Title: Evangelion Anew
Posted: May 20, 2010 (03:11 PM)
So I just watched, last night, the first movie of the new Evangelion series. New is a relative term... it's really the same series that's been reanimated in many places, revoiced, and reworked in terms of plot and also the addition of new scenes.
The overall impression is good, but good with a dash of nervousness. Explanations follow.
First of all, it's Evangelion. That right there puts it above most anime as Evangelion is a show that does make one think and gets into some rather heavy character interactions, especially within the "family unit" that so pervades Japanese culture.
However, I wonder if the new version doesn't occasionally overdo it. In the old show, it took some time to get to know the characters. Internal monologue didn't really show up until half way through the show and it was only then that you started to see how much the characters had become obsessed with their problems. It turned what had once seemed like a friendly, if occasionally dark, mecha show into something more serious. It pulled the rug out from under viewers. We weren't prepared for how heavy it would quickly become.
In this version, the heaviness is there from the start. Shinji has monolouges within the first hour which paint him to hate his father and to think of himself as worthless. This isn't helped by the fact that many of the characters are introduced more quickly and many of the humourous scenes have been cut. It used to be that we saw two sides to characters like Misato: in fairly equal servings we would get a flirtatious, college-girl, aspect... and then also a serious, dedicated, army officer aspect. The two together gave us a well rounded character who we associated and laughed with, and became uncomfortable around in her more serious moments.
In the new show, everyone is much more serious from the start. While it fits well with characters like Gendo and Rei, who were pretty soulless anyway, it doesn't work as well for Misato or Shinji, whom we really became close to quickly in the old show. They are harder to relate to, now.
I also cringed a bit at some of the plot exposition that occurred and nearly turned the movie off altogether when Lillith showed up in the last half hour. Misato doesn't only know about Lillith in this version, she shows it to Shinji! I'm not sure that this is a good idea AT ALL as the mystery of Lillith and "something lurking in NERV's basment" was one of the more disturbing aspects of the original show. Similarly, showing it to Shinji gives him more knowledge than he needs and he doesn't do anything with it. In fact, his lack of caring about the monster seems out of place and paints the scene as general exposition to better explain the plot to the audience.
Introducing Kaoru at the end of the movie, on the other hand, was eerie and a good a decision that complicates the plot in interesting ways.
I have only seen the first film at this point and will be continuing on to the second. That's when Asuka and Kaji get introduced and that will decide a lot for me as far as how successful this remix has been. Both of these characters absolutely require the mix of humour, sex, and darkness to make them work. If they are given this more subtle treatment, it will actually make the first film's over-seriousness work well, because it will be a wonderful counterbalance showcasing just how f-ed up everyone at NERV is.
On the other hand, if they are instantly shown to be disturbed individuals (which they are, but it doesn't need to come out yet!) it will just make the whole thing feel ponderous and the audience will never connect with them in the same way as they did in the originals.
There's also a chance here to make the Lillith thing make sense, if Lillith is shown to no longer be the central NERV mystery. Some great mystery will have to take its place to make it work, but I wouldn't be against that. The Lillith thing was, honestly, always a little heavy-handed for me, even in the original.
Oh, one more thing that can't be ignored is how beautiful the animation is. Everything's been cleared up for the blu-ray version and looks BRILLIANT in HD. Crisp, clean, and smoothly coloured. Just beautiful. Oddly enough, much of the music has been removed from the show, which overall works well in adding a more serious tone to everything and making some new sounds, like the new screams of the angels, particularly jarring.
Posted: May 20, 2010 (06:41 PM)
You know what pisses me off is that not only did I buy the original TV series, the "director's cut" version of the last 5 episodes, and the first set of movie retellings/sequels....
....then a few months back, I bought Evangelion 1.01: You are not alone. I thought it was cool, right? And then I was at Best Buy and saw Evangelion 1.11 and got all excited thinking it was the second movie, but it was a RERELEASE of the RERELEASE I had bought just a few months ago!
Fuck those money-hungry rereleasing bastards, fuck them! Fuck fuck!
Yeah, I was pissed, and still am. What was the point of the inferior Evangelion 1.01 other than to steal my money?
Posted: May 20, 2010 (11:56 PM)
haven't really seen much of Evangelion aside from the 1st couple episodes...although i should. however, i am really digging Gainax's latest anime, Gurren Lagaan. its EPIC..
Posted: May 21, 2010 (12:52 AM)
I feel you, Zig. I bought all of Evangelion on VHS, for chrissake, and finally got rid of it somewhere along the way.
For years I debated rebuying the series, especially with all the fancy releases. I somehow lucked out and didn't bite until a week ago.
But I'm sure in a few months we'll see NEO-Evangelion!