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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Vast improvement" somehow doesn't seem strong enough, 13 Jun 2010
This review is from: Evangelion 1.11 - You Are (Not) Alone [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Chances are if you can name any anime series beyond "Pokemon" you've at least heard the name "Evangelion", the biggest success story in 'hardcore' anime history. It's one of those series a lot of people will rave about how deep and intense it is once they see it... I am not one of those people. I found the original TV series to be a serious mixed bag... offering an intriguingly layered metaphor driven coming of age cum apocalyptic sci fi cum giant robot saga that, while initially a revelation, descended into cheap, expositionary double talk, poorly explored characterisation and an often needlessly vague and ill defined overall plot and infuriating cut price production values after the halfway point that spirals into an insultingly cheap finale that even a borderline disturbing movie sequel did nothing to 'fix'. It starts strong, but wastes it's potential.

With Evangelion 1.11 we have the first installment in the new 'Rebuild of Evangelion', a series of four movies that will completely reimagine and redefine Evangelion for a new generation, and boy is it once again a strong start to proceedings.

For the most part, it may appear little has been changed from the original series in this movie. The plot is still centred on self loathing emo kid Shinji Ikari as he is summoned to the city of Tokyo 3 by his estranged father to(For some reason) join the mysterious group NERV and pilot a giant robot in an attempt to protect humanity from a race of giant creatures called the 'Angels' who came close to wiping out mankind 15 years before the movie's opening(Rendering much of the Earth uninhabitable). Shinji reluctantly complies, but his deep rooted emotional problems hold him back, even as his new found 'adopted mother' Misato(His superior officer at NERV initially) tries to give him a sense of purpose. The plot sounds pretty wacky laid out like that, but it watches a lot easier than you might think.

While the original TV series did a decent job with the events this movie covered in the first place, some things have seen definite improvement, in particular the characterisation and overall plot development is much more focused and easier to follow in this movie, with considerably less focus on the vague double talk and hallucinagenic "dream sequences" that the series became so mired in as it went on. This movie does a superb job of portraying the outright isolation of Shinji's existence and his gradual journey towards finding something in his life with real meaning. Basically, this movie made me CARE about it's characters first and foremost before making me want to shake my TV and shout "Stop whining and man up already!". It may only cover the first seven or eight episodes of the TV series, but it presents the plot far better than they ever did.

Where the movie excels though, is in it's visuals. Every inch of the original footage from the show has been completely reanimated and redone with a huge amount of new footage and story mixed in with classic events in a truly seamless manner and the end result is a richly coloured, gorgeously animated eye candy fest with the Angels and Evas themselves being redesigned to llok a lot better and CGI being employed to spectacular effect for some scenes, and on this Blu-Ray release, the crystal clarity of the picture really shames the original show's now very washed out, grainy looking appearance.

The soundtrack work is an area where Evangelion always stand out, and this movie is no different with stirring, often haunting soundtrack that can make the long scenes with no dialogue even more emotionally affecting than any other scenes in the film. Add to this a superb theme song from Utada Hikaru(Who you may remember from the Kingdom Hearts games) and you've got a lovely sounding movie. The voice acting likewise does not disappoint, with the Japanese cast from the TV show reuniting yet again, keeping an aural 'comfort zone' in place for the long time fans if nothing else. The english dub has several of the old ADV dub cast present(Most notably Shinji and Misato's voices), but the new recruits replacing the numerous people who didn't return do a good job with the characters I suppose.

Overall, this movie is easily the best way for an entry level fan to get into Evangelion, despite the fact there is likely to be a wait of years between each of the four installments it's still well worth seeing and, having myself just had the chance to see the second movie 'Evangelion 2.22' and experienced just how vastly it improves the later stages of the TV story and takes the whole mythology in exciting new directions, I can safely say that getting on board with the Rebuild of Evangelion is highly recommended, so get in while the getting's good folks. Eva is officially back on top.
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