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
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00
- Summer Wars
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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?