—THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN WITH THE ASSUMPTION THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVOIDS SPOILING NEW CONTENT FROM THE NEW FILMS—-
Evangelion is one of those shows where, if you say you’ve never seen it before in the presence of anime fans, you’ll probably be thrown out of the building. It’s one of those classic shows that is considered a requirement to be a fan, right along side Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, and Tenchi Muyo.
The plot of the series revolves mostly around the annoyingly whiny Shinji, the pilot of Eva Unit 01. I’m not joking when I say he’s annoyingly whiny. There were times were I was incredibly annoyed at how much he was complaining or whining about something. At times, yes, it was justified, but those instances were often far and few between.
The time is 2015 A.D. Angels have been attacking mankind. Their goal is to wipe out all life on Earth so that it can start over again. The organization, Nerv, is created to come up with a means of defense against the Angels, as our conventional weapons have no effect. What they come up with are the Evangelion units. A mix of machinery and squishy parts, the Evas are essentially large, pilotable mechs, who will only function when piloted by young teens. Shinji, the son of the man who created the Evas just happens to become one of those teens, although he doesn’t want to. What takes place is a fantastic, deeply woven plot filled with theological references and insane enemies.
The show was an immediate success, but poor financing, time restrictions, and deep depression lead to Neon Genesis Evangelion ending much sooner than intended and in a way no one expected. The last episodes of the series were essentially nonsense acid trips. It wasn’t until afterwards when they made the two films that the show got its conclusion.
Now, years later, Hideaki Anno, the creator of the show, has recovered from his deep depression, he is completely re-making the series to make it what he originally intended it to be. Instead of a show, this time the series would be made into three films.
The first film, Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, was almost exactly like the first half of the show. Very little was changes aside from about 10 minutes of added scenes, some changed dialog, totally new animation, and re-vamped Angels. This wasn’t all that surprising to me. I mean, at this point in the show, things where going as planned. It was pretty much how he wanted it. The new animation was gorgeous, and included a lot of CGI, that is very well integrated into the 2d animation to make it look like it isn’t CGI at all. The re-vamped Angels were great. The most dramatically changed Angel was the fifth Angel, Ramiel. In the series, this Angel was just a black diamond with a laser. In 1.11, it was a translucent octahedron that morphed into geometrical shapes when it attacked or defended, making it significantly cooler and more entertaining to watch.
Going into 2.22, I wasn’t expecting that many changes thanks to the lack of changes in 1.11… boy was I caught off guard. Almost the entire second half of the show was re-written into this film. Barely anything is the same. Totally different Angels, a new pilot, lots stuff was cut out, and a totally different cause for the ending of the movie.
I’ll start with the new pilot since this was the only disappointment for me. Mari Illustrious Makinami, the fourth child. Yup, fourth child, not fifth. “But what about Shinji’s friend? The one Shinji was forced to almost kill when the Dummy Plug was first tested.” you might say. This never happens in 2.22. In order to prevent spoilers, lets just say that the scene still happens, but its not the same person. Anyway, there’s not much to actually say about Mari, which is why I was so disappointed. Mari has maybe 10 minutes worth of screen-time. We don’t get to see much of her personality other than she absolutely loves piloting and fighting in Evas, and she has a thing for the smell of LCL, the liquid that the pilots breath inside the Evas. I would have loved to see more of her, and I’m sure we will in 3.33, but seeing as how she had a somewhat important role at the end of this film, she should’ve had a bit more screen-time.
EVANGELION, As for the bits that were cut out, I have to wonder what they will do with this. In the original series, Tabris, the 17th Angel, was a young teen named Kaworu Nagisa, who befriended Shinji. In the end, Shinji was forced to kill him. This all happened long before the end of the series, whereas in 2.22, he only makes a few cameos, implying that he will show up in 3.33. I have to wonder how things will play out since 3.33 ends with the beginning of the Third Impact, just as the show did. Which of course, as I mentioned previously, is started is a COMPLETELY different way than in the show.
So now the main question is, “With all of these changes to what was already an award winning and popular show, is it still any good?”. The simple answer is YES. Dear god, yes. In my opinion, and at the risk of getting a lot of hate, these new films are far superior to the original show. While the show holds a place near my heart, I can’t deny that it was incredibly difficult to understand, if not impossible. The show required not only multiple viewings, but also lots of research online just to even SOMEWHAT understand everything. Even then, almost all of the info you find online about the original show is simply fan speculation and theory. With the new films, the story is much better explained and done at just the right pace so that you don’t feel like you’re just watching a bunch of exposition.
So, in a nutshell, if you enjoyed Neon Genesis, you’ll love these films. If you’ve never seen Neon Genesis, then these films are perfect for you. If you’re a hard-core Neon Genesis fanboy who turns red in the face from any mention of change, then you should probably stay away.