When we last left Narai-Kanai, as the RahXephon delivered the killing blow to a Dolem the titan was impaled.  On the island below, Uncle Rikudo and the reporter Futagami had a conversation containing the first BIG CLUE.  In the spirit of Christmas–at least for our characters, let us return and learn of greater things.Before starting things off in full force, I want to say again what that BIG CLUE is: Ayato should be twenty-nine years old, even though he’s physically seventeen.  Seems simple enough, but this is about to pay off–no waiting necessary!

Eighth Movement: Bitterly Cold Holy Night

Ah Futagami, treating the Narya Shrine like it was any other, taking pictures of the local god–the RahXephon–clapping hands, making prayers.  He asks about the piece of Dolem that impaled the RahXephon, but Itsuki refuses to say anything and confiscates Futagami’s camera.  A moment later, Futagami finds a pristine crystal embedded in the remains of the Dolem and pulls it out.

The TERRA gang enjoys a warm day on the beach.  Ayato draws a scene similar to the same image he’d drawn back in Tokyo Jupiter.  Megumi approaches, offering to model for him; he declines.  Megumi sees the markings on Ayato’s chest and asks if they’re like a child’s birthmark, since he says he’s had the mark ever since he was a child.

On her day off, Haruka is getting caught up on reporting the outcome of the previous Dolem encounter.  Itsuki arrives–leaving Nanamori in the car–and invites everyone to his place for a Christmas Eve party.  He mentions Sou will be there, pleasing Megumi.  Haruka grudgingly accepts the invitation; the notion of going irritates Haruka greatly.  Itsuki is pleased Haruka is going.

In the car, Nanamori is clearly frustrated.  Her windshield wiper moves across the glass, even though it’s clear weather.  Nanamori drives fast and is irritated when she can’t get around the other drivers.

Once they make it back to the Kisuragi house, Itsuki reveals a crystal pendant, saying it’s early, but it’s Nanamori’s Christmas present.  She’s shocked, and the wiper blade moves across the screen again.  The sky has become overcast with clouds as well.  Nanamori has never seen such a stone (“It must have been expensive.”), but Itsuki says she works so hard and he puts the pendant around her neck.  Cue miracle Christmas snow!

Really, it starts snowing.  TERRA’s day at the beach is over.  Most have never seen snow before.  Quon sits in bed at home, bundled so much, only her eyes are visible.

In a bar, Futagami and Isshiki discuss the origins of Christmas.  Futagami says how his grandfather dismissively gave him a knife one year before going on a fishing trip and never returned.  He wonders if his grandfather knew he was about to die and asks for Isshiki’s opinion.  Isshiki remains quiet.

Haruka runs around Uncle Rikudo’s house, even though it is still snowing.  Ayato sticks his head out the door and asks why she pushes herself so hard.  When Haruka turns around, she finds Ayato draped in the odd robe Quon had packed in the suitcase along with Buchi in episode 5.  Ayato has no choice aside from the robe, he has no winter clothes.  Blushing, Haruka runs off for a moment.  When she returns, still blushing, Haruka offers Ayato a pair of gloves.  “Use these,” Haruka says.  Her demeanor has shifted from determined woman to that of a generous child, hoping Ayato will accept the gift.  Ayato takes the gloves and asks where Haruka found them.  Haruka smiles in a cutesy girl expression, giving no answer.

Watari and Kunugi discuss the previous Dolem.  They cannot conclude that it was finished off.  They discuss that Itsuki is having a party.  Kunugi says it has nothing to do with him.  Kunugi turns away from his bird and asks, “Aren’t you going to see him?”  Silent, Watari gives no answer, he doesn’t even look at Kunugi.

Kim and Megumi go shopping.  Megumi gets to enjoy leaving footprints in the snow and slipping on it as well.  Kim thinks the heels her friend is wearing might be a little too high.  Apparently, the heels make her as tall as Haruka was when she was Megumi’s age (14).  Cue flashback to Haruka asking Kim to be nice to Megumi for her.  Kim asks if Megumi is getting a present for Haruka.

They move to a cafe and Megumi admits that she doesn’t hate her sister.  Haruka is just too perfect, even though she has “a girlish silly side” as well.  This shocks Kim.  “A long time ago, there was apparently a boy she really liked.  It seems like she can’t forget about him, and she still has the present that she wasn’t able to give him, tucked inside a drawer.  It seems she just can’t bear to throw it away.”  Megumi thinks Haruka hasn’t graduated from being a girl yet.  The truth is, Megumi’s story is actually our second BIG CLUE.

What’s that?  Two innocuous stories, two episodes, and two BIG CLUES?  You might wonder how this is possible, so I’ll take this time to mention once more that RahXephon isn’t really a mech show, it’s about characters much more than war or giant robots beating the crap out of each other.

Kim is about to ask Megumi something about Ayato, but Megumi sees Sou and dashes out of the cafe.  Much as her sister did, Megumi blushes and offers Sou a gift, saying, “Please use this!”  Behind her, Kim glances at Megumi from the corner of her eye with a worried expression.  Sou is pleased with his gift, making Megumi quite happy.  Kim is still quite worried.  Megumi asks Sou if he’s going to Itsuki’s party, which he’s planning on.  Sou, nice guy that he is, asks Megumi if she’s going as well.  As Megumi says yes, the camera moves away from her to focus on Kim.  When Kim turns toward Sou, he’s already walked away.

Megumi is afraid that Sou likes Haruka.  Kim tries to dissuade her from that conclusion, but she doesn’t try hard.  Kim says Megumi and Haruka are actually a lot alike.  For once, thinking of Haruka reassures Megumi.

Kunugi briefs the TERRA staff on duty that the samples of the Dolem they recently destroyed had yet to lose molecular cohesion.  He thinks there’s a chance that a Dolem is nearby, retaining functionality but remaining dormant.  Itsuki finds it an interesting case.  Haruka says he can do research after the Dolem has been destroyed.  He says, “Of course Captain Shitow,” with a wink.  Haruka cringes.  Nanamori glares at the exchange.  Isshiki watches Nanamori’s reaction.

Nanamori and Haruka hit up a drink machine, with Nanamori complimenting Haruka on being able to deal with everything with no problem, even in a new place.  “When there’s someone that you’re interested in at work, you just tend to go that extra mile,” Haruka says.  Even though it’s parked and empty, Nanamori’s windshield wiper activates for a moment.  Nanamori didn’t know about Haruka liking someone.  Haruka says her feelings are from a long time ago.  Nanamori wants to know who it is.  Haruka says, “That’s a secret.”

Get your scorecards out.  Here’s where you mark down what our current BIG CLUE is about: Haruka is attracted to someone and it’s a secret. I’d say remember this, but soon, you won’t be able to forget.

Haruka sees Nanamori’s pendant, saying how beautiful the stone is.  She guesses it’s a gift, but Nanamori covers it up and turns away.  She’s protective of her gift, almost afraid.

Itsuki runs some tests on Ayato, watching the young man on the monitor.  Watari comes in behind the doctor, saying they have to put him through unpleasant experiences because of that mark.  Watari asks Itsuki if Ayato is cold.  Itsuki answers, “I don’t know, I’m not him.”  From the testing room, Ayato asks Itsuki where Quon is.  She hates the cold, and is still bundled up at home.  Quon speaks a riddle about “a pillar for a chill heart to possess.”

As Haruka and Nanamori drink their coffees together in silence, Nanamori’s pendant sways all by itself.  Haruka is called away.  The crystal of the pendant is growing.  The window behind Nanamori shows a Mulian, positioning itself around Nanamori.  The window flash freezes and breaks.

The snow has now become a blizzard.  It is no longer peaceful.  Snow drifts down a hallway Itsuki is walking down.  Nanamori is by herself, wondering why Itsuki is so mean to her, repeating that she hasn’t done anything wrong.  She notes how Itsuki would not warm her and the crystal grows larger, covering the top of her chest.  Take that fan service!  Itsuki says he “knew it” about the stone.  The window behind Nanamori gives way, letting the full blizzard in.  Itsuki calls out, “Sayoko!”  She looks at him, noting how neither her father nor her older brother will forgive her.  She leaps out the window and walks on the water, stories below.  The water turns to ice, extending from her feet.

Power goes out in Narai-Kanai.  Kunugi has TERRA switch operations to emergency power.  Everywhere Nanamori walks, uneven pillars of ice climb behind her.  The ice begins to overtake her as TERRA detects the dormant Dolem’s energy patterns.  Using the same pattern as the previous Dolem, a new Dolem rises, growing out of ever-expanding ice.  Haruka notes that the Dolem is linked to the unusual weather they’ve been having.  Kunugi sends Ayato out, telling him that he’ll defeat the enemy because, “that’s your job, right?”

Ayato complains about Kunugi’s phrasing as he flies out and Haruka gets on to him about it.  He agrees to get out there and beat the Dolem.  When Ayato sees the horn rising from the Dolem’s head, he also sees Nanamori, encased in ice where she looks like the Mulian who had been posing around her.  The Dolem attacks.  Ayato tells Megumi that if he defeats the Dolem, Nanamori will get caught in it too.

Kunugi orders Ayato to attack, saying human life is not an issue.  His face is filled with regret when he says this, but Ayato can’t see him.  When Ayato berates the commander, Kunugi says “TERRA’s business is not the saving of human lives.  If you wish to save Nanamori, work a miracle.”  He even smiles when he says miracle.

Ayato takes a direct hit and Haruka calls out his name when they can’t detect his vitals.  Inside the Dolem, Nanamori says, “Ollin, one loved by none.  Open thy eyes and see just how cold thy heart is.”

Watching the battle from elsewhere, Watari asks Itsuki, “Is he going to be okay?”  Itsuki answers, “It should be okay because he was chosen.”

