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Anime: RahXephon

It's 2015, and Ordinary High-School Student Ayato Kamina lives in a sharply delimited world. Three years earlier, something happened that enclosed Tokyo in an impenetrable shell. As far as Ayato and the other inhabitants of the city are concerned, the rest of the world simply vanished, and they are all that is left. His painting, and getting by day-to-day while his widowed mother spends all her time on her secret job for the government are more important to him. At least, until mysterious invaders pass through the barrier and attack Tokyo with advanced fighters while strange, sculpture-like war machines protect the city.

In the midst of that attack, two women enter his life. The first, Haruka Shitow, claims to be there to "rescue" him and take him out of walled-in Tokyo. The second is Reika Mishima, a strange girl who looks like she just stepped out of the most recent painting Ayato has been working on. Reika approaches the boy and sets him on his way to discovering RahXephon, a giant robot as sculptural as the weapons defending the skies above, encased in a giant "egg" deep below the city. But when Ayato awakens and bonds with RahXephon, his life will never be the same again.

Inspired by the 1970s mecha show Brave Raideen and heavily inspired by science fiction literature (The Dandelion Girl), most Western audiences will compare it to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Where Evangelion is about dysfunction and despair cloaked in Kaballah and Judeo-Christian religion, RahXephon is about transcendence and revelation, blending music, gorgeous imagery and Mayan lore to produce a result that is thematically the total opposite to the bleakness of Evangelion's climax. Despite the two series having plot points which are suspiciously similar, RahXephon stands in its own right as a Super Robot series, one that is much-preferred over Evangelion by some fans.

See also Eureka Seven and Star Driver, other mecha productions by Studio BONES (the latter of which takes quite a few cues from RahXephon).

There be spoilers below!

This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Movie version, Pluralitas Concentio, to varying degrees of effectiveness; threads that were easy to lose over the course of the series are now easier to grasp, but many are cut, a few are changed and some double up on themselves, partly as a result of using both new and old material. As an example of the last, at one point there is new material where Ayato and Haruka have sex. One scene later, in series material, he's asking Megumi if Haruka currently has a boyfriend.
    • Worth noting is that he does indeed stop whining after getting laid, potentially answering the eternal question of whether this would have worked with Shinji.
  • A God Am I:
    • Ayato, when he merges with the RahXephon.
    • Bähbem considers himself a god by way of creating the RahXephon system.
      • Played for irony when Futagami shoots him in the back right before the tuning.
  • Alien Blood: Mulians have blue blood after a "Mu phase" in their genes activates. It's used for symbolism, "blue blood" being a metaphor indicating royal or noble status.
  • All There in the Manual: The only Dolem actually named during the anime itself are Allegretto (repeatedly) and Fortissimo and Falsetto (once each).
  • Alternate Continuity: Manga, TV, movie and a game with 40 alternative endings; there is also a print novel series based on the TV version.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: "Dolems", "Xephon", "Vermillions".
    • Though the only true mechs appear to the advanced jet aircraft present in the show. The others have squishy organic parts, or are made of clay. The Dolems in particular seem to share health pools with a Mulian "pilot". And even the Vermillions are eventually revealed to be mass-produced Dolems that have been outfitted with suits of mech-like armor to allow normal humans to pilot them.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Cathy.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Mu and Bähbem have been planning for millennia.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the time the tuning occurs, the only main cast members still alive are Futagami, Rikudoh, Megumi, Watari, Quon, and Ayato. Maya and Haruka are technically alive, but are both physically dead.
  • Arc Words: "The world is saturated with sound."
  • The Atoner: Kunugi's motivation for joining TERRA.
  • Babies Ever After: In the epilogue sequence.
  • Battle Butler: Episode 15 features one wielding what appears to be an MP 5.
  • Beach Episode: one subverted, one played straight.
  • Beam Spam: Kuku's massive (2.6 km long) Dolem "Largo." Used to maximum effect to shoot down a Macross Missile Massacre, where it literally just rains down beams non-stop for a half-second.
  • Beehive Barrier: The RahXephon's shields and the visuals from the cockpit appear as hexagonal grids.
