Time for something a bit different today, taking a break from the Woody Allen films with the first of four films which are remasters of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series. Evangelion 1.11 (or 1.0) is animated (anime) film, that’s highly involved in ideas of science-fiction, and in many ways horror, with an incredibly deep religious subtext. I saw the original series many years ago, and was somewhat a fan but never finished it, which made watching this all the more tempting.
Evangelion follows a teenage boy named Shinji Ikari, who lives in Neo-Tokyo in the vaguely distant future (I can’t remember canon time dates). His father is a high ranking official in an organization NERV which is essentially some kind of global protection organization. The world borders on apocalypse as monsters known as ‘Angels’ continue to attack Tokyo, Shinji’s father summons him to pilot an Evangelion (A machine designed to fight the angels) as the human race struggles to survive. The film follows the first few attacks in the chronology, and the events leading up to Shinji piloting it, and the aftermath of so. It also focuses on fellow pilot Rei Ayanami, the other eva pilot, and also on Shinji’s father and their incredibly strained relationship. The first few battles with Angel 4, And 5 are fairly routine, with Unit 01 sustaining damage but ultimately protecting Tokyo. The climax involves the 6th angel as it comes close to penetrating and destroying NERV HQ, as drastic measures are taken as Shinji gets one shot using a special protoype positron cannon, which manages to create incredible tension considering it’s an animation.
The film is only the first of a 4 part series, so you can’t really expect it to be as tense, and capturing as the later installments. The film seems very much similar to the original TV series, in some sections down to the shot with much fresher, revitalized animation which really captures the spectacle of it all. The animation is really crisp, and the battle scenes are incredibly gripping, however EVA still has elements of fan-service, and some very irritating, or otherwise ridiculous characters. Throughout the introductory cast, it’s basically impossible to fund someone who’s just a standard functioning human-being, especially with 4 or 5 of them (Shinji, Rei, Gendo) being angsty and untalkative which really doesn’t create good drama. You could say it’s a part of the whole apocalyptic genre, and it’s a new world or such, but ultimately in my eyes that’s what holds Evangelion back, a lack of identifiable or amiable characters. However it is realistic in the way they behave, and is in many ways the very antithesis of the azumanga diaoh bubblegum bullshit that anime often gets tied down to, it has a variety of dark, synical characters who have seen too much and don’t know how to express themselves. In terms of mis-en-scene Evangelion 1.11 is incredibly symbolic in terms of religious symbols that really ties into the whole apocalypse, and idea of creation unmaking it’s self.
Only a short review today, as I’m incredibly tired from a 6 hour train journey yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll crack on with part 3 of the Woody Allen films, and hopefully something new on Monday. Evangelion is an acquired taste, but certainly a good choice for those interested in science-fiction and apocalyptic dystopian drama. Until next time, I’ll leave you with this clip, and ask you to follow/like/comment/share if you like what you’ve read, and cheers!