The new Eva movie proves the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
What They Say
In the earliest battles against the monstrous Angels, young Eva pilots Shinji and Rei were forced to carry humanity's hopes on their shoulders. Now, with the deadly onslaught of the Angels escalating and the apocalyptic Third Impact looming, Shinji and Rei find their burden shared by two new Eva pilots, the fiery Asuka and the mysterious Mari. Maneuvering their enormous Eva machines into combat, the four young souls fight desperately to save mankind from the heavens - but will they be able to save themselves?
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.
This is a visually gorgeous release too. The colors are bold and the lining is clean. The action scenes are well rendered, and there are some pretty cool artistic effects for the different angels and the interiors of the EVA units. My only complaint is that it is not an anthromorphic widescreen release, so it didn’t completely fill my screen. But I am just picking nits there.
Where I loved the design of the packaging for the first movie, this one is a bit more basic, though still nicely put together. Both discs are contained in a single amaray case with a center insert. The cover is technically reversible, though the reverse image is just a psychedelic orange a black sketch that almost looks like a scratchboard image. The main cover has a shot of Mari in her battle suit, while the back has a shot of Asuka in hers. The back also has screens, a summary, and the technical details. A booklet (see below) is also on the inside with the discs. Around the whole thing is a solid orange sleeve that is blank on the front, but has all of the same pictures and information on the back as on the back of the amaray case. The front does fold out, though, with a really cool picture of Unit 02 on the inside.
The menu has a pretty basic design. The screen is the same solid orange as the sleeve of the packaging, but now gridded out into diamonds with white lines. All of the text for the title and selections are in the dead center in black, 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: 2.02. This is a fifteen minute reel of animated footage set to music from the movie at various stages of completion: sketches, keys, colors, etc. It’s a pretty fun watch. There are also a slew of various trailers for the theatrical and DVD/BD releases for this movie, a remix of the climax, and four sets of deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are only in concept from and not fully animated, and everything included in the scenes is gotten elsewhere in the movie, so nothing is lost by them being dropped. But they are neat to watch once.
But the best extra is easily the 20 page guidebook that is full of information on the background of the series, as well as information on the characters and themes of the series. Makes for a good read.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Evangelion 1.11 was a special edition of Evangelion 1.0, Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance is essentially just the home release of the Evangelion 2.0 feature. While some areas have been touched up, it is essentially the same version that hit theaters last year. Carrying on from where the first movie left off, this one sort of takes us in the new directions that are hinted at in earlier scenes, though the overall themes remain the same. This gives some new surprises for longtime Eva fans, but raises some new problems as well.
As the first movie ended, Rei and Shinji have just completed their first mission where they were forced to work together. This has created a bit of a bond between the two, and seems result in Rei coming out of her shell a little bit. With Shinji’s continual prodding, she starts opening herself up more, almost becoming like a normal person.
The bond between the two is shaken, though, with the arrival of EVA Unit 02 and its fiery pilot, Asuka Langley-Shikinami. With a belief that she is better than everybody else and that she should be the “chosen one,” she has trouble getting along with the others and threatens the bond of teamwork forged by Shinji and Rei. As you might expect, Shinji is just overjoyed when he finds out that she is also to stay at Misato’s apartment.
Matters are also somewhat complicated by the covert arrival of Mari, the former pilot of EVA Unit 05 in the Antarctic Base. She is the former pilot of Unit 05 because she happily initiated its self-destruct sequence in order to defeat an Angel. She has far more ability to unlock the hidden potential of the EVA Units than the rest, and seems to be on a spy mission, but her motives are as yet unclear.
As Asuka acclimates to life in Japan and at NERV Headquarters, the EVA pilots seem to settle into a cozy routine. But when a training mission finds Asuka trapped in EVA Unit 03, Shinji is ordered to destroy it, as well as her along with it. His refusal to kill Asuka sees his resignation from NERV as he never wants to pilot an EVA again, but when Rei ends up in a similar situation, his desire to protect people runs up against his need to run from all of his problems, leaving him conflicted.
On the surface, Evangelion 2.22 takes the series in a new direction from the TV series. It introduces a new character in Mari, as well as hints at a much earlier intrusion by Kowaru Nagisa than previously. Plus the events unfold a little differently as the Angels have taken on some different forms, and therefore the methods used to defeat them differ as well.
The interactions between the characters have changed somewhat as well, especially with Rei. In the TV series, there were hints that she wanted to be more than just the blindly obedient doll that is 100% about her duty, but she rarely ever even attempts to break that mold. Here, with the connection she forms with Shinji, she makes some real strides to try and lead a normal life. She still throws her life into her job as the pilot of EVA Unit 00, but it is now obvious that she looks upon Shinji in much the same way that she looks upon his father in the TV series (which has been muted somewhat in the movies).
But while Eva looks a little different on the surface in the movies, the underlying story is still the same. Asuka is still a stubborn minx who struggles to fit in, Shinji still struggles with what he wants to do versus what is expected of him, and despite opening up, Rei is still completely dedicated to her duty, even if her motives have changed. Shinji still goes through a period where he quits NERV, and Rei and Asuka still find themselves in mortal danger due to EVA accidents. And through it all, everything is leading to the same vague idea of human instrumentality while cloaked with a thick layer in Christian allegory. The skin might be different, but the meat is the same.
While this lends a sense of comfort and familiarity to someone who is familiar with the earlier series, this does present a bit of a different problem. In terms of pacing, I found this movie to be much like Evangelion Death in that as a movie, it has limited time to work with, but it is still trying to plow through a significant amount of plot. In other words, this movie is really trying to do too much with the time it has, and the end result is that it gets muddled sometimes and meaning can be lost.
This is none more evident than with the character arc of Asuka. I was never on the Asuka bandwagon during the first series; I found her annoying and petty, and not in the haughty, fun way that an antagonistic protagonist can sometimes be. Whenever she would open her mouth, I just wanted her to shut up. Well, since this movie is trying to cram more detail into less space, the ratcheted up her personality a couple hundred notches. Now, I find her incredibly annoying and petty, and frankly, I was more than fine when she was confined within the plug for Unit 03 and left out of most of the last half of the movie.
There were plenty of times throughout the movie where I thought that I would be lost without prior knowledge of the storyline. There is just too much here to try and digest in such a short amount of time, and a lot of it just gets thrown in there without any real context or explanation.
But while the accelerated pacing got tricky at times, I still found it quite entertaining. I was a little trepid about an Evangelion reboot when I first heard about it, as I felt that the original series was brilliant right up to the end. As we are not at the end yet, I am still finding this to be a lot of fun to watch (if not quite as brilliant as before). Here is to hoping that through the next two movies, they actually find a good way to wrap the whole thing up.
You know what? It is Evangelion. The TV series should be a must-watch for anybody who is into anime, and the movies have been a good reboot of that series so far. While I would not put it on the pedestal that the series is on, mostly due to the breakneck pacing, it is a nice snapshot to what the story is trying to accomplish. If you are new to Evangelion, just be prepared to get a bit lost along the way. Recommended.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Teaser, Trailer, Train Channel Spot, TV Spots, Promotion Reel, Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02 "I Would Give You Anything."
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection upconverted to 1080p, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System