Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Edition Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, October 18, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2004
What They Say
As if having to defend the Earth and mankind wasn't enough to cope with, Shinji Ikari now finds himself faced with something completely unexpected: competition. Not only is Rei's Eva back on the line, there's also a new giant robot defender that's being promoted by a group outside NERV! And to top it off, prepare to meet the third Eva pilot, the hottest ball of red-headed fury ever unleashed. And SHE's got Shinji in her cross-hairs! It's an all out battle royal with the entire planet as a war zone in the second stunning volume of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION - THE PLATINUM EDITION!
With the second volume of the re-release, we not only get the introduction of the third pilot and a further look into the personalities of much of the main cast, but also some of my favorite scenes from the show.
The new 5.1 mix remains as great as it was on the first volume, the Japanese track especially. Once again the increased directionality of the sound stage was not put to waste and subtleties in sound engineer come across much stronger than in the original stereo version.
The Japanese dialogue remains expectedly superb, boasting the number of veterans it does. Both Rei's increased presence and Misato's repeated opportunities to grab the center of attention are more than welcome not just because of the revelations they present but further because of the talented actresses behind them. One of the only drawbacks to the Japanese audio track, however, was that some of the scenes with background noise that had subtitles in the original release (such as the table scene on the boat in episode 8) don't any longer. That's something of a loss, as the pseudo-commentary on the central events of the scene was quite funny at times.
The English dialogue remains sub-par on the whole, though it has certainly improved since the first volume. As many forum members advised me, it seems that much of the cast has indeed grown into their roles a bit more. I also suspect that the increased focus on characters other than Shinji and quieter performances for when he is on screen significantly contributed to that, as he remains by far the weakest member of the core cast. In an honest assessment, I don't find much to like in the English dub but I did find less to dislike. Performances are, by and large, a little flat or forced, but they sometimes smooth out despite seemingly arbitrary script re-writes. Thankfully these changes seemed less frequent than volume 1, though Asuka's dialogue was often drastically changed. I suspect ad-libbed at times to inject more and more accurate German, I'm undecided whether it's a change for better or worse on the whole, but it certainly served to be rather amusing more than once.
I could gush again about the spectacular increase of the video quality for these new releases, but I'll keep myself in check and just say that it's gorgeous and more than worth the upgrade even if you've already purchased the entire series.
The only drawback is that, while the typical GAINAX frame-jitter from cuts and scene transitions, there is some annoying horizontal jiggle in a few scenes. Most viewers probably won't notice it in most scenes, but with the subtitles up it was quite apparent to me more than once, and a bit frustrating.
I don't remember noticing this problem on the previous platinum volume and I wasn't able to find it in the original ADV DVD release, so I'm not sure what the jiggle is due to, but whatever the explanation, I'm hoping that this single blemish doesn't appear in later releases.
Volume 2 has the same kind of packaging as the first volume, minus the empty art box. It comes with the metallic slip-case, a faint image of Rei on the cover and the sell-quote on the back with the episode list. The slipcase has the same problem of being a bit loose where the back cover meets the spine, but there's little that can be done about that without a change in design or the application of some glue. The DVD case itself has the sharper image of Rei and the platinum-series cover design. The back has brief episode summaries with a single picture for each.
Another booklet is included as well. In addition to some insightful on each individual episode that explain where some of the ideas were inspired from or note where staff member's specific skills came to the fore, it also has some information on the opening and brief stats for sixth, seventh and eight angels.
The menus follow the dignified style established in the first volume. They keep the same traits of simplicity and speed, which is certainly more than welcome.
This volume includes the clean opening and closing (including the red "Asuka ending"), just as volume 1 did. It also has a commentary track for a single episode, as the voice actresses for Asuka and Misato meander down memory lane throughout episode 8, when Asuka first arrives. Those who enjoyed the commentaries in the first volume will probably enjoy this one as well, but I didn't find much to hold my interest. The actresses maintained a spirited banter but were focused more on experiences during the dubbing process than Evangelion itself. Without any attachment to the English cast, there wasn't much for me to latch onto.
