Tuning My Memory: Rewatching Anime in 2010 featuring RahXephon and the Memory of Evangelion

Rahxephon_03
Rewatching shows is a fundamental part of my anime hobby. The primary reason is to remember the good times, the excitement, the love I experienced watching my favorite shows. Rewatches are a big part of updating my list of favorites. Sometimes, I rewatch shows to confirm my opinion of them, sometimes to validate these opinions and feelings in relation to those I’ve encountered elsewhere.

I reread manga too, though this year I’ve only done so for Genshiken, which resulted in some thinking on my part, discussed elsewhere.

Show’s I’ve rewatched this year:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • RahXephon
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00
  • Summer Wars
  • Diebuster!
  • I Can Hear the Sea
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love? (must watch every 9/11)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory
  • Macross Frontier
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack
  • Bakemonogatari

I am due to rewatch Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket. Why? Because it’s important to watch it every Christmas.

Summer Wars I kept rewatching because I had people to share it with. Bakemonogatari I rewatched due to the BD release as well as to refresh myself when the finale finally was released. Macross Frontier I rewatched due to my drawn-out behind-schedule episodic blogging for it. Some are habitual rewatches, but some are conscious and thought-out choices.

These most significant rewatches I’ve had:

I’ve discussed the previous three extensively, so I’ll focus on RahXephon here.

Rahxephon13_07
First of all, I’ve always liked RahXephon. I saw it back in 2005 and immediately got taken by the gorgeous character designs, and the pathos of the female characters, especially Haruka Shitow.

The beautifully illustrated robots, ships, and weapons didn’t hurt either. The action was quite violent, and the show didn’t pull its punches when it came to killing off characters and people in general.

banksy hollywood show elephant in the room
Second, I’ll address the elephant in the room. The guy who recommended RahXephon to me, specifically said this:

It’s much better than Evangelion, man.

I was skeptical, and pissed off (somehow it felt what he said was actually more hyperbolic than that). Apart from SDF Macross, Neon Genesis Evangelion is my most favorite anime ever. However, as I watched RahXephon I acknowledged (then) how it felt like a cleaner, more compact, and more dramatically sympathetic version of Eva.

It didn’t need an End of Evangelion movie to wrap itself up, and it had a feel-good end to boot. At the time I was besieged with Eva backlash and I felt like I really should agree with the heavy criticism leveled at the show.

After thinking about it, I loved Haruka Shitow, I do not rave about RahXephon as a whole. Not to say I thought badly of it, I thought, and still think it’s quite a good show. I was just pissed off at the assertion that it was “so much better than Eva.”

Well, this year I rewatched both TV series.

Eva is God Tier.

RahXephon is Eva lite (not to say it is a clone).

Yes, this is a biased, unfair assertion. But I stand by it. I know there are statements by experts and insiders disputing this (Sadamoto’s comments are remarkable in that Space Runaway Ideon is known to be an inspiration for Eva), but I don’t care. That’s their reading and interpretation, and they do little for me.

I don’t want to get into much of the similarities in content, motifs, themes, and the like. Not only do the similarities exist, they exist in the relatively long tradition of robot anime. Eva just put things together a certain way (bred/modified teenaged pilots/weapons are also a significant part of Gundam, see Mobile Suit Z Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team, Mobile Suit Gundam Ecolé du Ciel, Mobile Suit Gundam 00), and RahXephon is similar in this.

So, never mind how Dolems behave like Angels (in the “anti-robot enemy of the week” kind of hovering menacingly instead of rampaging goofily and causing physical and psychic devastation bit). Never mind how the lead pilot had to kill a friend while piloting unknowingly.  Never mind how one of the Dolems pulled down the robot and the pilot into a dream space and had most of an episode play out in a disturbing dream.

evangelion vs rahxephon boob grope
I’m more concerned about Ayato crouched over Haruka exactly how Shinji was crouched over Rei, holding one of her boobs almost the same way. If you look at the scenes above, Rahxephon plays it in reverse, showing the crouching silhouette of the male after showing the groped breast. Also, Rahxephon used Ayato’s right hand, while Eva used Shinji’s left. In Eva, Shinji pulled away. In RahXephon Haruka pulled Ayato closer, and the whole scene was part of a dream.

evangelion vs rahxephon congratulations
I’m more concerned about the similar surreal congratulations montage at the finale (though it had more confessions of love). I’m more concerned at how after the wings of light of the lead robot remade the world similar to the Third Impact (in End of Evangelion), and how the final scene was on a beach.

rahxephon vs evangelion beach end
Themes and “deep” content are, to me the less damning thing to copy. Both shows have very complicated and confusing mythologies. In both cases I really understood very little until the very end (I still struggle with RahXephon, not having read much in terms of wiki entries and related paratext). The other cool elements kept me watching. These things can be found in many, many other shows, arranged and combined in both similar and different ways. The more “superficial” similarities I present here, outside the context of parody and/or homage, are rather jarring to behold, at times very annoying.

I actually maintain that the feeling of derivation cannot be dismissed because of these visual nuances used by RahXephon. But before we get carried away, I do not hate it. I think it’s quite a beautiful show.

Can RahXephon be enjoyed without having seen Eva? Yes, actually possibly a better way to enjoy it even. I think there are four (greater) probabilities:

  • Saw Eva first, loved it. RahXephon feels like a rip-off
  • Saw Eva first, hated much of it. RahXephon feels like a clearer experience, and is consequently appreciated more.
  • Did not see Eva prior to seeing RahXephon. Is confused as fuck and hates it/indifferent to it and consequently Eva.
  • Did not see Eva prior to seeing RahXephon. Loved it, saw Eva after and thought RahXephon superior anyway.

