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Studio Khara photo
The Lawsuit Instrumentality Project
As we continue to wait patiently for Eva 4.0's possible completion, a Studio Khara ends up going through a major turn of event. It turns out that they're suing Gainax for not fulfilling their deal to pay Khara royal...

E-SAKUGA photo

Dive into FLCL's key frames with E-SAKUGA's upcoming product

Ride on Shooting Sakuga
Nov 05
// Salvador G Rodiles
There's something wonderful about seeing the hard work that goes into creating an animated piece. One nice thing about this process is seeing the project's key frames that make each scene pop out. Speaking of which, FLCL is g...

Introducing Hei Stories: Inspired by Anime & Manga, Welcome to the Universe of Kaleidoscope

Aug 18 // Yussif Osman
Anyong and Salam! So this piece is important to me, so if I guess if I want it to mean something to you too, I should start by introducing myself.  I’m Yussif and more than anything else, I’m passionate about stories and it’s really Japanese culture which got me into storytelling.  Growing up, I wanted to tell my own stories, so I did plenty of writing, but it’s only recently that I decided to take the plunge and start an enterprise focused on storytelling and the worlds I created.  I’m writing to you, to introduce the startup I founded, Hei Stories, a platform, the tales of which are heavily inspired and influenced by Japanese animation and manga.  I hope you’ll stay a while and hear me out, because I think Hei Stories is full of the things which we love above fiction; complex characters and developed world, human themes and stakes we can invest in.  And maybe, something new too.  I would like to introduce you to Kaleidoscope, to a wholly new and unique universe, which although it is populated by living stars and ghosts made of songs, ruled over by an Eclipse King, protected by superheroines and challenged by explorer revolutionaries scouring the frontiers of starlight, it is a world based on our own, where hope, dreams and compassion are our armour, sword and shield.  Welcome to Kaleidoscope, I hope you find something of yours in here too. Bear with me, but the first things I’d like to talk about are ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  Perhaps this will make more sense if I use Miyazaki’s work as the foundation for this discussion.  By ‘magic’, I refer to the sense of wonder that is conjured by weaving secrets and fantastical settings that tease and play with our inbuilt desire for adventure and the mysterious.  I found a combination of the two when I came across Spirited Away; but in addition to ‘magic’, films like Chihiro’s say something unique about what it means to be human and to live and love and in doing so, are doing something quite intimate.  By exploring childhood and life, from films like Only Yesterday to Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki involves us in the story and in doing so, makes the fantastical elements believable, making the entire experience truly magical.   Work in Hei Stories tries to do the same, through a blend of magical realism and Romance.  I use my work, Zoe Taylor as an example; a young woman who travels from one world she creates to another, in search of a love she has long forgotten, each world she hopes bringing her closer to home than the last.  Or Monsoon, in which Abhu dreams of her big sister; her thoughts and feelings entering the sky, becoming ghosts, gods and asura, connecting her with the person she is looking for.  In these stories, it is my hope that I have not only drawn inspiration from the likes of Miyazaki, or Makoto Shinkai, but that the tales set in Kaleidoscope explore themes such as love, hope and pain in unique ways - whether that’s Asem’s ability to draw power from the human heart or the Lovecraft militia, who through pure fury, manifest their pain in terrifying power.  It’s my aim to explore what we mean by such ideas as ‘love’, how it is an idea which empowers us, the way Petra sees beyond Asem’s trauma, or how Abhu’s longing for her sister connects them through the sky. My view of the world has been heavily shaped by the stories I watched and read growing up.  Among them, was Dragonball Z.  What did I love most about Dragonball Z? Vegeta, plain and simple.  Why? Well, he used to be a bad guy- now, that doesn’t just make him a badass, it makes him fascinating. This may have become a common Shonen trope, but think about it.  As a kid, I was suddenly introduced to the notion that the world is complicated and that maybe, just maybe, there is goodness in everyone (except maybe Frieza).  Sometime later, it happened, Naruto confronted Pain and what did he do? He talked to him. This blew my mind, even if Pain could never justify the things he did, he had reasons, and was himself suffering from sorrow which made him what he was.  By talking to him, Naruto liberated them both from the circle of hate and made it possible for their world to move forward.  This, which to me, was an impossibly amazing moment, would inspire me to go and study Peace as a discipline at university.   