Animatics for episode 9 are also provided. It's an interesting extra for those who want to see a rough copy of the episode with the original rush animations worked in without any dialogue.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Presenting us with a few more mysteries but focusing more on deepening our insight into the personalities and relationships of the central cast, volume 2 contains one of my favorite moments of the entire series.
We get another five episodes, bringing us deeper into the series at a breakneck speed. The first volume of the disc is the second focused on Rei, as she and Shinji are forced to team up to work as a sniper team against an angel with almost impenetrable defenses. Rei's apathy and resigned nature draws Shinji out of his self-pity, if only a little. His questioning and attempt to dig deeper into Rei's personality prompts her to show some emotion in return, if only a little herself.
It's the seventh episode - the second on the disc - that is my favorite of this volume and perhaps the whole series. Misato and Ritsuko head to a conference to showcase an unmanned robot designed to replace the evangelions, where they show both how similar and different they are from each other. What would otherwise be a simple demonstration of how guilt and opportunism can work its way through humanity even under the most dangerous crisis situations becomes a narrowly-averted tragedy when the nuclear-powered robot goes out of control and nearly melts down in a populated city. It seems like only the timely intervention of Shinji in EVA-01 and Misato's courage avert the situation, but in reality the entire spectacle was clearly engineered by another party intent on discrediting the entire idea and ensuring the continued prominence of the evangelions. And thus the conspiracy deepens.
Episode eight features the introduction of Asuka, the third pilot and favorite of red-headed aficionados everywhere. Shinji's friends tag along for the field trip to the military armada escorting Asuka and her EVA Unit 02 across the ocean and all the children mix about as well as oil and water. When an angel inevitably attacks, Asuka man-handles Shinji into the cockpit of her evangelion and takes it on, ostensibly to show him how more skilled she is. Through the sacrifice of several ships, they manage to defeat it and get the robot safely to Japan, but the audience finds out that the important "cargo" that the angel was searching for was something quite other than the giant robot assumed it was after. We get more information on Gendo's secret plans, but the episode only inspires more questions and answers few.
The next episode is an example of one of those tongue-in-cheek scenarios that GAINAX does so well. When faced with an angel that can split into pieces when attacked and then re-combine later, Misato comes up with a plan (by way of Kaji) to get Shinji and Asuka to operate in unison, synchronized with some dramatic movement. Days of preparation follow, with the pair of pilots living and training together almost non-stop. Asuka's desperate need for approval is even more apparent, and she turns out to be far more like Shinji than some people might have thought at first glance. We are also treated to a grand and dramatic battle that seems more like a ballet, perfectly synchronized with the music for the scene.
Finally, the closing episode on the volume is number 10. Upon the discovery of a dormant angel, Asuka volunteers to dive into an active volcano in an attempt to retrieve it. Against the backdrop of a capture operation that inevitably goes wrong and further friction between the young pilots, we see further examples of Gendo's willingness to sacrifice nearly anything for his goals, suggestions that Kaji's real loyalties might lie elsewhere and a few hints as to the truth behind the Second Impact. With that, we're ready to move into the middle of the series with the next volume.
The show is an un-disputed classic, whether you like it or not, and this new release Evangelion is a dream come true for hardcore fans. My opinion of the first volume of the platinum edition stands for this one – go out and buy it if you haven't already. The audio and visual improvements are more than worth the upgrade and I anxiously await each release, despite having seen the entire show many times over. It's one of the few anime where just about any random episode can get be almost as excited as the first time I watched it, and being able to go through it once again after the remastering and remixing is just... just... well, it's damn good.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Commentary with Tiffany Grant and Allison Shipp,Full length animatics for episode 9
Panasonic CT27SX12AF 27" flat-screen TV; Koss KD365 DVD player; Onkyo TX-SR501 receiver; RCA 6-piece home theater speaker package; Component video and optical audio connections
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion