Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Edition Vol. #3 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2004
What They Say
In the I of the Storm
The war against the Angels comes closer than ever before as new attacks target the individual members of NERV themselves! First a suspicious power failure leaves NERV defenseless, and Shinji, Asuka and Rei must find their way through and underground labyrinth to reach their Evas. Misato’s sudden promotion becomes a nightmare as she finds herself responsible for helming NERV’s attack on the largest Angel yet, while Ritsuko must race against time to decipher the secrets buried inside the core of the MAGI!
Human dramas on both the small and epic scales intersect in the third thrilling volume of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION – THE PLATINUM EDITION!
Already at the half-way point, this installment provides a number of answers and a closer look at some of the supporting characters.
As always, the Japanese audio is a sheer joy to listen to, especially with the new 5.1 directionality. I’ve already commented on the previous volumes how everything is given a richer, more subtle feeling, and that is no less true here. I could probably just set Rei’s poem in episode 14 on repeat and let it play for hours in the background. The subtitle translation is also still nice and smooth, and I didn’t notice any scenes were interesting background dialogue was dropped.
The English track continues to improve through a combination of the actors growing into their roles and fewer demanding scenes for them to break down in. I think I’ve gotten to a point where I can actually enjoy short bits from just about everyone – with the notable exception of Shinji, who still gets under my skin, turning the character into all the bad things people complain about in him. Everyone else does at least an acceptable job, most of my problems with the English audio track seem to be due more to a stiffness or artificial air due to forcedly clear pronunciation and a poorly re-written dub script.
It’s clear of any technical problems, but I’m still not impressed by the English dub, it’s still not actually enjoyable or even comfortable to listen to, despite significant improvements. It’s gone from atrocious to just simply sub-par.
In addition to the audio, the video is the other huge leap forward in quality from the original release. As with volumes one and two, everything here is startlingly crisp, clear and vibrant. Thankfully is seems that the slight jiggle that remained in some scenes in volume two is gone, however. Everything looks great.
The metallic slip-case has a picture of Asuka this time, and the actual case cover has the same image with the distinctive Evangelion-style layout, just as the previous two volumes. The back covers have the same professional layout with individual summaries and a picture for each episode (and their Japanese titles).
The insert booklet has pretty pictures, more staff commentary on each episode and brief dossiers about the 9th, 10th and 11th angels, as well as for Eva Unit-01. Like the previous ones, it’s quite informative.
Subdued, dignified and crisply professional, I still love the menus and their designs. Nicely flowing from one to the other, they are quick and easy to navigate and very well done.
In addition to the opening and closing animation (just one of each this time), there are also two audio commentary tracks and a brief segment on the English remix process.
The first audio commentary is with Tiffany Grant and Matt Greenfield again, and it’s about as interesting as the previous ones. Lots of “Man, Eva just keeps coming back again and again” and “I loved working with him!” and “This is the scene where that character does X!” (then we get to watch said character do just that). Again, I strongly encourage that any company sitting down to do an audio commentary prepare at least a rough agenda of default topics to cover while the show plays to avoid those kinds of repetitions meanderings. As much fun as memory lane is for those involved, it makes for a poor commentary.
The second commentary is between Matt Greenfield and Wade Shemwell (the remix supervisor) and is vastly more interesting, though it makes the other separate segment on the remix process largely redundant. The two cover just about the same material, though I think that Wade sounded more natural and comfortable when he didn’t have the camera on him and was just a voice in the commentary. The ground that the two extras cover, however, is rich with interesting tidbits to share about what kind of planning went into the remix and exactly what kind of work Wade did – and why it was so hard. For anyone interested in the technical side of the production involved in a release like this, these two segments are well worth listening to. Whether you’re a sub or dub fan, the discussion of the challenges involved in making the remix as well as the technology and methods used to overcome them is quite engaging – but you don’t really need to watch both.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
We’re already at the mid-point of the show; everything seems to be racing by with the new platinum editions. From here on out the episode counts will dip, but I guess that will just give me more time to savor what is re-affirmed as my favorite show of all time as I watch it all again.
This volume marks a turning point in the series and, appropriately, we are given a bunch of answers we don’t yet understand. The tone shifts a bit as well, we seem to be drawn deeper into the conspiracy surround all the events we’ve seen thus far.
