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~Ephesians 5:16

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone Review

If you're an anime fan, you've definitely heard of Evangelion. It has been called legendary, infamous, and everything you can think of. Giant robot anime is nothing new, but Evangelion stands above many. For a new fan, going back and watching the original Neon Genesis show can seem a little daunting. This is where the Rebuild movies come in. Serving as a reboot/retelling of the series, it's supposed to be perfectly accessible for new viewers and an update for longtime fans. You Are (Not) Alone is the first film in the tetralogy. For someone first entering the Evangelion realm, it proves to be a very interesting watch. It's basically what you get if you combine Pacific Rim with Serial Experiments Lain. The result is a solid opener with plenty of great things but could definitely use a little more detail.

The story follows Shinji who reluctantly must pilot Eva Unit-01 to stop the sinister Angels from destroying mankind. Along the way he meets Rei, a mysterious 14 year old girl. While that miniature plot summary sounds simple, the actual story is a lot more in-depth without actually being in-depth. Shinji is established early on as a depressed individual, not sure what his role in the world is. The fact that his father basically considers him nothing other than a tool doesn't help matters. It's an interesting dynamic, since it seems like his father, Gendo, cares for Rei, but not for Shinji. Since the tetralogy is basically one long story, I will assume it'll explain why exactly there's no relationship between the two in the next one.

The opening 20 minutes is quite impressive. The Angels are definitely one of the more terrifying anime villains. The first Angel especially (technically in movie it's the 4th) is very cool to watch. The city destruction and subsequent battle with Eva Unit-01 is worthy to be called cinematic and just awesome. If it's one thing Evangelion 1.0 doesn't disappoint in, it's the Angels and level of destruction. The other Angels that appear aren't quite as scary as the fourth, but still were impressive. (You know you have a winner when a shape-shifting diamond thing, the Sixth Angel, makes for a good final antagonist.) Like a lot of mecha anime however, over half of the focus is on the problems of the main character and everything around him.

Things happen very quickly from the start. Shinji is almost forced into the cockpit of Eva-01, and by the end of the film the viewer is still not entirely sure why. Why does it seem like only kids can pilot the Evas? There's a large amount of vagueness throughout the movie. Of course, since there's a blunt "to be continued" at the end, it's natural to assume this series is one of those things where answers will present itself as it goes along. Still, the film could have benefited from a little more information. When Misato was showing Shinji Lilith, the Second Angel, and its role in the birth of humanity, I'm thinking, "Great, this is interesting! Tell me more!" But that scene is over before it began.

A lot of anime are known for its fan-service. Sadly, Evangelion falls culprit to in. Perhaps the original show had some of that, but it doesn't mean it's necessary for it to be in the movies. There's a few awkward scenes that truly don't belong. Keeping in mind that it happens to be's very strange. (Rei is 14, so I had to grimace and turn away from a certain scene...) Anyways, aside from Shinji, much of the focus is on Rei. She's rather quiet and alone, which perplexes Shinji. The bond they form and the end is nicely done. Misato is established early on as bubbly, but quickly becomes serious when leading the military group: NERV. It's interesting to see her happy personality in the home and then her military character on the job. The soundtrack is what you expect from a big budget theatrical anime film, quality stuff.

Evangelion's first Rebuild movie is a solid entry to get into the franchise. You Are (Not) Alone has great animation, an intriguing story, and epic fights. It however does lack a lot of information which will hopefully be explored in 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. The fan service is a bit jarring, but thankfully it isn't a focus and happens rarely. Hopefully the sequels don't escalate it. Overall, the film is a great way to enter one of anime's greatest stories.


1 comment:

  1. Always sad to see a cool concept for a film get dragged down by fanservice. That is one area where I have to admit that american animation is better. You never see fanservice like that in shows like Spiderman or Justice League. Pretty much any comic book show that is out there has managed to succeed without it. (Live actions cannot say the same)

    I disagree a little on the vagueness part because it's fun to have to fill in the blanks on your own. It's what made Lain so intriguing and I always love for films to be vague as long as it's vague in a cool way.

    Beyond that, it's cool that you got to see one of the big anime films. It's definitely monumental for the anime world and hopefully the sequels can be as good.