Evangelion: 1.11 (rebuild)
Years ago an event known as the Second Impact devastated the earth and wiped out half of the earth's population. This catastrophe was caused by a being known as an angel, but this isn't the last time this kind of event is set to occur. As a defense against this scenario happening again, an organization called Nerv is created and headquartered in the city Tokyo 3. One of its newest residents is a boy named Shinji Ikari, who seems like an ordinary kid and quite unlikely that the fate of the world would eventually rest on his shoulders.
Shinji is chosen to pilot a giant mecha called Evangelion in order to combat more angels as they appear. But why pilot the Eva? Because everyone wants him to? His father, head of Nerv; certainly doesn't care about him. How can he possibly handle the pressure?
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is an adage I've believed in all my life, so I had my doubts about an Evangelion remake. Why go through all the effort when the original did so well for itself? Ok, sure it had problems but they did fix the ending for those who didn't like it (twice). Now a little over a decade later we revisit this series, but in a four parts starting with Evangelion 1.11 - You Are Not Alone.
Evangelion comes from a more episodic formula with 18 angels that must be dealt with (reduced to 8 in this incarnation), so it feels like things are just being thrown at us a bit haphazardly. As expected character development suffers greatly. While being alright for supplementary information for those familiar with the series, it does not develop the characters well enough on its own. The story also lacks enough breathing room to let things sink in, but that's to be expected with the time constraints. Also gone are the cutting edge editing and abstract sequences that set Evangelion apart from most of the industry. 1.11 basically takes the TV series, and retells the beginning episodes, but lacks the edge or the guts that the original had.
Where it does improve is in the animation which is impressive to say the least. While remaining true to the character designs, many of the action sequences are just totally awesome. Any time something happens with an angel, you know you're in for something cool. For anyone who had wished for Eva in high-def, this is way better than you could have hoped for. The audio track is also really good, which serves to enhance the action even more.
At the time it was done, the original was an exceptional dub and this was the series that gave me hope that dubs could be good if enough effort was put into them. Thankfully much of the vocal cast was gathered up to reprise their roles in the remake. In particular I thought Misato and Shinji were two of the key voices and was glad to see them return. The odd thing is that I missed the original voice of Ritsuko, despite the fact that I've actually been impressed with her current actresses' work in other titles. Overall the dub did rather well for itself.
Verdict? It makes a decent showing, but isn't as good as the original. I will give this movie credit that it took an average episode in the original, and turned it into the movie's climax with great success. It remains to be seen where this will all go, since the next film will start to diverge the story from the original. There's also this foreboding feeling I'm getting where everything is "as planned" like some gigantic conspiracy where no one can escape and everything is orchestrated. That's become cliche over the last decade. The original had a "master plan" but people were variables that couldn't be controlled and contingencies had to be made throughout, and certainly didn't get into details like Shinji getting closer to Rei. It remains to be seen how that's going to play out though.
I'd think of Evangelion 1.11 like an alternate angle high definition version. Worth watching as a fan of Evangelion who wants to see cool explosions and such, but I'd still recommend the original series to anyone who hasn't seen this franchise. We'll have to see how it turns out with all four films.
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