Monday, July 30, 2012

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

Evangerion Shin Gekijoban: Ha; animated science-fiction action drama, Japan, 2009; D: Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Hideaki Anno, S: Megumi Ogata, Kotono Mitsuishi, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Yuko Miyamura

2015. Mari is a girl who pilots the EVA unit-05 and destroys a skeleton shaped Angel to save an arctic outpost. Back in Japan, EVA pilot Shinji is surprised about the new addition to his team, Asuka, who pilots EVA unit-02. Together with Rei, Shinji and Asuka pilot the giant EVAs and save the Tokyo remnants from new Angel attacks. At the same time, their superiors Gendo and Kozo observe how SEELE is constructing a mysterious EVA unit on the moon, while Kaworu is standing on its fingers. After a giant Angel infiltrates NERV headquarters and sucks up Rei, Shinji enters his EVA and destroys it, rescuing Rei from it. Rei and Shinji thus create an unusual symbiosis with EVA, establishing a new entity of life.

Just when it seemed that nothing much could be added to the new tetralogy of "Evangelion" films anymore and many already signed off Hideaki Anno, the unpredictable director surprised many with the second anime film from the lot, "You Can (Not) Advance", which is a major improvement compared to the 1st part that was stiff and bleak. Unlike "You Are (Not) Alone" - which was basically just a copy-paste of the series - "Advance" deviates from the series considerably, adding up to 70 % of originality (strangely, though, the score from "Kare Kano" was 'recylced' in two sequences), which is precisely why its storyline is so unpredictable and engaging. Numerous scenes are just variations of the same thing from the original, yet several new takes on the story (Asuka having a hand puppet that has the word "Asuka" written over it; Gendo seeing Yui Ikari in Rei; the line about "perfectioning" human kind) justify the extraction of new elements of the saga. The only major 'false notes' are the dubious ideas that the oceans are red after the Second Impact (though that did enable an expressionistic image of a 'redish' Earth seen from space) and the awful choice of playing a cheerful song in the scene where EVA 01 attacks and eats another EVA. The character of Shinji and what he stands for - lonely and misunderstood outsider who somehow becomes indispensable to everyone - is again finely circled out, whereas it seems that there was a limited amount of character development, so the authors "stole" some from Asuka (who here turned out less fleshed out) and "attached" it to the new character, Mari, who enters the storyline in grand, comical fashion - parachuting herself into Shinji's face - yet in the end her role in the storyline is pretty scarce. Nonetheless, the gripping battles between giant robots and the philosophical-contemplative ending about transhumanism leave a strong impression, reviving interest in the third and fourth film, which is set for a 2015 (!) release.



Christopher Sobieniak said...

The third film is actually going to be out by the end of this year I've read.

Marin Mandir said...

I know, but by this pace the fourth film will probably be released in 2015, which is coincidentally the exact year in which Evangelion is set in.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I can see why they would do so.