Review of Evangelion 1.0 – You Are (Not) Alone
Fans have been waiting with bated breath for the return of Hideaki Anno’s Rebuild of Evangelion saga ever since it was announced in 2006. The story is a retelling of his much debated and highly influential 1995 classic anime series Neon Genesis: Evangelion, with an ending so controversy that an alternate ending was released as a feature film film.
End of Evangelion, in 1997 to provide the enraged fans with a conclusion that answered their questions on the mysteries of series untouched by the two part finale of the series original. 12 years later after its initial release fans were treated to the first installment of the new quadrilogy, but what could it possibly bring to the franchise for a fan base so versed on all things Eva?
Well, seemingly not a lot – but this is not exactly a bad thing in itself. Aside from a few scenes dotted here and there which allude to plot points not uncovered until late into the original series; these 100 minutes are essentially a boiled down version of the first 6 episodes woven more tightly together with modern animation – an what a vast improvement this animation is. While the originals’ cheap and sketchy rendition is still the better of the two it did have its drawbacks come the Eva-angel battles. In Rebuild the climactic battle between Shinji and the sixth angel Ramiel is a visual masterpiece comparatively to the 1995 version, which fully utilities CGI to the right effect to make the angel far more threatening then it initially appeared.
The story remains the same, with emotionally unstable (to the point of nihilism) Shinji Ikari being sent to meet his estranged and distant father at NERV headquarters in order to pilot the colossal Evangelion mecha; man kinds last and only defense from the return of the powerful beings dubbed ‘angels’ which seek to start the apocalyptic Third Impact. Shinji reluctantly takes on the burden along with fellow pilot Rei, a blank girl with seemingly no personality or emotions whose secrets will be explored in the sequels.
As this is the opening chapter this film has to introduce a huge supporting cast and complex back story in addition to the action and drama Evangelion is renowned for, yet it manages to successfully incorporate everything successfully, although some plot points feel slightly rushed. Where it does come up short is the characters, whose development and growth is boiled down to the essentials in order to fit two and a half hours of material into a meager hour-forty. This is just the grumblings of a fan though and new comers will be instantly taken by the ensemble, perhaps even Shinji this time around – who was so pessimistic in the series that it took several episodes to get to like him and two more to despise him again. So if trimming down character development slightly means that Shinji is less irritating then be willing to settle.
We Are (Not) Divided
Overall this can be seen as the ground work for a much larger and ambitious project at work, and by the final scene it is evident that the similarities will not be so great in coming installments. Fans will no doubt be divided as to their loyalties to the original series and the need for something new, while new viewers might be lost in a film so steeped in mystery and requiring prior knowledge. Despite its shortcomings, after years of anticipation Evangelion is back and more beautiful than ever, and for now that’s good enough.