Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Evangelion Twelve Years Later

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the single most influential anime on my childhood.  I'm using the word "childhood" a little loosely, in that I grew up during the running of the series. It helped make me who I am.

The "End of Evangelion" released in 2002 (in America), and it effectively shut the series off from me unfortunately. Not because I found it lacking. As a reimagining of the final two episodes of the original series, I found it deeply rewarding. Unfortunately, Manga fucked the dog with the DVD release and a series of botched discs made their way to the market. I got one, returned it and got another. Making it halfway through the film to stop at Rei's absorption and not able to continue past that point in the film resulted in me repeating the word "fuck" while my processes rebooted and a deep terrible disappointment settled in. (By the way, this really is not a spoiler for the new stuff because I'm pretty sure they're going a different route.)

Eventually, my best friend managed to procure a disc that was able to play on one of the DVD players we had between us and I managed to watch the final interpretation of the series.

Still, I've seen most of the episodes at a minimum of ten times.

I can't describe what this series was to me. The psychological issues, trust issues, everything. It was incredibly important for me to experience it. Growing up and being the same age as the main characters is something I've rarely experienced and it only contributed to the intimacy I felt with this show.

My very first exposure to evangelion, besides osmosis of course, was a VHS version of 2 episodes introducing Asuka. I'm not quite sure how I came to own that actually. But soon enough I began purchasing DVDs of the series at the store Suncoast for a whopping $30 per disc (and then they started dropping the number of episodes to 3 per disc).

The Hedgehog's Dilemma. Self-Hatred. Loathing.

It was such a powerful experience that even in hindsight I'm bowled over from the burgeoning resurfacing emotions and memories.

And then the terrible action.

And I say "terrible" in the sense that God is terrible. That devils and angels are terrible. Truly, truly terrible.

Watching Shinji explode from the Sea of Dirac. Watching the Eva release. Things that I've seen dozens of times that never stopped affecting me.

It's more than a favorite series. It's part of me.

So I naturally had more than a little inertia resisting watching the rebuilds: 1.11 and 2.22.

Not knowing exactly what the rebuilds were and fearing a money-grab raping my childhood added to the morass preventing me from consuming these. It turns out that they are the first two of four films remaking the series.

My fiancee bought 1.11 for me months ago and it took until this last week for me to finally put it into the Playstation to watch.

I have to keep stopping myself from going off on a stream-of-consciousness explosion, so please forgive the short, fragmented paragraphs.

Let me start by saying 1.11 is definitely worth the watch. Nostalgia abounds and many scenes are take-for-take identical to the original series, but with just enough of a change to turn your head. Besides being redrawn gorgeously.

The fact that I already knew the lines characters were supposed to say and then to hear them said differently really drove into me how well I knew the series originally. I've seen the series once when I introduced my future wife to it, but otherwise have probably not watched it an additional time in 10 years.

That said, I don't know if the Japanese was unchanged and it's a result of a different translation. I've probably only seen the series in Japanese 2 or 3 times and I immediately turned off the Japanese on 1.11 due to the subtitles being lost against the background (unfortunately my Japanese is not anywhere near what it was 10 years ago).

They make some pretty major changes as the show continues, I'll avoid spoilers. I can understand people getting emotional about the changes, but fuck your attachment. Many of them make sense and others contribute to the film being fresh and new while still retaining the nostalgia. If you want to watch the original series, go watch the original series. If you want to watch how you think the series should be, then write fanfiction or something.

2.22 really accelerates the changes and the culminating battle is one of the most exciting battles of the original series, but so much better now. I just finished watching this at 3 AM in the morning and was screaming "FUCK" at the television, forcing myself to not cover my eyes and trying to unclench my fists.

There are not words. My nostalgia has been erased and I just want to see where this new film series is going.

These are theatrical films. Amazing, amazing theatrical films. Easily the most approachable entrypoint for people that have never taken the time to watch this pillar of animedom before. If you've enjoyed Evangelion in the past, there is so much to enjoy about this new version, you have to watch it.

I did not think that Eva was capable of mind-fucking me in a whole new way, but these first two films are testament to its ability to do so. They dropped a lot of the heavy-duty psychological analysis stuff and ALL of the filler; which you know, modern audiences wouldn't be able to handle the long-shots of scenery with cicadas droning on in the background like a warning buzzer and most would probably be unable to deal with the discussions of ego and id etc too.

They're just not holding back. Where the series took its time developing, the films are not taking anything for granted. Watching the films you feel like you just sat through 4 hours of anime when it's only 2. I cannot recommend these films enough. You HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about animated media, you HAVE to watch these movies if you care at all about Evangelion, you HAVE to watch these movies if you want to understand me at all, you HAVE to watch these movies.

3.33 is supposed to be out in August.


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