Starting out, I think it’s best not to discuss one episode, but two, since the first episode lays a lot of groundwork, but the second picks up and runs with it. Together, these two episodes give a good idea of the world of RahXephon, all without giving too much away.
A lot of this will be based on my observations as I watch the episodes, but I’ll make note of interesting elements and clues as we go along.
“First Movement: Operation Overlord”
We begin in serenity before shifting to the sights of a naval operation starting and a brief glimpse of pilot Elvy Hadhiyat checking her watch with two times on it. Commander Jin Kunugi and Quon watch as the scene ends. None of that makes sense, yet these are three of the most important characters. We’ll get back to them another time. Just remember that watch, the one with two different times, one of which belonging to Tokyo.
Next is morning and Ayato Kamina. Ayato quietly examines the canvas he’s just finished sketching a scene on. His mother has already left for work, leaving him to fend for himself. As he walks to school, a mysterious woman watches him; in reference to Ayato, this woman is the only other person we see. Soon enough, Ayato finds his friends Hiroko and Mamoru.
At Ayato’s home, men in suits look around, reporting that he’s already left and that there may have been an intruder. Odd statement from an intruder.
Battle breaks out with tanks and missile batteries left to defend Tokyo from some very sci-fi looking planes. Ayato is left to crawl through to warzone alone, having left his friends behind. He hears a single tone, almost singing and finds a girl standing on rocks, much like in his painting. He calls her Mishima… Reika, intently pausing to figure out Reika’s name. (For the uninitiated, Mishima is the family name; I use English formatting most of the time, but it made sense to point it out here.)
The “lynch pin of the Tokyo Defense Network”, Allegretto, is unleashed on the attacking planes, filling the city with a somber song. The beams created by the song destroy buildings and planes, everything in Allegretto’s path.
Ayato is separated from Reika long enough for the men in suits to catch up with him. As they, government agents, try to take Ayato into custody, the woman following him attacks, rescuing Ayato. One of the agents bleeds on Ayato and the blood is blue, not red. Ayato tries to politely leave the woman–I’m going to go ahead and call her Haruka, since that’s her name, even though she doesn’t say it until episode 3–but she ambushes him with the fact that the agents had blue blood. Haruka offers to tell Ayato everything if he just comes with her, but he refuses.
He’s just not in to older women. It’s played for a joke and it should be a nothing line, but I’m telling you, it isn’t. Haruka is in her thirties, while Ayato is 17, so it’s not a stretch. When the subway train comes, along with one of the agents getting back up, Ayato gets away, leaving Haruka to scream “Ayato” behind him. Note that she doesn’t say “Kamina” or “Ayato Kamina,” she speaks to him in a familiar sort of way, especially for Japanese characters.
This train, which suddenly has Reika on board, has one stop, The Room Of Rah. Inside is a massive egg suspended in a floating pool of water. Ayato falls over, awakening as Reika puts it, and says three syllables: Rah. Xe. Phon. We see a drop of water and hear a crack.
Outside, Haruka looks up, seeing a great city appear in the sky. She notes that the city belongs to “the Mu, the enemy, and the enemy of all mankind.”
“Second Movement: Awakening”
We start with a title sequence this time, though it shows a lot of settings, most familiar. One of the first things we see is the inside of a clock, as time is an important theme of RahXephon. Lots of Ayato, lots of Reika, lots of Harkua. Again, a clue.
In the Room Of Rah, the RahXephon hatches as Reika watches from below in joy. Ayato is gone, left as a voice in the machine.
Outside, the RahXephon attacks, destroying invading planes and going up against one of the singing Dolems that now protect the city. Their melodious song returns as the Mu city vanishes and the RahXephon retreats back to the egg it was born from.
Government agents refer to the recovery of Ayato (“the Ollin”) while putting together clues about Haruka from footage from the subway fight where she spoke to Ayato. The agents also have taken control of a VTOL plane, one Haruka used to reach Tokyo.
Ayato, while in a hospital, hears about how the capitol’s new weapon defended the city from invasion. It makes Ayato uneasy to hear about the secret weapon. When his mother collects him, he asks her about the secret weapon, saying it looked like a man with wings on its head. Ayato’s mother got to take off from work to pick him up.
Later, Ayato calls Reika to check up on her; she thanks him for his concern. Ayato’s mother, Maya, eavesdrops, then secretly redials the number Ayato called. It’s not in service.
In class the next day, Ayato is distracted by Haruka’s promise to explain what’s going on. When the teacher calls on him to answer a question, the camera shows the world consists of Tokyo, everything else is gone. As Ayato mentions Reika to his friends, they are confused–until Reika appears and then suddenly realize they know her. Reika privately urges Ayato to seek the truth out since he’s nearly found it once already.
At home, Ayato finds a picture of the battle with a note saying where he can learn more.
In a lab, Fortissimo, the Dolem the RahXephon fought regenerates. It looks like rocks growing.
Ayato finds Haruka again at the appointed time. Haruka muses that Ayato just wanted to see a certain lady again, to which he again states “he’s not in to older women.”
Maya discovers that Ayato is gone and gets a call from the government agents. She tells them where to go and what they need to do. Reika, floating, appears in front of the RahXephon while Haruka’s plane steers her and Ayato to the Room of Rah as well.
As all the players converge Reika sings a discordant theme. Ayato struggles to get out of the plane, eventually ejecting when he sees the RahXephon once more. Haruka gives chase, trying to climb over large rocks, but it’s not enough. Ayato is drawn into the air, swallowed by a bright light, and dives into the RahXephon. Once he finds himself in a cockpit, he begins to remember and the RahXephon removes a shield on its face, revealing another pair of eyes, glaring and golden.
The RahXephon’s shell breaks outward, drawing Ayato’s attention to “Lady Maya.” There, Ayato sees his mother. Her face is cut and bleeding. Her blood is blue.
Thoughts: There’s a lot going on here, but the scene is nearly set. Note that I’ve said little about the battles. That’s because the battles have been brief and quiet one-sided. The RahXephon is powerful, even beyond what the Mu have to offer in Allegretto and Fortissimo. Much like Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, RahXephon acts more as a drama in a sci-fi setting than a direct sci-fi show.