Evangelion Shin Gekijouban: Ha
[Score: 80% = "Rent+"]|
This second theatrical version of Evangelion is a mixed bag: Outstanding visuals, interesting variations of most lead characters, but storywise rushing through 18 episodes of the series and breaking canon about several important aspects while at the same time explaining almost nothing.
While Evangelion Shin Gekijouban: Jo was a true remake and rather close to the original series, this second movie takes a lot more liberties such as incompatible story changes, a renamed main character and a new pilot character, thus making it a retelling or even a parallel universe spin-off of the legendary original. It has a lot of the original components but is also surprisingly different (most notably in the pilots' relation department that has more teenage romance), with interesting new material; at the same time some essential story parts lacked preparation, and even knowing a lot about the original story I am scratching my head about certain events.
This movie provides a number of foreshadowings that will ask for explanation later, such as Kaworu's first appearance (and his surprising way of addressing Gendou), or Mari's motivation for piloting an EVA, or the "true god" that SEELE intends to create. Two more movies to go, and a completely new story to be told from here on.
- Art & Animation: This movie is a visual feast, even more so than the first one. The colors are bright instead of gloomy; this is a daylight show where the first part was a nightmare adventure. The background images cover scenes that we haven't seen in the series without being clearly incompatible; all Angels are visualized in dazzling colors and movements, their battles are slightly different from the original with some details being better visible (such as how Adam looks like). Animation is cool, with the three EVAs running in full speed during the battle against Sahaquiel.
- Music: I wasn't a particular fan of the original score but it had certain highlights; one of these, the Battle Theme, has been enhanced with a howling guitar which I consider a plus. The music during the Sahaquel battle was great. The original theme is still missing but that's the price for being a movie instead of a series. And the music during the EVA-03 battle... wow! That's Anno Hideaki for you, increasing the effect of the scene by emphasizing Shinji's helplessness with the use of this absurd song: "Let's stay friends forever" (EVA-03 choking its enemy)... "flying like a bird in the sky" (EVA-03 flying through the air)... that's why Evangelion is not just another Mecha show. Unfortunately the same trick doesn't work twice, thus ruining the final battle.
- Fan-Service: Well, there is some, including the Pen-Pen scene and a strikingly unnecessary pantsu shot of Asuka in bed. Mari's appearance in Japan is another scene of this type that I easily could have done without, and the nudity scene where Misato learns about the fate of EVA-04 as well. And the final "fusion angel"... well, it's not like the original show had none of this.
- Lead Characters:
- Mari as the pre-hyped "new girl in the team" has little personality so far and yet to find her place within this story. She's cool though, and I am curious about her agenda.
- Asuka having a different name ("Shikinami" instead of "Soryuu", being a Japanese sister ship of "Ayanami") for no apparent reason is something that might be frowned upon by die-hard fans but might also indicate she's in fact not the same person: Asuka is less cross-grained, she adapts much faster to Shinji this time, and she's apparently less of a mentally disturbed character; plus her link to Kaji is completely missing. She's much simpler and less important - but more likable.
- Rei, my favorite blue-haired anime girl, is the blow-off of this release, far from being a "doll" this time and showing great development instead, still unable to understand human emotions (she asks Gendou for help about this, of all people!) but getting actively involved in the father-son conflict of the Ikari family.
- Gendou has scenes where he really tries to communicate with Shinji, and his gamble about what's required for the awakening makes him less in the know about SEELE and more desperate; I liked his ruthless, one-dimensional perfectionist version from the series better.
- The "mentally crippled kids" element that was so dominant in the series (and confusing Anno-sensei about why the series was be so successful despite them) is significantly toned down, making all pilots easier to accept by the audience - but less outstanding at the same time. I wonder what the ultimate message will be this time - perhaps Gendou's words "Grow up" addressed towards Shinji?
- Side Characters: Touji, Kensuke and Hikari are reduced to short, lifeless cameos. Ritsuko is hardly visible (except for one intimate scene with "Ryou-chan", plus blurting out secrets about Instrumentality to everyone); her mother isn't even mentioned (so what about Rei's origin?). All NERV staff is reduced to technobabble producers except for Fuyutsuki who is reduced to Gendou's assistant without own agenda. This is a movie with its focus on the few leads, and it shows. This takes away much of the series' depth, and even after having been successfully deceived by Touji's basketball scene and understanding why he doesn't need any character depth here I'm still unhappy with it.
- School Life: The school life element gets enough air time for being the important Petri dish for character development (this being the best aspect of this version despite bordering harem territory at times) but causes a plausibility issue by the school building being huge and luxurious (in stark contrast to Rei's apartment) in the midst of a destruction area from the EVA vs. Angel battles.
- Reused scenes in different context:
- Rei's "gratitude" scene, having been the consequence of Shinji cleaning her room in the series, is the consequence of a different action by Shinji here.
- The infamous "Pen-Pen in the shower" scene that was already part of the first movie is reused again, this time with Asuka as the protagonist (nice shot).
- Gendou's and Fuyutsuki's conversation about the "pure earth" takes place in a different location, adding information about Kaworu's origin.
- The "pilots desinfection" scene has been reused in the new school trip part (with the pilots being part of the school trip this time).
- The famous elevator scene from episode 22 appears here already but with completely different dialog text (due to character changes of both participants).
- The "unfamiliar ceiling" scene from early in the series and the EVA recovery scene from EVA-00's final battle in the series here are used in the aftermath of the battle against Bardiel.
- Angel Battles:
- Mari's first appearance is completely new material (including a new EVA-05 and a new Angel #3, the latter breaking canon compatibility).
- Asuka's first battle isn't that exciting compared to her show-off on the ocean in TV episode 8 (but its effect on Misato's car was... wow!).
- All three battles where Shinji and Asuka have to act as a team in episodes 9-11 are missing here (thus the whole numbering system for Angels had to be changed incompatibly), so the whole team-building aspect of the show is missing (which was the most interesting character interaction part of the series at this stage, so this is a disappointment for me).
- Thus the team battle against Sahaquiel is lacking preparation (but shines with great visuals and music), and Asuka's role in the team is significantly different (lacking the element of her being constantly outperformed and frustrated by Baka-Shinji) but Misato's tactical idea how to "speed up" Shinji-kun was impressive.
- The battle against Bardiel now also includes the "Awakening" element from the battle against Zeruel, thus merging two Angels's roles into one.
- The final battle is ruined by the music and too many things happening without explanation.
- Story transparency: The TV series was already difficult to understand if we refer to the SEELE/NERV layer of the story; the movies are even less informative about this aspect. Several small inconsistencies don't exactly make things any easier. Knowing the series and some background material it is easy for me to follow the story but I can hardly guess how many unanswered questions a new audience might have (such as why Asuka has a puppet with her own name, or details about the Second Impact, or how&when Bardiel attached itself to EVA-03). This may well be the weakest aspect of this version: The SEELE/NERV layer of this story just isn't working at this stage of the four-part release.
- Story simplifications:
- EVA-03 having a different pilot (plausibly prepared by the cooking competition) breaks the canon precondition for EVA/pilot combinations (thus removing a core element from the story, the Marduk Institute), despite Yui still being where she was in the series.
- The dummy plugs having been developed elsewhere changes their very nature (and the role of Rei in this scenario as well).
- The Angel's goal being redefined to touching Lilith makes the whole Adam subplot irrelevant.
- I also didn't like the cheesy reason for EVA-01's awakening, it takes away much of the whole Dead Sea Scrolls element from the show. But the original reason was killed by the many canon violations.
Last updated Friday, January 27 2012. Created Saturday, October 08 2011.