Sunday, July 14, 2013

Evangelion and Star Wars Have One Thing in Common, They Both Have Been Re-worked More Than Once

Poster for Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone

I'm glad I have functioning relationship with my father, but that may be because he never had me pilot a giant robot at great personal risk to myself.

When I heard the anime production company Gainax was going to remake their popular series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, I was slightly baffled.Other than the last couple of episodes, which were reworked in the movies Evangelion: Death & Rebirth and End of Evangelion, I saw no reason for the TV series to be remade.So, I wasn't too surprised when Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone (:Evangerion Shin Gekijoban: Jo) was essentially a digitally remastered compilation of the first six episodes of the TV series.However, that doesn't change the fact the characters and the story are interesting, and the redesigns are well done.

Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone does a good job introducing and developing the characters right from the start.It's apparent from the first few minutes of the film the producers created a significant amount of background for each of the characters.One of the first scenes demonstrated this quite well when the main characters, Shinji Ikari, and his father, Gendo Ikari, were having an argument over whether or not the former would pilot the Evangelion Mark One.I thought it was a good representation of the unseen resentment Shinji has towards his father, though it's never explicitly stated why he does so, and is a good setup for the tension between the two for the rest of the film.Even with the other characters, specifically Rei Ayanami and Gendo, I liked how there are many facets about them that have to be inferred, and as the story progressed, small bits of information about them were slowly revealed, helping to expand the characters and the story.

The story, at first glance, seems very simple: a post-apocalyptic world where people are struggling to survive against what they call "angels."But, it goes much deeper than that.Though angels provide much of the action, it's the buildup to the action scenes that drives the story forward.For example, before the fifth angel attacks, there is a great deal of tension between Shinji and a couple of his classmates, and it has some adverse effects on his psyche.But, when he is faced with the possibility of seeing his classmates die because of their morbid curiosity, Shinji is willing to set aside his differences with them.I thought this and a few other scenes provided good windows into the characters' personalities, while at the same time advancing the story.

However, I found the tension between Gendo and Shinji to be the most interesting aspect of the story: a father who is willing to exploit his son to further his own agenda clashing with a son who resents his father, but who wants to make his father proud of him, too.It's a good plot point to resolve, and at the same time, not one that can be done in the first of four films.For that reason alone, I actually look forward to seeing the other films.

The one disappointing factor of the story is that it's a compellation of the first six episodes of the TV series.There were a few scenes that were cut and some minor rewrites, but for the most part I couldn't tell what had been altered.I really would have loved to have seen some drastic rewrites and brand new scenes, or at the very least a reworking of the themes already in the story.In the end, it seemed like an opportunity to re-envision the Evangelion franchise went to waste.

Despite the story not being reworked, Gainax did make an effort to redesign the Evangelions and the angels.Though the basic designs remain the same, the coloring looks much sharper than their TV series' counterparts.There were also a lot of the smaller details that were more prevalent on not just the Evangelions, but on many of the buildings, vehicles, and other technologies.But, what really had me stunned was the design of the third angel that appeared in the movie.I enjoyed the CG rendering and I thought the way the animators distorted it from time to time was impressive.It truly is a testament to the animators at Gainax.

I have mixed feelings about Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone.The fact it's a compilation of the first six episodes of the TV series offers fans nothing new.The themes, writing, and character development were hardly altered, and it seemed Gainax was cutting some corners during production.At the same time, however, it's a good introduction to the franchise for people who are not familiar with the story as those same unaltered themes, writing, and character development will help non-fans to understand the story.It's also a good compilation of the first six episodes of the TV series, but it could have been much more.Fans of the Evangelion franchise may want to pass the film up, but new fans and non-fans should take the time to see it.

Work Info

Title: Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone (:Evangerion Shin Gekijoban: Jo)

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