But above all, it made me want to tell this story to others, it made me want to tell people that there was another way, that people are complex and can be reached.  I began creating villains I wanted readers to empathise with, villains the heroes could empathise with.  Villains who were more than just antagonists.  I created Rakshasah, who gives up his freedom to the insurgent leader Asura to save his village, in exchange for being raised on a philosophy of hate; ultimately giving up on himself, seeking to force Neha, whom he loves to see the world the way he does, so he doesn’t have to suffer alone.  But even though Neha is accompanied by a rain demon, she would stop Rakshasah not by fighting him, but fighting what had been done to him.  Then there is Iconoclast, someone so utterly rejected by the world that she felt the need to conquer it in order to change it.  Is she good? Evil? More appropriately, a revolutionary, in the tradition of Lelouch.     One of the aims of Hei Stories became to contribute to social and global commentary, by spreading positive and progressive messages and engaging in a discussion to humanise and spread tolerance, understanding, positive change and empathy. I believe stories have the power to create significant change in the way we view the world and it is our aim to contribute to the discourse of making the world a better place. From LGBT rights to the need for the world to welcome refugees, from peace to overcoming depression and heartbreak, I hope these stories can be there for people around the world overcoming adversity, dreaming and hoping towards better futures.  The way Luffy and Naruto were there for me. And for anyone who is like me, searching for their place in the world, I am writing Centillion Lights episodically on Patreon, a saga about a race across multiple plains of existence, from Flower Kingdoms to Art Empires, to find Earth, a very different place in the heart of each racer, seeking to make the world something of their own. A coming of age story which takes the 'spring of youth' concept found in so much anime and really pushes it with what it means to be young and trying to work out who you are in an unknowable world. So Hei Stories is seeking to branch into different mediums including spoken word, literature, audio and ultimately animation. It is our aim to begin production on an animated feature/series set in the world of 'Kaleidoscope' in 2017. To this end, I’ve begun crowdfunding on Patreon, initially contributions will fund things like a concept artist (I’ve done the art to date, but I’m not a professional) and comiccon space to spread the word, but combined with funds gathered from public readings we’re doing in London and prospective grants from established institutions, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to fund the animated series. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on, or you can explore more of the world I’ve created on or on Youtube @ Hei Stories.  In addition, it is our aim to create opportunity for young and emerging artists.  The actors who will be performing in 'Asem', the major public reading we’re doing soon, are in the early stages of both their lives and careers and it is our hope to give them exposure and help them grow as well as give them support.  Poets and musicians are also involved in this project and it is our sincere wish to help nurture and support the young artistic community and see it thrive, because quite simply, art makes life better. I think that’s one of the reasons that we love anime, because it combines music and visual art, drama and writing in a spectacular collaboration to produce something like Sword of the Stranger or Princess Mononoke. And exploring genres, produces a literal kaleidoscope of artistic collaboration. In the tradition of Ghost in the Shell, or Darker Than Black, I explore neo-noir and urban horror in Lights and Letters From the Sleepless Wars, trying to push the boundaries of what we understand to be real.  Or in the tradition of epic Romance like One Piece, I created the Sunflower Diaries which explores a universe which challenges what we understand the world to be, all from the foundations of a young girl’s dreams.  We weave stories around unique countries like the Moon Kingdom, actually inspired by the aesthetics of Klonoa with its solar temples and moonlit palaces.  Then there is the whimsy of the bizarre and fun, such as Space Dandy, in stories like our Mighty Mighty Mighty Thunderclap Coalition who aim to spread Earth culture in a post-Earth solar system. And with these stories come a variety of aesthetic, inspired by animators like Yutaka Nakamura as I imagine Bonfire Engines assemble themselves from a will to be, or worlds racing past as a ‘Runner’ sprints through the universe- or a girl turning a flower into a small bird as subtly as when Chihiro tapped her feet to make sure her shoes were on. I have spent a-lot of time talking about what has inspired Kaleidoscope, but I want take a risk here and dare say that Hei Stories does some things that are new.  Sometimes we seem inundated with ‘harems’ and battle adventures and MMO reality swapping stories.  