Disclaimer: BEWARE SPOILERS. I’m going to try to reduce the amount of spoilers in this post as much as I can, but some of this is unavoidable. Yeah, just beware.
The eva rebuild films always seem to be a center of controversy? Why? Partially because it’s Evangelion, but there are other reasons. The simple explanation is something about how these films are like the movie adaption of a book series. The characters are there and they feel like what we originally knew about them, but they aren’t as unique or feel as real. Maybe there is a semblance of the original plot, but it’s not as layered as it originally was. I mean, it’s not the exact same thing. Evangelion was a tv series that suffered from budget issues. Studio Gainax took a lot of short cuts from everything that is not an action scene and the last two episodes were….special? How did they keep audience interest? The writing. Neon Genesis Evangelion is impeccably well written from a character psychology perspective. Except for the original ending. You can’t account for that, but the End of Evangelion is pretty great and mind blowing. The rebuild films are the exact opposite. The writing is a little above average, but ever single visual seen is fantastic. There isn’t an ending to the rebuild films yet, so I can’t give you a complete comparison between the two things yet. Not even give you a good review of the rebuild films as well, but I can tell you what I think the rebuild films were trying to achieve.
I’m not going to be one of those snooty people that says one is better than the other. If you want that, I’m sure there are a countless number of blog posts and youtube and videos detailing every single aspect that makes the original tv series better then rebuild films. I do think the movies are trying to accomplish something different then the tv series. Let’s look at the first rebuild film as an example. You are (Not) Alone is the only movie that is a clear retelling of a portion of the TV series. It starts from the beginning and hits the fight before Shinji and the rest of the crew meet Asuka. You know, the evas fight against flying geometry that will end mankind and they use electricity from all over Japan to stop it. Yeah, that one. Just watching this film, there are clear differences. For one, the water we see in front of Tokyo is red. The first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion didn’t have that. Something was already off. The next difference is the fact that a lot of the mystery is gone. They already know what the Evangelions are. That mystery was one of the major driving forces of the series. There is still a conspiracy going on within Nerve headquarters, but still not the same. Something is going on here.
I have my own opinion on what the Evangelion films were trying to achieve. I bet a lot of Evangelion fans have already heard of this before, but I believe that all of the rebuild films are a sequel of the tv series. Something Shinji created for his vision of the rebuilding of society. This sounds a little meta, but the things I talked about last paragraph and how one particular character at the end of the first movie mentioned that it would be nice seeing Shinji again. The lack of mystery and these plot elements tell me that the rebuild films are trying to accomplish something different. I’m going to assume that the company behind these movies know what they are doing. I don’t think that were ever trying to replicate the tv series on a one to one level with four movies. That’s impossible. They decided to go with more of an action movie route and take Shinji’s character development in a different direction. They made Shinji into more of an action hero then the whiny and relatable character he was in the tv series. This is the cause of the major divergence from the tv series and the movies might be better off because of it.
Despite this change of the hero, the rebuild films are just as “Evangeliony” as the TV series is for me. You guys reading this might have a completely different opinion of me, but this is my blog. The main reason that I said this is because even when Shinji is in action mode, the show still dumps on him. Every action has consequences and when Shinji saved someone because he wanted to, but he almost doomed the rest of the world. The third eva film is a direct result of this change. The world is in a worse place, the supporting characters hate him for their own specified reasons, and shinji isn’t allowed to pilot an eva. I do admit that the third film put me off when I first saw it, but every time I think about it, it all clicks together for some reason. Of course, this new direction depends on how good the fourth film turns out, but who knows when that will happen? I hear that it’s in the works, but we won’t see anything from it for a few years. There is also the fact the rebuild films did what they wanted instead of what everybody expected them to do, which is also very “Evangeliony”. I mean seriously, the last film is 3.0 +1.0 instead of 4.0. What is more Evangelion than that?
So yeah, this concludes my thoughts on the rebuild films vs the tv series. If you have never watched Evangelion before, do it. It came out in 1995 and it has changed the anime world as we know it ever since them. A lot of major character archetypes are still borrowed from this series, a lot of series borrow physical aspects from it on a color palette and outfit level, mecha anime hasn’t been the same ever since, and so many other aspects that you probably haven’t realized.. There will be a post on this in the near future. Probably in a week or so. Seriously, go watch this series and then watch the movies if you wish. I can’t tell you what to do, but I highly recommend it. The Eva rebuild films are still Evangelion and I don’t mind them. Even if you don’t like them, I don’t think I understand how you think they ruin the series. The tv series still exists and the films don’t take anything away from them on any level.