Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: A+
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Starchild/King Records
- MSRP: ¥39800
- Aspect Ratio: Mixed
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Renewal of Evangelion DVD-BOX
June 29, 2003
Release Date: June 25, 2003
What They Say
The boxed set compiles new digitally remastered versions of the 26 TV show episodes, 4 remade-for-laserdisc episodes, and 3 theatrical features. Includes a bonus disc with never-before-seen material. The Review!
It's been a very long time since I've written a review for AnimeOnDVD.com, but if there's any title I feel is worth reviewing it's this one.
The long wait is over and the Renewal of Evangelion project has reached it's climax with the June 25th release of the Neon Genesis Evangelion DVD-BOX from GAINAX. One of the most acclaimed shows amongst casual and hardcore fans, but also one of the most derided by others, this anime is one of the most important shows in modern anime history. Evangelion would go on to shape people's perception of the medium and the emotional extremes that could be reached through something so simple as hand drawn pictures put to film.
In December of last year, GAINAX announced their year long event called Renewal of Evangelion. Including new figures, the final volume of the Evangelion manga, new CDs, a sequel to the Girlfriend of Steel game originally released on Saturn and Playstation more than five years ago, and most importantly, a complete remastering of the entire TV series and movies for a DVD re-release in boxset form in June.
In March, GAINAX released the Eva-01 TEST TYPE disc, a sampler of the first episode with remastered audio and video. Chris reviewed this disc, so I will not duplicate that information here. Also in March, Newtype magazine's DVD contained a similar sampler of the first episode, except with a side-by-side comparison of the old print to the new. You can check out a few of the comparison screenshots here:
These are new print on the Left, old print on the Right. This is to give you an idea of the huge difference in color quality and fidelity. The other big change is that the entire encode is pure progressive, with no blended frames or choppy, jumpy scene cuts. The whole show stays rock solid in the frame. This means GAINAX either went back to their original cels and backgrounds and reshot the whole show, or went back to the original unspliced film masters, digitally fixed all the frame jitter, and recut the whole show after a video remastering process. Either way, this is a gargantuan task which took a lot of time and money and it shows. Evangelion has never looked this good, unless you watched End of Evangelion in 35mm film in a theater in Japan.
Aside from the new telecine and the removal of frame jitter and jumpy scene cuts, there's also been a huge cleanup of the whole video, as well as a remastering of the color to give the show a much more bright and vivid look. Sometimes looking at the cel on a background can make the show seem like a more recent digital show with it's bright, un-filmlike color tone. Overall it breaths new life into the artwork of the show. While there is still a tiny bit of film noise, it's hardly noticable but it gives the show a more filmy feel as opposed to a pure digital show of the last few years, and I think that's a good thing. It's an amazing feat making a show like this look this good. The biggest downfall is that since the transfer is so good, in simple dialog scenes the production budget of the show becomes painfully obvious, as some scenes appear to have been animated for 16mm film, and their roughness and lack of sharpness around the character's linework become obvious due to the !
lack of any other defect.
Also of note is the fact that the three movies in the collection - Death(True)^2 (Death True Squared), Air, and Magokoro wo Kimi ni - all have beautiful anamorphic transfers. Due to the very high production budgets of the latter two films, the spectacular transfer and remastering process really shines in making the film look as good as is ever has outside of a movie theater.
The other big part of the remastering process was that the entire audiotrack has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound, as well as a remastering of the music in the show. The opening song's new sound is almost comparable to the change in quality that Cowboy Bebop's Real Folk Blues went through in it's transition to DD5.1 - in other words it's amazing. The show itself sounds great, however a very large chunk of the show is just dialog, so it doesn't get a chance to flex the muscle hidden inside this audio track. Once the action scenes come out, then it shows its true colors. It's not a mix that will have you turning your shoulder to see the source of the sound like Blue Sub #6 or Tenchi Muyo in Love, but it provides a more immersive aural experience on the whole.
The menus vary slightly from disc to disc. For all the discs with TV episodes, the menus open with clouds rolling and "neon genesis EVANGELION" scrolling across, zooming into the top left quarter of the screen and then on the right side is a scrolling synopsis of every episode along with that episode's director/storyboard/other production staff. Audio selection is in the bottom right corner, and in the lower left is episode selection, with optional chapter selection. Also available on each disc is a script for every episode on the disc. The menus are fast and are very pretty.
The movie discs have slightly different menus, equally fast but very different in tone. Available from these menus are scripts but also TV spots and trailers. The bonus disc has the simplest of the menus, with a simple selection of which bonus content you want to view.
All the discs automatically start playing when you boot them up, they do not default to the menu. There's no trailers at the start of the disc, no federal copyright warnings - you stick the disc in and the opening sequence STARTS. I REALLY like that. If only domestic companies would be this non-intrusive.
Another part where this set truly shines is in the packaging. There are maybe one or two boxsets I've ever seen that quite match this one in its majesty. First off, this thing is BIG and TALL. Standing it next to the latest Harry Potter novel, it stands about an inch and a half taller and equally thick. The shell of the box is a transparent blood-red, with a sticker seal on the front with the seven eyes of Lilith, and "FOR YOUR EYES ONLY" printed underneath. Breaking the seal (which you have to do, I'm afraid, I used a nice thin knife to slice it as cleanly as possible) the front half of the shell splits in two and lifts up and to the side on a pair of levers. It's hard to describe, but once these lift off, on the inside is a gray monolith meant to look like a Dead Sea Scroll. The Tree of Sephiroth is engraved on the front with NEON GENESIS EVANGELION DVD-BOX printed on top.