But look at the uniqueness of the premise of Erased, D.Gray-Man’s Noah Family, all of Makoto Shinkai’s and Ghibli’s work; the biggest way in which anime and manga has inspired me, is by encouraging me to create something new.  From watching the breathtaking, experimental animation of Mob Psycho 100 or experiencing how 5cm Per Second blends the cosmic with the Earthly.  These stories have pushed our imaginations, visually and in how we think about storytelling and the world.  In particular, I would like to site Bounen no Xam’d and Eureka 7, both works from Bones which are significantly original stories which push how we understand genre and bring human drama to the fantastical with original ideas, whether that’s the sentient ‘Coral’ at the centre of the Earth, which we have to come to terms with co-existing with in Eureka, or the way an Emperor declares war on the world because he has lost his name in Xam’d, set in a world where emotions create immensely beautiful beasts whilst a love story is told, based on a relationship that is never traditionally defined.  Or we can look at Sore Demo Sekai wa Utsukushi which pushes the boundaries of how love evolves and what motivates people.   It would feel arrogant to inundate you all the ways I think Hei Stories is original, but here is a short list of examples of how the world we’ve created pushes the boundaries of fiction as inspired by anime, from setting, to story structure: Kaleidoscope is a universe not based on material space, but rather ‘place’ is painted across a landscape of thoughts, emotions and concepts, materialised in starpaint and hyperdimensional oceans.  It is my aim  to make accessible sensitive issues like extremism and tolerance and trauma through fantastical settings, whilst exploring new character archetypes, with ‘hyperambition’ which blurs good and evil or a revolutionary that is in love with the world.  We explore time and story beyond the three act structure, exploring legacies, world histories and ideals, all interconnected by characters and ideas.   Watching Gainax push the scale of how we understood stakes, inspired me to push it as well, in both a cosmic and Earthly sense, in terms of relationships, concepts and action. So what does Hei Stories and the universe of Kaleidoscope come down to? It comes back to where I started, ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  To enchant and inspire.  It is my hope, to truly bring something positive into the world.  Kaleidoscope is a universe crafted on the principle of hope, where the fantastic serves the real and so, to illustrate that, I would like to end with this excerpt, where Hubble, the literal spirit of the Hubble Telescope who watched us for centuries, speaks: First, there were Chart Makers, they are the stars and ideas which make life possible. Independently, Stargazers were born, life in the material world, humans, animals, the Brave, species from across Kaleidoscope, across the universe. Stargazers and Chart Makers fell in love with one another, the living fell in love with life and life fell in love with the living. And in the space between that love, we, Constellations were born, an expression of every thought and hope and sadness. And for a time, love was law. Until he found you, Naenamh, you know him as the Eclipse King. Even we, Constellations, aren't sure what the Eclipse King is exactly, but he existed before the advent of life, he was alone in the dark. So when light and life began, he saw your joy and was enraged at the reality of his sadness. He came to hate everything. In his grief, he declared war on love and sought to spread his sorrow to the living. He murdered Aset, partner of the Chart Maker, Sirius. Sirius, not knowing how to deal with grief or loss, attacked the world on the Eclipse King's behalf. And so began the wars between Finality and Infinity, grief and love, spanning long into the millennia and deep into the human history. Yet every time, you win. I've watched you conquer over despair, time and time again. When the Eclipse King finally decided to simply destroy you, the only reason the Forge you call Amazing was able to find you and stop him, was because he could hear you through bottomless space. He followed your music and laughter, shouts and speech across an ocean of stars. And from him, Fragments were born, another miracle born of the underbase of love and life, a substance created by human interaction and will. And then Asem. You all created her, your world raised her and taught her to love. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it, feel free to get in touch to talk about anything, whether that’s here, one of the links or on [email protected] . Speak soon - live, love, hope and eat oreos. In Kaleidoscope, every child has a memory of the day the sun stood up, it’s my hope to remind us. “I would like to make a film to tell children it’s good to be alive.” - Miyazaki.
Hei Stories photo
Introducing a storytelling start-up
[Editor's Note: Here at Japanator we work on stuff that's not directly related to the site. this thing here is Yussif's new jam.] – the sun itself, uncurled and stood. Mountain shadows scattered as she rose. She stood a...

