I want to be honest with you, so I need to admit something: Episode Nine is my least favorite episode.  For me, this is like watching the first-run finale of Neon Genesis Evangelion.  It’s trippy, it’s weird visuals, it’s just plain nuts.  I don’t hate this episode and I appreciate what it does for things in the long term.  Coming off the previous episode, which is one of my favorites, this is a step back.  It’s also the first time RahXephon shows us all the relationships now that we, the audience, are in on what’s actually going on.

There are still mysteries to be explored, but for a while Ayato will be trying to catch up with us.Ninth Movement: Small Shrine of Time

Futagami, forced to endure the sudden shift in the seasons as the heatwave has returned.  He speaks with many Narai-Kanai locals and learns of a term “spirited forth.”  “First they dig up a shrine,” Futagami says, “then a god descends.”

Itsuki has Ayato make a shield of light, but he fails.  Isshiki berates Ayato for his lack of success.  As the Federation observer, Isshiki says he’s the representative of all mankind, implying that his decision will be the decision of all mankind as far as Ayato is concerned.  It’s a subtle note, reminding us that Ayato isn’t as free as we, or he, might think.

Isshiki orders Nanamori to escort Ayato home, even though she’s willing to stay and help compile data.  When they’re alone, Isshiki says he knows Itsuki wants to give the RahXephon a try.

Elsewhere, Megumi goes into Haruka’s room and finds a lot of old stuff.  It looks like a teenage girl’s room on a messy day.  Haruka claims it’s spring cleaning and Megumi makes note of the old music Haruka is listening to, then tells here they’ll have to start the New Year’s Eve meal without her.

The song playing is “The Fate of Katun,” a song Ichiko Hashimoto made to sound like an old J-Pop song from the future.  In the Mayan calendar, a katun was a core form of measurement, roughly 7200 days.  As we go on, we’ll see a greater significance from this song.

Ayato returns home and finds Quon waiting for him.  She says he has doubts as to where he belongs.  Megumi catches the two of them and demands to know why Ayato is outside her house.  (The residence is split between a small group of buildings linked to a communal area.)  Megumi, despite Ayato’s denials, asks Quon if he did anything to her.  Megumi tells Ayato to go inside since they’re going to the beach tomorrow.  Not wanting to be rude, Megumi invites Quon to come along as well.

Quon grabs Ayato’s arm, points at his watch and says, “Happy.”  Ayato and Megumi realize from the time that the New Year has come and Quon says they should go to the beach together.

Quon stands on the end of a beach pier with her umbrella, almost in the proportions Ayato uses for his favorite drawing.  He starts sketching when Kim comes by, praising Ayato’s work.  Elvy and Cathy from Alpha Squadron appear and say how good Ayato is.  They start offering to be Ayato’s next model with Elvy pulling rank and Cathy urging on a wrestling match between them.  The BIG CLUE here is that Ayato is a gifted artist by anyone’s assessment.

Kim “borrows” Ayato’s sketchbook, flipping through pages until she finds “that girl again.”  “Ayato’s favorite,” as Kim calls the girl, has long hair, wears a dress and a long, matching scarf; sounds a lot like Reika.  Ayato says it’s a friend and if they’d been outside of Tokyo, they’d both be 29 years old.  Kim says that would make Ayato older than her, the same age as Miss Haruka and Mr. Itsuki.  Kim asks if Ayato remembers anything from before the Great Mu War, but Ayato says, “They’ve been fabricated and they aren’t my real memories.”  (For those keeping score, this is how Ayato knows nothing about his past relationship with Haruka; how nice of him to let us know.)  Ayato says he’ll remember someday, a line that draws Haruka’s attention.

Nanamori goes digging for information about Isshiki, being denied at every turn.

On the water, Haruka listens again to “The Fate of Katun.”  Quon steals Haruka’s headphones and listens.  “Love… dreams… confidence… baseless happiness…”  Quon turns to Ayato and has him listen to the song as well.  Haruka asks Ayato if he’s ever heard the song.  He doesn’t answer–but we know the truth, that he has.  He gets a nice view of Haruka as she dives off their boat.  When he looks at Quon, he finds her looking at a cliff–and Reika Mishima standing close to the edge of it.

Isshiki, in the Narya Shrine, tells Itsuki that he has all the qualifications for what they’re about to do.

Ayato and Quon go to the cliff, close to a lighthouse and start looking for Reika.  Ayato tries to convince himself that Reika couldn’t have been there, but Quon knows where she went.  Quon asks if Reika is important to Ayato and he says he’s not sure.  More certain, Quon says, “She is.”  Ayato says Reika died and even if she were alive, she’d be in Tokyo.  Finding an old stone shrine, Quon asks, “Do you want to go back?”

Itsuki, wearing a helmet of some sort, lifts his arms to the RahXephon in offering.  He stands on the platform directly in front of the titan.  Nanamori sees this and is shocked, saying, “That barrier…”  Isshiki is calm and responds, “Right, only Kamina is supposed to be able to enter it.”  Nanamori asks who Isshiki really is since he was assigned to the Federation only a month before coming to Narai-Kanai–and he has no records before that.  Isshiki congratulates her research and she says she was interested.

Quon knows the shrine, but can’t remember why.  The door opens by itself.

Isshiki says things between him and Nanamori will work out just fine, since both of them are just supposed to be interested in what Itsuki is doing.  Before the RahXephon, Itsuki is knocked off his feet, even though the node to enter the titan is open.  From the water barrier, an aqueous version of Reika appears, watching Itsuki.

Quon goes into the shrine and Ayato chases after her.  The doors then close on their own, trapping the pair inside.

