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Review: Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone

Date: 2007 October 11 15:57

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Schoolboy Shinji Ikari is summoned by his estranged father to the vast city of Tokyo-3, however the tearful reunion he was hoping for does not materialise as his father has a far more nefarious reason for wanting his son by his side again. Led down into the underground labyrinth of NERV headquarters, he learns that he is one of only a few children that can pilot one of the enormous Evangelion robots against a terrifying enemy. For as Shinji was being transported to Tokyo-3, it was under attack from the terrifying Angels, creatures of an unknown origin bent on penetrating the city and laying waste to anything they find. Throwing caution to the wind to save an injured girl, Shinji boards one of the massive robots and is launched to his destiny. However there are greater forces at work behind the scenes, and is the true enemy the angels, NERV, the mysterious SEELE, or the demons held within the hearts of the people involved?

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WARNING: I'm assuming that the readers of this site have a basic understanding of Evangelion the same way that I assume that they breathe air and walk upright. There may be spoilers ahead. The film is based on the popular, and now almost legendary, anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is the first in what will be three films that will cover the original 26 episode series, with one further film that will cover new ground.

Shinji is still the emotionally underdeveloped whiner that we've all come to know and tolerate, although the amount of time spent on this has been cut down in the film due to a probable lack of time (there are several episodes almost entirely focused on this in the series), although now he comes off as being more angry with his lot than depressed about it. Rei Ayanami, another pilot, keeps a stoic demeanour more in keeping with a professional poker player than a 14 year old child apart from when in contact with Gendo Ikari, Shinji's father, where she seems incredibly animated and happy. Shinji stays with Misato Katsuragi, a captain for NERV, who despite being a hard drinking slob seems to really care about the pilots while trying to do her duty. Misato seems to clash often during the film with Ritsuko Akagi, the head scientist of NERV, a seemingly cold woman who lives under the shadow of her mother, who created the MAGI computer system that runs the Geofront: the headquarters of NERV under Tokyo-3. The last of the major characters is Gendo Ikari, Shinji's father and commander of NERV, a cold and distant puppet-master who has no qualms over sending people to their deaths to achieve his own goals.

While the storyline basically follows that of its sister anime it has been completely remade. Scenes that might seem familiar are now more polished thanks to Gainax having more money and better notoriety now than when the original series was made. In the new scenes too there is impressive use of CG to add rotation and perspective to backgrounds leaving especially scenes in the expansive Geofront and fight scenes with a whole new sense of depth and quality. Of course with these impressive visuals the sound has had a serious makeover too, completely re-dubbed with some great new sound effects and music tracks that will blow away anyone lucky enough to be listening with the aid of a good surround sound system. There have been a few changes in design as well, EVA Unit 1 has had a slight rehash with a few armour additions and some new weaponry, and there are changes to the plug suit layout. There are scenes taken out and some additions, some of which may come as a surprise to fans, however most of the original plot seems intact.

This new film is excellent, and it wasn't just the thrill of seeing it in Japan. Fans of the series that would approach this film with trepidation can be reassured that while changes have been made, it all seems to be for the better, and the addition of CG elements is subtle and looks stunning. That said, I know that not everyone out there is an Evangelion fan, and although this is a visual treat it is still essentially a giant robot show, though with emotional elements sadly missing from many others in it's genre. The latest in the Evangelion franchise is of course going to be huge in any country where fans gather, and I would definitely recommend seeing it in the cinema when it gets an English Sub release weather mecha fan or not, as it's a fantastic spectacle on the big screen and a piece of otaku history.

Source: Cinema Sunshine, Ikebukuro
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