"GIANT ROBOTS TO DIE FOR!"
"It has arrived - the epic animated science-fiction TV series that has taken Japanese and US audiences by storm will soon be available to UK viewers. Part one of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which contains the first two of the 26 gripping episodes will be released on 12th May 1997. Neon Genesis Evangelion contains all the necessary ingredients of a science-fiction & fantasy triumph - Biblical prophecy, savage human drama and blistering hi-tech battle action all collide in a spectacular orgy of violence and destruction."
"Fast forward to the year 2015 - Mankind is struggling to survive in the aftermath of a global disaster that wiped out over half the entire population of the Planet - Scientists attributed the large scale floods to the melting of the Earth's Polar Ice Caps caused by a giant meteorite strike on Antarctica. In this vulnerable state, thc Earth's survivors have an even bigger challenge to face - terrifying beings known as Angels have targeted the planet for attack! Mankind's only hope comes in the shape of Nerv, a special agency directly attached to the United Nations that has succeeded in generating multi-purpose fighting machines known as EVANGELIONS. Humanoid in form, thcse monumental mechanical creations are the only force on Earth that can endure the Angel's "Absolute Terror Fields" and ultimately destroy them. Mysteriously, the only humans capable of piloting the EVANGELIONS are teenagers born exactly nine months after the devastating floods occurred...The battle which determines mankind's fate has begun..."
"Japanese anime fans world-wide desperately awaited the releast of Evangelion - the first offering in four years from the maverick and highly esteemed Tokyo animation studio, Gainax. The series has since generated a phenomenal following - part one became Japan's best-selling animation video in '96. It also spawned a best-selling comic book series, a Sega Saturn game and over three hundred dedicated Evangelion home pages on the world wide web."
Director: Hideki Anno Character Design: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto Mechanical Design: Ikuto Yamashita, Hideki Anno Copyright: GAINAX/Project Eva/TV Tokyo/NAS VHS release: Language Format: English Language Volume no.: 1 2 3 4 Running time: 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins Certificate: PG PG PG PG Catalogue no: VHSEV/001D VHSEV/002D VHSEV/003D VHSEV/004D Price: £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 Release Date: 12th May 1997 9th June 1997 11th Aug 1997 Oct 1997 Volume no.: 5 6 7 8 Running time: 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins Certificate: 12 PG PG PG Catalogue no: VHSEV/005D VHSEV/006D VHSEV/007D VHSEV/008D Price: £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 Release Date: Nov 1997 Jan 1998 2nd Mar 1998 4th May 1998 Volume no.: 9 10 11 12 Running time: 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins 50 mins Certificate: PG 12 PG 12 Catalogue no: VHSEV/009D VHSEV/010D VHSEV/011D VHSEV/012D Price: £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 £12.99 Release Date: 6th July 1998 7th Sept1998 9th Nov 1998 7th Dec 1998 Volume no.: 13 Running time: 50 mins Certificate: PG Catalogue no: VHSEV/013D Price: £12.99 Release Date: 6th July 1998
Earth has been devastated by enormously powerful, rather large entities known as Angels. Only the Evangelions, piloted by a disparat group of youngsters, stand between the survivors and complete annihilation.
I’ve been told that when you get to later episodes, this is a tongue-in-cheek homily to all that’s best in anime clichés. We’ll have to wait ‘til I get those to review before we can judge the verity of such a claim, because all I see here is another tired retread of giant robots/battle suits with a young man at ideological loggerheads with his authority-figure father. One saving grace are the strong female characters, still too much of a rarity in Western media.
Better, but still not perfect. More characterisation, more filling to the story, unfortunately the same old shadowy government figures and the same old mega mecha battle. I still don’t get a buzz from watching this so I can’t honestly recommend it - one to hire, not to purchase. [Marlon Seton]
This latest offering from ADV contains two complete episodes (9 and 10 in the series): ‘With one Accord in a flash’ and ‘ Magma Diver’.
