The path is similar but it takes quite a few different approaches as the second movie plays out.
What They Say
The second film in the four-part silver-screen remake of sci-fi anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance continues the familiar story established in the first film, while also reimagining the series with new characters and arcs. Picking up where You Are (Not) Alone left off, the second feature introduces two more EVA pilots - Asaka who moves in with Shinji and Misato and throws their world into further confusion, and new character Mari, a mysterious pilot from Europe. As the war against the Angels rages on, more light is shed on the true motives and powers behind NERV and Gendo Ikari and SEELE's secret project.
Since the original 26-episode Neon Genesis Evangelion premiered in the mid-nineties, the anime's legend has only continued to grow, amounting to a small industry of manga, DVDs, action figures, model kits, and other merchandise that remains popular with anime fans worldwide. The series eventually hit the big screen, with a trilogy of films released in 1997, summarizing and capping off the series, but creator-director Anno Hideaki is not done with Evangelion yet. Starting in 2007, Evangelion is returning to screen with a revamped storyline and additional, improved animation in an ambitious teratology of films dubbed Rebuild of Evangelion.
The audio for this release is pretty strong when it comes to the high definition offerings as we get two lossless tracks, the Japanese in either Dolby TrueHD 6.1 or DTS-HD MA 6.1. We listened tot his in the DTS-HD MA and it's a really great mix with a lot of directionality, some great subtle moments with the rear speakers and a lot of clarity to the whole thing. Dialogue is really strong throughout with the softer moments coming across clear but balanced well while the large action sequences are intense and powerful. A pair of stereo tracks are also included in Dolby Digital for the Japanese and Cantonese tracks but there's no reason to even give them a listen if you're able to listen to it in lossless. The film makes good use of the audio throughout and the presentation here is solid throughout.
Originally in theaters June 2009, the transfer for this feature film is in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The transfer for this release does not use the same encoding as the Japanese Blu-ray release and comparison shots point out the flaws, though it's negligible to some and more apparent to others. Watching this, I had very few troubles overall with it and while I can easily see the differences when looking at screen captures, watching it in motion doesn't show hardly any of it. Colors are vibrant and strong throughout, cross coloration and aliasing is a non-issue and there's a good sense of depth with the show. When you get very close, especially on larger screens, you can see the noise within it that stands out in comparison to normal film grain which can be problematic depending on your sensitivity. Watching this from a normal distance in a darkened room at night, it looked great in motion and left me with no displeasure over it.
The packaging for this release is pretty bold, something you definitely can't miss as it's a bright orange slipcover that holds a digipak inside that's also all bright orange on the inside while the exterior is a flat black with the logo in black as well on it. The slipcover is beautifully minimal in its approach with just the logo along the front in black lettering as well as in a straightforward font along the spine. Nothing is on the back of the slipcover at all, giving it such a hugely simplistic feeling. It's garish in a way but at the same time it has its own unique appeal. Inside the digipak there's a small booklet in Japanese that covers various parts of the production with lots of pictures and a CD in an orange sleeve. It's an interesting looking release overall and one that definitely catches the eye while avoiding any issues people would have about whether the appropriate character artwork was used or that of the Eva's and Angels.
The menu for the release fits in with the simple approach where there's just an orange strip along the bottom with the most basic of navigation included since there's nothing on the disc outside of the film. Language selection works well as the pop-up menus load quickly and it's all very seamless and professional, if minimal. The bulk of the screen is given over to a couple of images from the film, opening with the really beautiful shot looking upwards through the trees. Everything here moves smoothly, the layout is decent, the audio works well and it's all clean and simple, unlike the movie itself. The feature defaults to the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix and no subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first movie, I came away from the whole experience less than thrilled. I appreciated the technical aspects of it, I liked the way it did some neat big screen renditions of existing scenes from the original TV series and the use of a lot of the original music, updated, along with some key moments I had hoped to see retained were the positives. At the same time, it felt like it didn't deviate all that much from the first six episodes, so much so that while I understood it would go in more radical directions in the second film on, it left me not particularly interested in seeing more of it. So it's no surprise that at the first opportunity to see the 2.22 release on Blu-ray via the Hong Kong release from Neovision, I jumped at it. What can I say, I'm the sucker born every minute and my curiosity to see what they'd do different was strong enough to get me to go in early instead of waiting for the eventual US release.
The second film highlights the fact that it's going off the predictable rails right from the start as it introduces an Evangelion pilot we haven't seen before named Mari Makinami who goes up against the remains of a revived Angel in the Arctic base where she's stationed. She's a curious pilot, different from others we've seen before in that she has a real love of being an Eva pilot and the violence associated with it. She's not violent in a bloodthirsty way, but she loves her job and gets into completely, though not without a few issues as she deals with this opening creature. It's a strong opening to the film visually as she deals with this skeletal looking Angel but it's also key psychologically as it shows that the scope is going to be bigger than we've seen before and the larger story is going to be fleshed out.
The story for this feature follows a couple of different paths but there are some very basic themes attached to it. The core theme focuses as it did in the first on the relationship between Shinji and his father. Shinji is slowly gaining approval from his father as there is even a moment where he thanks him for what he's done. The two aren't completely cold towards each other, but they've lost things and have dealt with it in different ways. The initial scene featuring the two visiting Shinji's mothers grave is poignant as Gendo talks about how life is and the kinds of things you have to do to survive it in his own curious way. Later, there's scenes involving a potential dinner that could happen with several of the characters as a way to bring the two together, and Gendo even agrees to that as a way to try and heal the rifts that others see. Shinji, being who he is, ends up making it all worse through the actions of Gendo and their relationship is strained once again for good reason.
Another big theme that comes in is that of teamwork. A new pilot is brought in to Japan from Europe who is all about style and doing things big, yet alone. Asuka Langely is the spitfire who has come from there and she's of the mindset that her arrival means that Rei and Shinji are no longer needed. Since they're piloting a prototype and test type Eva, and hers is the first official combat Evangelion unit, they're inferior to her and she should be the one taking on the lead role. So much so that when she does move in with Misato after her transfer, she figures that Shinji will be sent home so she loads all her stuff into his room. So she's quite surprised when she's told they're all living together and have to work together with Rei as well.
Asuka brings a certain kind of life to the film. She's moody and lashes out easily, but she's big and brash as well with her attitude. The vibrant red of her outfit signifies her personality well and she lives up to it just as easily. She goes through some of the same adjustments Shinji did, including meeting the penguin and having a good bit of comedy around it, but she also has a lot of issues with Rei, who she doesn't affectionately call a doll. She finds Rei to be little more than a Pet to the Commander and has no love for her. Yet the trio has to slowly come together to work as a team as they deal with various Angel threats, but also some surprising competition amongst each other as she misunderstands what Rei does to try and help Shinji, thinking it's because she cares about him in a romantic way, which just sets Asuka to being jealous herself.
This second feature has a whole lot going on. The Angel attacks are bigger and more intense as they get closer to getting underground than anything before this, so much so that you can't believe they haven't made it through already. The beauty of Tokyo-3 is taken in just as it was in the first, if not more so because they focus on more areas of it, both in its natural daily routine as well as the big action sequences. Some of the more interesting moments involve the moon though when Gendo and Fuyutsuki make their way there and we get hints at what SEELE is doing up there through some brief yet very curious scenes involving the young man who can seemingly breathe in space. The large scale nature of the background storyline is more apparent here and it only serves to entice you more to see what's coming.
Watching the second installment of Evangelion is more rewarding and more difficult than the first. It's more rewarding because you're seeing this interpretation taking on its own life fully, from the way Asuka is introduced, the new character of Mari and the larger scope of how the world works with Evangelion units. It's more difficult in that there are expectations you have if you've seen the original and you have to disassociate it from this feature, which can be difficult depending on how many times you've seen the original. There's a lot to like here in this Rebuild of the series as it takes a lot of what was under the surface of the original but they could never articulate and utilize within the confines of the series. They go big here with a lot of changes, changes that could annoy and irk the faithful, but it's an interpretation that is doing something different at this point and it does it well, giving it all the kind of smoothness it needs, even if it does feel rushed sometimes when there are so many Angel fights throughout it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 6.1 Language, Japanese DTS-HD MA 6.1 Language, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Language, Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.