Evangelion: 1.11 You Are [Not] Alone — Blu-ray Review

ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:序
Evangelion Shin Gekijōban: Jo

REVIEW (may contain SPOILERS; images are poster-sized)

I remember back in my early anime fan days of 2002 when I had lots of free time to explore the world of anime. While I was not into mecha titles (and though I’ve seen a ton of them, I’m still not really into mecha titles), I recall reading a message thread wherein folks proclaimed the series Neon Genesis Evangelion to be the king of the mecha world and even a ground-breaking title.

Well, being younger and as I said, having the free time, I thought I’d give the anime a try. As the folk promised, the anime did turn out to be pretty good with some clear budget issues somewhere in the middle and a mind frell at the end, which is what gave it a “rent” rating from me at CAR. I had a ton of questions and found a lot of great stuff at Ikari Gendo’s Ultimate EVA FAQ site (which amazingly, Rossman still has up as well as his humorous Shinji version of the FAQ).

I haven’t watched the TV series since 2004 (I had been forced to sell a ton of my anime collection to pay some medical bills) but the announcement that Gainax would be remaking the entire TV series as a four-part theatrical movie had me pretty interested. FUNimation licensing the anime made it more interesting for me and hearing that the Blu-ray release would be known as version 1.11 made me wait until that version came out to buy it. Was it worth the wait? I think so.

Despite the numerous years since I watched the TV show, I was amazed at how much I remembered rather than how much I’d forgotten. Most of the classic scene moments from the TV series are there — the tanks and other weapons firing on the approaching Sachiel; Shinji’s picture of Misato and her rescue of him; Misato’s first (fanservice) night with Shinji; and so on. The difference is that Gaiax and director ANNO Hideaki seemed to be like George Lucas as they re-entered their old sandbox, this time equipped with new toys to allow for a much more vibrant and action-filled remake of their original work. As such, the battles against the Angel’s Sachiel, Shamshel, and Ramiel are visually more exciting and with Ramiel, I found the fight to be more interesting.

Having the original seiyuu back is nice. I smiled when Rei first spoke, hearing HAYASHIBARA Megumi be at her most subdued (especially when compared to her role as Lina Inverse in the Slayers franchise).

To compress the roughly 120-minutes of TV time into a 97-minute movie, stuff had to be dropped. As such, all of the comedy and character work are flushed. I don’t know how this will play for someone who’s not seen the TV series, but for me, I found that it made Touji and Kensuke’s befriending Shinji not as believable. Indeed, the two are reduced to extended cameos for the purposes of (1) including the mountain shrine scene, (2) giving something for Shinji to angst over and (3) Touji had an important role to play in the TV series. Assuming that’s still on, he had to be here.

The other missing element is the sense of naturally occurring comradery between Rei and Shinji. Instead, Gainax adds a bit of new material to let us know (if we already didn’t know) that Ikari was using Rei and his son as part of his master plan and thus designed for them to get close. Well, it still didn’t feel that real to me and caused Shinji’s great concern for Rei at the end of the movie to not have as much impact to me.

I have mentioned that there were many memorable scenes from the TV series which make it into the movie, only in a more vibrant way befitting the age of Blu-ray and high definition. There was a couple of big drops that I noticed, all dealing with EVA-01. I remember quite clearly that EVA-01 had its eye move or blink when Shinji helped the injured Rei and agreed to then pilot EVA-01. Further, EVA-01 protected Shinji from falling debris from the Angel attack before he got into the thing. The fact that EVA-01 moved of its own accord was both creepy and gave more impact to its going berserk on Sachiel. Plus, later on in the TV series, we learn the reason for this and that’s just as freaky and mind-blowing as the rest. Without those moments, I wonder just how much the remaining movies will change in terms of story.

Another thing I thought was oddly missing is when they pumped the LCL fluid into the entry plug, Shinji’s moment of panic about this is brief whereas I remember it being much longer, and more realistic, in the TV series. After all, it isn’t natural to breath liquid. ^_^;

A surprising element that was included in the movie is Shinji’s Super Digital Audio Tape (S-DAT) player. In 1995 Japan, this was an excellent technology for perfectly recording CD’s (thank you Al Gore and Henry Waxman for protecting us from this EVIL technology) and great for making compilation music. In 2010, we have MP3 players and frankly, even without going with a name brand, it seems that Gainax would have updated this to show Shinji playing one of these. However, Gainax kept the S-DAT player instead, which now is antiquated technology in a movie with futuristic technology. I guess they liked the S-DAT moments with Shinji too much to let them go.

I also noticed a bit of cheapness around the corners on Gainax’s part. While these were better “hidden” than in a TV series, I couldn’t help but notice lots of non-moving characters at times. With a movie budget, one would think that there would be no cheap moments like this. What do I know though? ^_^;

Finally, when it comes to the Japanese side of things, “Where the smeg is ‘Zankoku na Tenshi no Te-ze’ (‘Cruel Angel’s Thesis’)?” For those who don’t know, this is the original OP theme song of the TV series and is such a classic tune that in Hayate no Gotoku!! episode 12, Hina sings the song. I had hoped the song would serve as the ED theme for the movie, but alas, that was not to be and I for one am very disappointed.

All this aside, I found the movie to be very enjoyable and in HD, very visually pretty at times.

As to FUNimation’s release, they score mostly wins and one fail. On the “win” side, pressing the menu button on my remote caused the Blu-ray disc to immediately go to the menu (some minor load times aside). There wasn’t a lot of wasted time trying to show me how clever they were at making a menu, something that is too often the bane of Hollywood BD’s.