Folding the first flap off reveals another flap with a whole lot of Hebrew text on it (I've yet to get it translated, gimme a few days). Folding that open reveals the center of the packaging, with the eleven DVDs split into two stacks, the shorter stack has a booklet placed on top titled "Data of Evangelion" which contains a list of the contents of each disc, full production credits for every episode, and several image galleries and montages, including several pages devoted to the phrase "koroshiteyaru". It's a weird collection of stuff, I'll just say.
The weirdest though, is a collection of pamphlets inside a pouch on the inside called "Eva Tomo no Kai", which appears to be a set of fourteen newsletters with some truly bizarre four-panel manga (one being a Charles Shultz parody) as well as boatloads of production information and interviews. The final one has a breakdown of the opening sequence, all 86 cuts, and their associated frame numbers.
Finally, the set came with a big poster with the Sadamoto Yoshiyuki artwork commission for the project (the majestic shot of Shinji holding an injured Rei on the backdrop of Eva-01's upper torso and head. The whole package is truly massive, and if I could fit it on my darn shelf it would be one of the cornerstones of my collection.
For a whole lot of pictures of the boxset, see my brief, but picture filled review on my site at:
One of the big reasons to get this boxset is all the extras it comes with. I've already mentioned the scripts for each episode on the discs, but the big draw comes on the disc 11 - the bonus disc. You have the creditless opening and ending (the first ending, since there are technically 26 of them), which looks great. There's also both Genesis 0:0 features (0:0 - IN THE BEGINNING and 0:0' - THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS) which are recap and making of pieces, neither very interesting although the first has very brief interviews with Sadamoto Yoshiyuki and Anno Hideaki. There's also a series of brief questions asked of the voices of the three main female characters, Mitsuishi Kotono (Misato), Miyamura Yuko (Asuka), and Hayashibara Megumi (Rei). Also included is a separate collection of short TV spots for the End of Evangelion movie I'd never seen before which were QUITE interesting, I'll put it that way.
The most interesting Extra, though, is the live action footage filmed for End of Evangelion. Starring the three voice actresses mentioned above playing their associated characters in live action, it's a very surreal experience. I've yet to sit down and try and translate it thoroughly, but it's something I don't think very many people have ever seen before, and it's quite a queer little piece.
This DVD-BOX contains almost every piece of Evangelion animation ever produced, with all but the bonus disc remastered. This includes all 26 original TV episodes, the 4 "Director's Cut" home video versions of episodes 21-24, Death(True)^2, and The End of Evangelion (Air, Magokoro wo Kimi ni). The only things possibly missing are Rebirth (for it's older musical score and different voice track) and the older versions of Death and Death True.
The episodes are arranged four per disc, except for disc seven and eight which have episodes 21 & 22 and 23 & 24 on them, but contain both the original "on air" version and the "video" version one after another, so disc seven has 21, 21', 22, 22' in that order - the "primes" denote the "true" versions (as Air is denoted as episode 25' and Magokoro wo Kimi ni is called 26').
And no, there are no English Subtitles.
All the remastering and remixing aside, this is still Evangelion. If you're in this country and you're thinking about getting this box (although at this point it's probably too late as the number of boxes produced was limited and you really had to Preorder early to get it) you've already seen it. I don't think I need to expound for paragraph upon paragraph about how much this show changed the face of animation. For a real content review I would suggest reading the reviews of the Region 1 discs, but if you know Japanese (or know the show by heart like me) and want to watch this show, this is the only way to fly. After this it will be hard to ever watch the original transfer again.
Evangelion is my all time favorite series, so I probably shouldn't try to do too much subjective commentary on the content of the show as my bias would make it sound like God's greatest gift to mankind since plumbing. When I watched The End of Evangelion off this boxset it was my TWENTIETH time watching the movie from start to finish, a perfect landmark to christen the boxset with. I know there are people who hate Eva, and they are a vocal crowd, and not a tiny one from what I can tell, but I think there are far more people who like the show, albeit not to the same extremes as Eva fanboys like myself.
At its heart Eva is not a show about Mecha, or religious dogma, or a high-tech dystopia. It's a show about characters and how they interact with each other in the environments they're put in. It's a show about self discovery, about adolescence, about making mistakes, and about learning what's really important in life. For all its majesty and complexity, at its core it's got what makes a series great, and everything else simply supports that and gives it depth and meaning. I still consider Magokoro wo Kimi ni to be one of the greatest films of all time, animated or otherwise. Evangelion is a series which people have written college theses on (but were they Cruel Angel Theses? hahaha I slay me), which I have debated with other people about for hours upon hours, which changed my life, and will forever define what I look for in a great anime. Finally being able to see it in its true glory, with a flawless video transfer and an immersive audio track, is nothing short of a dream c ome true for me.
HTPC -> In-Focus LCD Projector + Creative Labs DTT2500 Theater speakers