In the first a new Angel attacks Tokyo 3 and Asuka and Shinji are assigned to stop it. Their lack of teamwork causes them to fail miserably and only the use of an N2 mine gives Nerv time to prepare a second attack. The two are put through extensive training to encourage them to work together - the scene of Asuka being shown up by Rei is priceless, as is Asuka sleepwalking (and its aftermath). Of course, the end result isn’t quite what you expect. . .
The second episode sees the rest of the school off on a trip, but the Eva pilots are kept behind. Asuka and Shinji are doing badly at school and need to catch up. However, the ‘nesting site’ of another Angel is uncovered and for the first time Nerv go on the offensive. Asuka and Eva02 must attempt to capture the embryonic angel, buried in the heart of a volcano. Of course there’s a twist . . .
As expected the animation of these episodes is good - not the best I’ve ever seen but certainly above average. The style varies from dynamic battle footage to comic close ups - a wide variety of cinematic ‘tricks’ enhancing the feel and atmosphere. For a TV show (usually the bottom of the animation rung in Japan) this is good stuff. The character designs are pleasing to the eye (although I wonder exactly how Ritsuko’s legs got to be that long . . ) and we get to see the character of the new girl, Asuka, rounded out in more ways than one. Literally.
The voice acting is above average, unusually fitting the characters (will miracles never cease). Amanda Winn’s deadpan Rei is pretty close to the Japanese original, and Tiffany Grant is suitably excitable as Asuka. However, I do wonder about mixing German and English phrases - with an American accent. Grant’s accent wanders - occasionally with German overtones but most often in plain American. Given the character ‘has trouble with the language’ (as brought out in Magma Diver) the accent would have been appropriate. But I digress.
In summary these two episodes form a neat package but are a-typical of the series as a whole. Considerable emphasis is placed on comedy, an aspect of the show which whilst not eliminated will be diminished over the coming episodes. As someone who has seen the entire series I can categorically say from here on the tone of the story gets darker. A *lot* darker. [Chris Hartford]
With the mysterious disappearance of NERV's second branch in the US (a bit of an in joke for conspiracy theorists here - the NERV base was situated in Nevada, the state Area 51 is rumoured to be located in) along with Eva Unit 04. The US government decides to cut its losses and send Unit 03 to NERV HQ in Tokyo-3, and the hunt for the Forth Child is on. The identity of the 4th Child comes as a surprise to everyone, and in particular it irritates Asuka.
The activation test is carried out at NERV's second facility in Japan. However, Unit 03 had been infected with an Angel in encountered in a cloud and proceeds to go on a rampage across Japan. Commander Ikari reclassifies Unit 03 as the 13th Angel, and all three Evas are sent to destroy it. It makes short work of Units 00 and 02, leaving Shinji and Unit 01 to fight the beast alone. Shinji refuses to fight, still not knowing the pilot's identity, for fear of killing the pilot. Ikari is forced to engage Unit 01s new auto-pilot, and Unit 01 proceeds to go berserk and tear Unit 03 apart, limb from limb. The last scene is of the Forth Child's body being pulled from the torn remains of Unit 03, and of Shinji realising who the pilot was.....
Revelations and carnage litter this Evangelion volume. It's great, it really is. This is not only the best piece of anime I've seen, but it must rank alongside some of the best TV I've ever seen. The characters are growing, changing with every episode, and thing are definitely going downhill for the guys and gals at NERV. It's sprinkled with information and cryptic remarks, and raises more and more questions. What are NERVs real intentions? What is in the Dead Sea Scrolls? The combat scenes are chilling, and watching Unit 01 tear Unit 03 apart is a horrific scene, to say the least, the sort of stuff to give people nightmares. The part where Unit 01 picks up Unit 03s entry plug is particularly chilling. There isn't much comedy, which is a good thing, as it would completely ruin the atmosphere evoked by these dark and scary episodes. The animation is top as well.