  • Big Bad: Ernst von Bähbem
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A metric ton of them, but the most prominent one is Mamoru.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Played with. Megumi and Ayato show signs of this from basically the fourth episode, including most of the cliched signs, but while Megumi seems to actually be interested about midway through, she can't catch a break (see below). Played with for a less jerkass Ayato (who becomes so through Character Development) and a far more deredere Haruka.
  • Book Ends: Ayato's painting. It also takes it a step further and, after the ending credits, shows the original inspiration for the painting that kicked-off the whole show.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: In twenty-six episodes, only once does the Rah Xephon suffer more than a scratch, and even then, the fight is barely more than a few seconds. However, the enemy was never actually trying to destroy or even capture it, but lead Ayato to Yolteotl. The one time where he might've been in danger was the first time Obligatto showed up and, even then, Mamoru waited so he could betray Ayato in front of him to cause him a blue screen. By their second encounter, Ayato is way beyond Mamoru's league.
  • Bridge Bunnies:
    • Subverted by an even gender mix, and individuals have whole episodes dedicated to them.
    • Deconstructed. The reason Megumi and Kim signed up with TERRA despite being so young is because the former is implied to have severe problems with school and eventually dropped out, and the latter is looking for revenge against the Mu due to losing her parents in one of their attacks.
    • Lampshaded by the line, "Whoa, check out the sweet new bridge bunny."
  • Butt Monkey / Love Hurts: Megumi Shitow can not catch a break in love. Fellow coworker Souichi? Too bad, taken by coworker Kim. Ayato? Your sister's got you by a 15-year lead.
  • Catfight: A brief one between Elvy and Cathy over who Ayato's going to sketch next. But, really, they were just having a fun day at the beach.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The only character that has a reused face is Isshiki's, and that's justified because he's part of a mass-produced clone series.
  • Cherry Blossoms: The "death" mythos is played with; one conversation jokingly mentions that if a human buried under the tree turns the petals red, would a Mulian (who have blue blood) turn the petals blue? This becomes somewhat of a Brick Joke near the end.
  • City in a Bottle: Tokyo Jupiter
  • Cloning Blues: Several characters, Isshiki in particular and Ayato in the manga.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Humans are red, Mulians are blue.
    • Also, Elvy's squadron: her plane is vermilion, her wingmates are green. This carries over when they get their Mid-Season Upgrade mechs.
  • Combo Platter Powers: The Obligatto, in addition to the standard Dolem Magic Music, also has a Disc-Dolem to carry it around, Super Speed extensible claws, and a third arm.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: With in-story relevance as Ayato achieves Yolteotl.
  • Cool Plane: The Vermillions seem to straddle the line between this and mecha. The Seishin definitely count and can be equipped with rather bulky Mecha Expansion Pack.
  • Compilation Movie: With series and new footage.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: From his first appearance it was clear that Jouji Futagami was more than just a nosy photo journalist. He goes on to solidify his badassness in the finale when he, of all people, kills Big Bad Ernst von Bähbem.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Tokyo Jupiter, as becomes very clear in episodes 17 and 18.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Quon speaks like this most of the time, and the Bähbem foundation isn't much better. Heck, everyone other than the protagonist has a bad habit of doing this until the plot threads start untangling (at which point he starts doing it from all the revelations coming his way).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much every single fight between the RahXephon and a Dolem ends in only a few seconds, not including fights where Ayato is being Mind Raped. This goes double whenever RahXephon goes berserk.
  • Dangerous Seventeenth Birthday: "Instrumentalists" gain the ability to pilot a Dolem at a certain age.
  • Declaration of Protection: A major theme, especially towards the end.
  • Deranged Animation: Allegretto in particular is generally drawn against extremely realistic backgrounds that make it look incredibly eerie.
  • Deus Est Machina: Both the Ayato and Quon!RahXephons.
  • Deus ex Machina: Deus Est Machina Literallynote , and the episode is even named "Deus ex Machina". It avoids being an Ass Pull and works fairly well, though, bucking the trope.
  • Dramatic Irony: See Hilarious in Hindsight. Played with Asahina.
  • Dramatic Wind
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: ...with an energy-absorbing Dolem invoked to justify it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how!
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dolems and the titular mecha.
  • "End of the World" Special: Ayato essentially remakes the universe through the tuning. As noted directly above, this is a very good thing.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Tied in with a 2012 explanation, even!
