Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Edition Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Release Date: Monday, February 20, 2006
What They Say
He who overcomes will be dressed in white, and I will not take his name from the book of life, and I will give witness to his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelations 3:5)
In the deadly aftermath, the unexpected arrival of the Fifth Child hits like a hurricane. Has Shinji found a kindred soul... or does the unearthly Nagisa Kaoru have a soul at all? Prepare for the shocking conclusion to the most controversial animated series ever produced. Where Angels fear to tread, Shinji must go alone. The circle will be completed. It is Final Genesis.
24 - The Beginning and the End, or "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (On-Air and Directors' Cut versions)
25 - Do You Love Me?
26 - Take Care of Yourself
Evangelion reaches one of its conclusions, with what is one of the more controversial endings to an anime series...
The audio for this release is presented in both English and Japanese 5.1 versions. I listened primarily to the Japanese track, while checking the English track during several key scenes. As with the previous volumes, the new 5.1 mix is a delight to the ears, with plenty of use made of the available channels - snippets of background dialogue come at you from all directions, while the music has also been enhanced. There were no noticeable problems with either track.
Presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, the remastered video is clean, clear and colourful, and looks noticeably better than the original DVD release. There were no apparent encoding problems.
As with previous volumes, both a standard keepcase & a silver slipcover are provided with this release. Both covers feature an image of Kaoru, in a relaxed and friendly pose. Episode titles are listed along one edge of the keepcase's front cover. The back of the slipcover has ADV's promotional blurb, episode titles & screenshots and the disc's technical info panel, while the keepcase has episode descriptions and screenshots. Inside is another 12-page booklet with episode commentaries, profiles of this disc's Angels, an brief article on the two endings to Evangelion (the TV ending and the End of Evangelion movie), a timeline of events in the series, a glossary of terms used in the series and a few more screenshots.
This volume's menus are the same as those used with previous discs - black text on a plain background, with an inset 'video' of water, backed by a short piece of orchestral music & the sound of running water. Options are presented in the usual ADV style - each episode is selectable from the main menu, with sub-menus available for extras, language set-up and chapter select. The simple layout makes them quick & easy to navigate through.
Another reasonable set of extras this time around, with the second part of The Mythology of Evangelion, full-length animatics for episodes 24 & 25, an episode commentary for episode 26 with Matt Greenfield and Sean McCoy, and clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
No Director's Cut versions for episodes 25 & 26, as that's technically the End of Evangelion movie. Both versions are provided for episode 24, although again there isn't a huge difference between the two versions of this ep.
Asuka has been removed from her position as an Eva pilot - with her synch rate with Unit02 now registering zero, there's not much point in her continuing to be responsible for a machine she can't control. Conveniently - perhaps a little too conveniently - the Fifth Child has also been located and has been assigned to NERV to replace her. With his friends gone after the destruction of Tokyo-3 in the last Angel attack, Shinji's in danger of wallowing in self-pity a little too much - until he meets the Fifth Child, Kaworu Nagisa. Kaworu seems to be something of a kindred spirit and the two quickly strike up a friendship, but there's more to Kaworu than there first appears.
Much as I've never really been able to warm to Shinji over the course of this series, it's surprisingly good to see him finally meet someone that he seems to be able to genuinely relate to. While it doesn't take a huge amount of insight to see that Kaworu's about as normal a person as Rei is (his constant references to "the humans", as if he's not one himself, are a fairly big hint there), there is something about his attitude and the way he connects with Shinji that's very intriguing. It's also clear that SEELE are intending to use him for their own purposes " but after meeting Shinji, and perhaps evaluating him in some way, Kaworu chooses his own path in a series of scenes that, after we've just seen Shinji begin to build a little self-confidence through his contact with Kaworu, see him knocked right back down again by what he sees as the ultimate betrayal. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for him.
From there, Eva moves into true love-it-or-hate-it territory. I think the history of Evangelion is well enough known that I'm not going to go over the details of it again, other than to say that the original ending, as seen in episodes 25 & 26 here, didn't seem to go down too well with fans at the time of the original airing. That eventually led to the alternative / parallel ending of the End of Evangelion movie, and Eva fans have been debating the pros and cons of both endings ever since.
With the final Angel defeated and being tormented at the death of his one true friend, Shinji retreats into his own mind to deal with his internal demons. What are you afraid of? Why do you pilot the Eva? It's the cue for Gendo to finally put his Human Instrumentality Project into action. The aim is to remove the void in people's hearts by bundling human souls together, ensuring the end of the sort of pain of isolation that Shinji's been experiencing all series " but in the process also ensuring the end of human individuality.
At the risk of annoying a large chunk of the fan base, I'll admit up front: I'm no fan of this version of Eva's ending, which feels far more like two episodes of excessive psychobabble than a genuine attempt to properly tie up the storyline. It feels hugely out of place after the more action- and conspiracy-based storylines that the series was built on before now, it leaves a number of those storylines unresolved at the end of the series, and it fails to really explain what the Human Instrumentality Project is, or what the decision that Shinji's being led to make represents. The highlight of the whole sequence is a short what-if sequence showing Shinji, Asuka and Rei leading normal, happy lives, a possible future depending on the choices Shinji's about to make. Outside that we're just given a very abstract look, primarily into the mind of Shinji, but also of Asuka, Misato and Rei, and while this really does explain what makes them tick, none of those are places where you really want to be. The first time I saw these episodes I couldn't help but think there had to be a better way to close the series out, and having seen End of Evangelion since then has, for me, only backed that up. That said, for every person who has seen Eva and would agree with my take on events, there's a person who'll have the opposite opinion and will take a lot more from these episodes " and that's part of what makes Eva what it is.
If ever there was an example of an ending that different people will take different things from, then Neon Genesis Evangelion is it. For me, the final episodes went down a route that left too much unexplained and ended up leaving me cold to the experience, which was a real shame given that I'd enjoyed the series up to that point. Others will be able to take more from the in-depth analysis of the characters' psyches that we get here, and will enjoy this disc more as a result.
Japanese Language 5.1,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,12-page profile booklet,The Mythology of Evangelion Part II,Full Length Animatics for episodes 24 & 25,Episode 26 Commentary (Matt Greenfield and Sean McCoy),Clean Opening and Closing Animations
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
Running time: 105
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion