Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 0:8 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, March 03, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001
And so ends Evangelion. A show that showed so much promise, only to utterly collapse in the end.
Technically, this disc is quite good. While the Audio and Video quality is nothing to drive home about compared to some of the other excellently done anime DVDs out there, its extremely good compared to the VHS version and some of the earlier volumes. The dub is a love it or hate it matter. I personally did not like the dub, although many seem to enjoy it immensely. Even if you disliked it like myself, the actors do get much better with their roles as the series nears the end.
Like on the last volume, ADV decided to go with something new for the cover. The first 6 volumes contained boring rehashes of the VHS covers. Finally with the 7th volume they decided to use new stuff. Unfortunately its a case of doing it too late. Volume 7's Asuka cover would have fit much better on the 3rd volume and this volume's Misato cover would have done better on the 4th. Its a great cover (I gave it a good grade after all), but with this being the last volume something special instead of a character image would have been more appropriate.
Extras are nothing new; just character bios like on the rest of the volumes. With Eva being such a high profile series, its a shame that ADV didn't put work into getting some interesting extras. At the least they could have included a textless opening and ending sequences.
*Beware of Spoilers after this point*
Now for the content. The disc starts off with episode 24, which contains arguably the best plot of any episode in the series. The 5th Child, named Kaoru arrives at NERV, resulting in him and Shinji quickly becoming good friends. Unfortunately, fate does not treat Shinji too kindly. Kaoru ends up being the 17th and final angel, and Shinji has no choice but to kill the only individual to say that he loved him.
A great plot, but this episode fails to execute it as good as it could have. Here the biggest problem with the earlier episodes shows up. Because of wasting time on filler episodes in the middle of the series, a storyline which should have had atleast 2 if not 3 episodes dedicated to it only gets one. As a result, it gets hard to totally sympathize with Shinji's sadness at the end of this episode(and the next 2 as well) when after only 10 minutes or so into the episode he finds out that Kaoru is an angel. The friendship between these 2 is presented as a transcending, amazing relationship, but we get so little of it its hard to view it as such. It makes you wonder why the death of Kaoru had so much more of an effect on Shinji than the death of Rei or Asuka going into a coma.
The grand finale of the series is contained in the final 2 episodes. Have you come expecting a good conclusion? Expecting answers? Well guess what, you'll get neither. Instead of going the route of a good ending, Gainax decides to dump almost everything in the series. Remember all the time spent on the Angels? Well guess what, it was all a waste. What about SEELE? The same can be said. Adam? The same. The Lance of Longinuss? Eva Series? Etc... All are dumped in the ending and are never explained. I know some might call it a 'work of genius', but any bozo can make a story with a large number of mysteries and plot devices, and then act like they never existed in the end. I for one will not hold Eva on a different standard than everything else. Was the story surrounding Shinji the most important thing in the show? Yes. But thats no excuse to suddenly forget that everything else ever happened.
If that was it, I wouldn't necessarily give the disc an F in the content department. But it doesn't stop there. By going the route of giving us nothing but the 'psychological scenes' in the final 2 episodes, they lose a lot of the impact they had earlier in the show. The psychological scenes in episode 16 and 20 were not only good because they made us think, but they were also something unique that wasn't common up to that point in the series. Just like the exciting battle between Unit 01 and Zeruel, its so good because its unique. There isn't a battle in the series that can compare to it. Unfortunately they pack so much of the 'psychological scenes' into these final 2 episodes that they lose just about all the impact there. You get bored with it, hoping to yourself that maybe, just maybe they'll give you a treat and let some of this ending be reality. It doesn't happen.
Finally, I find the final message in the series rather lacking and contradictory. Shinji decides that he doesn't need the mecha to live. He has value as a person without the mecha. The problem is that the series always portrays the opposite message. Shinji is nothing without the Eva. Shinji never would have been reunited with his dad if not for the Eva. He never would have befriended anyone. Rei, Asuka, Misato, Kaoru, Touji, and so on... never would have even met Shinji if not for the Eva. The Eva gave Shinji a better life. Before that he lived a dull life with his teacher. Did Shinji hate his experiences piloting the Eva? Yes. But to act like Shinji's life would have been great without the Eva is an outright lie. That 'alternate universe' that Shinji experiences with Asuka as his best friend, Misato as his teacher,, etc... isn't an alternate universe. Its an impossibility. While I enjoyed the way they portrayed Shinji and his mecha throughout the series, I think the feeling you get from the final episode - that things are good for Shinji without it - contradicts so many things brought up in the first 24 episodes.
Eva kept getting better and better in the latter half of the series. Unfortunately it crashes and burns in the end. This final disc gets an F from me for content. I'm not gonna say to avoid this disc, it might be a horrible ending but you should atleast experience it. However, don't get your hopes up for this. Get your hopes up for the long delayed 'End of Evangelion' movie when it comes out later this year. That actually provides what this disc couldn't: an adequate ending.
Panasonic DVD Rom, 17 inch monitor, Cambridge Soundworks Speakers
Mania Grade: F
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion