Friday, December 13, 2013

RahXephon as a tortured metaphor for filmmaking

(Author's note: I will assume that you have seen all of Evangelion and RahXephon. I will assume that if you haven't, that you don't particularly care about spoilers. I may well introduce something you consider to be a spoiler about some other film, too. If you're that sensitive, go fuck yourself; you have no business being on the internet without having watched to the end of every obscure movie in existence. Have a nice day.)

Films as a metaphor for film-making have a long history in the west, and film-making metaphors in film (intentionally or otherwise) are even more common. Even when the metaphor is fairly direct (as in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive or Epic), there is an element of the surreal that muddies interpretation: films about film are strange loops, particularly when they cover topics like artistic integrity (Mulholland Drive) or advances in special effects (Inception, The Thirteenth Floor, FX, F For Fake). Further confusing matters, any film about illusion or trickery can be interpreted as a film about film (because the trickery in any film is implemented via film trickery -- something audiences are fully aware of, and something that often gets lampshaded). On top of this, inversions of the rule of film trickery are themselves reinforcements of the maze-like nature of illusion, even as they are laughed off as fourth-wall gags (Freakazoid).

Evangelion is an interesting (but probably well-worn) case, insomuch as it's widely acknowledged that the surreal content in the original series rose at approximately the same rate as the extent to which events in the series mirrored political and financial circumstances surrounding its production. It's also a paradoxical case in that, when our sound stage and filming equipment are revealed (in the last two episodes of the series, and again in the movie), the iconography of filmmaking equipment is purely metaphorical -- no such equipment was used in the making of the series itself. In fact, this reveal is a kind of joke; in addition to being a reference to the french new wave films that inspired some of the unusual cinematography (Anno is a fan of unusual camera positions, which he admired in live-action new wave films -- which in some notable cases broke to showing a sound stage with lighting and filming equipment), it's an acknowledgement that (like the psychodrama that accompanies it) there is a second layer of illusion. A straightforwardly cheeky use of this gag would be to show pencils drawing the characters, and show frames degrading into cells (as was done in Gainax's earlier Otaku no Video -- also semiautobiographical); instead, they show a simulacrum of filming equipment surrounding their simulated characters, with the implied simulated pencils and inks still hidden.

But, what about RahXephon?

To the extent that RahXephon is discussed, it's often dismissed as a rip-off of Evangelion. This is at least somewhat reasonable: both take the giant mech genre and deconstruct it by painting an unflattering picture of the kind of organization that would employ such weapons; both add a great dose of surreal imagery and psychodrama; both put a largely unwilling and cowardly protagonist in the pilot position, surround him by more dominant female characters, and take away his agency almost any time his actions have relevance to the plot; both even employ secret societies of german origin, dream sequences involving trains during late afternoon, episodes wherein the main character unknowingly kills a friend who has been transformed against his or her will into an enemy, and episodes wherein the pilot and the mech are trapped alone in an isolated pocket universe where time moves differently; furthermore, both contain the crucial point that both the protagonists and their enemies are puppeted by a single organization toward a larger goal. On the level of aesthetic decisions, both contain soundtracks that lean heavily on slightly modified classical works in the public domain, and both have opening themes featuring a female vocalist whose performance is broken up with staccato backing rhythm.

I see one other similarity, but one that probably does more to legitimatize RahXephon on its own: where Evangelion introduced its filmmaking metaphors late, RahXephon was always and entirely about the medium of film.


RahXephon begins by introducing us to the main character in what we take for a representative portion of the world in the near future. He lives in Tokyo, has a pair of close friends, and goes to school on the train. We learn in the first episode that most of the world has been destroyed, and only Tokyo is left. Everything aside from this reveal seems quite normal, so as viewers we accept it: this is a science fiction show set in a world where only Tokyo survived some cataclysm that destroyed the rest of the world.

The first indication that anything is abnormal from our main character's perspective is when the city is attacked -- but this is a normal reveal; after all, there would be no mech if there wasn't a threat to the city. We get a second revelation of abnormality, when our main character's friend spontaneously disappears. A third revelation occurs when an unfamiliar figure knows our main character's name, and a fourth occurs when it is revealed that the mysterious men in black who are attacking her have blue blood (probably both a reference to Blue Christmas and to Evangelion's "pattern blue" -- signifying an angel). By the end of the first episode, the worldview that both the main character and the viewer had has been built up and already systematically subverted, and every cliche reveal hides another behind it: when the attack first occurs, the audience expects an Evangelion-like sequence (supported by the physical similarity between Haruka Shitow and Misato Katsuragi, the similarity of the unexpected appearance and disappearance of Mishima Reika during the first attack in Rah Xephon to the unexpected momentary appearance of Rei Ayanami during the first attack in Evangelion, and other structural and cinematographic echoes); when we first see the men in black, we may connect them to Section 2 in Evangelion, but once they are revealed to be nonhuman we can link their fight scene to similar fight scenes in X/1999, The Matrix, and the Animatrix between a mysterious character and shade-clad non-human MIBs. But, those expectations are again dashed -- Kamina misses the train (another inverted Evangelion reference, probably), and we later discover that the cold, distant mother figure is the orchestrator of the attack (and in a position of power within some government organization, unbeknownst to her son). Then, we get entirely into surrealist territory (quite literally), and the Xephon awakens.

This is all to say that the entire first episode is about trickery, allusion, and the systematic creation and frustration of expectations. While any film or tv show has some of this, Rah Xephon is extremely heavy-handed with it during the first episode (and far less so for most of the remainder of the series). While it may seem initially as though the complexity of plot during the first episode is a systemic flaw on the part of the writers, it becomes clear in retrospect (as many episodes pass that are not so cluttered) that this was a conscious decision.

In the following episode, we discover that Ayato and Haruka have broken free from Tokyo Jupiter. Our entire first episode, which focuses on trickery and deception, is a pocket universe formed for an unknown reason and ruled with systematic deception. The world outside Tokyo has not been destroyed -- instead, it has been made artificially inaccessible by the very people who teach that it has been destroyed.

A second piece of information is revealed about this pocket universe (one that fans of Inception may latch onto): time moves differently there.


A film, for practical reasons, must operate outside the realm of real time. Otherwise, films whose events did not take between one and two hours would not fit in the feature film format, and films whose events take place over days or weeks would be impossible to watch. Films are an artifice, created by a group of people, exposed to an audience in an artifically isolated setting (a movie theatre), relying upon trickery to immerse the viewers in a false but internally consistent world.


Later, Ayato is told that he is an 'Orin'. It's unclear to me what this means -- it is never translated. It may be a pun; one of the recurring symbols is a bird (and 'orin' is the greek root meaning bird). However, he is told that an Orin by definition has artistic talent, and that The Orin is destined to "tune the world". As much as this mirrors End of Evangelion, X/1999, Ideon Be Invoked, and other similar works to which Rah Xephon could be unpleasantly compared, I don't think this is another throwaway cliche. A running theme is that both Mishima Reika and Quon talk to Ayato about the abilities and duties of the Orin in musical terms, and he replies that he doesn't understand because he is a visual artist with no musical talent. The relatively derivative (albeit striking and formally excellent) visual style of Rah Xephon is in contrast to the spectacular sound design in the series; in addition to being formally superior to other shows of the time and having a much better sense of detail (in both the use of BGM and in sound effects), there's an intense classical influence that makes Evangelion's musical references seem poseurish, and the knowledge that the creators had about the physics of sound and about music is reflected in the content of the plot (particularly in Quon, but also in the in-show descriptions of how Dolem attacks operate). At the end of every episode, where Evangelion told us to expect "more fanservice", Rah Xephon informs us that "the world is saturated with sound".