Of course there are other possibilities. I just thought these were the probable ones. No I don’t have statistics or science to back me up, so I can be terribly mistaken. I’ll take my chances.

I’m in the first probability. However, as much as RahXephon feels like a rip-off, I don’t actually believe that it is. I believe it remembers love for Eva, and does so habitually and does it well. I don’t believe that Eva is it’s only, or even primary inspiration, but I do think that the comparison is fair. It cannot be dismissed.

RahXephon - 12 [HQA&ANBU][CC97CD90].avi_snapshot_04.32_[2010.10.22_21.46.08]
Now having put that all behind me, I can properly remember love for the sad and beautiful RahXephon, which works so well on the emotional level. In Evangelion I loved how shocking it was both emotionally and cerebrally. Here in RahXephon I am wrought by the love stories, the waiting, the unrequited love, the unrequited and the dead. The bitterness, and the finally finding love at last (and a prosperous life and family too!).

Shows I intend to rewatch next year:

  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross (pending completion of galaxy network subs)
  • Eureka SeveN (I’ve never rewatched this, and given how much I love it, it’s due for a rewatch)
  • Cowboy Bebop (it’s been a long time. I miss my friends.)

I suppose I can’t discourage you from discussing the RahXephon-Evangelion relationship, but I’m just as interested in finding out:

  1. Do you rewatch shows? What are your reasons? What are your reasons for not rewatching?
  2. What are the significant rewatching experiences you’ve had. What changed?

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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65 Responses to Tuning My Memory: Rewatching Anime in 2010 featuring RahXephon and the Memory of Evangelion

  1. Like everyone, I saw all the people saying RahX was an Eva clone long before I watched RahX.

    Of course I saw the same things you saw, because that’s exactly what I look for. I saw a lot of moments that made me say ‘oh yeah, that looks exactly like a scene from Eva’. One scene looked like the fight from the first ep and even had similar music. And of course, you know I loved that fact.

    Studio Bones is my favorite anime studio largely because of stuff like this. In every show they do, they wear their influences on their sleeves. Gainax does the same, but the difference is that Gainax is influenced by old anime, and Bones are influenced by old anime + Gainax anime. Which, to me, is like Gainax+, which is the only thing that could be better than Gainax.

    All of that is neither here nor there. I felt no reason to compare the two series beyond stylistic superficialities, even if they deserved to be. I simply didn’t react the same way to RahX as I did to Eva, like, at all. What Eva meant to me is something very specific, and for all the similarities in the show, it never touched on the feelings I had for Eva. When it came time to look back on the series, I no longer had any inkling to think about how it was or wasn’t like Eva because, to me, the issue just wasn’t worthwhile.

    Also, I totally forgot it existed, but my RahXephon post was probably the best post I did in 2008. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if I rewatched it now, but my memories of the show haven’t changed from this: http://myswordisunbelievablydull.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/rahxephon-i-watched/

  2. animekritik says:

    My memory is so muddled the only thing I remember rewatching this year is Gunbuster. I get the feeling I watched other stuff but I just can’t remember. Rewatching helps me understand the plot points better, as I’m not a good observer to begin with.

    If I have time next year I’ll definitely rewatch Bebop too…

    And BTW, I know it wasn’t your intention, but as a big Eva fan I do NOT want to watch RahXephon after reading this post.

    • gwern says:

      As an Eva fan and owner of RaxhXephon, I suddenly feel the urge to go watch RahXephon again.

      It’s a little hard to explain why I liked RahXephon so much that I actually bought it (one of perhaps 4 anime I’ve ever purchased).

      I think it’s simply this: RahXephon feels polished and consistent, a finished product. There is no breakdown at the end. You get the feeling that the writers never had to, like the writers of Eva 2.0, pull in an outsider even as they continued to debate hugely important things like ‘what should we have Mari do?’ – that there was no frantic improvisation and retconning and lying to the public.

      But what the makers of RahXephon were aiming at was fundamentally a lesser target than Eva. Eva was a flawed work aimed at a target lightyears away; RahXephon was a flawlessly executed visit to the Moon. It’s easy to dislike the former mission for its many problems – but we’ve already been to the Moon. How does one choose?

      I must admire and prefer Eva, because that’s the way I am. But another time, another place, and I’d prefer RahXephon.

      • gwern says:

        Oh, and to put myself in the categories: I saw Eva first, but also loved RahXephon. Sorry.

      • That’s a very eloquent articulation of the relationship of your appreciation.

        The dichotomy of liking only one at the expense of the other is a false one, yet I get the feeling it is prevalent.

        If I were to choose, I’m a sucker for ambition, despite my high regard for remakes, re-interpretations, retellings, and execution of formula.

    • Unfortunately it’s going to be difficult to distinguish watching RahXephon IF you’re a big Eva fan. I certainly cannot not compare them.

      I too am not as good an observer as I want to be, which makes rewatches more valuable and enjoyable for me.

  3. omo says:

    As someone who is target for trolling back in the days of “it’s an eva clone” I’m squarely in the camp of those who think Eva is God Tier, and Rahxephon is actually nothing like Eva at all, and it is good in its own ways.

  4. Oh, also

    Do you rewatch shows? What are your reasons? What are your reasons for not rewatching?

    What are the significant rewatching experiences you’ve had. What changed?

    I rewatch for muchly the same reasons you do, although I summarize it more as ‘perfecting my favorites list’. Anything I like, I want to rewatch at some point, or many points, into and throughout the future. It’s only hard because I’m a crazy bastard who wants to watch everything.

