Neon Genesis Evangelion would have to be, by far, the most widespread and influential Anime series and franchise to have ever been created. It has spanned over 18 incredible years and, although it showed signs of slowing down during the 90s, it has been a fan favourite for most of those years. Every Anime fan knows Neon Genesis Evangelion and – between the original series, the End of Evangelion movies, the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy and it’s countless marketing adventures – if you didn’t know about it “back in the day” I’ll guarantee you know about it now.
The series takes place in Tokyo-3 and it is exactly how it sounds, after a great deal of the earth was decimated during the Second Impact, where in which a large-scale battle lead to a larger scale force of destruction being set loose upon our world, Tokyo-3 has had to “put up” with the ruthless attacks of creatures referred to only as “Angels” even though that is extremely far from what they truly are, but you don’t know that yet so “shush”! NERV is a government agency who have developed gargantuan, humanoid robots called “Evas” which were created with the sole purpose of defending the world against the advances of the Angels and stopping the world from going through what it has already been through once before. Enter, Shinji Ikari. He’s a young boy who was chosen by his father, the fearless leader of NERV, to pilot Eva Unit 01, not seeing his father for many years Shinji seems fairly reluctant and, after a while of indecisiveness and general fear, he pilots Unit 01 and destroys his first Angel. He meets fellow pilot Rei Ayanami, she’s a quiet girl but a killer in an Eva, he also meets two young men from school who he quickly becomes friends with.
Throughout the movie he fights three Angels, each one more difficult than the last and as much as I’d like to get into the “nitty gritty” of the story I really can’t without spoiling something that is best seen by watching the actual film. That’s a big thing about the Rebuild of Evangelion movies; just explaining what goes on isn’t enough to do it justice, people seem to experience it in different ways yet leave it with such fundamental agreements. It’s very fascinating.The story, in my opinion, is absolutely fantastic. I love how Evangelion seems like one thing but it is really an entirely different thing. Looking at the front cover with no idea what this film is about, all you can think is “oh, another robot anime” but it is so much more than that both literally and mentally speaking. The characters develop in a way like no others and, while Shinji really annoyed me at the start with his constant yet justified whinging and whining, the change in character types is well-done and it’s only by the end of the movie do you realise how incredibly brilliant it all is. It hits you like a tonne of bricks and leaves you with countless questions…and this is only the first of fours movies. So not only do you have the “cool” factor, that being giant robots fighting giants monsters, but you also have the psychological factor, it gets your brain ticking and your blood rushing in a way only Evangelion can, that’s why the fans of this franchise are so intense.
Many years ago when the series was just finishing up it seems like the production company ran out of budget for the show which lead to some really dodgy animation and the general populous feeling down-right crummy about it, jump to 12 years later and you’re met with such brilliance, this movie. The way that the animation team literally blend CG animation with traditional animation is just fantastic, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an Anime movie get this close to visual perfection. The way the characters move and they way the robots do battle, the environments, the sweeping shots, the level of time, money and power put into this movie can be seen at first glance and that is something I have to applaud. The character designs haven’t changed that much since the original release of the series but considering that was never an issue I wouldn’t consider that to be a negative aspect in any way. The development team have managed to keep the old-school feel of the original series within the movies despite the fact that, visually, it is infinitely better.
The music is fantastic and really suits well with the series, the orchestral tracks really blend well with the vibe that the story gives off and the sound effects of the robots and the world the series is based work in such a perfect way. I would like to draw everybody’s attention to the level of voice acting that was in this movie. Now the original cast of the series do the same voices in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies which I think is just awesome but that’s not the point I’m trying to make, I watched this in English and the voice actors for, yes, every character did such a high calibre job on getting the voices spot on. You could feel the emotion, you could feel the sadness and, my God, you could feel the terror of these characters. While there are characters like Rei who don’t speak to often, and when they do they’re extremely quite, you can still get the feel for the character just by the voice of the actor or actress playing them. It is difficult to find an Anime/Anime Movie with English voice actors that put in the hard yards to get it right and Evangelion some how found the ones to do it, I guess that’s why they’ve been doing the same roles for all these years.
I’m reviewing the “Slipcase Edition” which comes with a dust cover to go over the DVD case which is really nice, it’s very basic and just has the name but it looks nice in a shelf which, I suppose, is what matters. The DVD case has a reversible cover which even has the name of the movie on the flip side of the spine so it is literally a reversible cover unlike a great deal of other releases that only give a small piece of artwork as the flip. The release also comes with a small 20-page book which takes you throught he movie, a small explanation of what it’s like behind the scenes, important parts of the series, some nice pictures and even a fairly long note from series creator Hideaki Anno. The “on-disc” extras are even better, you get the original release of the movie “1.01”, the Angel of Doom promotional music video, Evangelion news flashes, movie previews and trailers. It’s an incredible release.
What more could I possibly say about this movie? I’m a big fan of the movie, despite my lack of interest in the series, and I feel like it’s done so well that it casts such a wide net. I’ve seen non-anime fans enjoy this movie and I think that’s a real testament to the amount of blood, sweat and tears put into this film. I think it’s fantastic on all fronts and, while it’s a bit strange story-wise, I fell like all different types of audiences could get into it as long as they have the slightest bit of an open mind. Each aspect of the movie complements the next. It’s for fans of the genre and for fans of just well put together animated films. It’s number one in my books let me just say that.
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