FLCL photo

Praise Atomsk: New episodes of FLCL are incoming

Thanks, Toonami
Mar 25
// Josh Tolentino
If you're an anime fan of a certain age, you're probably going to find this news quite exciting (or perhaps terrifying): New episodes of FLCL are on the way!  For the uninitiated, FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) was a G...

Gurren Lagann photo
Gurren Lagann

Aniplex finally brings Gurren Lagann to Blu-Ray in the United States

How many copies of this do I need to buy?
Sep 15
// Hiroko Yamamura
If you ended up buying the imported version of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann last year, I'm sorry. It looks like Aniplex USA has heard our wishes, and is finally bringing the beloved anime series Stateside, with a muli-part rele...
Anime photo

Gainax's Aoki Uru set for 2018

That's a long ways away
May 03
// Elliot Gay
Last year, Studio Gainax announced that they were finally returning to their Aoki Uru film project. A sequel to the classic Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, the film was initially conceived of in 1992, but for a va...
Wind Rises Critique photo
Wind Rises Critique

The original Otaking and his 99 cents on The Wind Rises

Crowd-translated critique now on Amazon
Mar 04
// Jeff Chuang
The Wind Rises opened in theaters last Friday in the States, did you see it? Yes? Great. Because now you can pick up a copy of Toshio Okada's review and critique of this Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece on Amazon, in English. Toshi...
GAINAX photo

GAINAX preps 33rd anniversary project for Daicon III

Fan service and bunnies. Few things have changed.
Dec 28
// Pedro Cortes
Anime history buffs might be familiar with Daicon III & IV, but most won't know about these important bits of animation. For one, the guys who made those animations later went on to form GAINAX, a company you may have hea...
Japanator Unboxes photo
Some time back, you may remember that Aniplex rescued Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann from the depths of license limbo. This meant two things: the release will come with a bunch of extra stuff and it will be pricey. Based off Sal...

Eva 2.22 photo
Eva 2.22

PSA: Catch Evangelion 2.22 on Toonami tonight

Kick off September with the end of the world!
Aug 31
// Josh Tolentino
[Update: Turns out the surprise announcement was a special one-time-only airing of Kick-Heart, the Kickstarter-funded pro-wrestling anime by Masaaki Yuasa. The anime aired right after Eva 2.22, and at the time of this writing...

Japanator Arena: Asura vs Gurren Lagann

Aug 30 // Salvador G Rodiles
Japanator Arena  photo
Can the wrath of Asura overcome Gurren Lagann's spiral energy?
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Well, Crono tried to alter the course of time to gain the upper hand, but Zoro's endurance couldn't handle the combined strikes of Guts and Saber. While Saber was facing some teamwork issues with...

PBS Idea Channel on Eva photo
PBS Idea Channel on Eva

Aw snap, the PBS Idea Channel tackles Anno's views on Eva

Another neat idea by Mike Rugnetta.
Aug 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
YouTube's Geek Week is happening as we speak, and the PBS Idea Channel has decided to answer a question that's related to Evangelion. And that question is whether Anno's view on the series are important or not.  If ther...

