Dean Talks Anime: Dean vs Evangelion
(A Review by Christopher Kinsey)
Act II: The Movies
It’s been a long time coming, I know. But a promise is a promise and I’ve finally gotten some time to get this burden over with. And as I promised before, I’m going to do both movies here. I’m not going to skip out on “Death and Rebirth”… oh no! If you thought Act I had summed up how mind boggling bad we could get, wait until you get a load of this.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth
I’m already hating my life. I put in the disc, fire it up, and get the menu screen. The menu screen is practically flinging images, equations and those lovely “Shinji-isms” that seem to pop up from time to time when the animation budget is squandered. And on top of that I have four selections. You’d think they’d be like every other DVD selection since the format was invented; “Play, Scenes, Languages, Extra Features”. But NO! This is “ART”, remember? So instead I have “Launch, Access, System Specs, Features”. And to add to the confusion, the images jump around sometimes, and so do the options presented. So sometimes they’re on the bottom of the screen, sometimes on the top, and then it all resets randomly! Even now, as I glace back it flashes “I HATE YOU!” Well I can see we’re going to have a smashing relationship.
Well before I get to the PAIN I should check out the features. And I’m left with a screen telling me the features are on the other side of the disc. But that should include some sort of interactive feature (Oh no…), a Photo gallery (Stills of the movie, no doubt), the MAGI Archi (Probably some sort of trivia widget) and the commentary tracks which feature Amanda Wynn Lee (English language director and voice of Rei), Jason C. Lee (Co Producer) and Taleisin Jaffe (Anime Enthusiast). I shit you not, they got an uber anime nerd to sit in on the commentary. Why does this keep happening? Back on the “Transformers: The Movie” DVD they got a bunch of uber Transformer nerds to do a commentary. Does this mean that we’re all going to get out due? Will the makers of the next big anime hit knock on my door and say “Hey, aren’t you that guy who has the stunning critiques of anime? Well come with me to sit in a cramped vocal studio and watch an anime with us. I also have a puppy and candy in my van.” Gods, why do we want to hear about the fanboy reaction to a movie? At least the behind the scenes people will spew out relevant information and have fun with it. The fanboy will probably just nitpick the inaccuracies and be beaten to death by the other commentators.
Before we get started I guess I should tell you all what this movie is. When they decided to bring the real ending of the Evangelion TV series to theaters, some time had passed. So this film was created as a sort of review leading up to the events of the last two episodes. Now at the time it kind of made sense… but the people who would be going to such a film would be pretty much the people who had it all on tapes anyway, right? I don’t know, maybe it brought in more casual viewers, but either way… big mistake!
So let’s get down to it. I press “Launch”. Oh thank god, it’s “Play”. OK, as the production screens whiz past, I can’t help but notice… SEGA had something to do with the movie. What the hell? And you’ll see a lot of production company screens. Seven by my count. Sorry, eight. No, nine.
We start with some fuzzy footage frοm what seems to be a video camera inside “UN Antarctic Underground Base 02” while computers spew out data and a sarcastic man decries scientists and how they’ve created nothing but dogma. Then all hell breaks loose. We’re treated to the re-telling of the First Impact, including the salvation of Misato by her father. New footage.
But it was too good to last. We jump right to the point where Misato’s sleeping with Kaji. Then jump to Asuka’s trauma and training.
But, hey, new footage again! Rei is introduced with… Crap, now we’ve reused Shinji’s introduction. Back to ld footage, it skips right to Shinji getting to the EVA… And then it cuts to Shinji about to crush Kowaru. And then we cut to “18 Months Earlier”.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUU…. No, I’m still going to watch it.
Shinji plays the cello while the credits flash by. Then we cut to the first launch sequence of EVA Unit 01. The fight is all retold in cuts and jerks while words periodically flash on the screen like “The Beast”, “Counterattack” and “AT Field”. As a matter of fact a good chunk of this movie so far has been these stupid flashes of words. But in any case, the pace finally slows when we redo Misato and Shinji moving into the apartment together.
But of course we have to cut back to bits of Misato’s back history. And that decides to jump all over the place as well. And then we montage some of Shinji’s earlier training, the fourth angel attack, Shinji’s attempt to “Run away”, and school days!