The themes of artistic ability and its effect on the world come to a peak at the end, when Ayato fulfills the prophecy, ascends to godship, and re-creates the world in his ideal image. The leitmotif of Mishima Reika, Quon, and the tuning of the world is a portion of the melody from Poltovsian Dances, which became popular in the 1950s after it was used as the melody to 'Strangers in Paradise', a song in the movie musical 'Kismet'. This melody appears in several variations in the soundtrack, including a distorted and discordant version called "Way to the Tune". It is worthwhile to point out the title of the most famous adaptation, because the goal of the entire Xephon project was to create a paradise. As Ayato approaches this, the artificial structure of hostility between Terra and the government of Tokyo Jupiter breaks down; characters that had been formerly communicating only in secret now met in the open, and the old man who always appeared to be in charge reveals that this was his plan all along.

It is my hypothesis that Rah Xephon is wholly about the production of a film or TV show. Tokyo Jupiter resembles the world of a film in more ways than I have mentioned, not even going into the philosophical arguments about film and dream that drove Inception. Our shadowy governing structures, bifurcated but with personal connections joining them even as they are artificially separated, resemble the red tape network of unions and responsibilities familiar to filmmakers and students of film. Our old man, the producer, funds the whole thing. Thrown out of his imagined universe and artificially kept outside of it, our Orin/director fulfills the prophecy that he must edit the world to his liking, using his aesthetic sensibilities, while semi-incomprehensible sound designers (Quon and Mishima Reika) speak riddles past him. A bit player breaks down over the artificiality of his role (D is for Designer Children, D is for Defective). Crazy social and family ties are suspended for the duration of the production, explicitly in order to play artifically adversarial roles.

You could probably even argue that Rah Xephon is about the creation of Evangelion.

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  12. HELLO EVERYONE THIS IS THE OPPORTUNITY.JOIN THE GREAT ILLUMINATI CALL +2348165692852 AND GET RICH WE PROVED MONEY TO PEOPLE THAT ARE MEMBER SO WE WELCOME YOU TO JOIN NOW SAY BY BY TO POVERTY AND GET 18MILLION AFTER INITIATION CALL OR WHASSAP ONE OF THE GREAT HIRE PRIEST IN NIGERIA +2348165692852 or eamil;jhnsnadam@gmail.com If you do not want to join the Illuminati do not read this message. Rules * You must be above 18 years of age. * You must have full access to the internet. * You must not discuss the secret of the Illuminati to anyone. * We are not interested in anyone who has obtained their knowledge about the Illuminati based on what they %u2019ve HEARD from Mass Media (News or Performing Arts), Conspiracy Theorists (Amateur or Professional Authors or Speculators), Internet Rumors, or other HERESY. * Once you join the Illuminati within one week of your membership you will achieved the greatest goal in life and also have wealth and fame and 18millionusd we be give to you ask a new member. * No one discard the message of the GREAT ILLUMINATI if discarded the person will be tormented both day and night.Failure to compel to the order and rules of the GREAT ILLUMINATI shall see your fame and riches takenback. * The money ALWAYS flows TOWARDS Illuminati members…And AWAY from NON Illuminati members… One of the rules of the Illuminati is”We don’t talk about the Illuminati”so I can’t say too much about it here. If you are truly interested and get back to me via email?.email;jhnsnadam@gmail.com call +2347064900614 Do not play mind games that is how when i want to join the illuminati i was think if this is going to work until i met this right man and call him;’; +2348165692852 thank the great illuminati?