  • Erotic Dream: The surreal fantasy that Ayato gets trapped in. He has a minor Freak Out when dream!Haruka starts making advances on him.
  • Esperanto, the Universal Language: TERRA is supposed to be an Esperanto acronym: "Tereno Empireo Rapidmova Reakcii Armeo", which allegedly means "Earth Empire Rapid Response Army", but "Armeo" is the only correct word in that phrase; the rest is Esperanto-sounding gibberish. If it was accurate, it would be "Tero Imperio Rapida Respondo Armeo", which gets you TIRRA.
  • The Everyman: Ayato.
  • Everyone Is Related: Roughly the whole cast, at any rate.
  • Evil Albino: Makoto Isshiki.
  • Evolving Credits: The RahXephon itself was shown as a silhouette with glowing eyes in the opening until a few episodes in. Later on the members of the Bähbem Foundation and the Vermillion pilots work their way into the credits too.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Shirow Watari has a rather unique one.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Jouji Futagami.
  • Expy: Several characters have a definite resemblance to those of Neon Genesis Evangelion with fewer mental problems. In particular, Haruka is a lot like Misato, being similarly a competent military official with some Man Child mannerisms, although Haruka isn't really a Hard-Drinking Party Girl- her best friend is. Said friend also happens to wear the same cross necklace Misato has.
  • Face Fault
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Subverted; Ayato was guided to the RahXephon, and before that, was being groomed to be its pilot. He just didn't know he was being led there.
  • Fantastic Romance: Probably one of the best-kept secrets of the show until half way through the series.
  • Fanservice: The entire last half of Chapter 3 of the manga shows three female characters wearing nothing but bikinis. It even goes as far as to show Haruka Shitow and Sayako Nanamori stripping right in front of Ayato.
  • First Church of Mecha: The Mu, fully justified since the RahXephon is a god.
  • First Girl Wins: In an odd way, as Haruka was Ayato's sweetheart several years back, but he was given amnesia and due to the time dilation, she ended up several years older than him- but they still end up together; Asahina, the seeming "first girl" doesn't end up with Ayato.
  • Floating Continent: The Mu's flying cities.
  • Freeze Sneeze
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Elvy to Haruka.
  • Ghost Butler: the shrine in episode nine.
  • Golem: Most of the mechas in the show are made of clay, and the enemy ones are even called "Dolems".
  • Grand Theft Me: this is how Bähbem manages to stay alive for so long.
  • Gratuitous Nahuatl: ...particularly in terminology relating to the RahXephon.
  • Harem Series: While not a traditional harem anime per se, RahXephon does feature a fair number of female characters who show interest in Ayato, live with him, and/or act jealous when they see him with other girls.
  • Heroic BSOD: Ayato has one after he learns about Asahina's death. We aren't shown what happens, but it's noted that he was found with her body, "in a state of extreme emotional distress", and had to be physically restrained by the TERRA personnel sent to recover him.
  • Hot Scientist: One of each gender.
  • Humongous Mecha: Goes without saying.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Inverted; Ayato does well in a dogfight game because he has learned to fly with the RahXephon.
    • Of course, the seasoned fighter pilot still kicks his butt in said game.
      • Which is the same inverted trope.
  • Innocent Innuendo: An early episode has Megumi in bed kind of shaking and laughing in bed telling someone that if they "go down there" they will have to take responsibility for it- turns out she's talking to the cat.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Haruka and Ayato, once in the anime, twice in the movie.
  • Intimate Healing: In the movie, Ayato is shown in a TERRA brig after attacking the team sent to recover him after Asahina's death; see Heroic BSOD. Haruka comes to talk to him... and the conversation leads to something else.
  • Irony: Tons of it. There's the above Hilarious in Hindsight, Mamoru means "to protect" in Japanese this is something Ayato does, and what Mamoru himself fails at because of his extreme Jerkassery.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: ...of the good variety, not the Ass Pull variety.
  • Kill 'em All: Subverted at the last second.
  • Kill the Cutie: Asahina.
  • Large Ham: Masayoshi Kuki. It's debatable whether he destroys more scenery by chewing or by Beam Spam.
  • Latex Space Suit: Ayato's pilot suit.
