Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Sadamoto Yoshiyuki (Concept: Gainax)
Translated by:Lillian Olsen
What They Say
the women whom thou gavest to be with me
As a carrier fleet steams towards Japan containing a mysterious embryonic form linked to the true origins of the human race, a hurricane is about to blow away Shinji's momentary peace: the wind through the red hair of Asuka Langley Soryu, the new Eva pilot arriving in Tokyo-3.
Eva Vol. 4 contains a Japanese sound FX glossary plus a special bonus interview of Asuka, Battle Royale's Yuko Miyamura.
Volume four uses Sadamoto's original cover art, which features Soryu Asuka Langley wearing her entry plug suit with her Unit-02 in the background on a matted finish cover. This cover is full of reds (hair, suit, and Eva) and shades of blues (eyes, clouds, and seat). The reverse cover has a cropped image from the volume header of the Kadokawa Shoten version. Here Shinji and Asuka are hanging out in their sun wear. Inside there is a page of character intros, a brand new volume header, a short thought from Sadamoto (originally on the dust jacket for the original), and a message from Miyamura Yuko (voice of Asuka). The printing is a step better from the previous volume. However, the lack of color pages is a shame, as Sadomoto's original color pages are great.
Having created the character designs for the animated version Sadamoto's designs are familiar and perfectly reproduced on paper. His designs may be a little leggy and often have heads that look like turnips, but his lines are strong and his expressions are subtle but powerful (which is critical with these personalities). Sadamoto's characters here tend to have a long lanky look to them. At times they may be a little off scale, but generally they look good and tight. Sadomoto's background art is amazing and this volume really shows that off. The amount of detail and perspective he presents can be much more impressive than his character work. Strong backgrounds really help the layout, which may look simplistic but does a good job with pacing and point of view.
Fred Burke and Carl Gustov Horn do a good job with Lillian Olsen's translation. This is their best job yet, as their adaptation is almost word for word with the original. Viz hardly uses honorifics, apart from the occasional Shin-chan, which can be disappointing considering how these characters interact with each other. That interaction will be vital to the plot as the inter-personal drama builds in future volumes (I have to admit I felt a little confused when I did not read "Shinji-kun" in Misato and Ritsuko's dialogue bubbles). Some may also find them having Shinji refer to Asuka as Soryu (her last name) a little awkward. This is done exactly how the original was set up. Therefore, I would suspect readers would have to live with that until Shinji gets comfortable with her and starts calling her Asuka.
SFX have been translated in a glossary at the back of the book. Viz's glossaries feature the literal kana translation as well as an appropriate translation into English. Nice. Because of the level of detail in Sadamoto's art, I really appreciate Viz doing this for this series.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A red hurricane has landed off the shores of New Yokota, Japan. This natural disaster single handedly wiped out an angel with speed and grace. The results are causing a stir at NERV headquarters, because the hurricane will soon land there... and stay there permanently.
Soryu Asuka Langley is possibly the direct opposite of the other two Eva pilots. Asuka is loud, bold, conceited and spiteful. She is determined to the point where she has difficulty when attention is not focused on her. Her personality has to have her in the spotlight in basically everything she does or she starts to crack. She needs to fight alone and with flash and dazzle. She needs to get the affection of the good-looking men in her life. She has to feel as if the command respects her as the best even though she does not have too much field experience. She as to take the lead and cannot take responsibility if there is a mistake when she does take command. Basically, there is only calm in the eye of the storm as everything around her is destroyed.
Being forced to work with someone who is obviously inferior, Ikari Shinji, would not settle well with a prima donna especially if others think she still has to prove herself despite her immeasurable talent and skill. The only thing that could come out of something like that is one's skills being brought down by someone else's incompetence. She will likely lose the respect of the administration and will then likely fall further behind the current favorite. The easy way to fix this would be by just doing the best possible and let the others show how much they are lacking. As long as they take the flack then the rest should be dealt with by swift means. Unfortunately, Asuka was not so lucky. Her supervisors assessed her own flaws and had to take her to task. Gaining respect means assuming the responsibility that comes with that respect. So a little work is in order, even if Asuka thinks there is very little for her to improve on. Maybe stupid Shinji can learn something from her and how accepting she is... Maybe not.
A character like Soryu Asuka Langley deserves a dramatic introduction, and that is what we got... for a whole volume. Actually, it is not really that dramatic; it is more like melodrama. Asuka comes in with a flash. She steals the show and steals the plot for a while. Sadamoto has to stop everything to immediately create conflict within the social structure at NERV but most importantly within the pilots. For a character like Asuka, there is no room for partnerships, comradery or support. There are only enough compliments, time and attention for her in this manga when she is introduced. Even as the story progresses there is little change in her personality. There times she seems to revert into her own world even more, when she does not get her way. And there is nothing Shinji or Rei can do about it. Well, Rei can really care lese about the whole thing, but Shinji is suffering. He was curious about this whole experience at the start. When he finally realized what type of person Asuka was, he knew he was in trouble. He was not the only one, but those who have strong wills were able to handle her better. Now, it is Asuka's job to work on her shortcomings, even if she does not believe if she has them.
It is difficult to relate to a character like Asuka. She is very self-centered, moody and cunning. It is easy to appreciate her determination, but the extremes to how she goes about succeeding are another unique trait. While I can I can see people in real life that she can be modeled after, personalities like that often have difficulties assimilating with the rest of society. How Asuka will develop with her new surroundings will be pretty interesting to see. Unfortunately, if I were to react on first impressions, I would rather not waste my time on her. Instead, I would rather go back to Shinji's story, as it was moving well up to this point.
Character introductions can often be awkward and it really shows in Evangelion. Asuka's personality is so strong and so difficult; she almost starts to take the entire series down. This is purposely done, of course, as Shinji's life starts to go slightly out of control with his new teammate but in the end, things worked themselves out. Unfortunately, in my opinion her intro was far too long, to keep my very interested. So as Sadamoto tried to lull readers back into a rhythm with another angel encounter, I found myself wishing for the plot to move. Occasionally I wondered why he could not work on the other new character, Kaji Ryouji, as he appears to have a past with a few other cast members. Why not stick to the techno-babble that was starting to develop in the previous volume. Instead, we were treated to a bratty character and dance practice. Can I have crackers what that cheese?!
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left