In the cockpit, Ayato feels how cold it is.  The image of Reika appears, putting her hands on his.  Suddenly, he has on the gloves Haruka gave him.  He feels how warm the gloves are and Reika guides them back to the controls.  The RahXephon reawakens.  Kunugi allows himself a smug smile as Ayato says he’ll make the so-called miracle happen.  As Ayato cuts into the Dolem, Nanamori calls out, “Xephon!”

The image of the Mulian dies and the horn shatters, freeing Nanamori.  Quon says the Ollin’s light is a gift from the soul.  The Dolem shatters and the clouds over the island are blasted apart.  Elimination of the Dolem and Nanamori’s survival are confirmed.  Heat rolls in and Watari says it’s as if the RahXephon was the sun.  Nanamori is left in the RahXephon’s hands, chanting, “I’m sorry.”

That night, Itsuki’s party!  Nanamori doesn’t remember anything after the meeting and she’s tells Itsuki that she lost the pendant he gave her.  He says not to worry about it and offers to get them both something to drink.  Ayato asks Quon why she didn’t come to the checkup.  “I hate the cold, but Ollin is warm.”

Itsuki asks Haruka if she’s jealous and she says, “As if.”  Itsuki says he might be jealous.  As he passes by Ayato, Itsuki stares at the young man.

Sou shows off the scarf Megumi gave him to Kim and she asks about their relationship.  Megumi approaches, so Kim says nothing else.  Megumi sees Ayato holding the gloves as he tell Haruka how warm they are.  Megumi says, “Those gloves…”  Haruka blushes and smiles, acting just a little bashful as the screen fades to black.

Let’s put some things together. This episode is really about the contrast between cold and warmth.  Not just in the weather, but also in character relationships.  Fitting, since this is RahXephon’s Christmas episode.  As a gift, we get to find out what the show is really about.

We’ll start with the Dolems since we’d like to think RahXephon is a mech show.  We know that when a Dolem dies, a Mulian dies, even if it’s in another location.  The Mulians, when they’re on the attack, thrive on emotion.  Nanamori being pushed back and forth between (false) acceptance and perceived rejection from Itsuki created a lot of emotion from Nanamori, enough that the Mulian, using the crystal, could latch onto her and generate a new Dolem.  I will say there are a few more pieces to the Mulian/Dolem puzzle, the biggest being in episode 19.  And Nanamori doesn’t remember being in the Dolem at all.

On to the main event, Ayato bringing warmth to others.  Make note that Watari, Kunugi, Megumi, Quon and Haruka are all empowered by to some degree by Ayato’s miracle.  Itsuki is neutral.  Isshiki takes and gains nothing from it.  Foreshadowing.

Since we got a lot of information about Haruka’s past in this episode, let’s put it all together.  Haruka has a secret, that she’s attracted to someone she works with.  Haruka had a boyfriend when she was a teenager and she never got to give him his Christmas present.  Megumi’s reaction tells us this gift was the pair of gloves she gave to Ayato.  But Megumi told Kim that Haruka couldn’t bring herself to part with those gloves.

We know from Haruka’s friendship with Elvy that she is not the most charitable person.  Friendly, caring?  Yes.  Showing people she works with the girlish side of herself?  Never.

Haruka is attracted to someone and it’s a secret. So why give Ayato a gift that person what supposed to get?  Haruka’s had those gloves since she was fourteen in 2012.  The person she’s attracted to works with her.  Itsuki seems likely, but she’s turned off by him for the most part (we’ll get to that).  Who does that leave?  Ayato seems unlikely on the surface–he’s seventeen, she’s twenty-nine–except that Ayato should be twenty-nine years old, but isn’t.

Put these BIG CLUES together and you come up with an odd, but reasonable premise, given the time distortion of Tokyo Jupiter.  In fact, if you look at how Haruka acts, even though she hides her girlish side, she does show it to Megumi–and to Ayato.  She calls out his name as “Ayato,” not “Mr. Kamina,” or “Mr. Ayato,” even though Ayato calls her “Miss Haruka” most of the time.  Haruka joked with Ayato initially that he might be attracted to her, though he said he’s not in to older women.

Haruka isn’t older than Ayato, they’re both the same age.  Given Haruka’s defenses, her history, and the way she looks at and treats Ayato, there’s no way around it, especially since Itsuki might be jealous.  RahXephon is a Love Story, the main characters of which are separated by physical age.  Knowing this fact, episode eight’s BIG CLUE is actually Haruka is in love with Ayato and has been for decades, though she keeps it secret. Note also that I never said Ayato knows this; he doesn’t.  For once, we know something about RahXephon that Ayato does not.

This is actually the natural point where we should learn this, or at least suspect what’s happening.  RahXephon provides a great number of answers to its mysteries and this is the answer to the biggest question no one thinks to ask.  But we are still left to ask about Tokyo Jupiter, about Reika, about Maya and the blue blood.  The attention paid to Haruka in the opening credits now makes more sense, especially given that we can also guess that her relationship with Ayato has defined her, almost as much as being deprived of that relationship.

Next time, we’ll discuss spiriting forth and “The Fate of Katon.”

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