  • Leitmotif: The soundtrack uses a few songs with variations. Also, the way Reika shows up (almost always in a higher place than Ayato) can be a visual form of this.
  • Limited Wardrobe: justified with the work and military uniforms, not so much with Megumi's favorite tube-top and shorts ensemble.
    • Played with hilariously with Ayato's borrowed "winter" clothing, a green ensemble that resembles stock elf clothing, and is womens clothing.
  • Love Triangle: Several of them; if you include non-romantic love it becomes a Love Dodecahedron.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Nearly everyone is related to each other by blood or adoption.
  • Luminescent Blush: Megumi, and others from time to time.
  • Magic Music: Used by Dolems and the Xephon to send messages or attack.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: See Magic Music above. Being heavily based on Raideen, this is pretty much a requirement.
  • May-December Romance: After a certain point, it seems like this for Ayato and Haruka. Turns out to be much more complicated.
  • The Men in Black: The generic Mulian agents in Tokyo Jupiter.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The RahXephon gains access to a vast array of new weapons and abilities and Elvy's squadron's planes are replaced with Vermillions, human-made mechas designed to imitate Dolems.
  • Mind Screw: If you don't pay attention, you'll probably end up feeling this way about the Grand Finale. It's even worse in the movie version.
  • Monogender Monsters: The Dolems are all feminine except for two, and have women instrumentalists.
  • Monster of the Week: Though most of them make repeat appearances.
  • Motion Capture Mecha
  • Multinational Team: TERRA
  • My Grandson Myself: An interesting take on this; technically the "new" Bähbems are descendants of the original, but he overwrites their personality with his own when his current body gets too old. When his latest intended host, Isshiki, turned out to be a dud, he Body Surfed into his Opposite-Sex Clone, Helena.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Ayato
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The RahXephon.
  • Nice Hat: The Mulians piloting the Dolems all wear elaborate, mask-like headdresses that leave only the lower part of the face exposed.
  • Not a Date: Ayato and Megumi, but they're aware of what it looks like and get very flustered when asked.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Ayato has some explaining to do when Megumi sees him coming home with Quon.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted. A hydrogen bomb was used in the first Mu-Human war.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Jouji Futagami
  • Oh, Crap: Isshiki gets one when he brings down the Tokyo Jupiter barrier, only to find things...not going to plan. Well, his plan anyway.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Two of them.
  • Oracular Urchin: Quon
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Anyone in the cast under twenty. Literally. The only exception is during the flashback episode.
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Pay Phone: not only is one still present in 2027, but it magically manages to work and deliver a convenient call to a passing-by Ayato not five minutes after Haruka states that the phones in the area aren't working.
  • Perpetual Molt: One of the series's dominant images is a storm of feathers every time the RahXephon unfurls its wings.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Cathy, the hot-tempered, non-spiritual, rock-and-roll playing American.
  • Pose of Supplication: The RahXephon in episode 3. Justified somewhat in that it's on a large ship at sea, which would make standing a bit of an issue.
  • Power Crystal: And how! Just about any Dolem of importance has a few on it. One whole episode revolves around one and what it can do in the wrong hands.
  • Refusal of the Call: Ayato refusing to pilot the RahXephon in episode 5 and telling Ixtli to go shove it when she later tells him about his role in the tuning. He comes around both times though.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After losing Ayato to Tokyo Jupiter, Haruka beings dating Itsuki because he's actually Ayato's clone and looks exactly like him. Their relationship implodes because, well, he's not Ayato.
    • Ayato does the same thing (inadvertently) with Ixtli, who takes on Haruka's appearance in order to guide Ayato to the RahXephon and to protect him once he starts piloting it.
    • Probably also Mamoru with Megumi since he notes her similarity to his old love Asahina and pretty much throws himself at her.
  • Reset Button Ending: Ayato remakes the world, repairing the dimensional split and modifying history so he ends up with Haruka.
  • Ret Gone: Ayato erases Bähbem and the Mu from existence, allowing everyone who otherwise went through Mu Phase (Mamoru, Itsuki, Asahina, Maya, Quon, himself, et al.) to live normal lives as humans.
  • Say My Name: Haruka shouts "Ayato!" quite a bit.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses
  • Sinister Shades
  • Second Episode Morning
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The ultimate purpose of the RahXephon
  • She's All Grown Up: Haruka, though the exact implications of the situation don't make their full impact until the end of the series.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Megumi and Ayato.
