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FEATURING: Voices of , , ; , Amanda Winn-Lee, Tiffany Grant (English dub)

PLOT: Three children are recruited to defend humanity from a series of monstrous Angels.

Still from Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While certainly bizarre, there’s no reason to put an uneven recap of a television series in the List when a superior candidate exists in End of Evangelion.

COMMENTS: Despite its reputation as the seminal weird anime, for the majority of its original 26-episode run Neon Genesis Evangelion was not particularly unusual, aside from its penchant for psychosexual and biblical imagery. The series’ most notable quality, its focus on the emotional and psychological well-being of its cast, was remarkable in its depth but hardly unprecedented. Mobile Suit Gundam, arguably the most iconic and influential mecha series of all, made the traumatic nature of war a core part of its storytelling nearly two decades before Evangelion’s existence. The bizarre, surrealist elements that Evangelion is best known for today mostly comprise the last third of the series, culminating in its astonishing final two episodes.

The depletion of the series’ budget forced creator and director Hideaki Anno to complete it using narration over a combination of concept art, storyboards and stock footage. Whether by necessity or choice, the last two episodes of Evangelion more or less abandon the series’ narrative. Instead, they are expressionist psychological studies of the series’ protagonist, Shinji Ikari, and seemingly of Hideaki Anno. Today, Evangelion’ s final episodes are jaw-dropping, but in 1996 they were reviled by fans seeking resolution to a series they loved.

Evangelion: Death and Rebirth only makes sense in the context of the backlash to Neon Genesis Evangelion’s final televised episodes, because it clearly targets jaded fans of the series rather than newcomers. Death and Rebirth feels like a make-good from Anno to fans disappointed by the series’ finale. It is split into two parts: the first, Death, is a 70 minute compilation of clips from the original series, while the second, Rebirth, is a 30 minute preview of End of Evangelion, the film released four months later as a replacement conclusion to the television series. Death serves to remind fans why they loved the series, while Rebirth promises them a more satisfying ending.

Summarizing a plot as dense and labyrinthine as Neon Genesis Evangelion’s in 70 minutes is likely an impossible task. Death and Rebirth makes no effort to actually do so, and is a better film for it. Instead, Death uses events from the series to summarize the emotional journey of its three main characters: the anxious and self-loathing Shinji Ikari, the depressive and reserved Rei Ayanami, and the competitive and narcissistic Asuka Langley. The trio of teenagers are tasked with Continue reading CAPSULE REVIEW: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: DEATH AND REBIRTH (1997)


DIRECTED BY: Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Hideaki Anno

FEATURING: , Allison Keith-Shipp (English dub)

PLOT:  Following the events of Evangelion 1.11, the Angel incursions against Tokyo-3 increase in intensity, and two new teenage Evangelion pilots are integrated into the NERV defense team.  Also, the world ends, I think.

Still from Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance (2009)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: What to do with Evangelion?  A combo teen soap opera/end-of-the-world saga starring giant robots, the series is weird, but in a way that’s actually sort of conventional (in anime terms). Even worse, there are now four movies (and a long running TV series) telling essentially the same story—with two more on the way. Should all the movies make the List? None? Only the weirdest one? Whatever the case, I don’t think this installment is capable of being counted among the best weird movies ever made; but I’m also thankful we get to defer the issue until we’ve checked out the series’ entire run.

COMMENTS: Here’s a typical battle between an Angel (periodically appearing bad guy) and an Evangelion (giant robot that can only be piloted by a teenager). Battleships fire pink and yellow shells at the Angel, a wire-frame robot with a pendulum hanging between its legs, as it marches towards them, instantly freezing the blood red sea with every stride and leaving a huge snowflake as a footstep. It shoots laser beams from a globe and blows the battleships, causing the scarlet water to erupt into cross-shaped spouts. A warplane drops a giant robot (hereafter “Eva”); it evades the green-tipped black lines the Angel fires at it as it falls. The Eva blows up the Angel with a gun, but it immediately reconstitutes itself. The Eva next stomps on the Angel’s laser-firing spike, which causes translucent pink and yellow auras to fill up the sky. Eventually the Eva’s foot forces the spike all the way into its command globe, and the Angel explodes into a pink cross. Each melee shot lasts for a second or less, increasing the confusion as to what the hell is supposed to be going on. In Evangelion Angels can take any form, including scuttling robots with dinosaur-skull heads and 1970s-era Pink Floyd laser light shows, and they operate according to rules that are never explained.  (I’m fairly sure the Angels have no actual protocols Continue reading CAPSULE: EVANGELION 2.22: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE (2009)