Impressions: Stella Women's Academy Class C3

Aug 06 // Josh Tolentino
For those unfamiliar with the terms, airsoft is best described as paintball's nerdier brother. Played with meticulously-modeled replica guns shooting plastic pellets, the emphasis is more on simulation rather than sport. Themed matches featuring teams doing what practically amounts to military cosplay are common. Airsoft is especially popular for doing "MilSim", basically mock scenarios using real military tactics. What does that have to do with young Yura Yamato, a high school freshman seeking her social debut at an all-girls academy? Not much, really. The first two episodes fit almost smack-dab onto early K-ON! as Yura gets badgered into joining the C3 Club - an airsoft club. The "C3" comes from the less-SEO-friendly military abbreviation "C3" for "Command, Control & and Communications", but really, it's named that way because you can pronounce it as "C-Cubed" in Japanese. You can even figure out which K-ON! archetypes map onto which characters. Yura is Yui and Azusa with a dash of social anxiety and a tendency to daydream (more on that later), while the rest of the club are mixes of Mugi and Ritsu tempered by varying quantities of Mio-ness. Club head Sonora, voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, is the consummate badass who does real shooting and can't be bothered to wear her uniform properly. Mind you, I say these things not to be reductive, but rather give an impression of how mundane the first couple of episodes feel. It's one thing to start out slow and build up to more excitement with time, but in the saturated field of cute girls doing cute things things need to distinguish themselves right off the bat. It's a necessary thing to avoid being dropped, or say, being forgotten about until a busy blogger remembers that it exists and that he had committed to watching it weeks ago. Which is totally not a thing that happened to this busy blogger. No, sir! These episodes just barely drop hints that there's more to Class C3 than girls in a girls' club not actually doing the thing their club is for. In fact, the C3 Club does plenty of airsoft, so much so that Yura gets carried away into various action-movie references, including Rambo, The Bodyguard, and more. Yura's overactive daydreaming is something of a plot device, even, and it's implied later on that it's practically her superpower. Speaking of superpowers, perhaps the oddest aspect of Class C3 - at least, it'll be odd for the viewer that watches for the airsoft - is how readily the show steps into superpower territory...sort of.  In Class C3, airsoft, that nerdier brother of paintball and likely origin of the term "Tacticool", is treated with a level of reverence that is, well, ludicrous, even for the most hardcore hobbyists. Sonora has an airsoft "master" that taught her the ropes like it was a martial art, and has a personal airsoft policy that frankly makes no sense (though the show acknowledges that part at least). Karira has an inexplicably insane level of agility, performing spinzaku-like feats of wall-running and backflips up the wazoo. A rival airsoft team chews Yura out for forfeiting, lambasting her lack of resolve, which leads Yura to cut her hair in a show of determination. The result is something of an identity crisis, one that might be linked to the fact that it's about airsoft. One of the things that feels "off" about airsoft (and MilSim-level paintball), is that it falls into a simulation "Uncanney Valley". When you play airsoft, you're effectively simulating an otherwise deadly firefight...except you're not. Your average airsoft gun can hold far more plastic pellets than any real firearm. At regulation strength, an airsoft pellet strike at combat range impacts with less force than a rubber band, and there's no substantial recoil to speak of. Actual physicality aside you'd get a more accurate firearms simulation playing Call of Duty. Of course, physicality counts for quite a lot, and Class C3 pulls out some fun stuff. Seemingly accurate hand signals permeate the early encounters, and as far as I know, the different "Survival Game" game modes mentioned seem to be real things.  Character development is also more of a priority in this show than it ever was in the likes of Girls und Panzer or Upotte!. Though the rest of the crew is decidedly one-note so far, Yura and Sonora have their own motivations, history, and personalities, even if they are still two-dimensional (which is more than one, at least).   But the identity issues persist. Is Class C3 about airsoft? Is it a straight sports-team show? A slice-of-life-er about a girls' club? An absurdist parody? Or about a girl finding herself? It's all of these things, but doesn't quite do enough on any one front to fully satisfy. There's certainly time left to both raise the stakes and get more balls rolling, so I'll be sure not to forget it moving forward.
Stella Class C3 photo
Girls und Airsoft
Melding cute girls and an unusual activity of some kind is hardly a new thing. Hundreds of full anime, manga, and book series have been mined from the rich vein of "Girls x [Weird Pastime]", and Gainax's Stella Women's A...

