Last time, we had a mild moment in the continuing saga of Ayato Kamina and Haruka Shitow. They connected and discovered “The Fate of Katun,” an old song they both liked.Eleventh Movement: Kyoja Circuit
Note: This is a very existential episode, but its dreamlike presentation, strong musical cues, and smooth foreshadowing make it a compelling installment.
Screaming and a plethora of caution screens, that is how we begin this installment. A time shift begins, creating the same effect of the Jupiter phenomenon. Haruka sit to the side as the TERRA analysts try to sort out the situation. As a EMP emanates from the Dolem–as part of a battle we’ve seen none of–Haruka covers her mouth, burying her despair.
Once we finally see the battle, the RahXephon is dwarfed by an angelic Dolem. Their vocal duel allows us to see Ayato lying on a stone slab like his arms are being twisted by an invisible force. Ayato’s entire body contorts as his life support suit begins to malfunction. The Dolem’s song matches the RahXephon’s, causing the larger titan to change form. The giant wings wrap around the RahXephon as a halo falls, swallowing both combatants. As the RahXephon is about to enter the time shift, we see finally that the stone slab Ayato is on is the bottom of the RahXephon’s cockpit, which is usually filled with water.
With the RahXephon and the Dolem gone, all contact is lost. Everyone at TERRA is speechless. Haruka covers her face, whispering Ayato’s name.
We see the cryptic drop of water on a black field once more, pulling Ayato into consciousness. The RahXephon stands at attention behind him, as they are both in a more traditional Japanese town. Like Tokyo. Also, the screen has shifted from full to widescreen and the atmosphere had become more subdued, much like a permanent sunset.
Ayato recognizes the locales around him, though the citizens are all subdued and lacking expression. A pair of girls run past and Ayato watches them for a moment before seeing his reflection. He’s been wearing his civilian clothes, but when he looks at his reflection in a window, he’s still wearing his TERRA uniform. There is a flash of a figure crouching in a blank void.
In the distance, Ayato sees his old friends Mamoru and Asahina. Ah, Hiroko Asahina; there is so much I would love to say about you right now, but a lot of it will have to wait, at least for Episode 17 or 18. Or Episode 19. Regardless of my thoughts, the couple talk, she laughs and they kiss. Ayato nearly fixates on their kiss and, again, we see the crouched figure in a void.
His friends are watching him and wonder what’s wrong with him. Mamoru says Ayato’s been bored and they go to an arcade. Somber music helps us see Ayato’s sadness at the game’s depiction of standing figures being gunned down. He sees the date, 2015/07/25, knowing that the year is wrong. Asahina grabs Ayato’s arm, which is held close to her chest. Ayato is still mesmerized by the horror of Mamoru’s gaming massacre.
Mamoru talks, Asahina talks, Ayato (and the audience) do not hear what they say. All we hear is the deep string intonations that have lingered ever since the shift in visual presentation. Once the music fades out, Mamoru is drawn away by a phone call with some mysterious friends. Asahina takes the opportunity to take Ayato’s hand in a simple but romantic way. Ayato sees Mamoru up a flight of stairs, but Mamoru is distracted by his phone call.
Asahina says, “I want to stay like this.” Ayato turns and she’s now very close to him, her body language suggesting that it’s Ayato that she wants, not Mamoru. She says he has sauce on his mouth and offers to clean it off for him. Her moistened lips move upward and she licks them–just as we see the obscured figure start to rise from their crouch in the void.
A new musical note has taken over. The sound is hollow and orchestral, but synthesized, drawn out into emptiness. Ayato runs from his friends, looking back only for a moment. He runs, stopping only when he is out of breath. The store window in front of him features a cartoonish penguin that sits up, raises a flipper in salute, then explodes. Ayato runs again. At the end of a long, dark alley, light washes over the scene, just in time to show the crouching figure stand up, wobbling from the imbalance of its large head.
We have a busy crosswalk and Ayato is surprised to see Haruka, both of whom are dressed in civilian clothes. The scene is still in Tokyo, still in widescreen, and still locked in the permanent haze of sunset. Ayato asks, “Why are you here?”
Enter a jazz record–that’s right, a record–being played in a subdued, but hip kind of bar. The bartender is relaxed, leaning on the counter and enjoying a cigarette. Ayato sits alone with Haruka and explains that he’s sure he’s in Tokyo Jupiter and that he thinks he’s going crazy. Haruka cuts him off and tells him to drink the coffee in front of him, since he did order it. She thinks the coffee is delicious. Ayato tries the coffee and decides that it all has to be a dream because there’s no way they could be together in the Tokyo he knew.
Haruka becomes involved with the discussion suggesting the other world seems more like a dream. She says there’s nothing wrong with having the illusion of coffee’s taste and smell. “It doesn’t matter at all if you’re dreaming of a butterfly or if the butterfly is dreaming of being you.” Ayato is surprised by this, only to hear Haruka follow up and say, “If you can believe that what you feel is real, then isn’t this the real world?” This is followed by a match cut of Haruka’s chest and Ayato’s face, watching. Haruka says Ayato is fortunate since he doesn’t have to fight or suffer in silence anymore. “This is your world that you feel.”