    The most significant rewatching experiences I had were probably all the stuff in my Epic Journey series, but besides that, stuff that I adored and then was disappointed by, and then liked again (Arjuna, Gurren Lagann) and stuff I didn’t care for so much at first, but came around full circle to being one of my top 5 anime of all time. (Lucky Star. Saw 11 eps while airing, liked some stuff, dropped it. Watched it all in 07, gave it a 6/10 (not as bad then as it is now). Rewatched in 08, gave it a 9, made my top 30. Rewatched in 2010, gave it a 10, made my top 5.)

  5. Jack says:

    My reasons for re-watching are slightly different. When I watch through a show, I tend to do it at my own pace (which is often very fast).

    Eventually though, if the shows good enough, I will feel the urge to show it to another person. In this way, I end up re-watching most of my shows (the good ones) at least twice, and sometimes more often then that.

    I’ve seen all the major Miyazaki moves about three times doing this and I’ve just started my fourth round of Monster. Introducing other people to these unique experiences is one of the reasons I watch anime.

    • Sharing the show with others is a big reason for rewatching indeed. I ended up watching Summer Wars 4 or 5 times in the year it came out because I kept sharing it with people.

      I have also watched the first 3 episodes of TTGL more times than any other human being alive or dead.

  6. megaroad1 says:

    Like most people I watched Eva first and only later came to see Rahxephon quite by chance. I have to admit that Rahxephon proved to be a pleasant surprise, specially considering how many people rip it for being an Evangelion clone.

    Rahxephon felt like it was a better production. More polished and crafted, one get’s the feeling that the director knew exactly were he was going with the story and the ending is ultimately very satisfying. And it looks amazing.

    Eva was more chaotic and “dirty” in many ways. But ultimately, it just took hold of you and never let you go. It just took these deeply flawed characters, built them up in front you, and then ripped them them to shreds. I can still remember the anxious wait between the release of each VHS tape (yeah I’m that old!) and the befuddled look on the face of my buddies when we watched the ending. Oh… the discussion and the debate “what does it all mean?” Ultimately I believe that NGE is one of the very vew anime were one can use the word “genius”.

    When it comes to rewatching shows, I have to say I’m quite demanding. Most of the time I only do when it’s either been a show I enjoyed a lot or when something new is come up (upgraded version, different subs or the like) that can give me a different experience. Every now and again I might give a show a second chance on a recommendation. But that happens very seldomly.

    The most significant rewatching experience I’ve had is Macross Plus. As a Macross fan, the first time I watched it back in the day, I was a bit dissapointed since I expected almost a continuation from SDFM, and was surprised at both the tone and content of Plus ( was blown away by the visuals though). Years later when I re watched I appreciated the simple yet dramatic storyline and loved the amazing soundtrack. I also noticed many little details that reminded me of Cowboy Bebop (no surprise there since the half the team behind Macross Plus worked on Bebop as well).

    • Good stuff.

      I’m a habitual rewatcher. For the past 2 years I’ve pretty much retired from video games which freed up so much of my time that I’ve fully applied to anime, manga, and blogging them.

      Instead of a quick game, I end up rewatching a random episode of anything I like. Sometimes I am more organized, and in these cases I have similar experiences like you had for Macross Plus.

  7. There’s no sense to when and if I re-watch things, except that the shorter it is, the likelier I am. Unsurprisingly. I never change my opinion substantially, it’s just a way to look for details or re-experience what you cannot recall as viscerally. Ersatz Madeleines.

    As for RahXephon, the only thing I particularly liked was that the plot was complicated, but coherent and easy to understand at the end. That takes skill to pull off, and RahXephon did it almost effortlessly. (Very cursory knowledge of Mayan mythology helped, I guess.) Otherwise it was nothing remarkable either way, and I was more annoyed by people who insisted in comparing it for good or bad with Evangelion than with the actual similarities with it. As if this connexion was the most significant (non-)part of RahXephon. And as if Evangelion would have been better off being more conventional, when that’s the exact part which it excels so at – being sui generis.

    • Haha.

      As much as I sympathize with your ambivalence to the inability of people to experience these show distinctly from each other, I cannot do so myself.

      It is (the connexion) however, a phenomenon, rather than something deeply essential I think.

  8. ILSAI says:

    I am really more of a rewatcher of anime than a watcher(I have rewatched SDF Macross once a year since I first saw it three years ago x_x). I primarily watch things for the effect they have on me or the places they send me to mentally. Rewatching flows from that in if I want to recapture the way I felt when I watched a certain thing I will just watch it again. Sometimes things do change for me though. I was fairly shocked when I rewatched FLCL(the anime that REALLY got me into anime, yeah I’m young) two years ago and found that instead of the intense elation I felt in my teens watching it I felt quite depressed and melancholy. I guess somewhere along the way the part of me that saw it as a refutation of seriousness gave way to another part that only saw a terribly lonely existence. I’ve not watched it again since and still get bothered when I think about the change. It feels as if I have lost some part of myself that I can never get back.

  9. TWWK says:

    Coincidentally, I just rewatched an episode of RahXephon – and it helped me remember how much I enjoyed the series. I was shocked when I first watched it, because I really thought that it was a better series than Eva, and this from an unabashed Eva fan (at the time) and despite seeing the rip-off/homage qualities from that series.

    I have little time now to watch anime – I try to watch a few episodes a week – and I’m on a “new anime” high right now. But generally, I’d rather rewatch my favorites than watch new anime. I like the recapture the emotions I felt when watching a series for the first time, and though those emotions dim the more I rewatch a show, I still enjoy those little highs. I also like to rewatch when I’ve found my memories of a former obsession have started to gray. Unfortunately, sometimes rewatching a series leads me to disappointment (I sold my Kenshin OVAs after finding them sleep-inducing). Sometimes, though, I’m surprised by how much I still enjoy a show (ex. Trigun and The Irresponsible Captain Tylor).