Crunchyroll's new animes photo
Crunchyroll's new animes

Simulcast GET! Crunchyroll grabs Monogatari S2 and more

Simulcasts Assemble!
Jul 03
// Salvador G Rodiles
I have a feeling that Crunchyroll has developed a new fetish for the summer season, since magical girls, dolls, and airsoft guns are joining their summer lineup. With that being said, Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen and F...
Evangelion 3.0 jackets photo
Evangelion 3.0 jackets

Movic preparing new jackets based on Evangelion 3.0

You can (not) wear. Or something.
Jun 17
// Elliot Gay
Love it or hate it, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo certainly surprised a lot of folks. It also made a whole lot of money. Like any good money making property, Eva 3.0 merchandise has been hitting the market at a consisten...
Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Final Blows: FLCL

Now that's a finishing move!
Jun 05
// Hiroko Yamamura
It's all led up to this. Our hero has been bruised and battered, and on the bring of defeat. What can saved the day? Is there any hope left for humanity? In anime, you can alway count on the final blow! This week your favori...
Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Final Blows: The End of Evangelion

A valiant attempt!
May 31
// Hiroko Yamamura
It's all led up to this. Our hero has been bruised and battered, and on the bring of defeat. What can saved the day? Is there any hope left for humanity? In anime, you can alway count on the final blow! This week your favori...

Friday Night Fights: Ideon vs Dix-Neuf

May 17 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Will the Milky Way Galaxy survive this week's battle?
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Shanoa was ready to use the Glypths that allowed her to defeat Dracula in Order of Ecclesia; however, Bayonetta has punched a being equivalent to God into the sun, so that makes her a stronger op...

Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Final Blows: Diebuster

Now that's a kick
May 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
It's all led up to this. Our hero has been bruised and battered, and on the bring of defeat. What can saved the day? Is there any hope left for humanity? In anime, you can alway count on the final blow! This week your favori...
Gurren Lagann is back photo
Gurren Lagann is back

Giga License Breaker: Aniplex rescues Gurren Lagann

Who the hell do you think we are?!
Mar 30
// Salvador G Rodiles
It shouldn't be a surprise to people that the Gurren Lagann TV series would get revived by Aniplex USA, since they were the ones who licensed the two movies in North America. Knowing who the hell Aniplex is, they pl...
Pleiades movie is a thing photo
Pleiades movie is a thing

Drive a Subaru: Gainax's Pleiades anime becomes a movie

Gainax really wants you to own a Subaru.
Mar 21
// Salvador G Rodiles
Honestly, I am confused right now. I could've sworn that Gainax and Subaru's Wish upon the Pleiades was suppose to be said and done. Never mind, I forgot to take one important thing into consideration. Seeing how Pl...
Royal Space Force HOOOH! photo
Royal Space Force HOOOH!

Gainax returns to their long dormant Blue Uru project

Did anybody expect this?
Mar 20
// Elliot Gay
If you haven't seen Gainax's Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, what are you doing? Go grab a copy and enjoy some fantastic sci fi filmmaking. All right, you're back? Cool. As fantastic as Gainax's first f...
Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Music: Old School Thursday

Aim for the Top!
Mar 14
// Hiroko Yamamura
In honor of receiving my lovely new Super Robot Chogokin: Gunbuster, we have a lovely old school gem from one of my all time favorite series, Gunbuster: Aim for the Top!! Besides containing amazing charac...