The figure in the void stumbles and turns toward the camera. She is clearly female and clearly a Mulian with the ornate Mayan-themed helmet that she wears.
Ayato comes out of his flash to find himself on top of Haruka. Her hair is tussled and her clothes shifted around. A downward shift, shows Ayato and us that he is holding her shoulder with one hand and Haruka’s breast with the other. This has passed the level of suggestive, passing fully into the realm of sexual fantasy. Ayato notices, still by way of the camera, that he’s straddled her, though their pants are still on for the moment.
Ayato is shocked and repulsed to see this. He says he’s sorry and pulls his hand away from Haruka’s chest, but Haruka grabs Ayato’s hand and forces him to keep touching her. A side shot reveals this is all happening in the same hip club where the same hip guy is still smoking the same hip cigarette. Haruka reassures Ayato, “You don’t have to restrain yourself. Why don’t you just be a man? It doesn’t matter that I’m older than you. You shouldn’t hold back.”
Ayato says he’s not restraining himself, he’s not suffering in silence. Haruka says, “Liar.” No matter what he tells himself, Haruka says he can’t hide it, she says everyone knows. He leans up and sees a painting of an angel blessing a woman. The angel, winged and illuminated by a halo, turns, offering a hand to Ayato. His eyes widen and he flips over, destroying the booth where he and Haruka have been spending time together.
A moment later, Haruka becomes the aggressor, climbing on top of Ayato. “What do you want to do?” she asks. “Can’t you play the music already? What about tuning?” He says, “No more.” We again see our friend, the Mulian, as she takes a clumsy step closer to us.
Outside, looking at the building the RahXephon was initially standing behind, Ayato stands alone. He wants to go home.
Ayato takes a ride to a park. He rides in an empty bus, left to stare at his hand. An announcer says not to leave things behind and that it’s dangerous to move from seat to seat. The painting Ixtli stood in front of is on the side of the bus as it begins to drive away. Ayato is left in Shakujii Park. He goes home and stares at the names of him and his mother.
The Mulian in the void takes a couple more steps forward, enough where we can see she has long hair. She’s close enough to fill the screen, top to bottom. Also, these Mulian flashes are all full screen.
Kind, matronly Maya Kamina opens the door, welcoming her son home. Ayato is surprised that his mother made dinner for the two of them, since she’s usually busy with work. They have a mundane discussion about the flavor of the meal while a TV report tells about a pair of chimpanzees that use vending machines. They put coins in the machines by themselves to buy juice; their keeper hopes they will one day clean up the cans and their enclosure as well.
The TV then says, “Ayato, Kamina Ayato, can you hear me?” It calls out to him, asking him to respond out loud if he can. The TV reporter, seen only in an instant, looks like Uncle Rikudo, though frequently interrupted by static. Since the TV has no way to know the state he’s in, it asks him to turn his suit to mode C. Reporter Rikudo says that if Ayato does not return, something terrible will happen. In the static, Ixtli is watching, replaced in the last flash by Haruka from the moment she gave Ayato a pair of gloves. Maya turns off the TV, remarking that the signal isn’t very good.
We get the closest view of the Mulian yet. She’s grinning and raising her hands maniacally.
Music, at last, returns with Ayato watching his hand again. He lies on his bed and his painting is covered with a cloth. Maya calls Ayato to take a telephone call. Mamoru asks what happened since Ayato just ran off on them, then says he’ll see Ayato at school tomorrow.
As Maya puts on lipstick and admires her reflection, Ayato tries to talk himself into accepting the world around him. He makes a long argument about not having to go through bad experiences or having to experience fear. He sits up, enraged, knowing that’s what his captor wants him to think. He starts throwing books off the shelves, finding that they are all blank inside. Ixtli calls out to Ayato and the wind picks up the edge of the cloth, showing that his canvas is not blank underneath.
In our normal, full screen world, Quon is freaking out, trying to wipe her mouth off without any success. Itsuki finds her and pulls her away from the mirror she’d been looking in.
Five hours have passed and many at TERRA HQ are debating what to do. Haruka is crushed, having pulled herself into a seated fetal position, crying to herself. Kim tells Megumi they shouldn’t give up. Haruka finds her resolve and takes Megumi’s earpiece after the younger Shitow fails to contact Ayato for the millionth time. Haruka declares, “I’m never giving up.”
Back in Ayato’s wide screen world, he is standing in front of his painting, even though the cloth is still covering it. Itxtli says he needs to find her and he sees a flash of Reika with her head turned. Maya grabs Ayato from behind, saying, “That’s right, you should listen to what your mother says.” The Mulian now takes up the entire screen in her flash, so much that she is all helmet, creepy grin, and nondescript female.