    I’ll also rewatch a new series if I found it soooo good, that I’m addicted to it. Kanon and Toradora! are the shows I’d put in this category – I think I watched each three times before moving on to other series.

    • I’m very familiar with your experiences. There are seasons wherein I’m more inclined to rewatch shows or watch shows from my considerable backlog.

      Part of loving a show is holding on to the feeling, and rewatching is the most direct way to do so, even if sometimes the experience changes everything for us. Now our love for it is tested.

  10. otou-san says:

    Kudos to you for addressing this head-on, as opposed to the usual nod that either lamely agrees or (as I did) even more lamely tries to debunk comparisons. I can’t go as far as to say that RahXephon is nothing like Eva, it definitely is a spiritual descendent but I would never say that it can’t stand on its own either.

    As for rewatching, I don’t do a ton of it myself. There is a myriad of reasons why one can get something out of that — not to plug, but I pondered on that once :P

    Overall, I’m much more likely to rewatch shorter OVAs that don’t take a ton of time (I’ve seen FLCL probably a dozen times) or isolated episodes of comedy anime like Fumoffu or Lucky Star.

    I pulled End of Eva off the shelf for the first time ever somewhat recently. It started as a refresher for the Anno post I did on WRL, but became “why haven’t I seen this more than once?” Sadly, that experience has changed, but it’s not my fault — it’s his. I find it hard to watch EoE in a vacuum where 2009 and Rebuild do not exist, and that makes everything seem to have a little less impact.

    I also rewatched Bebop about a year ago; it proved to me that it’s still hard to beat. I think a wider knowledge of anime as a whole provides a better context for enjoying things. You might think the opposite, and I guess in some cases that’s true but for the most part the more anime I see, the more the truly good stuff stands out.

    • I think that the love story, and Haruka as a heroine distinguishes RahXephon as ‘it’s own show’ more than any other thing.

      I agree that cream rises to the top, once one gets past issues like animation shortcuts, dated references, etc.

      My experience of EoE is the opposite of yours. I had a better time, if the shock is mitigated, the second time around.

  11. I suppose this conversation is long overdue. I’m intimately familiar with both series. Eva too is my god-tier anime. As such, it’s hard to separate the emotion and love I have for it. When someone says that RahXephon is better than Evangelion, especially by a large degree, it still makes my blood boil. I’m able to resist my old fanboy urges to argue though.

    I think the comparison to Eva is unavoidable and undeniable. But I also think comparing them too much hurts your enjoyment of the shows. As much as I love Eva, I still fully enjoyed RahXephon, perhaps more because I had experienced a similar story from Eva.

    It’s a disservice to either show to say one is a copy of the other, or that one is an improved version of the other. It denies the effort and uniqueness that each story displays as you watch them. At the same time, I think it’s an honor that RahXephon gets compared to Eva. Do you have any idea how many other shows have tried to be Eva; have stolen/borrowed elements from Eva? In my opinion, only RahXephon and to a strange degree Nadeisco have succeeded in being allowed to even be in the same arena as Eva as far as that subset of anime goes.

    • It’s special indeed that among the shows accused of borrowing from Eva, it’s regarded the most highly among the Eva non-haters.

      I do think it can be a disservice to both shows to continually compare them, but even after making this post I can’t say I can really completely do away with the association.

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  13. Oh & since I went off on a rant, I better answer your questions now.

    I rarely rewatch material anymore. Before fansubs, when I was buying tons of DVD’s & before I had kids, I had a much more limited selection. But since I loved what I got so much it fostered this need in me to rewatch episodes and scenes I love. It’s also one reason why if you check my MAL profile that I’ve yet to complete two hundred anime. I have a ton of hours logged because I watched Eva and Azumanga Daioh and Gundam SEED and Zeta and other DVD’s over and over again.

    Now I’m more focused on consuming as much and as diverse anime series as possible. It’s intriguing and fearful, the thought of rewatching one of my beloved classics. I have a general idea of what will and won’t hold up though. Dragonball Z & InuYasha will likely be skewered by the anime fan I am today, but those moments of remembering love for pivotal scenes may be worth the pain. Stuff like Utena and Fruits Basket and TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN will be fine. I’m confident in their quality and their appeal to me as the fan I am now. It’s that middle ground with series like Gundam SEED, s-CRY-ed, & .hack//SIGN that I fear may not hold up to my memories and expectations.

    I don’t have much recent experience rewatching anything. Most of the time it involves watching a single episode with someone who’s watching the series as well, but is a few episodes behind. The only 3 examples in recent memory I have are Azumanga Daioh, which I can watch at anytime and any point because it is the Charlie Brown of anime. A series that is timeless, classic and funny. Then there was my rewatch of a series from early this year, Baka to Test to Shokanju. That only confirmed my opinion that it’s a stellar series, but it too is also a comedy. The best example I have is Gundam Wing. I rewatched that last year I believe and it was very interesting. It was still bad (this was my 3rd viewing of it), but the vehement distaste I had for Relena Peacecraft was gone. I couldn’t figure out why I hated her so much, or for what reason that hate dispersed. She just seemed so much less noticeable or important that time.

    • It’s a common experience: stuff we thought excellent don’t hold up to our current sensibilities. DBZ is a casualty of his for me, as well as the super robot shows of my childhood.

      The important thing for me is to not invalidate my previous experience, but merely explain it.

  14. sadakups says:

    Know what, seems like we had the same friend who recommended RahXephon.

    I’m not really much a fan of Evangelion, but I do agree that RahXephon is Eva Lite. There’s still mindfuckery going on, but I wasn’t turned off by it in RahXephon as I kept on watching. And that ending was great. That’s the only way to end it – it was, for all intents and purposes, a love story.

