Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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DEMIAN.5, who did the on-line comic When I Am King, announces that he has been doing a weekly dead tree comic for the Zurich Express, and that it will be on-line eventually, but doesn't say where or when. It's called Viereck Geschichten, "Square Stories". Searching on the name as a phrase yields a pseudo-googlewhack, the only mention is on Demian.5's news page.

I hope it's on-line soon. If you haven't read When I Am King, be aware that it is seriously warped, and parts of it aren't work, school, or parent-safe. However, it is funny, inventive, whimsical, and quite touching at points, and well worth reading if you like on-line comics.

I've been watching RahXephon fansubs, and I'm up to 24, the most recent that's been released. Episode 26, the final one, just aired in Japan this week.

I'm enjoying it, but it's show that's very peculiar to watch. Anime shows borrow from other anime shows a lot, but RahXephon feels like Evangelion, as it might have been produced in a dimension similar to but not identical to our own, perhaps in which Anno stayed on his anti-depressants during the production. It's a giant bot show. Tokyo has been attacked and conquered by a people called 'Mu', and surrounded by a sphere resembling the surface of Jupiter that cuts it off from the rest of the Earth. Kamina Ayato, a Tokyo teenager, is swept up into the war of the outside Earth forces (of whom there are competing factions and internal power struggles), and finds that he can pilot a giant robot called RahXephon.

There are echos and suggestions of Evangelion everywhere. RahXephon itself resembles an Eva than it does traditional giant robots. The erotic overtones of the older woman/teenage boy relationship that were hinted at in the Shinji/Misato ménage are also in evidence here, in Ayato's relationship with a woman in her late twenties, Shitou Haruka. We have the cold, dangerous, and possibly evil parent of the protagonist, in this case, Ayato's mom. Ayato, like Shinji and Amuro Ray, is the reluctant, sometime whiny, warrior, but avoids the depths that ultimately consume Shinji. In place of the struggle between NERV and SEELE, we have a struggle between Terra, the Earth organization that fights the Mu, and the sinister and mysterious Barben Foundation. In place of Rei, we have not one but two enigmatic monosyllabic girls in eccentric orbits around the main cast, who seem to hold Big Secrets. Mishima's secret has been told by episode 24, Quon's hasn't, but I suspect something more is to come. As in Eva, the secret of the Muians (as the people of Mu are called) appears to come not from space or another dimension but from long ago on Earth. And besides the secrets of Quon and Mishima, there are as many or more mysteries than in Eva, from the very start, the show is a huge puzzle box for the viewer to open. Although I haven't seen the show's end, there are strong suggestions that it will be, like Eva's, apocalyptic, and have something to do with the evolution of the human race.

Despite all the similarities, there is new stuff here. Like other bot shows (cf. Gundam), but unlike Evangelion, we get some insight into the minds of the Bad Guys, and some sympathy for them. There is also a strong 'arts' theme, which I haven't seen in much anime. Ayato is an artist, our first introduction to him is in front of his easel, where he is painting a mysterious girl who keeps coming into his mind. RahXephon, and the Muian bots, seem to attack by singing, which I haven't seen before. Their pilots are referred to as 'performers'. And they wear purple lip-gloss. The robots, not the pilots, that is. It also may be the first instance I've seen of the mainstreaming of tattooing into anime, and not just in yakuza or aliens. Several of the main characters sport major ink.

The writer, chief designer and director, Izubuchi Yutaka, previously did mecha design for Patlabor and Gasaraki, and character design for Lodoss. I don't think he's written a show before, and this is a very good initial effort for him, I'll be very interested to see where he goes from here. RahXephon's character design, by Yamada Akihiro, who also worked on Lodoss looks sort of like a cross between Sadamoto's Eva designs and Gasaraki's, with some odd elements: the noses in front view, for example, are reduced to tiny nostrils just above the mouth. Looks strange.

The show was acquired by ADV about half-way through its run on Fuji TV. I'll be buying the DVD's when they come out.

meaning: exist, have
有無 == umu == existance
有難う == arigatou == thank you
Once a pictograph showing a right hand (右) holding a piece of meat (肉), symbolizing possesion, or 'having'. Note: the verbal 'aru' is most commonly written in kana rather than kanji. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Have meat in your hand.'


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