An enthusiastic audience cheered as a sextet of Ayanami Rei cosplayers (click image to see more) sang a cappella "Fly Me to the Moon," a fitting opening for the world premiere of the English dub version of the Evangelion movie. On hand to introduce the film to the packed crowd was ADR director Mike McFarland and voice actor Brina Palencia (Ayanami Rei).
Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone is essentially a retelling of the landmark anime series released in the mid-90s. The plot centers upon Evangelions, gigantic humanoid weapons which are humankind's last hope against otherworldly enemies, and the Evangelion pilot Shinji, possibly the most emo lead character in all anime. For those familiar with the TV series, the movie corresponds roughly with episodes one through six. While the story's tone is much darker and a number of changes have been made to the plot, several scenes are virtually lifted from the anime, such as Shinji's introduction to Pen Pen and his embarrassing encounter with Rei in her dingy apartment. Character designs and artistic style are also largely unchanged though mecha and Angels have added polish, thanks to today's CG technology. The movie concludes with a teaser for the sequel Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance.
According to McFarlane, Evangelion 1.0 will be released in several theaters in Canada and the United States between now and September. They are still adding dates and locations, and the most up-to-date information about showings can be found at http://www.funimation.com/evangelion/. Then this fall, the DVD version, Evangelion 1.01, will be released, and Evangelion 1.11, the special Blu-ray edition, which includes the Japanese language version, will be released Spring 2010.
While Spike Spencer was brought back to be the voice of Shinji, most of the English-language Evangelion cast was changed as was the director for the project. McFarlane stated that his goal wasn't to make the movie exactly the same as the TV series but to make it its own experience. With Evangelion's large fan base, he knew from the start that he wouldn't be able to please everyone so he just focused on doing his job, handling the script and directing.
In terms of the AX audience, however, it was overwhelmingly pleased, both by McFarland and by Palencia's rendition of Rei. When asked how she felt about playing a character associated with someone else, Palencia replied that it was a little scary, but she didn't want to strive for a voice match. In fact, she didn't watch any of the TV series dub and concentrated instead on focusing on McFarland's direction. However, she has played characters similar to Rei before so the role came easily, and she mentioned that she does enjoy playing "emotionless" characters.
The panel was questioned regarding the next Evangelion movie, and McFarlane stated that while he would like to be involved in it, no solid decisions have yet been made regarding the next cast. He also has not seen the next film so he doesn't have any details on the movie's continuation or how much the story will change. According to McFarlane, director Anno considers the movie a new retelling of the Evangelion, and any changes made are per his preferences. McFarlane did mention that he hoped the movie series would be considered more confusing than the original, to which Palencia responded that she didn't think it was that confusing.
However, some things about the Evangelion universe remain constant. Towards the end of the Q&A session, someone asked McFarlane if Shinji had an Oedipus complex. He responded by turning the question back to the crowd. The answer? A resounding yes.