Neon Genesis Evangelion Death & Rebirth -

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  • Audio Rating: C+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A/F
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 115
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion Death & Rebirth

By Chris Beveridge     August 01, 2002
Release Date: July 30, 2002

Neon Genesis Evangelion Death & Rebirth
© Manga Entertainment

What They Say
Death & Rebirth contains excerpts of the first 24 episodes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion original series with some additional material edited-in (yes added in instead of edited out!), and contains the first 3rd of the new ending (episode 25).

The Review!
Nearly five years after their initial release, the first of the Evangelion movies has finally, legitimately, made it to the US market.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The movie has a very solid stereo presentation with plenty of directionality across the forward soundstage and makes good use of it. Dialogue was nice and clear and the music and ambient effects came across great. I was rather disappointed with both of the English tracks however. The English stereo mix is noticeably lower and slightly muffled in comparison to the Japanese track. The English 5.1 track sounds just as bad, but with some of the audio coming out of the rear speakers, giving the whole thing a rather disconnected feel. Comparing just the music playback and sound effects between the English 5.1 and the Japanese 2.0, the Japanese 2.0 wins hands down as the superior track.

Presented in 1.85:1 non anamorphic letterbox, the movie looks quite good here. I’ve not seen other versions of the movie before, so I’m not sure how different it looks, but this presentation is definitely decent. Outside of some cross coloration that showed up in the series so it’ll obviously show up in places here, there’s just some annoying aliasing in places and the typical amount of frame jitter during a number of scene transitions. Colors look good though not terribly vibrant throughout, backgrounds look decent with only a few areas hinting at minor macroblocking. Since a good portion of the Death segment are from the TV series, it can look only so good. And as no Japanese anamorphic print exists, none is done here as well.

Using one of the more striking painted images, the front cover has a great mix of images, from the confident looking Children to the decaying Eva’s and more, combined with the bold image of the red cross behind them. It’s like a tame version of a Brian Steelfreeze painting. The back cover provides a couple of small animation shots and a brief summary of the show. The discs features and production information fill up the rest of the cover. The insert folds out to provide a mini poster of the front cover while the reverse side has some nice images on the back and front while the interior lists the chapter stops and explains the extras.

Using lots of animation playing across in letterbox form, with the selections listed along the bottom, we get a nice but simplistic menu that ably gets the job done. Language selection is a bit tricky in reading the words in the style they used as well as the slight angle, but otherwise moving around the menus is easy and access times are decent.

There’s a sizeable amount of extras on here, all available on the B side of the disc. There’s a small section for a photo gallery, which shows off various stills from the show (with some of the blacks showing nasty looking macroblocking). There’s a brief trailer for the End of Evangelion movie as well as the Death and Rebirth trailers. The MAGI files section provides text breakdowns/glossary of terms for all aspects of the show, from the general organizations behind things to the main cast, and from the angels to the evangelions. An audio commentary is also provided with this release, which has the dub director (and actress for Rei), Amanda Winn Lee, co-producer Jason Lee and New Generation Picture’s Taliesin Jaffe (listed as anime enthusiast).

The big extra for this release is the Mokuji feature, or the “contents” extra. During playback of the movie, information becomes available that you can select, similar to New Lines Infinifilm layout and similar to the Akira release. These selections provide information from the characters to translations and more. Unfortunately, this rather nice feature is completely useless in playback if you want to watch the show in Japanese. Japanese language and subtitles for that track are not provided on this side, just the English stereo mix and the commentary track. Not even sign and title card translations are provided. Add in that the transfer doesn’t look as good on this side, noticeably in the blacks which show more macroblocking than the feature side, and this just gets more and more useless.

The only redeeming thing is that it appears that most (if not all) of the information available via the Mokuji are in the MAGI files, letting the viewer at least read the information and know what’s there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have to preface this review somewhat. I’m definitely a fan of the Evangelion world as it is, but I’m one of the segment of fans that tunes out when it comes to the various incarnations of the movies. There is, as of this writing, some debate about which version of the Death & Rebirth this is, but it’s all completely lost on me. There are, I believe, such minute differences between the variations that I leave it up to the truly hardcore fan to decide whether to be annoyed or not.

The movie is split into two parts, complete with a five minute intermission sequence between them. The opening part is Death, which takes about seventy minutes or so to essentially recap about the first twenty episodes or so of the series from different perspectives. It’s done with small bookends of each of the four Children coming into an auditorium for music rehearsal. We open with Shinji 20 minutes prior to the rehearsal, and flashback through important parts of his story, from his arrival in Neo-Tokyo 3 to some of the cruelty that was forced upon him by his father.

We see the storyline through Rei’s eyes, in her own fractured way, as she goes from being a young child with a sharp insulting tongue to the introverted pilot who will do whatever Commander Ikari asks of her. Asuka’s tale opens up more information into her past in Germany and with Kaji while moving forward to the traumas and shames she ends up enduring as a pilot in Japan. The final story is more mixed, providing some of the darkest moments of the story to be told before coming to a conclusion, leaving things open for the intermission.

While Rebirth has mostly the original TV animation done in letterbox mode, there is a fair bit of new animation mixed in. And with the time inbetween the ending of the TV series release and that of the End of Evangelion, a recap movie like this works well, especially since it takes the time to do minor tweaks to the story. Key moments are played here, but you still know that the full series offers so much of the character driven plot.

The End of Evangelion portion, which fills out roughly another half hour here, is a tease of sorts for the full movie, whetting your appetite for the large scale production that it is. It opens with what some consider a very twisted moment, but one that gives a sharp insight into the mental state of Shinji, something even he realizes as he finishes. From there it’s all downhill into a spiral of madness that plays with all the grandeur of the classical music that filters into the movie, with subtle low moments to the loud brash ones. But I find myself not wanting to really comment on this segment since it is only a tease of the full piece to come.

Death & Rebirth, the feature side of the disc at least, is a well done piece without any real problems. It’s unfortunate however that what could have been some really well integrated extras ended up becoming completely botched. The Mokuji is completely useless to someone like me who does not want to watch the movie in English. The commentary track loses its appeal in not being able to switch back and forth at certain points to see what they’re talking about. And with the apparent lower quality of the transfer on the B side, it really makes you wonder why this wasn't done as a dual layered disc and done in a way that everyone would be happy.

This disc could have been one of the highlights of the year. Instead it’s a solid but flawed release for a number of fans.

Japanese Stereo Language,English Sereo Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Mokuji Interactive,Audio Commentary,MAGI Files,Photo Gallery,Japanese Trailer,US Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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