In the first episode, NERV HQ loses all power, even from the multiple fail-sage systems, conveniently in time for yet another angel to attack. We get to see a glimpse of the bridge crew’s off-duty lives just as we get the first proof of cracks in the monolithic organization of NERV: this system failure is clearly sabotage, and disastrously well-timed at that. Apparently rendered helpless by the loss of the power of technology, the crew still manages to get the Eva units ready for launch using manual labor, trusting that the young pilots will find their way through the black-out. After some misadventures, they do just that, defeating the angel and saving the day just in the nick of time, as usual. The journey into NERV HQ and the subsequent does a lot to further illustrate the character of the three pilots, Asuka in particular. Shinji also puts to words some of the questions that have been plaguing the audience since the first episode, but the answers he gets may not satisfy everyone, despite being grounded in simple common sense.
Episode twelve focuses on Misato. Recently promoted, she’s responsible for coming up with a plan to save the world as Gendo and Fuyutsuki are in the ruins of Antarctica on a little errand. The largest angel yet encountered float in orbit, dropping bits of itself as it learns how to aim perfectly and just falls on Tokyo-3. It takes all three Evas to catch it long enough to destroy its core and save the day, but despite the dramatic battle, the real attraction of the episode is the glimpse we get at Misato’s past and, through that, of the Second Impact itself. We get to see a bit more into her personality in her bare honesty with Shinji, who himself makes great strides here: after the battle, his father actually has words of praise for him.
Just as the previous episode as all about Misato, the next is for Ritsuko. During yet another experiment with the Evas, an angel penetrates deep into NERV HQ, actually getting farther than any previous attacker. It seems like it may be even more difficult to defeat when it turns out that the angel is actually a collective of micro-organisms that quickly evolve and adapt – turning into something like an organic computer and hacking into the MAGI system. In executing a desperate plan to counter-hack the angel and force it into an armistice of sorts, we learn more about Ritsuko and the MAGI than ever before. The MAGI are one of the most intriguing ideas in Evangelion, actually. The system of three super-computers all based on different facets of a human personality – and thus all slightly different – is not only a captivating idea on implementing technology but a stark commentary on the complicated factors that go into building the human psyche. Woven through all of this are hints and references to further mysteries, some of which are never directly addressed. This has always been another of my favorite episode of the series, as it really typifies much of the show’s appeal.
The final episode on the disc is part recap and part new. The first half of the episode is a recap of the first half of the series, framed as a report Gendo gives to the conspiracy-behind-the-conspiracy, SEELE. Instead of simply reviewing everything, however, we are given some context for the machinations of this secretive group, as they talk about following the script set down in the Dead Sea Scrolls and debate how everything has impacted their plans. As usual, little is revealed but much is hinted at.
The rest of the episode is something of an extended reference to the beginning of the series. During a synch-test with Eva Unit-01, Rei examines her sense of self in what seems like a completely metaphorical way at this point of the show but will take on a startling literal importance later on. Shinji undergoes a similar test in Unit-00, but it ends up going berserk in almost exactly the same way it did during the original test with Rei. Even though Unit-00 apparently lashes out at Rei, Ritsuko is convinced that she was the Eva’s real target, but refuses to share any further information. The tests themselves were set up to gather data on implementing the “dummy plug system,” which some of the staff seems opposed to. This becomes more important down the road, but also gives us another quick peak into Ritsuko’s personality. Finally we also get further religious mysteries as Rei takes care of the cargo that Gendo brought back from the South Pole: the Spear of Longinus (the lance that a Roman used to pierce the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross).
Instead of being able to take a break to review all the puzzle-pieces we have and try to put together the big picture, we are given even more mysteries and questions to answer. The show takes a turn from this point on, moving further and further from its giant robot roots and stepping further into the realm of occult conspiracy and psychological drama, where all the little details take on greater and greater importance.
Every time I watch Evangelion, I’m amazed by just how much I love every detail of it and this volume was no exception. It’s also amusing to be reminded how many of my memories of the series come from the first half and the surprising divide between the two portions of the show. Watching these episodes yet again is like visiting an old friend and sitting down for the beginning of a long, rousing bout of armchair philosophy and amateur psychology, the kind that really got your blood pumping back in college. Having the excuse to go through it all again with a fine-toothed comb for the Platinum edition is a joy.
So once again, if you haven’t seen Evangelion yet, run out and fix that. If you have, go buy the new editions. Even if you have the old DVDs, the Platinum editions are more than worth the upgrade.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Audio Commentary with Matt Greenfield and Tiffany Grant,Audio Commentary by Matt Greenfield and Wade Shemwell
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: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion