first episode on the first DVD, there are some horrible text edits where the Japanese text was simply blurred out in a box and had English superimposed over it. Both DVDs are lacking in extras, and the cover art used tries to sell this series as simply a Mecha program. However, this series actually has heavy character appeal, and the original Japanese DVD covers have beautiful artwork that I wished could have been preserved for the US release. The other complaint I have is nit picky... They subtitle the word "Orin" as "Ollin" with two L's. "Olin" I could live with because there is no distinguishing between L's and R's in Japanese, but the use of two L's is distracting to me as someone who saw the fansubtitled release before this professional DVD release.
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