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Critic's Log: Earthdate - May 21, 2012. Review #5: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End Of Evangelion
If you have read my review of Neon Genesis Evangelion (The TV Series) and its movie Death and Rebirth, Well this is it. This is the big one. This is THE END OF EVANGELION.
This is the movie that either replaces the ending entirely, it can also be viewed as an alternate ending, and it can also be viewed alongside the final 2 episodes of the show, which I pretend it doesn't exist. This was a highly anticipated anime feature film for its time and the experience is unforgettable. Either you were mesmerized by its visuals, or you absolutely loathed its Artistic approach. Either way, this is a love/hate type of series. Here is The End of Evangelion.
Third Impact has been prevented and the planet is saved. NERV unexpectedly finds itself under attack. Gendo starts to set up his main goal, and SEELE launches a massive raid towards Tokyo-3 in order to conclude their main goal at any cost. NERV must now fight its most fearsome opponent: Humanity itself.
I apologize if this is slightly spoilerific, but that was just a little plot summary for this review concerning this movie. If there's anything I should warn you about, there is an off-screen masturbation scene right in the first 2 or 3 minutes of the film.
Congratulations Anno-san! You just disturbed your viewers in the first couple of minutes of the film.
To be technical. This is a Gainax production and they really made quite the impression for most people. The first half is very good. The spectacular action scenes present from the TV show go full force and all out in this first half. Asuka rising from the lake was the most epic action scene in the series. This leads into a gut wrenching twist of events during the last 10 minutes of the first half and hell is starting to break loose. The second half starts out nicely until Shinji gives up. After Shinji gives up, we are given philosophical, metaphorical, artistic, and ambiguous imagery and dialogue for the next 10 minutes until Third Impact begins. The human race appears to be raptured and then we get a glimpse of a really odd but interesting live-action scene of the film, I kind of understand the reason for the live-action clip but the meaning is a bit ambiguous. After the live-action scene, we finally start seeing the series wrap up into a somewhat interesting set up for the final scene.
If you wonder why I am not mentioning much detail about all this. Because this is another mindboggling mind frag ending filled in with this philosophical psychological metaphorical mindboggling IMAGERY that is a bit hard to decipher which makes this ending a bit ambiguous just like the TV show's ending, but more visual. The Final Scene is both hard to accept and is ambiguous. Shinji and Asuka are the only ones left in the world (how Asuka came back is hinted a little bit before the final scene, but still confusing) Shinji decides to strangle Asuka and then he starts breaking down, and that is how Neon Genesis Evangelion ends. The ending sure has a lot to chew on, but I can't say the second half's story isn't much since all the imagery makes the story hard to analyze.
The animation in this movie is a huge upgrade to the show. It looks twice as better than the show and the obvious reason is that the movie has a bigger budget than the TV show (which had a hard time keeping up with the budget). It is done well for its time, and the action scenes are spectacular in this movie. Gainax really went balls to the wall in 1997 and this movie proved it by then.
The live action scene was a ballsy approach, but I don't know how that would help the movie in any means.
When it comes to voice acting, The Japanese cast goes all out here. They have reached their peak with the characters in this movie. The English dub is nowhere at the same level. The dub is below hit and miss than the TV Show. I have watched this movie both dubbed and subtitled. I did not enjoy the dubbed version that much.
I also have something technical to bring up in this movie regarding language tracks, there is a cartoonish sound effect added in the dub in some scenes. It added nothing to the movie and it felt out of place. ADR Director Amanda Winn-Lee (who was the voice of Rei in the Original series and this movie) thought it would be a good idea to add this cartoonish sound effect, I could not accept this at all. If you want to know what sound effect I'm talking about, find the scene where Misato kills a JSSDF soldier in the first half of the movie. Also, some sound effects that came from the Evangelions also are different in the dub. Fine by me... But Manga Entertainment sure had the balls to include all that in the 5.1 Japanese audio track and leave the Stereo 2.0 Track with the original sound effects intact with no additions so forth. I am not kidding, compare the 5.1 and 2.0 Japanese tracks and hear it for yourself. I was a bit cheated by Manga Entertainment with their treatment of this movie.
The music by Shiro Sagisu is haunting and mesmerizing on most notes. It really fit the atmosphere of the movie. Komm, Susser Todd was a really interesting one to hear, because when the world starts, we hear a happy sounding catchy tune that is about suicide. The music is great during its first half and great during its mindfuck of a second half.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End Of Evangelion was availiable by Manga Entertainment and is out of print.
With all that said, The End of Evangelion is a visual feast. But it is not everyone's cup of tea. There are some things to like and some things not to like. When it comes to Evangelion. It is an anime that gives you a kind of feeling that can go in different ways, some will say it is awesome, some would say it is brilliant. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. All I can say is that this anime is ambitious and unique. It is ambitious that it puts in Action, Philosophy, Psychological intrigue, religious symbolism, and metaphors. It is unique that they tie in these elements and put them in with the relationships of these characters. This show is not all about giant robots, or action. It's about these characters that go through a lot of things and the show really displays that humans are fragile, whether it's mentally or physically. This is probably a safe bet that that is series' biggest strength, its weakness is probably that it has too much ambition. Is this an anime that will interest you into a psychology class? Maybe. Is this anime the greatest ever made? Not at all, I don't think it is worthy of being graded a 10 out of 10. Is this anime overrated? Yes, but I don't think it's terrible. I like it. I have already said this in my review of the TV show. This was my real gateway to anime, Pokémon was the first, but that was an Americanized version and I don't think it really counts much. This pretty much wraps up my trilogy of reviews of the Classic Neon Genesis Evangelion series from The TV show to the movie conclusion. I will review the remakes sometime in the future.
I give Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion a 8.6 out of 10. It is VERY GOOD!
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