GRADE: A+ - Worthy of a lot more really, but since this is the highest grade I give, it gets it comfortably - [Daniel Fawcett]
Kaoru Nagisa, the Seventeenth (and last) Angel and the Fifth Child, is dead, killed by Shinji and Eva Unit-01 when he attempted to merge with Adam, the first Angel. The characters must come to terms with what is left of their lives, and while Shinji must come to terms with having killed a friend, Gendo Ikari uses Rei to start Instrumentality, a mysterious effect that will merge humanity's minds and souls into one, causing humankind to become "complete". Instrumentality makes Shinji confront himself, as he realises that the fear of people hating him that he has is all in his mind, and he finally feels good about himself, as a more "complete" human.
Quite a short synopsis, I know, but that is pretty much all that happens in these final two episodes. Two things are apparent here : one, it's quite difficult to actually link this to the rest of the series (especially the bits with the Evangelions) and two, very few of the plot-lines are actually resolved (the Rei story line being the only one fully resolved, and even that's very muddled), with motivations and reasons left unresolved, especially where Seele are involved (4 episodes ago the changed from being a bunch of humans to being a bunch of tall 2001- like Monoliths). It is all very profound, but groaning under a weight of symbolism and philosophy. I think the one main problem with this volume is the animation. It's not that the animation is bad (it isn't) but the budget problems have been running through the entire series hit these episodes hard, resulting in them being mainly drawn as stills, simple pen-drawings (about half the second episode is made up of these) and text frames. I don't mind the stills, sometimes they can be very poetic, but the main problem is that the text frames hold lots of information about the plot and move too quick to be read and understood fully, which detracts from the plot and the enjoyment.
It's also highly confusing - the first time I watched it I was completely confused, meaning that it requires at least two watchings to understand it fully, and even then it requires an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all the small, insignificant bits of dialogue from many previous episodes (for example, Ritsuko's talk about Homeostasis from Genesis 0:8). It is, however, a strong ending that, although difficult to link to the rest of the series in places, makes you think (which is a rarity these days).
Another point is that this isn't an obvious ending - Gainex could have gone for a big battle against the last, most powerful Angel, with lots of Evas, but they went for this instead, which just goes to show that Gainex make intelligent anime, not action-orientated stuff on a par with Hollywood Blockbusters, which is refreshing. As it was, the Evangelions were never the actual focus of the series. My hopes where raised when I heard that this is an inferior ending to the remake Gainex have done, so I'll have to wait for that.
GRADE: B+ - It's an ending. Not an obvious one, but a subtle, powerful one that has a few flaws.[Daniel Fawcett]
Carl Horn: I was surprised by NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, and was uncertain about it from the beginning--a good thing, I felt, since it helped to demonstrate to myself that I don't have a blind faith in Gainax. In the end, however, EVA proved to be a truly worthy show for the rebirth of Gainax as an anime studio, as it is their most important artistic achievement since they began with THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE. It may be true, as Keith Rhee has argued, that EVA is not really a "robot show"--you might say, however, that it bears the same relationship to one that the film PATLABOR 2 did--they are both stories that seem to be part of the giant robot genre, but neither of them are really interested in their machines except as the removed result of human motives. Certainly, both stories seem far removed from the spirit of collecting the stats of every new mobile suit (and Anno would not be the one to put down GUNDAM, at least the original series--it's one of his three favorite anime of all time). Keith Rhee: In the end, the show may not have been nearly as "innovative" as many made it out to be. It *is* different, and it was entertaining (well, to many people). As much as people may try to over-interpret the show or hype it, in the end it all comes down to "What did YOU get out of it?" And honestly, I enjoyed it. Not so much because it was innova- tive or thought out well, but because it struck the right chord in me. Would the show have received as much