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  13. CONTACT MR PAUL MARK call (+2348135574788 or WhatsApp him +2348135574788 or email: illuminatiworldoffamous@gmail.com
    Hello everyone I am mr john alex from Liberia, I am giving a testimony on how I joined the illuminati brotherhood, I was trying to join this organization for so many years now,
    I was scammed by fake agent in south Africa and nigeria,I was down,I could not feed my self and my family anymore and I tryed to make money by all miss but all avail, I was afraid to contact any illuminati agent because they have eat my money,
    One day I across a post of someone giving a testimony, thanking a man called Paul mark of being helping him to join the illuminati brotherhood, then I look at the man email and the phone number that was written there, it was a nigeria number I was afraid to contact him because a nigerian agent eat my 5,000$ and go away with the money then I was very tired, confused and I decided to contact the person that was given the testimony and i called him and I communicated with him on phone calls before he started telling me his own story about when he wanted to join, he told me everything to do, then I made up my mind and called the agent called paul mark and he told me everything to do, and I was initiated, surprisedly I was given my benefit of being a new member of the great illuminati brotherhood I was so happy,
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  14. WARNING! WARNING!! WARNING!!! If you do not want to join the Illuminati do not read this message. Rules * You must be serious * You must have full access to the internet. * You must not discuss the secret of the Illuminati to anyone. * We are not interested in anyone who has obtained their knowledge about the Illuminati based on what they say and HEARD from Mass Media (News or Performing Arts), Conspiracy Theorists (Amateur or Professional Authors or Speculators), Internet Rumors, or other HERESY. * The lord father of all Illuminati has create the easy way to join the Illuminati brotherhood in the world. Are you a business man or an artist,Politicians and you want to become big, Powerful and famous in the world, join us to become one of our official member today. you shall be given an ideal chance to visit the lord father and his representative after registrations is completed by you, what you need to do to become a full member of the great Illuminati is just for you to get the membership form and get some items for sacrifice but human life is not needed, Illuminati brotherhood brings along wealth and famous in life, you have a full access to eradicate poverty, hardness, frustration and fear away from your life now join the Illuminati brotherhood within one week of your membership you will achieved the greatest goal in life and also have wealth and fame. * No one discard the message of the GREAT ILLUMINATI if discarded the person will be tormented both day and night. * Failure to compel to the order and rules of the GREAT ILLUMINATI, your wealth, riches and fame shall be size by the lord father of all the illuminati * The money ALWAYS flows TOWARDS Illuminati members...And AWAY from NON Illuminati members... One of the rules of the Illuminati is "We don't talk about the Illuminati" so I can't say too much about it here. If you are truly interested Email these address :Smithderison@gmail.com Or call me on my private phone number +2348132571730 and realize your dreams come through.

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  15. Am giving a testimony of how i become rich and famous today.i was deeply strangled up by poverty and i had no body to help me, and also i search for help from different corners but to no avail. i see people around me getting rich but to me i was so ashamed of my self so i met a man on my way he was very rich and he was a doctor so he told me something and i think over it though out the day so the next day i looked up and i keep repeating what he said to me. ” if you want to get rich quick and be famous” you need to cross your heart and do what is in your mind so i tried all i could in other for me to do as he said so later on i told my fellow friend about this same thing then my friend was interested in my suggestions so i decided to look in the internet and i found an email address of this great fraternity (moneytempleilluminati@gmail.com) so we decided to contact them and fortunately we did as they instruct us to do and later they told us to get some requirements and all the rest… so this initiation took us just a week and later on the great fraternity gave us $70,000.00 to start up our lives. and now am testifying that is if any one should in case wants to join the great fraternity, all you need to do is for you to contact them because they are legitimate and fast, that is if you are in my former condition and ready to obey their instructions for your own story to be turned around for good without any risk, so email, call them now at (moneytempleilluminati@gmail.com) or whatsapp the prince of illuminati on+23405813057


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  16. Life is good when you have your love ones around you, I am saying this because when i had issues with my lover i never seen life as a good thing but thanks to Dr. OGUDUGU OF OGUDUGU SOLUTION TEMPLE, for helping me to cast a spell that brought my lover back to me within the space of 48hours. My husband left me for another woman after 7YEARS of marriage,but Dr.OGUDUGU help me cast a spell that brought him back to me within 48hours. I am not going to tell you more details about myself rather i will only advise those who are having issues in there relationship or marriages to contact Dr.OGUDUGU SOLUTION TEMPLE through these details via; (GREATOGUDUGU@GMAIL.COM Website: http://greatdrogudugusolutiontemple.webs.com/) or call him on WHATSAPP: +2348055304321?