A Twin Peaks-style room with blue curtains and a checkered floor appears. Something is on a table, covered with a white cloth. A younger Maya plays with a child Ayato while her voice says, “You are the rightful instrumentalist of the RahXephon. That is what you were born as.” The blocks the child is playing with have been assembled into the shape of the Kamina home. Maya tells Ayato a great deal about the proper music, that it’s too soon for him to be improvising, that he cannot even properly tune the RahXephon yet. She isn’t surprised since everything’s confused Ayato. He sees the sketch he drew on the canvas in his first scene of Episode One.
When Maya says, “I gave birth to you and you’ll stay by my side,” the Mulian appears, but she is grimacing. Her grin is gone, replaced with sheer anger. Maya lies on the floor, with Ayato looking on. She holds her stomach and asks, “Is that any way to treat your mother?”
Ayato says it’s not alright. He says Maya has never objected to him in any way, not even when he wanted to be a painter. The blocks the child played with have been scattered and the clothes the child Ayato and the younger Maya wore lie empty. Ayato says when he wanted Maya to be with and near him she was NEVER there. Maya says she was working for Ayato’s sake, so he might be safe. He says to stay away and runs off. Maya is left alone, crying, saying “You are my son.”
Ayato runs blindly until everything stops and the drop of water on the black field returns. He finds Ixtli/Reika in a forest by a pond. Ayato runs to her and she is glad they’ve met again. He tells her that he wants to go home, he doesn’t care if it’s in the real world or not, but the place he’s in is creepy and surreal. It may be the world he wished for, but he hates it. Ixtli tells Ayato to be quiet, instructing him that, in the real world, there will be things he will want to turn away from, but if he can accept them…
She shoves her hand down Ayato’s throat, taking out a long length of stone. Water is thrust into the air as his cockpit appears. Ixtli says, “You will leave this place yourself. Of your own will.” Ayato takes his seat and the sunset fades, replaced by blue curtains, which are soon drawn up. He thanks her and the RahXephon’s Eyes of Truth open.
The RahXephon has had a tube from the Dolem shoved in its mouth. The titan grabs the tube, causing the contents to back up and the connection to explode. The halo of the time distortion cracks, spewing blue blood. TERRA’s screens clear, they read the RahXephon intact and Ayato alive.
The RahXephon rips the wings from the Dolem, then punches through the Dolem’s mouth. We see the creepy, stumbling Mulian again long enough to see her rip in half. A moment later, the Dolem also rips in half and explodes in a flare of blue blood. In my pausing to type this paragraph, I saw something and had to take a picture with my iPhone:
I know it’s a little fuzzy, but, would you say that was a woman’s face? It explodes out into the aforementioned butterfly that was dreaming it was Ayato. While part of this is rote symbology, I have to say finding that face was something astonishing for me. It’s the face of the Mulian, which I will admit is a telling clue. Since this is here, I will say something more about Dolems and Mulians in my wrap up.
Megumi says Ayato is amazing, then sees Haruka’s hands holding back words, cheering, or some other raw emotion. Regardless, she cares deeply for Ayato and Megumi can see it. Ayato, in the cockpit, looks at his hand, much like he did in the dream. Then he looks up and sees home in a haunting shot of the RahXephon standing in the air, dwarfed by Tokyo Jupiter.
A full medical team is assembled around Quon. She whispers, “Found you… my Ollin.”
Let’s start with the easy topic, the Mulian and the Dolem. Aside from my earlier remarks, there’s something very important being shown here, though out of context. What I will gladly tell you at this point, from the evidence shown, is that between the Mulian and the Dolem, there are three deaths shown. Three, not two, not one, three.
First, the Dolem. Ayato punches it in the mouth, bisecting it. Then, death two, the Mulian. Even though she’s in her existential realm, she is also bisected in a flurry blue blood. That leaves us with the third. The face in the Dolem’s explosion of blood, that’s who I’m after. That’s the third death. It’s not just a symbol, though it is presented in a symbolic context. Knowing the full context of the series, I’m telling you, this isn’t just a subjective image. I will not give you the full context, at least, not right now.
This episode is LOADED with foreshadowing. LOADED.
Mamoru and Asahina. The way they act around each other and the way they act separately with Ayato. Mamoru’s call. Asahina’s hand.
Haruka, even though she was very un-Haruka-like. It’s presented in a very aggressive and sexual context, but there are some things Haruka says, things that point to Haruka’s story and to Ayato’s. Haruka’s presence alone is foreshadowing.
Maya. Maya trying to be the perfect mother. Looking in the mirror. Holding Ayato and showing him things. That Twin Peaks room. The image of Uncle Rikudo as the TV reporter; it’s him, he’s just dressed like Gendo Ikari. The stoic and direct message the TV reporter gives Ayato (it sounds to me like something Kunugi would say, which is why I mention it).
The depiction of the people around Ayato. The two little girls running past. Quon looking in a mirror. Everything with the Mulian.
Think about all those things and you’ll have a good idea of what’s to come. This isn’t just foreshadowing, it’s good, detailed foreshadowing, presented in such an unspecific, dreamlike context that it can’t be easily put together. I’ll leave it at that. Go find some answers, or at least some questions. Then we will look deeper into The Black Egg.