attention or hype were it not made by Gainax? Probably not. As it stands, it's still a very enjoyable ride for many, but if people are honest enough to say "hey, it didn't do any- thing for me," then that's great. The more I think about it, the more I think the first Patlabor movie was better balanced out, with more believable/likable characters and overall more credible (this is just me). But I'll still remember Eva for quite a while to come. Glenn Tarigan: I found ADVision's English dubbing to be quite satisfactory. They pronounced the name "Evangelion" the same way as in the original: with a hard-"g". I would have preferred it if they pronounced it as 'evan-jell-ion', but I'm not too bothered about it. The only voices that annoyed me were those for one of the generals in episode #1 and some of the councilmen in episode #2 (however, the Japanese voice wasn't that pleasant there either...). The English Shinji was the only one that I thought as being too different from the Japanese version. In Japanese, he came across as more soft-spoken, almost like a girl's voice. In English, he reminds me of the Tenchi Masaki dub-- sort of like Kermit the Frog. Or something. The English previews for the next episodes were also different from what was originally broadcast on TV: they showed different clips and scenes, and they used different music (a battle-theme instead of the cheerful up-tempo melody). Could this be a change that Gainax made for the laserdisc version? Jim McLennan: Newsgroups: uk.media.animation.anime Subject: Why Eva sucks. [WAS Re: Shinnenkai worst bit] From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim McLennan) Date: Fri, 23 Jan 98 22:30:24 GMT In article
email@example.com "Robert Fahey" writes: > Right, milad, you can get away with that sort of crack at Shinnenkai, > but not on umaa, oh no. Here, you actually have to have _facts_ to back > up a hatred... or you could be like anyone else who doesn't like a > certain series, just say 'it isn't my thing' and leave it at that. Ah, no, my hatred of Eva goes a great deal deeper than that -- if I merely didn't LIKE it, I would simply not have watched it. Instead, I have watched all 26 episodes -- the last few in the original Japanese -- purely so that I could piss on it from a greater height. This is no mindless, ignorant dislike; this is cold, informed and undiluted LOATHING... >-> [Jim pauses briefly to wonder whether this is going a bit over the top, but finally thinks, "Aw, f_ck it"...] > Your > punishment for dissing eva is simple - you have to read me telling you > why you're wrong ^_^ Oh, turn about's fair play! > Eva is anything but 'just another bash-the-mecha show'. In terms of > plot, yes, its mechs. Sort of. It is also highly character based - Eva > is as much an exercise in psychology as a mech show. The show draws > people in on different levels, which is the beauty of the thing - you > can be an SF nut, a character drama nut or a deep-plot type of person, > and Eva will appeal to all of these people. Trust me, I have shown Eva > in an anime society in a rural Irish town. This show works where other > mecha shows simply don't. I agree with the last part of the sentence at least. Mecha shows don't work for the same reason that Hollywood blockbusters don't: they aren't made with things like plot and characterisation as the primary elements. Mecha shows are devices to generate revenue through model sales, and while there may be GOOD shows and BAD, it becomes hard to produce art when the producers demand "10 minutes of cool mecha action per week". I appreciate all three of the "levels" you mention above, and IMNSHO, Eva fails miserably on all of them: 1. SF -- Yes, we cam make the world's most powerful robots -- we just need an extension cable to power them... There's a host of similar "difficulties", such as the idiotic tactics of the Angels (hey, why not attack in GROUPS? Or somewhere apart from Japan?), which would get laughed out of any pulp SF publishing house. 2. Character drama -- the characters in Eva are unsympathetic cliches, who fail to develop over the series. Your hero starts off as an angst-ridden teenager with problems relating to his father...and by the end, he's exactly the same. What's the POINT, from a character point of view? 3. Deep plot? 1) A new, cool Angel (model kit available now!) attacks, and is beaten up by the Evas (did I mention the model kits are available?). 