  15. vendredi says:

    Looking forward to your Cowboy Bebop posts (I’m only halfway through the series at the moment). Part of the reason I rarely “rewatch” shows is that I really haven’t actually seen all that many; or at least, that many of the “classics” (Cowboy Bebop, for example), so there’s rarely a shortage of material to check out.

    Most of the series that are immediately on the re-watch list tend to be shows I saw when I was considerably younger, especially those I saw syndicated and dubbed on television – for many I missed some episodes and arcs here and there; Gundam Wing is one such example (which actually, I still have yet to rewatch in full), and Witch Hunter Robin is another. For these, alternating between the dub and the sub is an interesting experience, especially since the first impression of the characters in these shows came from English dub performances, so it’s strange hearing Japanese voices you associate with other shows.

    Witch Hunter Robin is a good example of a show that definitely changed on rewatching – partly because the series drops a lot of very subtle hints that foreshadow later events. The series feels very episodic and slow paced on the first viewing, but when you know the later plot there are all these subtle indicators that you pick up on that completely flew by you the first time (certain scenes that seem pointless or mundane suddenly take on a new significance). The various foreshadowing elements could be picked up by a very astute first-time viewer, but are much more easily noticed on a second viewing.

  16. Pterobat says:

    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never watched Rah all the way through. I thought I could make it past the first DVD, but after that, something just *dissolved*, and I couldn’t go farther. I forget what it was, it’s been so long, but I do know I’m a huge fan of Evangelion and feel that any attempt to make NGE more restrained, consistent, and well-thought out registers as an attempt to make it more dull. NGE has flaws, but it thrives on them. This is part of the reason I also dislike Sadamoto’s manga and Rebuild.

    As for re-watching, I do a lot of that, and for various reasons. I expand the category of “rewatching” to include books, movies, and series, and outside of anime. The reasons I rewatch are all the same anyway:

    1. To replenish – When you’re feeling stressed or tired, it helps to re-read or rewatch something that you know inside and out, and has been with you for a long time. Harder to do in one sitting with a TV series, but the principle is the same. You might pick your favourite episode.

    2. To reconfirm – This is an odd quirk of mine, but I have insecure tendencies, and am for some reason worried about getting too wrapped up in my own idealized images of a series/characters rather than following the canon. So, I rewatch a thing to make sure that what I imagine in my head matches with what’s onscreen. Usually it turns out to, and my worries were silly.

    3. To recheck – I have no idea how changeable I am. I go back to a beloved work wondering if I’ll *still* love it. This is different from point 1, because it has me imagining rejecting the series as a whole. Usually it doesn’t happen, and my interest is restored.

    A subset involves going back to a work that I feel I “should” like but didn’t, for various reasons, and I just want to make sure that I “actually” dislike it. I also usually find my feelings reconfirmed.

    • It is really a shame, now that I think about it. Here’s a thought:

      Some (or many) viewers of Macross get put off by the fact that it’s full of gooey-headed love stories and singing idol implausibility. These viewers discovered the franchise via Robotech, which de-emphasizes the love story and most especially the idol stuff; which resulted in characterizing the show mainly as an action science fiction show in a war setting (pretty much like Gundam, although for many people they saw Robotech before Gundam).

      However, Macross as a franchise can be (or is more productively) read as love stories set against the backdrop of great battles.

      I suggest taking a similar approach to watching RahXephon. It is a love story set against a backdrop of science fiction apocalyptica involving giant robots.

      Your reasons are succinctly presented (which is great) and make excellent sense.

      1. Lucky Star, K-ON!! are my usual picks (also: Aria, random eps of many different Gundam shows)
      2. I know. Sometimes I get eaten by the thought of “oh man, am I loving this show too damn much?”
      3/4. RahXephon, Evangelion itself.

      • Pterobat says:

        Admittedly, some of my inability to get into RahX might have been down to so many who considered it “Evangelion done right”, turning it away in the process. It’s similar to how so many fans crowing about the series returning “fun” and “manliness” to mecha made me reluctant to watch Gurren Lagann, though I actually did like GL and intend to watch the rest of it someday.

        I can’t say with what mentality I approached RahX since it’s been so long, though. I might try the series again, I might not.

        (Oddly enough, I saw Robotech first and grokked onto the “Power of Art” message in the dubbed version of Macross pretty fast, and if I have issues with the Macross franchise, it’s because I “got my heart broken” with regards to it'; I *like* the general theme of the franchise, but…)

        • The thing about fan reactions… is that I don’t trust them (even my own) while the series is still fresh, or especially if ongoing. There’s a lot of opinion dynamics that don’t even accurately represent authentic experiences of the viewers, being filtered through the various internet fora we read them from. I am interested in them nonetheless, but these impressions shouldn’t be my main consideration.

          Regarding the manliness and fun bit, it’s legit as far as I’m concerned BUT I won’t go as far as to say that everything since Eva is not fun or unmanly or whatever hyperbole is in fashion. This affirmation of mine has less to do with gender politics but more to do with something numinous in the experience of giant robot shows. Alas I will have to write about this some other time (the post is written, but saving the publication date for a ‘rainy day’ — I stockpile drafts).

          LOL I never read Macross as the power of art inasmuch as the power of love, — the songs are vehicular to what the real culture shock was: kissing, etc.

          • Pterobat says:

            It’s always possible for any initial reaction to be turned around once you get farther into the series, or watch it again, which is why my motivation for rewatching is sometimes to “check” my certainty of dislike for a work.

            On the other hand, when there is an enormous amount of potentially interesting material out there, it makes me hesitant to want to keep trying everything again and again to make really sure that I dislike it, rather than moving on to other works.

