Evangelion 2.0: You Can (not) Advance
Just when you thought it was safe to say things make sense, another Evangelion movie comes out. Known for being head scratchingly odd, complex, and (we believe) brilliant, movie two (of four) picks up right where 1.0: You Are (not) Alone leaves off.
Yet, whereas 1.0 was mostly introductory, and reintroduced viewers to a world they already knew, 2.0 punches audiences and reminds them they don't know jack about what's going on. If we need a stronger allegory, 1.0 is a scalpel, making slight incisions into the plot, in order to show us the hidden insight. This is contrasted by the sledgehammer of 2.0, which shatters the pinata, raining down candy on us gleeful children.
While we continue to reference the first movie, it should be said that it is borderline required viewing. A retelling of the beginning episodes, a veteran (who probably should have seen the first movie on principal) could wing it. You Can (not) Advance will be 100% required for each subsequent movie. Everything about the film has been ratcheted up, and the cast of characters and linage of events is inexorably altered.
This is not to say the film doesn't reward loyalists. Piles of nuances scream out, gaining additional value not in spite of changes, but because of them. Fan favorites such as enigmatic Kaji Ryoji and ace pilot Asuka Langely Soryu make their Rebuild debut, while introducing us to a few new angels and the fourth child, Mari Illustrious Makinami. The later provides an increasingly large variable. Mari is an entirely new pilot, representing a faction outside of N.E.R.V. At risk of insinuating too much, I look forward to her contributions in films to come.
Yet, the real mastery in this film isn't what changed, its what's surprisingly still the same. Despite what appear to be shocking changes, the Evangelion series is still about people. Plot aside, the core of it all is still an incredibly interesting character study.
Though it barely needs stating, the incredible production value persists. Riff with beautifully drawn sequences, it's the quality we have come to expect. Ignoring stylistic preference, Evangelion continues to set the bar for how technology and animation can blend.
Reviewed by John Martone , April 2011
Anime DVD Review
All this anime fan has to say about this is... "OH YEAH BABY!!!"
There is only a handful of anime that can truly be deemed revolutionary. Yamato, Gundam, Macross... and Evangelion. And we're living in a world where it is now normal to take an existing franchise and "reboot" it (i.e., Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, "V").
So, what have we got here? Simply one of the greatest things I've seen in a very long time. Unbelievably amazing in every aspect. Looking like it had an unlimited budget, the film is a feast for the eyes -- seriously, this is the way the series SHOULD have looked, with crisp, clean lines and spectacular action sequences. Not that the original was that bad, after all, we're talking about GAINAX, but, I mean.. this is just... Wow. You're sitting there with your jaw open, thinking "oh... my... god..."
This film (the first of four) covers episodes one through six at a mind-numbing 98-minute breakneck pace. While some of the character development suffers in the compressed timeframe, all the angst and self-doubt is still there, along with all the nail-biting suspense and cryptic plots twists. Every anime fan should be giddy with delight at the prospect of seeing this flick. It's not just a "reboot", it's like being born again.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, January 2010
Neon Genesis Evangelion —
The End of Evangelion
Anime DVD Review
Now that Evangelion has enjoyed an unbroken run on Cartoon Network, you probably think you've seen it all. Grit your teeth, settle down and throw away the last two episodes of the TV series. Here's the movie that essentially re-does the ending, changing things so that they make a bit more sense (depending upon your outlook), as director Hideaki Anno recreates the epic of epics and settles, once and for all, the greatest anime series of all time.
This unrated feature, suitable for ages 17 and older, contains considerable violence, profanity, grotesque imagery, and sexual situations. So, hide the kids from this, it's a much more an adult epic than the TV series was, appealing to a mature generation of fans who grew up watching it.
The 'myth' of the situation is that the final two episodes of the TV series were created in a rush, in that sponsor funding was cut and pressure was placed upon Gainax to end the series differently from what was originally scripted. The original scripts were then rescued from the trash can and became the basis for this movie, making this the one true ending as originally envisioned. Or, it could be that fans were so shocked and appalled by the TV series ending that they decided to redo it all over again to save face. Who knows what the real story is - truth can be a fickle maiden.