If you want to know kind of what I’m going through at this moment, read my “Evangelion” television review… But only read every third sentence. It’s kind of like that.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU… No, I must press on. I can at least hold out to the “Rebirth” part.
OK, so we introduce Asuka, and she’s added into the strings section as a violinist. Of course, our first rehashed scene is “Awkward sexuality starring Shinji”. We’re then bounced around a lot of her character development. All we’re really reminded of she’s bitchy mcbitcherton and yet becomes totally worthless. And then we’re treated to another clippie and seeded with words fight frοm the launching of EVA 02 during the sea attack. And then it’s many varieties of attack. Then much more bitchy mcbitcherton.
And then we’re treated to the one scene they don’t shorten. THE LONG ASS ELEVATOR RIDE WHERE NO ONE TALKS!
FUUUUUUUUUUUUU… No, nonono. This has to be leading somewhere.
So third string into; Rei on viola. Of course we’re all treated to all the sexual tensions of Shinji, and the daddy issues with Gendo. Also we’re reminded how creepy and distant Rei is. And of course more action shots of her EVA. All we really learn is she tends to just be support to the entire group. She holds the shield, she shields another EVA… she rarely kicks ass, if at all.
And then after her “Death”… We cut to some folks lamenting about the loss of seasons and talking about how dangerous Gendo’s plan is. It’s revealed it’s Shinji’s mom Yui and Deputy director Kozo. New footage! Um… woot?
But as always it’s fleeting. We cut to Gendo and Shinji at Yui’s grave. And then we start bouncing frοm time date to time date. Misato’s work with her mother on MAGI, EVA 01 going nuts and devouring another angel, “Rei”‘s resurrection in the hospital room, the Rei clones, and so on and so on…
So we add the fourth member to the string quartet. Toji. Of course we get to where Shinji has to royally kick Toji’s ass EVA to EVA. Really that’s the only reason to include this part at all.
So we go to pleasanter fields about Gendo and Kaji macking out with the ladies and being complete asses. Aw yeahhhh… I’m guessing now we’re doing a montage of the adults, starting with Kaji. Especially his last message to Misato. And how his death affected everyone… blahblahblah…
Which of course leads us to Kaworu. And the saga of Kaworu vs Shinji. I don’t think they’ll reshow the shower scene. Nope, just the EPIC BATTLE!!!!! Meh. Let me just recap for you…
Kaworu: IMMA RIPPIN THROUGH NERV!
Shinji: I’m coming after you! But you can’t be evil!
Kaworu: Nope, not gonna happen. CHOKE ON UNIT 02!
Shinji: FUCK! I’m completely outclassed.
Kaworu: Now that that’s out of the way. Wait a second… What? Aw fuck it, Shinji, I’ve had a complete change of heart against the will of God, pop me like a zit!
*A million years later*
Shinji: Oh alright. *Pop*
Aaaaaaand that’s “Death”. The credits roll over the broken landscape. The credits are doubly long because they have to acknowledge the TV crew as well. There’s even an intermission that counts down for the next feature. I think I’m just gonna partake of it.
With bladder emptied, water refilled, and goldfish crackers obtained. We delve into “Rebirth”. (Peeing on a time limit is ACTION PACKED!)
We zoom up frοm a reflective crater of what’s left of the city, and Shinji just looking on. But then we cut to the BEST EVA MOMENT EVER! Shinji exposing Asuka’s breasts, then jerking off to her nude form. That’s like, the classic of the entire series. If there’s anything you ever learn frοm Evangelion it’s this: Never give up an opportunity to masturbate.
But hey, NEW FOOTAGE! We pick up after the fight with Kaworu, and the bridge bunnies discussing the fate of NERV. Meanwhile Misato ruminates on the Instrumentality program which will be SEELE’s last act. And we get more time with the floating “Sound Only” monoliths. I do have to admit, the slashing of the animation budget did make the mysterious SEELE much more sinister.
So we cut to Rei and Shinji, both are up for some reason and this must be documented. As Misato tries to break in to MAGI for answers, NERV is under attack once more. SEELE is using all of the other MAGI systems in the world to hack into the Japanese NERV center. Akagi helps bolster the defenses and soon it’s mission accomplished! But now SEELE will launch an invasion of Japan to finally get Lillith and Adam.
