Neon Genesis Evangelion, after more than a decade, still remains to be one of the most revolutionary anime series of all time. I am not a fan of mecha, but this anime transcends beyond being mecha, bringing along twisted characters and an intriguing plot at amazing pace and intensity. I guess the anime stood the test of time, in that despite looking rather old by today’s standards, it still entertained me when I rewatched it recently in preparation for this new movie. When I got the news that Evangelion is being ‘rebuilt’ anew, I myself have mixed reactions. How would GAINAX do this? Obviously there will be comparisons, and personally I would have preferred a remake of the anime series instead of rebuilding it into four separate movies. After I had watched this first movie though… well… I still have mixed reactions I guess.
This first movie is basically the first six episodes of the TV series… copied and pasted with new production techniques. It’s not a 100% carbon copy though, as scenes have been deleted and some plot points rearranged. Still, this feels like the same Evangelion I have known. The same Tokyo-3 being attacked by Angels, NERV trying to prevent Third Impact (end of the world) using EVA (yucky looking robots), Shinji piloting despite his overall wussiness, Misato with her awesome onee-chan-ship and battle composure, Rei the charmingly silent and mysterious girl, and all other important characters that comprise this series. And I thought, man, Evangelion never looked this great. And indeed it looks great, it’s been upgraded for the next century.
There is a big “but” here. As I said, there have been changes, and as someone who has seen the original, I would argue that I don’t approve of some things. I would agree on their plot rearrangements, as they seem to make the overall story a bit simpler than the original. This is good especially in movie format, because the original TV series and accompanying old movies were quite mindbending. This also allows new viewers to enjoy Evangelion without needing prior knowledge or watching the old ones. The stuff I was disappointed about were the missing scenes. Particuarly, most of these scenes comprise fleshing out various characters and inter-character relationships. For example, we have less of Shinji with his classmates Kaji and Aida, which means their friendship is not as apparent as in the original series. Aside from being a awesome mecha action fest, Evangelion is also supposed to be a character-driven piece. I guess this movie focused a bit much on the action elements, and not on the characters themselves. One would argue that adding up character-based scenes would kill the overall feel of this movie, which tends to be on the serious side. Well then, I guess the ‘Misato and Shinji at the apartment’ scene would be the only comic relief event of the entire movie. That one in retrospect is quite isolated from the overall darkness of the rest of the movie. If only they had carbon-copied the entire storyboard… but I guess I’m wishing for a TV series in that case.
I would not expect this kind of glitz and glamour from a TV series though. The new Evangelion looks awesome! Computer-aided graphics make the movie look astoundingly sweet, and probably this is one example of a pinnacle of what 2D animation can show off nowadays. Full focus was given towards the battle with the Angel Ramiel, originally just a diamond polygon in the series, but now a shape-shifting wonder in the movie. That battle was certainly good, testament to classic Evangelion style: intensified gripping action through visuals, good pacing, boom sound, orchestraic score, and awesome voice acting. Despite its faults, I guess for me the movie redeemed itself with this artistic showcase. I never thought I would enjoy an action anime for a long time since I have been in the world of shoujos and bishoujos for too long.
Thankfully, this is just part one. Now my focus would be on the next movies. I may expect more blabber from myself, because the second movie will not be too much a carbon-copy this time around. So maybe my disappointments with the deleted scenes would be unjustified. Maybe they are taking Evangelion to a different direction, which is still all fine by me. I still want my characters first and foremost though. Let’s see if Asuka still reigns to be the original and only tsundere that matters, whether the new characters and new changes add up to the experience, and whether it can top the awesomeness of the action scenes of this first movie. Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, despite the eventual complaints and comparisons with the well-loved/hated original, is definitely a must-watch.
And hopefully… more fanservice too!