Posted On December - 22 - 2009




  RATING:   PG 13
  RELEASE DATE:   11/03/2009
  REVIEW DATE:   12/22/2009

The movie serves as a streamlined and great jumping on point for new fans and to simplify it for old fans to enjoy.  It sets to demystify, simplify and reenergize probably the most well known science fiction anime of all time. Hideaki Anno has returned to helm the adaptation of his original masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion. He has done so far a very faithful retelling in this first movie which roughly covers the initial quarter of the TV series. The film proves to be a streamlined version of the events and a superb jumping on point for new viewers.

It opens on Tokyo-3, the city that has been built after the world was nearly decimated by a cataclysmic event known only as the Second Impact. To protect the population of Japan and possibly the world, an organization known as NERV fights the attacks of aliens known as Angels. They do this with the only weapon they have – the EVA units. These giant mechanical fighters require a key component to function however: young teenagers who have an affinity with the units. Little more than children, they are forced to learn to kill, bear the unbearable and fight horrors that sanity cannot endure in an effort to save the last of humanity from a threat that is as mysterious as it is powerful.

At the heart of Evangelion is the story of Shinji Akari. He is called to Tokyo-3 by his estranged father. He meets with the effervescent woman Misato. He arrives right in the middle of an Angel attack. In a hiss of fire and ruin they scarcely survive for his introduction the hard way to NERV and why his father called him there. He wants Shinji to pilot the Eva unit 01. At first Shinji sulks yet he is moved inexorably to pilot the hulking machine and in so doing steps into a nightmare. The pain of combat and the horror of battle are all too much for him. His first battle scares him mentally and emotionally. It is only through his living with the heavy drinking yet kind Misato and his tenuous connection felt with the enigmatic girl known as Rei who pilots Eva unit 00 that he finds some solace and determination to again step into the machine that may be more monster than mechanics as seen when it goes berserk with Shinji in it.

The growing questions about the Eva units and the threat to Earth is matched by Shinji’s mental and emotional struggle as pilot and human begin struggling to go from boy to man. When a second Angel attacks, they embark on a risky plan involving both units, both pilots and a sniper attempt. In order to save his burgeoning friendships and need for purpose and worth, he steps into the machine to do what he must. But at what cost?

Fans will recognize just how faithful an adaptation this is by watching it.  It is almost scene per scene many of the key moments of approximately the first six episodes. The only changes, aside from higher quality animation, are the addition of a couple of images and the ending to the first film which sees an earlier introduction of Kaworu than in the TV Series. The show ends on the moon, an area swathed in blood and coffins and a figure stepping out, wanting and looking forward to his pending meeting with Shinji.

The movie is very successful in its first film of streamlining the series to its most essential aspects while still giving a powerful story and unforgettable moments and characters. New viewers will have no trouble following the story and not be left out, while old fans will love seeing the shiny new look yet faithful adaptation of one of their all time favorite anime.

All of the original staff involved with the TV series has been reunited for the movie rendition. This includes Hideaki Anno who writes, directs and is the original creator of the Evangelion phenomenon. So too returns Character Designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto who not only worked on Evangelion the TV series but also cult and critically acclaimed titles such as Gunbuster. Mechanical Designer Ikuto Yamashita (Gunbuster, Blue Submarine no. 6) returns, music composer Shiro Sagisu (Bleach), and the entire original Japanese voice cast. Sadly not all of the original English voice cast returned for the new film series, however Spike Spence (Shinji ) and Alison Keith (Misato) have both come back to reprise their pivotal roles with their beloved character interpretations.  Although many will undoubtedly miss Amanda Winn-Lee’s famous performance as Rei, Brina Palencia does an outstanding performance as the mysterious female pilot that captures our attention.

The opening scene is striking with the Angel attack and devastation to the city and military forces. The animation is clean, detailed, and of theatrical caliber. It is done not only by Gainax (Gunbuster, Diebuster, His and Her Circumstances), but also Hideaki Anno’s own animation production house – Studio Khara. Every scene is breathtaking. No amount of effort was spared to give the best and highest quality look to the film. One change isn’t in the score, but the closing theme song. A new song is introduced. Called “Beautiful World”, it is a song with haunting lyrics and sung by pop idol Hikaru Utada.

Bonus features include trailers.

The new version of the Evangelion series allows fans to discover something new and is an excellent jumping on point for new viewers.

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