Thursday, March 06, 2008

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:序)

I Spy a Mecha

While I knew a little about the Japanese anime Neon Genesis Evangelion through the reading of various fan sites dedicated to it, I've never actually sat down and watched an episode of the series. So when opportunity came by to experience the Rebuild of Evangelion, why not start the slate clean?

Rebuild of Evangelion is actually a tetralogy based on the original anime series by the same creative team, but it's not exactly a shot-by-shot rehash in that it does include some extra scenes, and I guess the objective is to allow the tetralogy to encapsulate what worked in the original, while at the same time to perhaps make it the more definitive telling of the story. Kind of like how comic books like to do the various reboots and tweaking of origins to suit the times.

We're introduced to Shinji Ikari, the teenage kid whose father Gendo is commander of an organization called NERV, which developed the Evangelion mechas to fight against alien Angels who invade Earth. To a layman like me, it's something like Ultraman battling monsters, except that are certain constraints here that make Evangelions interesting. Firstly, they are dependent on launch pads and are wired to NERV control, and what more, piloting these sophisticated mechas involves some bio-fusion between children, and the bots. Imagine having the fate of the world resting on the shoulders of a child, and what more, a rookie one in Shinji, who has to learn the ropes on the job. To complicate matters, he's the reluctant hero who whines a lot, is indecisive, and seems like he could lose it all anytime.

But that's exactly what makes Evangelion a joy to watch. The flawed heroes, compounded by the fact that with every increasingly powerful Angel to battle, the Evangelions seem to be more patched and repaired after each encounter, you'd wonder how long it could hold up before actually crumbling. The battle sequences here are nothing less than spectacular to watch, as we discover along with the heroes, just how best to defeat the vastly different Angels. Animation wise there's nothing to specially shout out about, as it's quite standard 2D fair with the usual attention to details.

Being the introductory movie, this film begins quite unconventionally in the thick of the action to grip your attention and never let up. As it moves along, it does drop hints of previous incidents, while introducing us to new characters along the way, expanding its mythos and universe. And in all intents, it does leave many doors opened for questioning, and it's almost definite that these would (hopefully) be answered in the subsequent films. Oh, and for action junkies, I give the thumbs up for the final battle in this movie - the creative team really do know how to make everything look really bleak!

For those who are new to the series, I quite sure this will serve as an excellent starting platform into the Evangelion universe. For those who have already been in the loop (and probably hated the series ending), this could be interesting for you to see what changes were made, and whether you will prefer the tetralogy instead.

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