Neon Genesis Evangelion: Directors' Cut: Resurrection - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Directors' Cut: Resurrection

By Chris Beveridge     January 19, 2004
Release Date: January 13, 2004


Neon Genesis Evangelion: Directors' Cut: Resurrection
© ADV Films


What They Say
The Directors' Cut is not just a remaster, but a revised and re-edited special edition produced under the careful supervision of creators Hideaki Anno and Gainax to include amazing new footage never before available outside of Japan. The first volume contains Evangelion episodes 21-23 in both the extended Directors' Cut versions and the original broadcast versions, allowing fans to see the creative progression of this seminal title's final moments.

In addition to the Directors' Cut episodes, ADV has obtained special DVD extras that are sure to fuel the excitement for this highly anticipated release. Resurrection will include an exclusive 25-minute interview with Richard Taylor, co-founder and head of Effects and Creatures at Weta Workshop, the multiple Academy Award-winning (for The Lord of the Rings trilogy) special effects studio currently working on the Neon Genesis Evangelion live-action feature. Also included are numerous never-before-seen production images from the theatrical release.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the story of a reluctant young hero, called upon to pilot an immense robotic weapon in battle against alien invaders in the year 2015. As the remnants of the human race cower in subterranean cities, a deadly war is being waged on what is left of the planet. On one side are the mysterious beings known as Angels; on the other, the special agency NERV and mankind's last hope, the awe-inspiring Evangelions. Piloted by a special team of teenage warriors, these giant bio-mechanical humanoids are the only thing that can withstand the force of the Angels' defense fields long enough for the pilots to tackle the invaders themselves in hand to hand combat! With the lives of every soul on the planet at stake, these few youngsters must reach down deep inside themselves to find the strength and courage necessary to meet the Angels head on in a desperate attempt to save mankind.

The Review!
Two and a half years after the release of the original set of episodes, ADV brings the Directors Cut version of the same episodes.

Audio:
Just as with everything else Evangelion for us, we took in these episodes in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix here is essentially the same as what we’ve heard before, which yields some solid sounding material that has some good moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout it and we had no trouble during regular playback. The English dialogue track is likely to cause issues with some fans and create a new never ending debate. A number of people feel that the episodes were entirely redubbed, noting that some performances are now “improved” or “better” than when they were first done back in the mid 90’s. From what I’ve been able to learn, only the new footage was dubbed and a few other areas cleaned up to provide a smoother transition of the material, and that entire episodes were not dubbed over again.

Unlike the original release, the French and Spanish tracks are not included here.

Video:
Likely to cause just as much debate as the audio, the video here is one more piece in a puzzle that continues to push me further and further away from Eva fandom. The transfer in general looks very good here and much cleaner than what we got back in 2001, mostly due to fewer soundtracks and an increase in the bitrate. The colors look solid and vibrant in many areas and some of the softness that was in the original release isn’t as strong here. We didn’t do too many comparisons between the two versions overall since Gainax are notorious for doing things to their masters, but there appears to be less frame jitter overall with this release – but it’s worth noting that as the series progressed the jitter dropped off anyway, but was still present. Overall, this transfer looks good and casual fans of the series that get this will be pleased.

One thing that's worth noting with the video, at least in regard to our reviews, is that we've now watched this series over three different monitors and probably four different DVD players. Starting with a standard 36" CRT with s-video and then moving to a 40" HD-ready rear projection set and now with a 50" rear projection LCD display, we've looked at this in different ways. Each of these setups has provided different end results and it's been interesting to see the differences as we've gone along - even more so with this particular release since it was done by a different authoring house than the one that did the original release in 2000 and 2001.

Packaging:
Keeping some of the similar style to the original packaging, the front cover goes with a heavy black backdrop with Unit 02 coming out of the darkness with is Prog. Knife out in front. The back cover keeps the same layout and provides a mixed paragraph of overall plot as well as why this set of episodes is different from what came before. There’s a good number of shots from the show and the usual breakdown of features. What’s really disappointing, but part of the problem with many older ADV releases as evident here, is that there’s no language listings at all. Someone who picked this up before in the original version may expect it to have the French or Spanish tracks and will come away disappointed. The insert has a really great shot of Rei in her LCL fluid with her body infected from one of the Angels while the reverse side lists the chapter stops for both sets of episodes.

Menu:
The menu layout is done in the same style as the original release, with the in-theme computer screen panels with the animation playing through the top part. The main menu provides you with selecting which version you want to watch on the left while all the settings on the right are the same regardless of the version. The menus are pretty fast to load and access times are quick.

Extras:
The extras aren’t a lot here in one sense, but there’s some good material finally presented. The opening and ending segments, neither of which received textless versions during their original run. The tease extra here that’s going to interest some people is the twenty-two minute featurette that talks with two of the folks from WETA that are working on the conceptual designs for the live action movie. What provides the greatest amount of amusement about this segment is watching the number of fans who have apparently never heard of what real film conceptual pre-production stages are like getting their shorts in a bunch. They’re used to the anime version, often using designs based off of an existing manga series. If you want to see how radical a change from “conceptual” to end-product is, go check out the work Ralph McQuarrie did on Star Wars for Lucas back in the mid 70’s. Those portfolios that were released are some of my most prized possessions and show just what film production can be like.