Nanamori sees the water Reika and asks what’s going on.  Isshiki says the goddess is well guarded.

Haruka, having lost Ayato and Quon, calls Kunugi and he assigns a search team to start looking.  The rest of the gang calls out for Ayato and Quon, but Megumi gives up, saying she doesn’t know why he would run off with Quon.  Haruka suspects something from the shrine, seeing the broken chains on its doors.  She can’t get the door to open easily, finding only rocks on the other side.

Futagami appears, saying this is the place where two girls suddenly appeared thirty-eight years earlier.  He clips a picture like a tourist, then tells Haruka about stories of people being spirited away.  He says those who do return, usually disappear again soon after, never to return.  There was one large spiriting away, Futagami says, Tokyo.

Nanamori tries to cheer Itsuki up, trying to tell him Quon will be ok.  Angrily, he asks what would she know.  He pushes her away, telling her to go home.  Itsuki and Megumi look at the parts of their homes that are vacant because of the missing kids.

A week passes.  Rikudo still sets Ayato’s place for him, but Itsuki decides to call off the search.  Haruka swears to never give up and drives off.  She opens the shrine doors again, seeing only rock.

Ayato is still walking down the same passage he used to follow Quon.  He’s wearing the same clothes and seems quite fit.  Quon has escaped him, but he begins to see visions of water and Tokyo Jupiter.

Quon finds a table with a black egg.  As Reika appears in the only chair at the table, Quon looks at the egg and says, “Ixtli, Ollin is looking for you.”

“That egg is the cogwheel that turns time,” Reika says.  Quon listens to the gentle beat inside the black egg.  Reika reassures any fears Quon has from the egg and says, “That one belongs to you.”  As Quon says, “Sound, the world suffused with,” Reika explains that music is the only shape of the new world that can be created.  One will tune the world.

Quon asks if she’s an instrumentalist.  The response: “You are Ollin.  I am Ixtli.”  And Reika–actually Ixtli–is gone.  The black egg tries to hatch and Quon remembers a night, in the rain.  Outside shrine, there are two girls, one standing strong, the other collapsed in tears.  THREE BIG CLUES.

Ayato is falling toward Tokyo Jupiter, then the city of Tokyo.  His descent stops as he hears someone humming a tune.  A lost Haruka sits on the steps of the shrine, singing the notes of “The Fate of Katun.”  As she starts to break into tears, light appears behind her, depositing Ayato into her arms.  When he wakes and sees her, Haruka cries and holds Ayato tighter.  Confused why it is night, Ayato is told he’s been missing for days, even though he’s only been gone for about five minutes.  Quon is also on the steps of the shrine, asleep; Haruka makes sure the girl is ok, but makes no big production.

Haruka says the shrine is like Tokyo.  Ayato agrees, saying he saw Tokyo, but came back because he heard singing.  Haruka asks if Ayato would have gone home without the singing.  He says he wouldn’t, that Narai-Kanai is where he belongs.

As Haruka reports to Itsuki that she’s found Ayato and Quon, she stops.  Ayato is humming the tune of “The Fate of Katun,” with no prompting at all.  Ayato asks, “It’s ‘The Fate of Katun’, right?  I just remembered.  Where did I hear it before?”  Together, Ayato and Haruka begin humming the song.  Itsuki hears this, then hangs up, glad Haruka is happy.

Over drinks, Nanamori and Isshiki make plans to help Itsuki.  Starting their partnership, they agree that they should know each other well before doing anything.

Summing up: This episode is a staging ground for a lot of what’s to come.  Ayato has accepted the world outside of Tokyo Jupiter as the place where he belongs.  Itsuki is a member of the 29 year old club.  And a new partnership is born.

The partnership with Nanamori and Isshiki has revealed that Isshiki isn’t actually a longtime member of the Federation.  In his first appearances, he didn’t even wear a uniform, so this begs the question What does Makoto Isshiki want?  From his snide comments, slithery behavior, and Nanamori’s pure black dress, we can tell something is wrong with this guy and we should not trust him.  But at this stage, we know very little, and not enough to make many guesses.  All we can be certain of is that he has a vested interest in Itsuki Kisuragi and the RahXephon.

As for Itsuki, we know he is a contemporary of Haruka and he has a personal interest in the RahXephon.  He’s able to even get a reaction out of Ixtli.

On to the BIG CLUES.  We got quite a few in this episode, though they don’t have quite the same all-consuming impact as what we’ve already learned.  Ayato Kamina, the Ollin, is a skilled artist.  We’ve seen him sketch at many different points so far and we know that he has enough skill to have warranted being part of national art contests in the past.  His talent and subject are of unique concern and will drive a great deal of what’s to come, especially in the last five episodes.

Another talented teenager is Quon, who has demonstrated great proficiency with the piano.  She asked if she was an instrumentalist–a term we will hear again–and is told that she is Ollin.  This is a term Quon and the Mu apply to Ayato, yet it somehow applies to Quon as well.  She even remembers being at the shrine before when she was younger.  There’s also the possibility that Quon might be one of the girls spirited forth in Futagami’s tale to Haruka, but if that’s true it means that Quon would be more than thirty-eight years old.  It also begs the question Who is the other girl?

Another thing Quon learns is that Reika is actually Ixtli.  This is a name used once before, by Maya when she saw Reika.  We have already seen the influence that Ixtli has over Ayato and, through Ayato, the RahXephon.  Ixtli knew about Haruka’s gloves, she pulled Ayato out of phase space, she even led Ayato and Quon to the shrine where they discovered truths they hadn’t considered.

Thus, for answering questions, we are now left with new questions to consider.  As we consider the answers, we will next learn what motivates a certain TERRA commander.

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