So of course, war happens. Lots of war, and lots of waiting for war. And of course the scrambling of pilots to EVAs. Meanwhilst NERV is getting it’s asses kicked. Of course the NERV forces are at the disadvantage. They’re dressed as henchmen for an evil overlord while the SEELE forces look like a cross between a SWAT team and ninjas.
In all the hubbub Shinji is cut off frοm his EVA and Misato goes to find him. Meanwhile the bridge bunnies get a rude awakening when the crack forces bust in. Just as the scene climaxes it does an eyecatch.. like they were expecting a commercial! Oh mercy…
We come back to Rei standing in front of a red pool when Gendo shows up telling her it’s time to go. We then continue the scouring of the NERV when Shinji is found by some soldier and about to be executed (Yay soldiers), but are stopped at the last second by Misato (You could have waited a second… ). So of course Shinji’s being a little shit about it and Misato’s forced to drag him along.
So then SEELE drops the big one, but NERV is still standing. We then go to exposition town courtesy of Misato and Shinji. As it turns out all of the angels were what we could have been. We are the 18th angel. Only one will succeed! But with SEELE trying to mess everything up, Shinji has to destroy every other EVA in order for mankind to survive.
So the aftermath of the nuke, sorry “N2 bomb”, is felt politically by the Japanese prime minister. He decides it’s time to just destroy whatever may be left of the area and salt that earth. SALT IT! Finally, Asuka wakes up as SEELE starts to throw mines her way. To defend herself she cries “I don’t want to die” a lot while something else is telling her she can’t die yet, she has to die with… erm… the disembodied voice.
And this is the key. Asuka wakes up, and is PISSED! Even I have to admit, EVA 02 throwing a battleship at incoming missiles is pretty badass. And the subsequent manhandling of the army? That was done well.
But then comes the EVA drones, which sets us up for the final movie.
End of Evangelion
So I fire up the DVD, and again, an artistic set of options. “Launch, Access, System Specs and Features” sit before me. Luckily they’re the same as before, System access sets up my subtitles and I “Launch”.
I’m greeted with a lot of live footage of lots of people going about their day in a fast, clip style. No subs, but Japanese words are flashing across the middle of the footage while voices drone on. Then the title screen and… more of the same? Subtitles, please? What? Then another title screen and the bajillion production contributors are paraded before us again.
We open to Shinji, standing in water and debris. He finds himself standing over Asuka and… waitaminute!!! Yes, beating off over her near dead form… OH HELLS NO! It’s repeating everything in the “Rebirth” part of “Death and Rebirth”. Let me see if anything is different… SEEELE forces breaking in, check, eyecatch for episode 25, check. Oh good job movie. Way to milk the consumers. I understand the recap, but why do this? OK skip ahead, skip ahead…
So Asuka vs the EVA drones, right! She squares up and faces off, destroying the first one into gooey bloody pulp. Even I must admit, it’s still pretty badass. On the flip side, Misato continues to drag Shinji to his EVA bit by bit, but she gets shot in the process. So we’re treated to the ol’ “You get out there kid, even if you think you’re crap!” speech, followed by the tongue down the throat and the promise of sex after saving the world. Man, Luke Skywalker never got a deal like that frοm Lei… oh.
Anyway, Misato bites the last enchilada while Rei seems to stand before her as she finishes rambling, then to Shinji crying in the elevator. Man I hope something cool happens to bring me out of the hot chick dying… Oh goodie more RIP AND TEAR!!! There’s nothing more I can say about that. This action is awesome. It’s jumping around a bit though… More so than I’d like. We get the confrontation between Gendo and Akagi. Both of these parts are done really, really well but you can’t enjoy them because of breaking it up so much. I kind of hated that in “Return of the Jedi” as well, but at least it was paced better.
Well for all her fighting, Asuka gets shafted by the spear of Longinus and is devoured by the mass production EVAs. Tis a shame, but that’s just the right moment for Shinji to snap out of it and get, angry? No wait, terrified. Understandable. And then…. WHAT THE HELL? Credits. Yes, credits.
This movie is actually interesting so they decide to give it a format like the episodes. Things like that make this probably the biggest “Screw You” to fandom ever. It completely rips you out of the rhythm of the flick. And might I add we don’t even get subtitles for the out of place song. Even when Evangelion’s doing things right they manage to piss me off!
We cut abruptly back to the film. Gendo is describing the DASTARDLY plot as Rei goes to pieces, literally. Gendo then presses his hand into Rei’s breast, moves down like she’s thick pudding and, eyecatch for “Episode 26”. Back to Shinji in Unit 01 that has wings out of an AWESOME 80s hair metal album cover. The SEELE monoliths plot about making all souls as one, while the Lance of Longinus propels it self frοm the moon to Unit 01. Of course the drones get in on the action, trying to rip apart the AT field and whatnot, while people reiterate this fact to us in the control room.
So here comes the big boom of the Third Impact. We bounce around back to Rei, and she’s done with this bullcrap. She’s not doing this for Gendo anymore, she merges with Adam, peels it off the crucifix, melts off the mask… then all the blinking lights flicker in the “Oh hells naw” position of the bridge. Rei is now Kaiju-huge and generally freaking everyone out. Especially Shinji. For once I feel for him. This is all just too much, but the babble the bridge crew is spewing out isn’t making any sense at all. Not that anything was explained well in the first place, but still.
So Unit 01 is wrapped in a crucifix by Kaworu and Shinji is given the good time feelings of being young and irresponsible in… I guess an art film. Young Shinji is building a sandcastle with two girls, whom are called away. He completes the pyramid castle and begins angrily stomping all over it. Then we begin flipping around hither and yon. Some of it’s linking up with the bullcrap that was in the last episodes of Evangelion, so it’s making sense all the things the girls are saying in his head as he muddles through everything. He’s really lashing out at all the cockblocking and lies of the ladies. Throwing things around, chocking the hell out of the Asuka in his mind… then we get lots of children drawings, clips frοm before, all to the musings of life, death and existing.
Luckily the bridge crew is there to spout babble that makes no sense. The Lilith egg rises forth, and is taken by the extra huge Rei. Finally everyone’s will explodes (I recon) and they all get pulped into fluid by an army of Reis. Heaven sure is weird for the Japanese. Every being becomes one in a flash of light… For it’s horror it’s actually pretty beautiful.
Then it becomes this jumbled mess where superimposed images are superimposing on superimposing…. It’s like a collage of film ground together with lots of EVA footage. On the plus side there are a lot of woman berating Shinji. Abruptly it cuts to an empty theater. So appropriate! I’m sure the WTF factor alone could manage this. But all is serene and stock live action footage begins strolling lazily along.
But in the end Shinji seems to be the one in control and will choose, well, something. Giga-Rei’s neck bursts and bloodspray reaches the moon. Rei and Shinji are afloat in a sea of the orange ooze that is everyone and everything now, so they discuss what to do frοm here. And Shinji chooses the real world instead of a lifetime of soup. Unit 01 then separates everyone back into beings. Again, it’s very good looking and even the message is *Gasp* CLEAR! “Do well humanity, for your experience is varied and unique” etc, etc.
So the big finale. Shinji and Asuka lie upon the shore of the fluid of humanity. But Shinji shortly gets up and starts choking the hell out of Asuka, but she’s all like “S’aww right” and he lets up. Final line of the movie is “How Disgusting”.
In Conclusion: An Admission! Many people tell me that in order to do any justice to Evangelion you have to watch the movies, and they are right. “End of Evangelion” is a terrifying yet very interesting take on the beginning of the end that’s also the beginning, as it were. This film is indeed an interesting take on these themes and does it in such a way that it kept me, well, actually interested and entertained.
Does this mean I’m now a fan? Aw hell no.
The buildup to the last film is for the most part awful in the extreme, and nothing can be a big enough payoff to justify being jerked around. Even the very end is almost meaningless for the most part. We “Win”? Yay? Who knows, it’s subjective. That is indeed a good thing, but it could be told so much better. Now the rehash that’s out there now might just do that. I did see the first episode and found it to be very upfront about what you’re getting into. And that is refreshing.
I may be forced to revisit the new series, and maybe then you would find me a convert. But until then I’ve got to say it’s just not worth the price of admission to see the original series. Perhaps just watch the movies and save time.