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  17. Greeting, informings to all my fellow jamb students, my name is Sarah from Lagos, am here to you all about the great man God is using to help poor students like us, last year I and my brother wrote wale and unlucky for us we lost some of the subject, i felt like dying because it was my fourth time of writing wale. one day i was browsing when i saw a post thank one Mr Alex a wale official for helping him to upgrade his is papers that was lost , I thought is was a joke but i just took his number and call him and explain my problem to Mr momodu he told me not to worry that am very lucky to contact him, to my greats shuck my papers was release and upgrade to my expectation and that wan how I was able to process my admission into the university, so i urge you all that have low problem on you wale result to hurry and call Mr momodu now because he is the only person that is capable to help you upgrade and release your papers , i will advise you not to call any number you see on the internet because there are so many scammer online, if you really want to get a good papers, call Mr momodu now on his number (08147870123)don't miss this opportunity.

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  18. Greeting, informings to all my fellow jamb students, my name is Sarah from Lagos, am here to you all about the great man God is using to help poor students like us, last year I and my brother wrote wale and unlucky for us we lost some of the subject, i felt like dying because it was my fourth time of writing wale. one day i was browsing when i saw a post thank one Mr Alex a wale official for helping him to upgrade his is papers that was lost , I thought is was a joke but i just took his number and call him and explain my problem to Mr momodu he told me not to worry that am very lucky to contact him, to my greats shuck my papers was release and upgrade to my expectation and that wan how I was able to process my admission into the university, so i urge you all that have low problem on you wale result to hurry and call Mr momodu now because he is the only person that is capable to help you upgrade and release your papers , i will advise you not to call any number you see on the internet because there are so many scammer online, if you really want to get a good papers, call Mr momodu now on his number (08147870123)don't miss this opportunity.

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  19. Welcome to brotherhood of Illuminati where you can become rich famous and popular and your life story will be change I am here to share my testimony on how I join the great brotherhood Illuminati and my life story was change immediately . I was very poor no job and I has no money to even feed and take care of my family I was confuse in life I don’t know what to do I try all my possible best to get money but no one work out for me each day I share tears, I was just looking out my family no money to take care of them until one day I decided to join the great Illuminati , I come across them in the internet I never believe I said let me try I email them.all what they said will happen in my life just started it was like a dream to me they really change my story totally . They give me the sum of $1 million dollars and many things. through the Illuminati I was able to become rich, and have many industry on my own and become famous and popular in my country , today me and my family is living happily and I am the most happiest man here is the opportunity for you to join the Illuminati and become rich and famous in life and be like other people and your life will be change totally.If you are interested in joining the great brotherhood Illuminati.then contact us on our via email at:{ illuminatibloodmoney88@gmail.com } or you can call or add him up on whatsapp on +2349060961651

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  20. BECOME RICH AND FAMOUS.
    Hello viewer am here to share my testimony on how I finally join the Wealthyilluminatibrotherhood and became RICH,FAMOUS AND MASSIVE POWERFUL, I tried all my possible best to become a member of the hood but I was scam several times, before I finally come across a testimony on net so I contacted the agent, I was so afraid that he will ask me for lot of money before I can join the hood but to my greatest surprise he only ask me to obtain the membership form which I did and today am so happy to say to the world that am one of the richest by having the sum of $360 millions dollars in my personal account as a new member and am also known all over the world with the business given to me and i also have the power to do that which I want and massive influence to so many people, you may be on my lane also looking for help here is their official email wealthyilluminatibrotherhood@gmail.com Or you can call this mobile number +2348136929283.
    BEWARE OF SCAMMERS, AND YOU MUST BE ABOVE THE AGE OF 18YRS.