            Part of the reason I’m not as caught up on anime that I want to be is because there is so much of it that looks exciting to me, even with my tendency to sometimes discard works after a few episodes.

            It’s impossible to tell if RahX will be one of the “lucky” series that I eventually return to to watch in full.

            GL I think I have a better chance of picking up again, because it was a hilarious first nine episodes (this being the early sub-only set release), and I felt it was just trying to be a comedy show, not Make a Statement for What Mecha Has Lost. In fact, it seemed to mock hot-bloodedness more than anything, if it could be said to be “saying” anything.

            Re: Macross; yes, it is about the power of love, but since the love, when it appears, almost always involves music to a prominent degree, I still see one of the franchise themes as the Power of Art, which represents the Power of Love in a metaphorical kinda way. Music is particularly appropriate to use because it’s so visceral.

          • Oh I know what you mean. I’ve delayed rewatching this for at least 2 years since I had other shows to try out, and retry — I’ve dropped so many shows: my first NINE Gundam shows, Eureka SeveN, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex that I very much hold in high regard now. I think the only show that I did not enjoy as much as I wanted after 4 tries is FLCL.

  17. Shinmaru says:

    I try to rewatch shows as much as I can because, like you, there’s lots of things I miss the first time around. I usually lose myself in plot and character, so lots of little details go by me; I’ve never been the type of viewer who could spot all sorts of miniscule details as I’m trying to sort out a plot and characters. I surprise myself whenever I’m able to do it when blogging lol.

    So when I rewatch, I usually look at everything but plot since I know what’s going to happen … if I look at plot, it’s to take a micro view of it, i.e. seeing all the foreshadowing and connections between events and people that I might have glossed over the first time around. (This was actually huge in my experience of rewatching RahXephon; I was able to see how everything fit together from the beginning because I went into the show with a decent idea of how everything turned out at the end.) And for other things … well, I’ll use a movie example here: I rewatched Sunset Boulevard with some friends recently, and most of the time I was focused on the set design (particularly Norma Desmond’s creepy ass mansion lol) and how that added to the mood of the story and Norma’s character. That’s the kind of thing rewatching gives me.

    Like otou-san, I also think rewatching with a lot more experience under your belt gives a viewer better clarity to appreciate more what a show does that works and why something might not work so well. Sometimes views of a show are destroyed that way, but if that happens, then so be it. (Any enthusiasm I had for Kannagi, for instance, were destroyed when I rewatched it lol.)

    • Yes, all good points.

      Your Sunset Boulevard example was the same for me when I rewatched the Star Wars Flicks back in the 90s (before the special editions came out), and it plays out in many, many shows. Recently it was for Wong Kar Wai’s 2046, which I loved even more and especially after having more experience in watching Wong’s movies.

      I lost any enthusiasm I had for Kannagi by the time I saw the finale. I attempted to rekindle it (because it is still loved by many) by watching the special episode, but that only made me hate everything even more.

  18. kadian1364 says:

    On Rahxephon:
    Of course I’ve heard of all the Eva comparisons before, but when I did finally up and watch it I felt they were different enough to stand apart. What I didn’t expect was how much I struggled with watching Rahxephon. Sure, a complex plot can confuse me, but there’s something more than that. With Eva, even if the details of its plot and setting were lost on me, I could intuitively understand the mood and appreciate how artistically unique it was (more so on rewatches). I couldn’t connect with any of Rahxephon’s characters and barely felt the love story angle you so espouse. It’s one of those things that frustrates me most: not that I dislike something, but that I somehow don’t understand the essence of it, that I really “just don’t get it”. :/

    On rewatching:
    I think I’ve talked about this topic enough to fill a lifetime of blogging, but to restate some reasons I have already said by previous comments:
    – times of limited anime availability
    – a sure-fire pick-me-up
    – to appreciate the finer details
    – to appreciate the title’s place in the greater scheme of things
    – to share the experience with others
    – to jog and rectify my memory
    – for pure nostalgia
    And there’s one more recently added reason I’ll rewatch anime: for review purposes. It used to be that I’d rely on the recommendations of others. Now, while I’m still cognizant of others’ opinions and I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting, I find myself more and more in a position of giving recommendations instead of just listening to them. Partly because now I’m watching fresh-baked anime straight off of Japanese TV so that I’m among the first to even form an opinion, and partly because the sheer volume of my experience and learnings places me in a dubious position of “expert”. So I’ll rewatch a show to feel confident about what I’m talking about, and purposefully view it with a different perspective in mind.

    • I get you. The love story angle was the driftwood I grabbed on as I drowned in the show’s confusing ocean… and as a love story it’s not even a balanced one in my own appreciation of it: I don’t feel much for Ayato. At least I loved to hate Shinji. In this love story I just really felt for Haruka, who became the touchstone for my viewing, a person I was able to cheer on.

      Your reasons for rewatching are comprehensive and well-presented (I have the same, but I could not present it as you did). I too get asked a lot re what to watch, and I give my recommendations to the best of my ability.

      Expertise is a truly dubious idea, but after much wrestling with it, it does exist. I am just wary in the degree of expertise (and the band is incredibly vast, and varied) that I and other people present ourselves to have.

  19. soulassassin says:

    As far as I’m concerned, at first look RahX and Eva seem to be sharing some similar traits, yet at close examination they have their own different merits and objectives, as the real meat of their stories is beneath the skin. One is deep yet coherent, the other is deep yet purposely flawed and chaotic; one satisfies the mind, yet the other decides to grab you with both lapels and kick your brain to think deep. They exist to serve different kinds of audiences, but for me, only Eva — especially its flawed, suffering characters — burned so deep that… the anime saga was like a well-worn favorite paperback novel, always ready to be pulled out of the bag and read again.

