The first installment of the EVA reboot covers a bunch of old ground and little else. Sometimes that’s enough.
What They Say
Tokyo-3 still stands after most of civilization was decimated in the Second Impact. Now the city endures the ceaseless onslaught of the deadly Angels, bizarre creatures bent on eradicating the human race. To combat this strange and ruthless enemy, the government agency NERV constructs a fleet of towering humanoid machines - the Evas - and Shinji Ikari is called into action, reluctantly taking his place at the controls of Eva Unit 01.
Living a life of loneliness and questioning his existence, Shinji struggles to accept responsibility for mankind's battle for survival. Shinji will fight the Angels alongside the only person who might understand his plight: Rei Ayanami, the elusive and frail pilot of Eva Unit 00. Shinji and Rei will struggle to learn a simple truth: when carrying the burden of humanity's survival on your shoulders, you are not alone.
For this viewing, I listened to the English dub, which is offered in 6.1 surround. In a nice option, the Japanese track is also available in 6.1. The mix is really well done, with no dropout amongst the various tracks. Dialogue stays centered, but there is some really nice directionality in the sound effects. Altogether, it is really atmospheric.
For the most part, the video is well done too. There were no real technical difficulties to speak of, and the new computer effects were gorgeous. The problem with the video is that a good portion of the video is remastered footage from the originals of the TV series, and it just does not hold up well when compared to the new footage. It is not major, but if looking for it there is a noticeable difference when the scene shifts between the two, especially in color. The colors in the newer material are just a bit bolder and brighter. Otherwise, it looks really nice.
I love the packaging for this release. The case is a trifold keep case with slipsleeve cover. The front image is a low, behind shot of Unit 01 getting ready to fight in a city street, while the back had a very dark look at Unit 01 from the side. A neat effect on the slip sleeve is that the background spaces (such as the sky on the cover) have a holofoil effect, giving it a really cool look. The front of the trifold has a picture of Rei in her school uniform against a black background, with Shinji featured on the first flap when opened. The inside holds the two discs (both almost disappointingly solid color) and the bonus booklet (see below). If I have any complaint about the packaging, it is that the finish picks up and holds finger prints rather easily. It ruins the effect somewhat. I won’t complain too much, though.
The menu has a pretty basic design, but I really like it. The screen is mostly taken up by a silhouette image of Rei in her battlesuit set against the moon in the background. The options are placed on the side in white on a dark green background, so they show up well. The tense “getting ready for an attack” music plays in the background, and has over a 90 second loop, so it does not get repetitive if the menu is left up for a while.
There are some great extras on this release. First off is the Rebuild of Evangelion: 1.01. This is a fifteen minute reel of animate footage set to music from the movie at various stages of completion: sketches, keys, colors, etc. It’s a pretty fun watch. There are actually two different versions of this, though both have the same reel of footage; the only difference is the music that plays. There is also a music video for the song “Angel of Death,” and seven different trailers for the movie. But the best extra is easily the 20 page guidebook that gives all the information about the hows and the whys this movie (and it’s three sequels) was made. It also gives plenty of background information about the characters and themes of the series. Makes for a good read.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, and its three sequels, are Gainax’s and Hideaki Anno’s most recent attempt to cash in on—I mean retell—the classic EVA story. When complete, the four movies, known collectively as Rebuild of Evangelion, will retell the EVA storyline, hopefully in a more coherent manner. This release—1.11—is the second DVD release; the first—1.01—fine tuned some of the visuals from the theatrical release, while this version adds some more enhancements while adding a few minutes of new footage.
In 2015, the Earth is in a war for survival with the appearance of Angels. The Angels randomly appear, one at a time, and attack Tokyo 3 seemingly in a search for something that, if they find, humanity fears The Third Impact, a cataclysmic event whose predecessor in 2000 wiped out 3/4ths of the world’s population.
As the movie opens, the Third Angel is attacking Tokyo 3 and is advanced enough that the regular armies cannot stop it. So NERV and their experimental Evangelions are called into action. The Evangelions are giant robots with unknown backgrounds each piloted by a young man or woman.
At the heart of the conflict is 15 year old Shinji Ikari, the son of NERV commander, Gendo Ikari. Shinji has grown up in the care of relatives, as his mother died when he was little, and Gendo only pays attention to him when needed. Shinji is now needed as he is the only person who can pilot EVA Unit 01, despite having no experience in military matters. But opts to pilot EVA Unit 01 in a desperate attempt for acceptance from his father, and when the Third Angel is successfully defeated, protection of Tokyo 3 is given to NERV full time. And therefore, Shinji Ikari.
Frankly, there is not a whole lot that can be said about Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone that has not already been said about EVA in the past. As it openly admits in the guidebook, this movie essentially retells the story of the first six episodes of the TV series. And while there are a few new scenes here and there, the majority of the feature is made up of reused footage from the TV series. So if you have seen the TV series, there is not going to be too many surprises here.
That said, if they were going to rehash any part of EVA, the early parts of the series are the parts to rehash as it is easily the strongest part of the initial story. For both the EVA TV series and the follow up movies (Death, Rebirth, End of EVA), I have long felt they started off strong before falling apart at the end—the final two episodes of the TV series and the finale of End of EVA. But the early material is pure gold. So while this is mostly rehash, what is here is still really good.
And for what it is worth, the little bit of added material does start to suggest some changes coming down the road. For starters, a brief conversation between Gendo and Vice Commander Fuyutsuki introduces a conspiracy between them that is not overtly present in the TV series. Plus it briefly introduces a very popular character who does not usually show until late in the series, which says he might show earlier. So, watching this is not a complete waste.
If you have seen the Evangelion TV Series, then you have basically seen this movie. There are a few added scenes that suggest some differences coming up in the later movies, but the vast majority of this movie comes directly from footage in the TV series. That said, it is a rehash of some of the best EVA material, so it is not completely a loss. If you’ve seen the TV series, I will not say that watching this is necessary to being able to watch the later movies, but you cannot go wrong if you are already an EVA fan. Recommended to rent first, then buy later if you feel is worth it.
Features Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Rebuild of Evangelion: 1.01 (Shiro Sagisu Version, Joseph-Maurice Ravel Version), Angel of Doom Promotional Music Video, News Flashes, Movie Previews
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection upconverted to 1080p, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System
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