Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 30, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2002
What They Say
The Evangelion Movie (AKA "End of Evangelion") contains episodes 25 and 26 (the alternate ending) of the original unedited Neon Genesis Evangelion Series in their entirety.
After three years of waiting, the final conclusion to the Evangelion series has finally come out. And while it’s something I’d seen previously, a lot of it still just goes over my head. And I admit, I like it like that.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language but in the new DTS mix created for this release. Coming from the original stereo stems, the forward soundstage is the main beneficiary of the 6.1 remix with a much fuller and crisper sounding mix. Explosions and gunshots all have a much deeper oomph to them and some movement to the rear speakers. Due to the English crew adding sound effects to the English language track, we won’t be listening to that track at all. I’ll go with a remix of the original materials into 5.1, but adding new sounds goes against the grain for me.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in a letterbox only format, the transfer here manages to look surprisingly good considering what it has going against it. The average bitrate for the film hovers between five and six, which can do some good stuff, but does suffer from gaining greater detail with seven audio tracks competing for space during playback. Colors look good and solid without any noticeable over saturation. Cross coloration is non-existent and Aliasing is nice and minimal throughout. I have little issue with the transfer, but do wonder how much sharper it could have been if there had been more space allocated to it.
With a wide range of artwork to choose from, I’m still surprised they went for such a simple but effective cover. With the ruins of Neo-Tokyo 3 in the background as Asuka and Shinji look on, we get a hint of what Rei is as the ghostly form of her looks skyward. The back cover provides a few screenshots and a summary of what to expect and the origins of this film. Production information and the discs features are all clearly listed as well. The insert is a foldout, with the interior pages providing the chapter stops for the two episodes/movie and an explanation of the various audio formats on the other. The foldout is a larger movie theater version of the front cover artwork.
Using a nice simple menu style, a piece of the instrumental music plays along as the camera pans against a black and white visual of the spines of the Evangelion units while the text selections start to fall apart. The animation plays into further aspects of the show, and if you haven’t seen the movie before, I recommend making quick selections to avoid seeing too much. Access times are nice and fast, but unfortunately the entire audio/subtitle submenu is completely useless. On several different brands of players, any selections made there simply do not translate into the actual film playback, so you have to make selections on the fly. This will take some back and forth if you want the movie with subtitles and sign subtitles (not that I saw any sign subtitles that I can remember, unlike the first film). While I enjoyed the visual layout and setup of the menu overall, the low grade is due to a quarter of it (and an important quarter of it) being completely useless.
The extras here are pretty minimal depending upon your language of choice. If you don’t watch dubs, all you get are a couple of trailers for the film. The trailers are well done, but I can’t for the life of me remember seeing them on other Manga releases, as these all seemed quite new to me. If you’re a dub fan, then you get the continuation of the commentary track that was done for Death & Rebirth. I listened to about half of it, which has some interesting parts, but I wish that some people who had a lot to say about the visuals and symbolism in the film had participated instead. There’s been so much to say about these films visually over the years online that some of it should have made the leap to the release for people to discuss and point out in real-time. And, that’s it for extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The End of Evangelion is one of those titles that comes out and tends to be quite divisive among fans. It’s full of symbolism and philosophical aspects that people either understand completely, don’t understand at all or interpret into their own worldview. In most respects, that’s a good thing because it means nobody is exactly right, and the movie ends up feeling more personal for many people. For me, End of Evangelion falls into the category of “lots of neat things, some good symbolism, but I just like the pretty pictures”.
Done as a reinvention of the final episodes of the TV series, the expanded format allows director Hideki Anno to explore a lot of themes and imagery of life and death and peoples place in the world of loneliness in a vast canvas. Half of the movie is spent on character driven issues in what motivates them during this final sequence of events, while the other half is spent in furious action and destruction sequences. There’s also a nice break in the middle since these are essentially done as two forty-five minute episodes as the DNA strand of credits plays to some wonderful music.
The opening places the show in a precarious position. The three Evangelion pilots are all basically useless. Rei is missing, Asuka is in a coma and Shinji has almost completely withdrawn into himself. The NERV headquarters is still reeling from all of the events that have led up to this, as seen in the TV series and recapped and retold with some differences in Death. In the larger picture, those who really run the show, the faceless members of SEELE, have decided to move their agenda ahead and to cast Gendo aside, as his own plans have run counter to theirs. Their first strike is to re-acquire the MAGI from the Tokyo-3 HQ, which they attempt via the other MAGI around the world.
They also remove all safeguards and legal mechanisms that have protected NERV to date, and restored control of the headquarters to the Japanese government. The unsaid piece is that the headquarters must be taken by force, and the first half of the movie portrays the various attempts by the soldiers to gain deep level access to the headquarters. These sequences are absolutely brutal, going beyond what has been done previously in the TV series episodes. The carnage and bloodshed just goes on and on as we watch the physical deconstruction of NERV. From Misato’s discoveries to the inability of Ibuki to deal with what’s happening to them, this plays out beautifully.
But it takes a certain type of person who can find beauty in all of this blood and death.
To counter all of this bleakness, we have the revival of Asuka from her coma as she has come to realize just what the true power and meaning of the Evangelion’s are all about. At the beginning of the invasion, they had sunk Unit 02 into the lake and placed Asuka inside, so as she revives inside there, she ends up leaping to the surface only to find that a large number of Evangelion’s from around the world have been assembled here. And these units are simply creepy, with their all white nature and smooth Alien-like faces. The resulting action sequences are among those that you simply don’t forget easily.
A large part of this movie, as it moves into its second half and the revelations come forth, delve very deep into all sorts of mythology and spirituality. Those who’ve read across different religions and cultures over the years will likely take away a lot more from this than others, from the Tree of Life revelations to the Lilith and her offspring pieces, to the spear and more. This is just one of those things I want to sit down and watch with someone whose never seen anime before, but is deeply connected to all the material covered here.
If I have any other technical complaint, it's that like Death & Rebirth, the subtitles are placed across the image and the widescreen area, making it impossible for those with widescreen sets to properly zoom in and retain the subtitles.
The End of Evangelion is one of those pieces of anime filmwork that simply works on so many levels, but will give those unfamiliar with the medium a very confused and probably bad view of things. The film is meant to be seen in conjunction with everything that’s come before, and is not meant to be a standalone feature. It is the culmination of Anno’s personal experiences and views, and it’s something that will mean vastly different things to people. From trash to philosophical enlightenment, action extravaganza to a movie heavy in symbolism. Interpretations will vary greatly, and that to me is a sign of a very good movie.
Japanese DTS 6.1 Language,Japanese DD 5.1 Language,Japanese DD 2.0 Language,English DTS 6.1 Language,English DD 5.1 Language,English DD 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Audio Commentary,Theatrical Trailers
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: D-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion