Fargo's Japanimation Fun Time! Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone

Part three of four of my review series on Evangelion. For the first part, where I took a look at Neon Genesis Evangelion, please go here, and for my second part, in which I took a look at The End of Evangelion, please go here. Now with that out of the way, it's time to put focus on Rebuild of Evangelion, a new tetralogy of films designed to retell the original Evangelion series, with a completely new conclusion being planned for the final film. And what better a place to start than with...

Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone


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Evangelion 1.0 was released in 2007, with series mastermind Hideaki Anno writing and directing, with End of Evangelion director Kazuya Tsurumaki returning as an assistant director. Other notable figureheads returning include Yoshiyuki Sadamoto as lead character designer, Ikuto Yamashita as lead mecha designer and Shiro Sagisu as composer. With the team being so rooted in the original series and its creation, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise the first movie doesn't stray too far away from the first six episodes of the series.

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For those of you who are just joining us, Neon Genesis Evangelion tells the story of Shinji Ikari, a fourteen year old boy who must pilot gigantic mechs known as Evangelions to defeat mysterious beings known as Angels. He is joined in this mission by two girls known as Asuka and Rei, who pilot their own Evangelions. Evangelion 1.0 is certainly a story that focuses more on Shinji than other characters. While the TV show was able to spread itself out much more simply due to time, the film spends a great deal of its time characterizing Shinji himself. This certainly isn't a bad thing however, although it is something that those who have seen the original series will have an easier time appreciating. With the greater emphasis on Shinji, it allows for a greater exploration of his character, or at least how his character is at the beginning of the series. This is beneficial to both the original series and the movie, as added development to a character is never going to hurt anyone, but as I said, this sole focus may alienate some who have yet to watch the original series, as the exposition isn't handled quite as succinctly as the development of Shinji, and the lack of more human moments with characters like Misato can make them come off as far colder and stoic than they did in Neon Genesis.

Apart from the cutting out of various character moments, the film stays incredibly true to the original six episodes, at least in terms of the story that was collected within those six episodes. Something that differentiates the film and the series is that the film makes a far more succinct effort to bring the over-arching plot into the light. While the series left much of the deeper narrative to the last few episodes, the film attempts to bring these elements in while the plot is still young and fresh, with a character being revealed at the very end of the film that did not appear in the series until one of the very last episodes, which seems like Anno has far more focus with the films than the original series, and is building a stronger narrative. Other moments help contribute to this, as there are further nods towards something beyond 'Mechs fighting Angels' taking place benath the core story, which will hopefully allow the conspiracy plot to manifest much more freely than the series, which ended up feeling rushed.

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Another significant difference is in the aesthetics and production values, and this is certainly a stunning difference. Anno clearly had a significantly skilled and experienced team of animators, proficient in both CGI and hand-draw, behind him while making Evangelion 1.0. In short, it looks amazing. Not only have the visuals been given a magnificent amount of polish, the re-design of the Angels and re-choreographed fight scenes are great. Some scenes in the original series which came off as slightly silly (the fifth Angel's drill being a particular annoyance for me) have been tweaked so that they look far better and come off as far more alien and unique, which really benefits the Angels new design. Combine these with the improvements made to the fight scenes, and the film is a magnificent specimen to gaze at. Seriously, the final scene in the movie is gloriously well done simply due to the tweaks that were made to the original concept.

The sound design is similar, in that is mostly faithful to the original series but makes a few tweaks of its own. Familiar tracks like 'The Beast' make a return, but they've been given polish with brand new orchestrations and some new variations entirely. There is nothing quite like the awesomeness that is Komm, Susser Todd from End of Evangelion, but the re-scored tracks are still great to listen to, with a few new ones appearing alongside the older pieces, giving a nice mix.

A certain aspect of the sound design I would like to commend Anno and crew for is bringing back the entire Japanese voice cast. Megumi Ogata turns in another fantastic performance as Shinji, one that is even better than her performance in End of Evangelion. The focus on Shinji as a character would not have worked without her providing the voice, and every tormented decision he makes is highlighted by her great voice work. Megumi Hayashibara as Rei gives far more to the character this time around. I was slightly critical of her in the original series, but in 1.0 it is definitely a performance that is vastly improved, and adds to the haunting, fragile nature of her character. While the English dub is generally a new cast, it still fails to impress. It's better than Neon Genesis, but compared to the great original Japanese it's fairly standard and at times pretty lacklustre. Once again, it works for those who despise subtitles, but the Japanese is still the far superior option.

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While some may argue the film doesn't add anything drastically new narrative-wise, I find the improved production values and the effectiveness in how they're put to use is more than enough to justify the films existence. Along with the slight additions to the over-arching plot, the film just feels more solid and cohesive than the series. The only fault I can really give the narrative is that if you're familiar with the original six episodes the film doesn't feel very, well... Film-like. It still feels like a TV series, as you can still imagine the seams between episodes, but I can't really place that blame at the feet of the film-makers, as it was pretty much unavoidable.

However, while Evangelion 1.0 stayed on track to the original series, the second Rebuild film decided to do things a little bit differently. But that's a review for another time. Say, tomorrow evening? Good. See you there.

Oh hey, its the picture that my Avatar is from. :)

I like this review quite alot, though to be honest i've yet to see the rebuild films. I've decided to wait until all of them are out so that I can watch them in one big marathon of sorts. :)

Looking forward to the next one!

Pretty good review. One thing, though: Asuka isn't in 1.xx.

As for the story, 1.xx definitly follows the original series very closely, but with a many few glaring differences. For instance, before piloting Eva 01 for the first time in the series, a bunch of lights fell from the ceiling and Eva 01 moved her hand on her own to protect Shinji. This never happened in this movie, though. It's unclear what all these small differences are going to mean in the end, but it'll be very interesting to see the result.

The music is indeed wonderful and Sagisu added a wonderful epic sound to the latter third of the movie. Honestly, the movie stays almost completely true to the original until Ramiel arrives, for when that cube starts floating it becomes very clear that things aren't the same. I'm still amazed that they were able to take one of the lamest, most anticlimactic fights in the original series and turn it into an epic final fight in this movie.

Also, Rainbows! Rainbows everywhere!

Aby_Z:
Pretty good review. One thing, though: Asuka isn't in 1.xx.

As for the story, 1.xx definitly follows the original series very closely, but with a many few glaring differences. For instance, before piloting Eva 01 for the first time in the series, a bunch of lights fell from the ceiling and Eva 01 moved her hand on her own to protect Shinji. This never happened in this movie, though. It's unclear what all these small differences are going to mean in the end, but it'll be very interesting to see the result.

The music is indeed wonderful and Sagisu added a wonderful epic sound to the latter third of the movie. Honestly, the movie stays almost completely true to the original until Ramiel arrives, for when that cube starts floating it becomes very clear that things aren't the same. I'm still amazed that they were able to take one of the lamest, most anticlimactic fights in the original series and turn it into an epic final fight in this movie.

Also, Rainbows! Rainbows everywhere!

I was just giving an overview of the series, rather then the plot for Evangelion 1.0 specifically, but I don't think I worded it very well.

As for Eva raising her hand, I figured they cut that for time more than anything. Although it could certainly come into play later on, which would indeed be interesting. I felt that the biggest impact they made was simply adding little bits to flesh out the over-arching story, such as the very, very final bit before the credits, and the more antagonistic representation they made of Seele, which paints them as more ominous if not outright evil.

And that fight was amazing. Not only did it make much more sense than the original fight, but the morphing effect they had for Ramiel looked really cool. I was kind of annoyed by the fact they weren't changing up the Angels and fights too much, but when I saw that it completely made up for it.

FargoDog:
I was just giving an overview of the series, rather then the plot for Evangelion 1.0 specifically, but I don't think I worded it very well.

As for Eva raising her hand, I figured they cut that for time more than anything. Although it could certainly come into play later on, which would indeed be interesting. I felt that the biggest impact they made was simply adding little bits to flesh out the over-arching story, such as the very, very final bit before the credits, and the more antagonistic representation they made of Seele, which paints them as more ominous if not outright evil.

And that fight was amazing. Not only did it make much more sense than the original fight, but the morphing effect they had for Ramiel looked really cool. I was kind of annoyed by the fact they weren't changing up the Angels and fights too much, but when I saw that it completely made up for it.

This is Eva. Every little change both means something and nothing at the same time.

As for Seele, I think they've always seemed antagonistic, what with them just randomly coming in under those anonymous 'Sound only' blocks and convening in such secretive ways.

Ramiel's fight was simply amazing with all the transformations. Whenever I watch it, I tend to think through the following thought process:
"What?! Ramiel is evolving!"
"Ramiel evolved into Starmie!"
"Ramiel learned Hyperbeam!"
"Ramiel used Hyperbeam on The Mountain!"
"It's super effective!"

Aby_Z:

This is Eva. Every little change both means something and nothing at the same time.

As for Seele, I think they've always seemed antagonistic, what with them just randomly coming in under those anonymous 'Sound only' blocks and convening in such secretive ways.

Ramiel's fight was simply amazing with all the transformations. Whenever I watch it, I tend to think through the following thought process:
"What?! Ramiel is evolving!"
"Ramiel evolved into Starmie!"
"Ramiel learned Hyperbeam!"
"Ramiel used Hyperbeam on The Mountain!"
"It's super effective!"

FargoDog:

Yeah, I found that a little odd aswell.

I think you pretty much summed up the problem I have with these movie versions (atleast the first one). The story itself just doesn't seem that well suited for a movie:.......Aw dammit, my mind is too groggy from reading Berserk; I can't come up with any intelligent arguments right now.

The weird thing is that eventhough I don't like the movies very much, I still bought the first one on Blu-Ray just because it looks so beautifully crisp.

Good review!

 

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