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  21. It is a well-known fact that Illuminati consist of Multi Millionaires, Billionaires who have major influence regarding most global affairs, including the planning of a New World Order. Many world leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, royalty and senior executives of major Fortune 500 companies are members of Illuminati. join a secret cabal of mysterious forces and become rich with boundless measures of wealth in your company or any given business,the great Illuminati can make everything possible just contact : illuminatikingdom11@gmail.com or Whatsapp/call +2349036492096 or call +1 918-505-9468 EL IAI LEXION Thaddeus I am Vice-President of Citizen Outreach THE ILLUMINATI ORGANIZATION

    Do not hesitate to contact us.
    Phone number call: +2349036492096 or +1 918-505-9468
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    Email : illuminatikingdom11@gmail.com

    BEWARE OF SCAMMERS, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MEMBERSHIP FEE AND YOU MUST BE ABOVE THE AGE OF 18YRS.
    THANKS…….

    TEAM REGARDS
    PLAN ILLUMINATION

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  22. If i was told that becoming a member of the great brotherhood of Illuminati is as easy as reading ABCD i would not believe, this is because i have so fall victim of scam circumstance.
    Brothers and Sisters, this is my story on how i successfully became a member of Illuminati. My name is Philip Robin, i live in Texas USA. Few years ago i lost my parents to a car accident and my mom was very ill after the death of my dad. Taking her to the hospital was hell for me because we were poor so i begin to grave for wealth and power because money rules the world.
    This prompted me to look for a society and join where i can get wealth, power and fame so i meant a friend who said he read about a post on a blog online on how to become a member of the great Illuminati so i was very interested, and i collected the contact details of the agent from my friend but behold it was a scam. I got another contact from my girlfriend i contacted, and i made some payment for my initiation, But behold again it was a scam i lost thousands of $$$ to these fake agent who pretended to help people become a member of this great cult. So i lost focus and interest in becoming a member because i don't know if the nest agent i would be introduced to will also be a scam. So on a very good day i meant with my cousin who told me that his best friend have successfully become a member of the brotherhood, so i was very interested and i begged him for the contact of his friend. So he gave me his friend's contact and i contacted his friend and explained myself to him so he promised to help me. He introduced me to agent Thompson Mark who is incharge of the Illuminati recruitment in USA. so i emailed agent Thompson Mark on devililluminatichurch@gmail.com and he replied me requesting for some of my information but i was afraid at this stage because i thought he would ask me to pay some money again, and off cause i was not having anymore money to pay. But i was very surprised when he told me that i don't have to pay a dine to become a member of the great brotherhood of Illuminati so i was curious to know more and he explained all to me that those who live in USA don't pay to become a member except those who live overseas i.e outside USA so in a hurry i did all that was required and i was initiated into the brotherhood. as i speak with you i am a confirm member of the brotherhood of Illuminati and i am very wealthy now and famous. So i bring the good news to you all. if you are in USA please you don't pay a dine to become a member but outside USA, you might be requested to pay some fee. so if you are interested and want to become a true member without being scammed in a hurry contact agent Thompson Mark on this email: devililluminatichurch@gmail.com and if you are outside the USA contact the international agent with either call or whatsApp on +2349024338906 GREAT BROTHERHOOD! GREAT ILLUMINATI.

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  23. My people i bring to you good news, and this is my joy and happiness. people say To become a member of the illuminati is a very difficult task. but i bring to your notice that to become a bonafide member of the brotherhood have been made very easy. sometime ago i was just eager to become a member, and i meant so many persons who never showed me the right way. few months ago i saw so many people testifying of how agent adams linked them up, and they become a complete member of the brotherhood. so i decided to contact Mr adams who gave me the right link to become a member. i followed all the steps, and today i am a proud member of the brotherhood of Illuminati. so i want you all to help me say a big thanks to agent adams. In case you have been aspiring to become a member of the brotherhood, and you have not meet the right person before now, i want to tell you to quickly contact the right Illuminati agent now. he is no other person than Mr adams. the mission of the brotherhood now is to wipe away suffering and hardship away from the life of all. so if you are a business man/woman, an artist, a pastor, a working class, and do you want wealth,fame,protection,long life, prosperity just name it just as i have now, the illuminati is ready to help you achieve your dreams.contact agent adams on the illuminati email: illuminatiworldfamous6@gmail.com or call him on +2348101330336 and become a legitimate member, join us today and become rich, powerful, famous all your life.

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