Content: Part One
It’s been just over two and a half years since the original volume of the broadcast versions of the episodes was released, so there has certainly been enough time between the two releases to bring out the Directors Cut without feeling like you were going to be gouging the fans. These episodes are a hard sell to begin with, at least in my mind, since while they may be common knowledge among the hardcore and the online fans, the general buying public that bought the series won’t have much of a clue about it.

Each of the three episodes now runs closer to thirty minutes each, providing a few minutes of new animation and dialogue in each one of them, expanding scenes or adding new ones in there. Dialogue is also reworked in various scenes to adjust for this or to correct some things that may have been done in haste during the original broadcast. For the casual fan, which I still consider myself one of, I noticed what’s likely just a fraction of the new material. While I enjoy the series a great deal, I’ve never been terribly hardcore about it and gone through the various versions of the episodes or the numerous variations of the two films. So while I enjoyed this a lot, and could tell a few new scenes here and there, there is no way this review will sate the hardcore fan who can recite all of the changes on demand.

The new scenes I did notice were quite good and added some new depths to the show that were implied before but not fully voiced. What’s also pleasing and noticeable is that for the subtitled version, the opening song has been cleaned up a touch with its translation as well as a few other areas throughout the program, with some names corrected and the like.

Content: Part Two (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers and was originally written for the non-Directors Cut release)
Much like the release of Gasaraki #5, Evangelion #7 contains a lot of backstory. While things begin to collapse around everyone in the present day, from Kaji being accused of kidnapping Fuyutski to Misato's downward spiral over her time spent with Kaji. While Shinji's feeling fairly good about himself after the events of the last episode, Asuka is close to a complete breakdown after being rescued by Shinji in the past episode.

So what's best to do at this point? Begin talking about the past! We start getting a number of flashbacks and flashforwards to the present with a number of characters, showing how the area of the second impact looks today to the events surrounding its occurrence. An interesting segment shows Misato back in 2002 where she had spent two years saying nothing following her survival of what appears to be ground zero, while losing her parents to the devastation, as well as everyone else that was on the team.

We also get to look into the past of Gendo, his wife Yui and Fuyutsuki and what on the surface could appear to be something of a romantic triangle but really isn't. Yui's an interesting character, though not a lot is really shown about her, but she provides some of the more pivotal moments, such as the first firing up of the Evangelion prototype with Shinji watching from one of the windows. Where things really get interesting with Yui is her relationship with Ritsuko's mother, the designer of the MAGI systems.

Another amusing point is the indirect meeting between Ritsuko and Misato, whose making up for lost time and talking a lot. The two get along quite well and with the introduction of Kaji into their group, things get even more interesting. Amusingly, it's noted that after Misato met Kaji, she spent a week in bed with him. The relationship between the three, as relayed to Ritsuko's mother, proves to be an interesting way to tell the story while things continue to be interesting between Dr. Akagi and Gendo Ikari.

The truly dramatic section of these episodes though is when the 16th Angel shows up. In a different move than previous Angels, it simple establishes an orbit around Earth. Asuka tries to regain some of her pride and stature by taking on the Angel after it's assigned to Rei, since she also realizes that if she can't handle this Angel, she's never going to pilot again. With the high orbit of the Angel, her weapons are unable to deliver the power it needs to hit it properly through its AT field. While trying to figure out what to do, the Angel launches its attack.

And to the surprise of just about everyone, it's a psychic attack. The Angel begins to invade her mind, peeling away the layers and trying to understand her. The commencement of the attack kicks off the loud music sequence of "Halleluiah" that really works well for this segment. Asuka's almost in tears, repeating over and over to the Angel to stop raping her mind. The emotional moments are running quite high here and the impact is strong. What makes things even worse is that Gendo sends Rei out to save her, using one of their last resort weapons to take down this particular Angel. Asuka's pain of the mental rape is only compounded by the fact that she feels once again saved and beaten by Rei.

There are a number of very dramatic moments throughout these episodes, moments that really pay off quite well after watching the series. The characters are now truly going through the wringer and depending on who the viewer likes, they'll find themselves going through the same thing and empathizing with the character. For a lot of folks, myself included, it's these last six or so episodes that are the real highlights of the series, and it's great to finally see them again after a couple of years.

In Summary:
For almost ten years now, I’ve enjoyed Evangelion. While I don’t hold it up as the holy grail of anime, I do find it to be a piece that’s quite good in convincing people that there’s more to this medium than they’re used to. It’s interesting to just jump right into these episodes without having seen the prior ones since late 2000 and early 2001, to see how quickly it all comes back. These Directors Cut episodes are a fanboys wet dream that has been in the making for far too many years now. Their arrival has finally stopped some of the most asked questions at conventions and forums, and for that alone I’m thankful that ADV has acquired and released it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Live Action Movie Interview

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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