All we care is that this film kicks ass and sorta' like the film '2001 a Space Odyssey' you take with it what you are willing to put in, -and- there's still quite a bit left to the interpretation of the viewer, so that fans will STILL argue about the ending decades after the series is over. Nevertheless, if you've even the slightest interest in Evangelion, you owe it yourself to see this and make up your own mind regarding what the hell is going on.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2006
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Anime DVD Review
We recommend this pick, which is the first of a series (established Evangelion fans should note that a complete boxed set of the series has just come out). And what a series it is! Neon Genesis Evangelion may be one of the most dramatic, thought-provoking, intelligent, emotionally charged TV series ever made, animated or otherwise.
The tale centers around Shinji, who is unwillingly selected to pilot Evangelion Unit 01 (by his father, to whom he has no love), to defend the Earth against mysterious aliens known only as "Angels". Don't mistake this series for "just another robot show", the robot isn't the center of the story or even the action. It's the characters and their three-dimensionality that bring this to life. So much so that fans of the series hotly debate the justifications and motivations behind the characters of the story.
All this combines with Anno Hideaki's super-skillful direction, which breaks the mold for anime, presenting an unusual assortment of film noir, experimental cinema, hints of Sergei Eisenstein, and emotional allegorical sequences similar to what you'd see in something like Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries". This is anime for fans of film, and this is anime for fans of anime. Once you get absorbed into the story and the characters, you'll wonder why all anime, or even all TV shows and Movies aren't like this.
The Notenki Memoirs:
Studio Gainax And The Men Who Created Evangelion
Anime Book Review
The Notenki Memoirs, originally published in Japan in 2002, is a memoir by Yasuhiro Takeda, a longtime producer at Gainax. It is a tell-all account of Studio Gainax, the creators of the classic anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. The author, a member of the Gainax company since its inception, talks about everything from the untold stories of Eva to the Gainax tax evasion scandal that plagued its production.
The Notenki Memoirs takes you up until the time of Evangelion, but speaks very little of Evangelion's success and the subsequent transformation of the studio. For the Evangelion fan, this is not a disappointment. In fact, this book is quite an enjoyable read, and provides a wonderful look into the life and times of Studio Gainax.
Considering the awesome body of work that Gainax has created; everything from their non-professional work as fanboys back in the days of Daicon to Royal Space Force, to Evangelion to FLCL, a look inside the pressure-cooker of constant zany creativity and the push to create top-of-the-line anime, anime that redefines the medium itself, is a real treat to the outsider who can only wonder what the heck goes into creating the stuff that we enjoy and even take for granted.
Although not up-to-date (and really in need of a sequel), this book includes a series of stunning revelations, and overall this history of Gainax is a must-read for any serious anime fan. It makes us wonder what the heck working for such a studio must be like, and we wonder if Studio Ghibili is any different.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, October 2006
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Anime Soundtrack Review
Neon Genesis Evangelion may be one of the most dramatic, thought-provoking, intelligent, emotionally charged TV series ever made, animated or otherwise. Anno Hideaki's super-skillful direction, which breaks the mold for anime, presents an unusual assortment of film noir, experimental cinema, and allegorical sequences. It set the pattern for the new "golden age" of anime.
Now appreciate the series once again, but via the music. Yes, they repeat "Fly Me To The Moon" a few too many times, but that doesn't subtract from the overall impact of this incredible soundtrack. When the Angels attack, you'll be ready with the appropriate sounds!
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, December 2005
Neon Genesis Evangelion II
Anime Soundtrack Review
If you're nuts about Evangelion, then this is for you! From the kinetic, Arabic-styled "Angel Attack III" to the mellow chords of "Moment When Tension Breaks", there's a little bit of everything is this soundtrack album. Released by Pioneer/Geneon, the CD reflects the series' depth of feeling and character development, two things that are becoming scarcely seen on TV or the movie screen, especially here in the states.
A fantastic musical experience by composer Shiroh Sagisu. Definitely good listening for that long road trip. And you'll definitely enjoy their take on "Fly Me To The Moon" (an old Sinatra favorite).