Friday Night Fights: Ayumu vs Makina

Mar 01 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Are magical garment zombies stronger than corpse princesses?
*ding, ding, ding* It's over! The Ragnell may be a powerful sword that was blessed by the Goddess, but to Guts, this meant nothing. When it came to his goal, Guts is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Utilizing ...

Friday Night Fights: KOS-MOS vs Nono

Jan 11 // Salvador G Rodiles
The clash of the female weapons of mass destruction!
*ding, ding, ding* It's over!  Despite Bit and Liger Zero's slow turning speed, the duo's ability to adapt to any situation was put into place. Knowing that the Strike had the advantage in mobility, Bit attempts to ...


Discotek Media licenses Gunbuster 2: Diebuster

Prepare for hot blood and manly tears
Jan 08
// Pedro Cortes
Long time readers may remember that I reviewed Diebuster a couple years back. I fellated the show, and with good reason. It's one of my favorite OVAs, only topped by it's predecessor, Gunbuster. The only problem is that ...
Imaishi's most vulgar characters duke it out.
*ding, ding, ding*  It's over! Saber experienced a close call, as Tenchi's Lighthawk Wings was too much for her Excalibur and Avalon combo. Luckily for her, Ayeka and Ryoko's squabbling tampered with Tench...

Review: Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

Nov 19 // Elliot Gay
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) RedoStudio: Studio KharaRelease Date: November 17, 2012 (Theatrical release) When we last left Shinji in Evangelion: 2.0, he had managed to pull Rei out of Zeruel, accidentally initiating 3rd impact. Riding Eva Unit 06, Kaworu descended from the moon and pierced Unit 01 with the Lance of Longinus, seemingly putting an end to the process. A lot of time has passed since then; 14 years, to be exact. You Can (Not) Redo kicks off with Asuka and Mari retrieving a sealed Shinji and Unit 01 from space, only to come under attack by a strange Angel-like monster. The creature is obliterated by a briefly awakened Unit 01, and from there our slumbering hero is transported to the AAA Wunder; headquarters of the anti-NERV organization, Wille. Awake and unsure of what the hell is going on, Shinji is led to the bridge where he comes face to face with aged versions of all the NERV operatives that he had come to know in his time as an Eva pilot. Leading this group of hardened soldiers is none other than Misato Katsuragi, his former guardian and friend. With the world having fallen to pieces and no one giving him the answers he seeks, will Shinji be able to find his own form of happiness as everything and everyone around him moves on?  The first thing that needs to be made clear about You Can (Not) Redo is that it doesn't at all follow the template of the source material. 2.0 added many new plot elements, but the main story beats were mostly kept intact. This is not the case in 3.0, as Studio Khara has instead taken the Rebuild story in a completely different direction. By keeping Shinji out of the picture for 14 long years, the characters of Evangelion have been able to grow in unique ways. It's fascinating to see Misato unchained from the shackles of NERV. She was never really able to capitalize on the information about SEELE that she uncovered in the original TV series. Here, she leads the charge in an aggressive attempt to stop the 4th Impact from occurring. While completely different than the road she ends up taking by End of Evangelion, it's nonetheless in line with her character and the way the Rebuild films have developed her up until now. Despite technically being more divided than ever before, it's good to see the core group of characters finally unite against a common threat. I do wish we could have gotten more scenes with some of the new Wille characters, but with a runtime of 106 minutes, I can understand why they didn't have more screen time. Asuka in particular comes as a pleasant surprise. Despite her outer appearance being mostly unchanged (the silly excuse being LCL exposure), she's aged internally by 14 years, making her a 28 year old adult. This newfound adulthood is reflected in her personality and the way she chooses to deal with others. Her anger toward Shinji isn't born from childish romance, but rather frustration that he hasn't changed at all. Now more of an older sister than an object of romance, Asuka's new dynamic with Shinji is a fresh take on an old relationship. In an interview with Asuka's voice actress, Yuka Miyamori, she said that after reading the script for 3.0, all she could think was that Asuka has finally "taken a step forward." I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, Maaya Sakamoto's character, Mari Makinami Illustrious, doesn't get a whole lot