Japanator Recommends: Evangelion 2.22


As I've said before, much to the dismay of many community members, the new rebuild of Evangelion movies have been my first foray into the series. I think it's quite an interesting way to be introduced to such a staple of the industry, and according to my friends: a much more succinct and streamlined (not to mention prettier) method of enjoying the series.

After having watched Eva 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, I was hooked, and the cliffhanger type ending had me ready for more, so I eagerly awaited the next installment. Luckily for me, I managed to snag a review copy on Blu-ray, and so the viewing experience began. While 2.22 definitely carries on the strong elements of 1.11, there were still somethings that I thought were less successful than others, so I won't fool you by letting you believe that just because something is Eva that it's perfect, though overall it was an enjoyable experience.

Read on to see break down on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance.

Title: Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance [Blu-ray]
Studio: Gainax
Licensed by: FUNimation
Release Date: March 29, 2011
MSRP: $34.98 

To say that watching Evangelion on Blu-ray is beautiful is an understatement. This was the first anime I had watched on Blu-ray, and I was quite astounded at how vivid the colors were, and immersive the environments could be at that resolution. Sound was clear and the animation itself was smooth as glass. If you get the chance to pick up this film, I must recommend the Blu-ray over the DVD. I know there are some people who might be skeptical of what a difference it can make, but trust me, it does.

Of course, one of the first things any anime fan usually wants to know is how the dub and sub compare to each other. It's widely known that I often prefer dubs to subs simply because I do not believe that by watching something in its native language, the work automatically becomes better--especially in animated films. I watched this movie twice, from start to end, in both English and Japanese, and here is my verdict: I do, in fact, believe the English is better. Now, don't get all upset, let me explain why. While the Japanese dub is very, very, good, Eva is known for using a lot of pseudo-religious/psychological jargon, which I feel was not only not translated quite as well in the subs, but also is just so much harder to comprehend when trying to read all of these terms and enjoy the amazing craftsmanship of the shows visuals, especially for a newcomer to the series.

While the English voices were not always better, (only one or two I found to be worse, the others were all either on par or better), I feel the translation was much more enjoyable. It allowed me to understand things I didn't quite get on the first run through in Japanese and as a result, I found myself much more satisfied with the movie. Of course, one of the most terrible pronunciations occurs in English, which is everyone calling Seele "Say-lay." I nearly became a German major, people, I know how to say these words, and it's not hard. I find it careless that the English dub did not pronounce this organization rightfully as "Zee-luh."

Another issue I had with the film branches off from this translation issue, and that's simply the sheer amount of jargon used throughout the film. You practically have to have been a scholar in the original anime in order to understand half of what they're talking about. Luckily, I had Bob with me to clarify each step of the way, but that doesn't make it acceptable for a film to simply drop its viewer in the midst of terms he or she doesn't understand and that they rarely explain. Everything from the Key of Nebuchadnezzar to Seele, to various intricacies of the Evas themselves. In fact, it was only after going back and looking up everyone on Wikipedia that I could fully understand more of what was going on. This is definitely not a movie built for beginners, which is a shame, because I feel like if you're going to reboot a show into films, you should make it accessible even to those who didn't watch the original anime, it's just smart business if nothing else.

On the other hand, 2.22 had many improvements over the original show, from what I've read, been told, and seen parts of. Namely, Shinji. We all know he's the whiny little girl of the series, but in 2.22 he has considerably more backbone than he did previously, and just seemed to be a slightly less annoying character. Other characters had interesting interpretations and variations as well, with Rei's seemingly mysterious origins hinted at much more overtly (so much so that even I understood, having never seen the anime), meanwhile Asuka is the same bossy girl everyone has come to know, and a mysterious new addition, Mari, is added into the mix. Mari serves as evidence of the rest of the world's involvement with the Eva project (and generic hot girl) and only has a few minutes in the film, though I wonder if she will play a larger role in the next two movies.

In terms of spoilers, like the Rei situation, 2.22 also gives significant insight as to what exactly the Second Impact was by having a near-Third Impact occur, thus defining what exactly happened. This is the sort of thing that throws me about the Eva series: sometimes I feel like the creators got so wrapped up in weaving pseudo-religious imagery and terms around a psychological analysis of characters that it just makes the entire plot near incomprehensible on its own, whether or not you've ever seen the anime. 2.22 also continues to reveal more than its predecessor series did when it introduces an enigmatic boy who lives on the moon. I won't mention him by name, but I'm sure if you've seen the series, then you know to whom I am referring. Interestingly enough, this character appears again at the end of this film stating that he will "finally make Shinji happy" implying that he has tried before, bringing up all kinds of theories as to the canonicity and timeline covered by these new films.

The pacing of the movie is only so-so, in my opinion. The beginning starts with action, followed by a bit of a lull in activity and reduces to, in some ways, a bit of a "slice of life" style for a portion, exploring the relationship between Shinji and his fellow pilots, with the real action and intense events happening at the very end, after waiting a bit. While there are several action scenes, I was always struck with the feeling that I was waiting for everything to be explained, to know what the Key of Nebuchadnezzar was, to understand fully the relationship between Shinji's mother and his Eva (though further Wikipedia exploration revealed that), as well as how Shinji's Eva eventually begins to ascend toward a divine being. I know that again, I would understand more if I had watched the anime (at least to some extent) but it's just bad filmmaking to leave such loose ends when they're so integral to the plot, unless they will be explained in the last two films, making it necessary to watch the entire tetralogy at once in order to understand the scope of all organizations and events in context.

To comment on the pacing, however, the scenes that really chill you and make the movie worth watching are those horrifically brutal ones. At one point, Shinji's Eva gets taken over by a Dummy System when he refuses orders, with the Dummy System murderously tearing apart the enemy, even attempting to eat parts as blood spills all over the countryside. In fact, the scene is so disturbing that it's almost hard to watch. And near the end, for reasons I won't spoil for you, Shinji's skin is ripped away from his body, revealing the muscle underneath. It might be animated, but that didn't change how terrible it was to watch.

While I'm sincerely interested in seeing the last two Eva films, I admit I'm growing a bit weary of all of the things I'm supposed to keep in mind with no resolution during these films. The sheer amount of dealings between Seele, NERV, and Shinji's father, combined with all of the politics and secrets make this series a bit exhausting. I certainly appreciate an in depth and cerebral film, but this is just becoming a little tiresome for me, even if it's through beautiful graphics and breathtakingly horrific scenes.

Score: 8.0--Great

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Crystal White
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I'm a Senior Illustration major, a girl gamer, and an all-around pretty cool person if I do say so myself. Get to know me! more + disclosures



Filed under... #Gainax #Japanator Original #Japanator Recommends #Neon Genesis Evangelion #top stories



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