Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 0:1
By Steve Brandon
February 16, 2002
Release Date: May 25, 2000
Well, the first volume of the DVD release of the series, which many of you have wanted above all other anime, is finally here. Actually, the Evangelion DVD has been out for about a month, but it took me a long time to write this review! This review will be in two parts. The first part will be the technical review, in which I will keep my comments about the series to a minimum. The second part will be the first chapter of "Confessions of an Eva Skeptic". Since I assume that most of you reading this have already seen part, if not all, of Neon Genesis Evangelion, "Confessions of an Eva Skeptic" will be "No Spoilers Barred".
The packaging is a Scanavo case. Some of you have complained that it is too difficult to remove the disk from the Scanavo disk. The type of hub used makes it a touch more difficult to remove the disk than would the typical Amaray "yin-yang" hub, but it's nowhere near as much of a DVD torture device as the Alpha cases where you can easily warp the disk by attempting to remove the disc. For some reason, when I first received the disk, I thought that the case was a little thicker than most DVD cases, but, in an actual comparison, the Amaray, Scanavo and Alpha cases are pretty much level with each other. The artwork is, as far as I can tell, pretty much identical to that of ADV's original VHS release (with the cover of the second volume being on the little insert inside the case). The only real deficiency that I can spot with the packaging is that the insert doesn't list the chapters, for the benefit of those people who would rather go backwards and forwards through the chapters using the SKIP buttons on their remotes.
The menus are fairly well done, with animation taken from the show in a box at the top of the screen, and music in the background. One valid complaint is that there are only four chapter stops given for each episode. There isn't an awful lot in the way of extras on the disk (a few short "character bios", that's about it), but there are a generous number (twelve) of previews for other ADV titles. On future Evangelion disks, I'd love to see the kanji opening and closing credits included as extras, as well as whatever pieces of Japanese video regarding Evangelion that they were able to find, particularly interviews with cast and crew!
The Evangelion DVD has the distinction of being both one of the best and one of the worst DVD presentations I have yet seen on my player. I'll start with the good.
I know that some of you blamed the 5-month delay of the DVD version of Evangelion on the fact that, aside from the standard Japanese and English sound channels, there is also French and Spanish. Good theory, except for one little thing: these dubs already existed long before A.D.V. started on the DVD version! I know that the French track is from the domestic France VHS version of Evangelion, and I'm sure that the Spanish track had a similar origin. So, contrary to what you may have read in other reviews I don't think that A.D.V.'s acquiring of the foreign language tracks added too much to the delay, if it contributed to the delay at all. If anything, A.D.V. should be applauded for including the French and Spanish channels because it's a North American anime distributor that realized that other dubs exist in the world. The more languages, the better, I say. I think that, at the very least, French and Spanish should be included on ALL DVDs sold in North America, unless French or Spanish dubbing isn't available anywhere in the world.
I don't have adequate knowledge of Spanish to comment on the Spanish dubbing. But I am very qualified to evaluate the French dubbing. This was recorded in France, so it would be easy for anyone that can speak French to understand. No matter where in the world you learned French, you should easily be able to understand the dialogue on this disk. While the French on this disk doesn't sound completely natural, it's still one of the best French dubs that I've ever heard for either American or Japanese cartoons. As for the English dubbing, it's not Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer crappy, but it's not Tenchi Muyo wonderful either. Completely average. (At least our old friend Dan Rockwell got a few minor speaking parts.)
Now for the bad. By far, the biggest controversy surrounding the translation of this DVD release is the issue of the English overlays. I'm on the same side as most of you: what were they thinking? When ADV did this sort of thing in the early days, I was pretty indifferent, but this is unthinkable for such a high-profile release! The sign translations should be as DVD subtitles; in fact, with DVD subtitles, there's absolutely no need for any sort of hard subtitles or alterations to the video image of any kind. I don't think you should avoid buying this disk just because of the overlays, but this is still about the worst treatment of an anime that I have yet seen on my player. It's a shame, because, otherwise, I couldn't find many other problems with the video, but, for these egregious alterations, I'm docking a full letter grade from my "Video Quality" rating.
Another related problem with the overlays is that, for some reason, the text on a few of them is cut off by both sides of my television set. At 0:59:38, there is the overlay for the shelter sign. On my set, the "r" in the word "Shelter", and the number which is the "Maximum Occupancy" limit can't be seen normally. (I had to use ZOOM to find out that the maximum occupancy is 250.) Just a few seconds later, at 0:59:42, there is a screen informing citizens to seek out emergency shelter. I will type the message as it appears on my screen in its entirety: "...state of special emergency has been announced for all of th" "anto and Chubu areas surrounding Tokai." "e will bring you new reports as soon as we" "ceive new information." Geez, if you absolutely have to do overlays (and I'm not saying that you do) ADV at least align the words so that they do not spill over the sides of the screen!
When I say that there's no other problems with the video, I mean to say that there's nothing bad about it. The video quality is only average, though. When I use ZOOM, the picture is about as fuzzy as that of Tenchi in Tokyo, which means that the video most certainly is not 625 lines of resolution. Also, for some weird reason, the colours flash at certain points. According to GameFan Magazine's anime critic "Shidoshi X", this is more likely the fault of the master tapes which Gainax sent to ADV rather than the result of anything ADV did with the disk. This strikes me as true, but, as ADV added the English overlays, I can assume that, by definition, ADV used, at the very least, a second generation copy to make this DVD, as a first generation copy would still have the Japanese text on the screen.
One other minor technical note for DVD viewers; if you're watching all four episodes non-stop, there may be a brief pause between the preview at the end of episode 3 and the opening sequence for episode 4 with some players. This is obviously because the DVD player is switching from scanning the first layer to scanning the second layer, but, with many other dual-layered disks, the screen freezes for only a fraction of a second if it freezes at all.
So, in summation, the Evangelion DVD takes one bold step forward for anime DVDs by including French and Spanish language tracks, but one bold step backwards by using English overlays. The second volume most likely is already complete by now, but I would hope that, with the third volume and beyond, they go back to their original master tapes with the Japanese text on the screen.
Toshiba SD-2107 DVD player, 27-inch Sony Trinitron KV-27S40 television using the set's internal speakers, standard red/white/yellow A/V cables ("Heavy Duty" "Gold", from Radio Shack)