to do in You Can (Not) Redo. Her banter with Asuka is a lot of fun to watch and she gets some great action sequences, but her presence and purpose are still huge question marks. In some ways, she reminds me of the battle-loving side of Asuka from the TV series, which makes for an interesting contrast with the current version. I'm not sure that's enough to justify her existence at this point, however it looks like she might have a fairly large role to play in the 4th film. Rei's role in 3.0 is also diminished compared to the previous two films, but no less important. Going into detail about her story arc would be like trying to navigate a spoiler minefield, but I will say that I look forward to seeing what's next for the character. I wish she had been given more screen time, but she was clearly not the focus of the story. Where Evangelion: 3.0 really shines is in its handling of Kaworu and Shinji's relationship. Unlike his brief appearance in the TV series, Kaworu is given the majority of the film's focus, and the end result is a friendship that feels much more sincere and less rushed. Shinji has effectively lost everything near and dear to him, leaving him alone and beaten. Kaworu represents hope; the hope that maybe he can redo things. There's something fascinating and truly sweet about their friendship, and that forms the crux of 3.0's narrative. It keeps the audience connected to Shinji, and much like Kaworu, we want to see him find some measure of joy amidst all the chaos. You Can (Not) Redo is a slower paced, less action-filled affair than the previous films, but the emotional payoff is greater. Shinji is at times frustrating to watch, but more justified than ever in his decision making and thought processes. Cast into a mysterious new world with people he doesn't even recognize anymore, Shinji is lost. Every truth he learns only serves to hammer that fact in further. It's in finding friendship and love through Kaworu that Shinji is able to move forward, for better or worse.  There were rumors that midway through production, Studio Khara discarded their work and started from scratch. The fact that none of the scenes in 2.0's post-credit trailer made it into the film lends credence to that. Evangelion: 3.0 is a great looking film, for the most part. The first and third act of the film are beautiful, filled with an electric mix of CG and traditional animation. The second act suffers from some dull looking locations and a few too many shots of the sky, which I suspect might get cleaned up by the time the BD hits Japanese shelves. That being said, the final action set piece is so crazy that it more than makes up for some of the rushed scenes.  Shiro Sagisu continues to bring his musical talents to the Evangelion franchise with his signature choral arrangements. Nothing really sticks out in my mind, but that doesn't take away from how consistent the music is. In particular, the final battle features a rousing piece that really adds to the tension onscreen. At this point, I can't imagine Evangelion without his compositions. Utada Hikaru's Sakura Nagashi serves as an appropriately melancholic ending theme, emphasizing the weight of what transpired onscreen. The idea beyond the song was to emphasize how we should value the people and things that are immediately around us. I normally don't pay too much attention to ending credits music, but Utada Hikaru nailed it. Evangelion: 3.0 is a hard film to stick a number on because it leans so heavily on the story that has already been established. It's a film that serves as a bridge between the old and the new, and it sets up the final conflict. With all the major forces ready to clash in the 4th film, 3.0 lacks closure. You Can (Not) Redo also avoids the breakneck pacing of its precursors, opting to be a slower, more personal film. It's impenetrable to those who haven't kept up with theRebuild films, and carries a huge amount of baggage in the form of the original TV series. Yet despite the nagging little issues here and there, Studio Khara has proven that there's plenty of life left in this beast, and I can't wait to see where these characters end up in the fourth and final film. By moving forward instead of replicating the old experience, this new series of films has carved its place into anime history. I just hope we don't have to wait too long to see its conclusion.  8.0 – Great. A well executed film or series that defines its genre without resorting to cliches.
It all returns to nothing.
[SPOILER WARNING!!! This review was written to be as spoiler-free as possible. Unfortunately, in order to talk about Evangelion: 3.0 in any substantial way, I do spoil the basic premise of the film. If you want to go into 3.0...


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