Years ago after I started this blog, I told myself that if the fourth Evangelion film appeared in a capacity that I could immediately watch it, then I would write about all of them one by one. Well, 3.0+1.0 appeared on Amazon recently so I am eating my words now Not because I don’t like them, but because I never expected the fourth film to ever appear in a timely manner for western distribution. If you have ever known about the issues behind the dub of Evangelion 3.0 after it appeared in theaters one time only and Studio Khara’s demands for them to change the subs and dubs leading to years and years of waiting for a release, then you know why my personal bet happened. But now, 3.0+1.0 came out at a reasonable time compared to its Japanese release. It’s kind of incredible. So here we are, let’s talk about 1.0 and get this talk of rebuilds started started.
I have such a strange history with this film series starting with how I got the first disc and my own history with Evangelion itself. It was a couple years after I officially watched Neon Genesis Evangelion when I was still in Uni. You see, unlike other people, I didn’t watch Evangelion when I was growing up. I only knew about anime from what I watched on Toonami and from who I talked to. I didn’t extensively go online and discuss anime in forums, so growing up I was lacking a lot of fundamental knowledge about anime. Only after some encounters with some friends in Uni did I ever watched Evangelion. I remember still having a head ache from watching End of Evangelion for two days because I still had it during a statistics exam. So I tell you this, only to tell you that I bought Evangelion 1.0 at an F.Y.E. for $5. This is an underwhelming story, isn’t it? So much build up to nothing.
The problem with 1.0 is that there is so little to talk about. It is essentially a retelling of the first six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion in 90 minutes. Shinji shows up to Tokyo 3, gets picked up by the very hot Misato to take him to Nerve Headquarters, Shinji still gets in the Evangelion after encountering his father and shaming him with the injured Rei, the fight happens, Shinji makes some friends, fights some other angels, and then operation Yashima happens. If you know everything that I’ve talked about already, then you know Neon Genesis Evangelion. The main point of contention of Evangelion comes from this rebuild film being from Anno himself, the at that time new Studio Khara, and some slight changes.
The character chemistry was mostly there still. Shinji still has massive problems with his father leading to that one scene where Shinji wanted to ride an elevator, but didn’t because Gendo was in it. Misato took Shinji into her apartment once again and they started living like mother and son in some ways though Misato never was able to connect with Shinji because he didn’t want it. Misato still has her best friend Ritsuko Akagi in the mix too which is good. Shinji still meets Tohji and Kensuke. Also, there is the foundations of the relation drama between Rei, Shinji, and Gendo still in the mix too. So yes, fundamentally, nothing has really changed in terms of character interactions and Angel fights besides visuals.
When watching 1.0 is the kind of movie that shows the viewers the weakness of converting six episodes of an anime series into a 90 minute film. At first watch with no other rebuild films around yet, I thought that the rebuilds would be the reintroduction into Evangelion because of this new stream lined feel. There is 42 minutes of material missing in this film of Evangelion story lines and character interactions that could flesh out the world more. Also, seeing all of this context at once ruins the directional decisions the show did. Us not knowing how Shinji first saved Tokyo 3 in the series and then it coming back to him allowed us to be in his character space for instance. It was well designed to put us in his head space and there is so many things like that missing in Evangelion 1.0 that it feels not as alive.
So why the rebuild films then? I think we all know by now that Evangelion 1.0 was a starting point for Anno taking this story in a direction provided from his distance to the original Evangelion series. For now, it’s playing it safe but everything starts in the beginning. There are some instances that people who dismiss the film as a repeat would miss out on. The most not subtle things are things put right in front with the red sea in the opening minutes or Shinji actually slugging Tohji one instead of the slap in the series. It’s obvious that this is a slightly different Shinji even if he went on the same little train ride he did in the series out of depression. There is more rigor in him that wasn’t there before hand. It seems small now, but obviously it branches off into his own thing as time goes on in this rebuild films. Shinji telling Rei that she could smile also means more moving forward.
From a visual level, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone looks absolutely stellar against the original series. I watched the series updated to HD on Netflix recently and even then, the new technology and production methods put into 1.0 easily surpass it even if Neon Genesis Evangelion is the best it looked in that form. I read the booklet on Evangelion 1.0 and Khara still used some of the storyboards from the original series and that’s fine here. These films needed to feel nostalgic in some ways. Plus, the shot composition in the original Neon Genesis Evangelion was incredible. There honestly is no reason why some of the shots shouldn’t be replicated again. What does 1.0 really have vs NGE? Impact. The action scenes feel so much more cinematic and bigger. Operation Yashima can’t look any better then it does here. It’s impossible.
Writing this post, I am honestly shocked that I was able to get as much out of Evangelion 1.0 then I did here. I wrote this post being flummoxed on what to say because everyone knows 1.0 and how close it is to the OG series by now. I suppose that in writing this, I can show how much I can just trust myself to figure out what to write. Yeah, that’s about it I think. For the film itself, it’s definitely a good film. Just nothing astounding or amazing. But, it is still pivotal. For all the skip-ability that Evangelion 1.0 seems to have, don’t do it. It really is the best launching point for the rebuild films. As usual as fruitless as it seems now, do not watch Evangelion 1.0 without watching the original series and the End of Evangelion. I’m not kidding. Anyway, see you guys on Friday for Evangelion 2.0. Lets have some fun with more rebuild talk.