  • Shout-Out: To Japanese science fiction movies, and at least one each to Sailor Moon and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • Haruka Shitow is a defender of love and justice! This gets spectacularly hilarious in Super Robot Wars MX where she interacts with Misato from Eva, who also voiced a member of the team. And they talk about the Nobel Gundam, who wears a sailor-looking outfit.
    • There's a reason some people call this show "Evangelion without the angst". You can basically count at least one obligatory reference per episode. To say nothing of how the characters are less wangsty versions of Evangelion characters, or at least aspects of these characters.
  • Shower of Angst: Elvy, after Donny gets sliced to pieces by Obbligato.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A sweet, romantic tune plays in episode 19 while Ayoto curbstomps a Dolem and unknowingly brutally kills his friend Asahina, who is connected to the Dolem.
  • Smug Snake: Makoto Isshiki, who is actually referred to as a snake.
    • Haruka even doodled a snake-Isshiki picture that briefly got her fired.
  • Spanner in the Works: Haruka Shitow to Maya's plans.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • The Mexican Spanish version of the manga adaptation spells RahXephon as Raazefon.
    • The Kanji for Quon would normally be transliterated into English as Kuon, since Q doesn't exist in Japanese. Also, Shitow and Shirow are properly spelled with a U, not a W.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 70's Super Robot series Brave Raideen. It appears in two Super Robot Wars games, Super Robot Wars MX and Scramble Commander 2, both times with Raideen and with a connection between the two.
  • Standing in the Hall: Kisaragi jokingly threatens Ayato and Kim with this when they're bickering like school children.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land:
    • Ayato has this happen to him several times.
    • Asahina has this happen to her when she begins to notice how strange everything is in Tokyo Jupiter
  • Synchronization: Definitely the case with the Dolems; seems to be the case with the Xephon, though it's not clear.
  • Super Robot Wars: MX. Includes a truly demented Player Punch: the player is forced to reenact Ayato killing Asahina.
  • Take Five
  • Tangled Family Tree: Just trying to diagram Ayato's family tree is sure to induce a headache. It's made even worse by the whole Year Inside, Hour Outside effect. And it completely changes with each iteration (series, manga, and movie).
  • Theme Naming: Almost all Dolems are named after music terms and many minor characters also have Numerical Theme Naming.
  • Throw Away Guns: After futilely emptying a magazine into an apparition of Ayato, Kim Hotal does this at it and then breaks down crying in the penultimate episode. Just to rub it in, the gun doesn't even reach it.
  • Time Travel: Sorta...
  • Tomato in the Mirror: No less than three of them, including Ayato himself.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Weird one with Haruka (girly girl) and Megumi (Tsundere), who're siblings and both have feelings for Ayato: Megumi has a crush while Haruka has deeper feelings that have endured despite more than a decade of separation. Megumi mildly pouts this fact. Haruka has her Action Girl moments, and Megumi is still pretty girly.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Makoto Isshiki
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome
  • Universe Compendium: RahXephon Bible, although it only covers the first half of the series.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Isshiki's need to prove himself turns him into one of these.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Isshiki gets one towards the end after one of his plans backfires spectacularly.
  • Waif Prophet: Quon. And freaking how.
  • Weirdness Censor: The whole city of Tokyo Jupiter late in the series; justified by Mulian mind control.
  • Winged Humanoid: The RahXephon is meant to invoke this. Subversion is that the wings on are its head. Played straighter with the "God" RahXephons.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Near the end of the series, Ayato accidentally kills Souichi and Elvy in a moment of Power Incontinence as the new RahXephon. Elvy goes mostly unmentioned, but Kim is not happy at all about Souichi. Not that she can do anything about it.
  • World-Healing Wave: At the series finale, Ayato's choice creates one.
  • X Meets Y: Raideen meets Evangelion while replacing Kabbalah with Mesoamerican lore and Freudian elements with existential and musical ones.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time passes six times faster in the outside world than it does inside Tokyo Jupiter.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Mostly averted, and then you see Quon... Her sister Maya, too.
  • Zip Me Up: Done between Ayato and Quon in the fourth episode.

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alternative title(s): Rah Xephon
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