2) The hero agonises over his life Repeat. Ad nauseaum. > Designed to sell merchandise? Unfair, Jim. Just because it _did_ sell > merchandise doesn't mean it was designed to. And the fact that it can be > enjoyed enormously by people like me who have never touched any of its > merchandise refutes your point there. Hell, I enjoy some Disney movies, but that doesn't mean they are created purely out of a sense of artistic idealism! ;-) This is ESPECIALLY true with regard to a TV series, where the makers probably received a merely nominal fee for the show, knowing they could clean up on the licencing and merchandising. On American TV, shows like Transformers were GIVEN FREE to the stations, which is why there were so many of them cluttering up the airwaves until it was regulated. I strongly suspect that Japanese TV is exactly the same. > Over-promotion. Probably, I admit. I really don't see any need other > than commercial greed to re-release Death(True) and The End of > Evangelion in March. But the greed of a few suits doesn't take away from > the exellence of the series they happen to own. It's more than that -- it's the relentless hype in Newtype, etc -- again, it all ties in and together. I've no recollection of Nadia, Gainax's previous series, receiving such blanket coverage. > Atmosphere. Eva builds up atmosphere very well, if a bit slowly. The > destruction of by in Ep 17 (IIRC) is a classic > moment in TV, never mind in anime. I challenge anyone who showed that Ep > to an anime club to honestly say that there was anything other than > total silent shock after that episode. Yawn. I remained totally unmoved by that, and indeed by the rest of the series. The thing about a TV series is that you have the ability to vary the tone: again, contast Nadia, which had funny eps, dramatic eps, horrific eps and even the infamous all-singing episode. But Eva just plods along at the same level, churning out the same tired emotions over and over again. > Characterisation. In Eva, after about 10 eps or so, you suddenly > realise that you really care about what happens to the characters. Now I > agree that there are a lot of series like that, but IMO eva manages to > hold up with the best of them in terms of characters. To do so, I admit, > they often do stuff that seems pointless or boring, like ep 4, 'Rain, > after he ran away'. It seems that shag all happens in that episode, but > nonetheless looking back later you realise just how important it was for > character development. Fascinated by someone using "character development" to talk about Eva -- because the characters simply DON'T. At no stage could I really bring myself to give a damn about any of them. I feel significantly more attached to my FF7 charas [and from what I've heard, I have some SERIOUS shocks coming up!] > Plotline. One of the main reasons I like Eva is because it treats me as > an intelligent person, with a brain all of my own. Sadly, there are > _very_ few western series like this - babylon 5 is the exception, and > ST:DSN is showing promise atm. Anime is far better at this, as they are > more prepared to do deep plot-based stuff. In terms of series, my > current favourite examples of this are Eva and Esca. Both series which > you can mull over for ages afterwards, asking What If questions and > making I Wonder statements. As in "I wonder what's on the other side?" and "What if I went and did something else instead"? ;-) Mind you, I don't like Babylon 5 and the rest of the "lumpy forehead" shows either, but then, I *DO* think that anyone looking to network television for intellectual stimulation is probably somewhat misguided! At best, Eva is the anime equivalent of a gravel pit: it may be deep, but it ain't interesting... > Just to address Christines point about non-animation. Sure, Eva can be > very static - although you have to admit that the actual drawing is > excellent. The point is, I don't think that the use of static scenes > affects the plot or the characters. Indeed, it becomes a feature of the > style after a while. Boy, wait till you get round to watching the last two episodes. THEN get back to me and see whether you still feel the same! > However, one positive thing which it does do is that it serves to > accentuate the really good animation when it does make an appearance. The phrase "wildly uneven" comes to mind. Have you noticed that the bits where they take care over the animation tend not to be the bits with the character, atmosphere or plotline? [Unless you consider characters who keep their hands over their mouths as atmospheric]. No, it's the mecha -- did I mention you can buy the model kits? ;-) > And before we get the inevitable comment from Tsunami, yes, it could > almost be assumed that I like Eva ^_^ Hell, and I liked Showgirls, which I think is a greatly misunderstood movie, especially if you take it SERIOUSLY [I've *been* to Vegas, I *know* what the place is like!] But that is probably a little too far off-topic for even this newsgroup to take... ;-)