    (Rather than trying to compare the merits of EvaTV, EvaManga and Rebuild, I tend to see them more as “parallel universes” of Shinji’s existence, to look as his life from different perspectives.)

    The comparison is also reminiscent of my Marimite experience and the past attempt to watch Strawberry Panic. Like RahX and Eva, one first arrives at the conclusion that StoPani was a sort of a ripoff of Marimite, but I digress, for they have their own objectives. StoPani takes the concepts of the classic Oniisama E a step further and ramp up the yuri “service” and skin, for those wishing to get real titillated; Marimite, on the other hand, reinterpret the themes in Oniisama E without having to resort to gimmickry, add some realism in the character design with multifaceted personalities, and those factors helped Marimite keep itself on top of the shoujo-ai genre. In one way or another they have succeeded in achieving the objective of satisfying their target audiences.

    Overall, I have yet to see RahX, I have yet to complete StoPani (4 episodes so far), but for now only Eva and Marimite are right on god tier in my system.

    • It is the opinion of some that the similarities between Eva and Rah are superficial, and therefore (far) less valuable to discuss, and even worthy of dismissal. I disagree. While I do think that Rah can and does stand on its own, it does so after vaulting from the shoulders of Eva. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the phenomenon is what it is. You’ll see for yourself in your own time.

      The different Eva shows cannot be enjoyed without considering the others, unless you have not seen any other Eva show. It just won’t happen.

      I never claimed Rah is a clone, despite how it may feel to be such, so I think your own examples agree with my thoughts.

  20. Bonesy! says:

    I rarely rewatch anything. I rewatched Cromartie and Gun X Sword early and late last year but it was hard for me. The first time I tried to watch the first TTGL movie this year, I got this really horrible sense of deja-vu I sometimes get and couldn’t watch it.

    Tell me if you plan on Macross 7 anytime next year/year after that, and tell me when you get close to Charles and Ray on Eureka. Marathoning that whole arc this year in literally a day or two was a very interesting experience I’d like to share again with someone else.

  21. Marigold Ran says:

    Eva = Misery + Sex + Nihilism + Intensity + Hate+ Destruction + Malice + Depression. Very, very memorable. The only part I didn’t like was the icky Oedipedal vibes. I liked the End of Evangelion better than the end of the TV series because the fake “happy” ending went against the thesis of the show. The more miserable movie ending was more consistent.

    I haven’t watched any of the newer Evangelion movies since it appears that Anno has gotten over his psychological issues. Shame, really. The characters in the new movies appear to be happier and less miserable, and thus, less memorable. This is also the reason why I find Rahxephon boring. I’ve watched a few episodes but it’s too happy. The main characters have issues, but they resolve it in a reasonably sane, non-homicidal, or world-destroying rampage. And what’s the point of watching that?

    In general, for most people I suspect that shows that depend heavily on plot twists are not re-watched. Example: Death Note. The only anime I remember re-watching are Honey and Clover, and Cowboy Bebop. Oh, and Welcome to the NHK. I’ll probably give that another go.

    Looking forward to any Bebop posts. Emotionally, Bebop has everything Evangelion had, but it has more maturity and comedy. Bebop is a tragedy. Evangelion is not.

    • OT: Aren’t you “ran1″? Because your name rings a bell.

    • The recent movies may only seem positive because the real paralyzing stuff happens later in the TV series anyway. I was also convinced that Rebuild 2.0 was a transformation of Shinji but I rewatched Eva TV and no — Shinji was exactly that, at the same point of the TV series’ narrative.

      I agree that plot-twist dependent shows have less rewatch value. I so want to rewatch Monster, but the same issue tempers my enthusiasm.

      • A thought dawned upon me: like the calm before the storm, it would be a grand mistake to assume — based on the 3.0 trailer in 2.0 — that the upcoming Rebuilds 3.0 and 4.0 may not be as “sugary” as 1.0 and 2.0. Instead, I believe that the next two installments would be far more intense and jarring.

        @OT: it seems that my browser (and PC) is slowing down everytime I’m reading this blog.

    • Huntsman says:

      @Marigold Ran:

      “In general, for most people I suspect that shows that depend heavily on plot twists are not re-watched. Example: Death Note.”

      Which is something of a pity, in my humble opinion.

      Why? Because there’s always an opportunity to focus on additional details, ideas and themes that may exist beyond the initial shock value of the twists and turns. New interpretations can emerge as a result, revealing both more flaws and more merits. It’s definitely less viscerally exciting, if you will, but not uninteresting from an intellectual perspective.

      Going through both Death Note and, say, Code Geass for the second time allowed me to get a better grasp on such elements, regardless of the reduced excitement. You’d think they would be boring if all the twists were predictable, but that certainly wasn’t the case for me. Then again, I guess it depends on what each viewer intends to get out of what he or she watches in the first place.

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  23. Vince says:

    I tend to rewatch shows once it’s finished its broadcast run. I get more enjoyment watching “complete” shows, as you can appreciate the show better when you watch it in its entirety. My opinion of Gundam 00 improved dramatically when I recently rewatched the entire S1 and S2 of it.

    I also rewatch shows when I experience something that makes me remember love for it. For example, playing Gundam Battle Universe and Macross Ace Frontier for the PSP made me go on an excessive Gundam/Macross watching binge. Or building a Gunpla kit will make me rewatch the show where it came from.

    • I’ve done exactly the same thing for Gundam 00. It didn’t change my opinion of the show very much, but it did help me notice things that add to my broader appreciation of Gundam as a whole.

      Ditto on the video games and model kits… though I do neither as often as I used to want to.

  24. Universal Bunny says:

    Rahxephon characters felt human unlike those in Eva. As you said, in Rahxephon there was love. In Eva, there was clinging. I’m not sure how to precisely express the difference, but you will understand if you recall the reaction of Asuka to Kaji and Misato relationship and compare it to Megumi’s reaction to Kim and Sol’s. I’m tempted to say that Eva is concerned with abstractions that many viewers take for humans. Rahxephon on the other hand, deals with written (narrative?) humans. This especially comes through in dialogues. In Eva they are often one sided like those of Plato: other characters serve little purpose and can easily be replaced by others without narrative loosing it’s beauty. In Rahxephon characters, even in monologues, talk to each other. If you remember the Ayato and Haruka’s conversation in the car, you will probably understand what I mean.

    I have to admit that I watched the old Eva films first, followed by Rahxephon and then Eva TV, all of these as a seasoned fan of anime. Thus I was not influenced by preconception that Eva is work par excellence, and I’m still not convinced that it is possibly because I never had an intelligent conversation on the subject. In fact, I would very much like a piece that explains why Eva is, no, not superior, but a more monumental and important piece compared to Rahxephon.

    As for rewatching, I rarely do it this days primarily because I can’t find the right atmosphere. Rewatching, for me, is not based around show’s “Wow!” factor, but rather around capturing the details and ideas I’ve missed. For this kind of experience, a good TV and freedom from disturbance are important. Taking in Kino’s conversation with Hermes is difficult when a flatmate walks in halfway and starts hanging his socks to dry. Having someone walk in when Shiji is lying on Rei is down right embarrassing. So as much as I like to rewatch some shows, this pastime is temporarily on hold. :)

    • Hehe it’s difficult when you’re afraid for your hobbies to become the totality of your character in other peoples’ minds, with everyone’s A/T fields and all. The third impact should solve this.

      Monumental and important is easy: it’s clear in the amount of fans it has, the acclaim it has (which apparently you don’t read), and the influence it has in many subsequent works: works that emulate Eva, and works that react to Eva. Materials related to these should not be very difficult to find online.

      As for superior, that will depend on what standards are put into play; what expectations and tastes are met and pandered to. Do you really want a post that does that, prove to you as a skeptic why Eva is superior? What’s the point? To change your mind? If you’re unconvinced, write why RahXephon is superior instead, or equal to Eva by what standards you use. Publish it here if you want.

      • Universal Bunny says:

        :) I must apologies for not making this clear: I very much like Eva. I think it’s a fabulous piece of art, and I have read a number of blog articles about Eva. My problem was not that Eva is bad or in some way inferior to Rahxephon, but that Rahxephon is seen as imitator and hence inferior to the original; they are not compared as equals. Eva is superior until proven otherwise.

        I’ll take you up on your offer, and look into the two series over holidays.

        • You can compare them as equals, and as distinct works… if you can do so in a vacuum, which is what I think (and I think it’s quite impossible).

          A better set of examples of distinct works the form a causal train of influence in a tradition would be:

          Space Battleship Yamato –> Mobile Suit Gundam –> SDF Macross –> Mobile Suit Z Gundam –> Eureka SeveN

          …tons and tons of reused elements: (beyond the obvious robots)

          -ship on a journey, chased by enemies
          -advanced humans, some used as special soldiers
          -protagonist running away and making friends with enemies
          -specific scenes (mid-air rescues)
          -etc.

    • Pterobat says:

      Though I haven’t given RahX its fair shake yet, as I’ve noted, I found Evangelion to be a *very* “human” series. It was raw and powerful in that sense, and the primary reason I love it.

      • Universal Bunny says:

        Both series are very human and at the same time they aren’t. Humans like those in Eva and Raxhephon don’t exist. Those is Eva function despite being utterly broken, and those in Rahxephon are in a way far to naive and kind to survive in a world.

  25. Pingback: The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Revolutionary Girl Utena and the Be Papas Diaspora That uh, Revolutionized Anime (From Goldfish Warning, from Evangelion, to FLCL, to Princess Tutu, to Mawaru Penguindrum) | We Remember Love

  26. Reid says:

    I recently picked up the DVD boxset of RahXephon and I’m up to episode 13, that is, right after Quon begins to “awake” as another “Ollin”/”Instrumentalist”. I am confused by some things, but I feel like by the end of the show I will not only understand them but will also TOLERATE or enjoy the revelation/discovery, unlike in Evangelion, where I systematically reject much of what I saw. As some others on this excellent thread have already said, Eva shot for the stars while RahXephon was a better-executed trip to the Moon. I guess I’m more of a “Fly me to the Moon” kind of guy afterall.

    My one regret is that with Shinji getting his “second try” through Ayato there is no “Rei” or “Asuka” to similarly get another try at getting it all right. I wanted so much for those characters to have a happy resolution that the conclusion to Evangelion fairly well ripped out my heart at best and at worst left me feeling unresolved and inconclusive. “What HAD I just seen?” was the thought that played out constantly as I tried and tried to understand Eva. However, with RahXephon, despite its many obvious similarities is really its own story and I became much more satisfied with the whole experience when I accepted that it IS NOT nor should it be viewed as “Rebuild of Evangelion”. RahXephon being itself is enough for me right now. Like you, Ghost, I also really really like Haruka Shitoh. I feel her pain and can understand it in a way that, with Asuka or Gendou or Misato, I never could and still really don’t. Even knowing what will happen with RahXephon and ultimately how it will happen doesn’t in any way dampen my enthusiasm thus far. Thanks for writing this blog post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Also, the super-advanced fighter jets of the Alpha Squadron are bad to the bone. Very cool.

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