Second, and more importantly, FUNimation does NOT disable the Blu-ray player’s resume function. That means that when you press “Stop,” the next time you press “Play,” the movie picks up where you left off. Hollywood has gotten quite evil with most new BD releases having the resume feature disabled. Why those smeg heads want me to go through a couple of minutes of loading and plowing through their crap for whenever the stop button is pressed, I’ve no idea.

The authoring of the BD looked fine to me. I’m not a videophile so if there were issues (which I can now see at times on DVD’s), I didn’t notice them. The audio was good to me as well, but then I don’t have a 6-speaker system so I wouldn’t know if there were real problems or not.

The place of the fail is in the subtitles. I do miss the days when FUNimation was a fan-centric company that rose to the top by being that way. While they still have anime fans in their employ, they no longer have the “otaku” in charge of the translators and as such, we get subtitles with a western perspective, meaning Japanese honorifics are destroyed faster than an Angel. That didn’t use to be the case as all FUNimation titles were guaranteed to have ANB-approved subtitles when it came to honorific usage (and depending on the title, some other fun Japanese terms). Then again, some people are apparently stuck in the 90’s when it comes to that. Oh well.

In the end, the problems I cite with the anime are not enough to take it down enough to where I’d regret my purchase. As such, I highly recommend this anime. I hope FUNimation scores the other three that are on the docket.

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15 Responses to “Evangelion: 1.11 You Are [Not] Alone — Blu-ray Review”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Funny you review this with 2.22 coming out in Japan in less than a week now. And that’s the movie that showed that Rebuild is it’s own story, deviation growing larger and larger as it goes on.

    1.11 is near perfect adaption in my opinion, being probably as close to original without actually being the original in movie form yet still be new too. Ramiel was a complete surprise and one that was extremely enjoyable, making it much more of threat and making it’s drill understandable, unlike the series where it just had a drill that came out the bottom and that was it, too specific in usage and too random to be that believable.

    Not much was different in terms of the way things worked except Lilith being revealed already (and them actually knowing it’s Lilith and not Adam) and that Angels must always explode into blood when they die accompanied by a rainbow. Also, the halo seen on Sachiel. That’ll come into play more later, but still isn’t exactly explained yet.

    Now, this may be spoilers, we don’t know yet, but there are a number of subtle hints that point at Rebuild being a sequel to the TV Series. Yes, you heard me right, a sequel. Whether this is true or not will likely have to wait until q:Quickening and the 4th movie come out (which is supposedly going to be at the same time in Japan).

  2. amv says:

    Nice post, btw can you check your mail? i sent you a message

  3. Bernard says:

    I haven’t been much for anime movies of TV series when they are little more than a remake. Thus far I have not watched this movie but I keep reading good things about it as in your review.

  4. furei kinoko says:

    uuuuummm, this anime for 15+ isn’t it?

  5. GhostStalker says:

    I missed my first chance to see 1.0 at an anime con in NYC back in October. I finally got the chance to see it a month or so later, and was not disappointed. The Sachiel fight looked a lot better and the new look of the d8 of Doom was awesome. But there are a couple of changes besides the pure visual stuff. Remember, this series is not a remake, but a whole new take on Eva from Anno not being afflicted with crippling depression… For one, as Anon said, they reveal Lilith right off the bat. For another, there’s the scene with Kaworu lounging around on the moon amongst coffins at the end of the movie.

    I’ve seen a couple of ads for the dubbed release a couple months back and I guess I should pick it up then, huh?

    Now to wait for the Japanese release of 2.0 for the new material, not to mention a new Eva pilot in the form of Mari Illustrious Makinami… Renumbered Angels too, IIRC. I can finally see it in a form that isn’t a crappy cam rip… Coming out in less than a week, huh. That’s good news.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I thought that this was a pretty good remake of the first episodes as well. On the other hand rebuild 2.0 is a really big deviation and I think it’s almost certain that the ones following will be their own story.
    I have to agree that the rebuild series looks more like a sequel to the original series than a reimaginationing

  7. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — Interesting spoiler if true. ^_^

    @AMV — I’ll have to check.

    @Bernard — Normally I’m not much for anime movies either but this sounded good early on. Fortunately it lived up to its promise.

    @Furie — I didn’t pay attention to the BD case. It isn’t a kiddie anime for sure.

    @Ghost — I REALLY hope FUNimation does Evangelion 2.x as well. I have to believe that the movie has done good enough to warrant it.

    @Anon — If it is a sequel…*lol* We’ll see though.

  8. O-chan says:

    Just thought I’d chip in, even though all the people who were involved in the TV series is involved in the movie, the movie itself is NOT animated by Gainax but by Anno’s private animation studio. But, like you, I call it Gainax in my head so whatever…

  9. Garik says:

    I want to echo what is said about 2.XX. It is really too different from the series to be anything but a course for a new direction which makes it very exciting. The characters in these rebuild movies really do show new personalities; Anno’s mental state really does show through here. Notice how even Shinji in 1.11 is more confident and less hesitant if even in a small way.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There are two things you should know about the original series.
    Don’t listen to the english dub, back in those days there was rarely enough effort to make good dubs, and this one is one of the worst ever. Shinji is a wimp, but the dub made him into the king of all wimps.

    Second don’t watch the final two episodes, they are a hack job. Watch End of Evangelion instead. The producers ran out of money and got into trouble with network censorship, something about disturbing content in a daytime show.

  11. Kirbstar says:

    Re: sequels instead of reimagination–If this really is the case, how did everyone survive the End of Evangelion events (trying not to spoiler anyone)? Or the end of the TV series, if you prefer that as canon?
    I mean, one thing I learned from the original Evangelion is that it is very difficult to understand anything from a mind screw. I’m not sure who to believe here even.
    Personally, with the divergence of the plot in 2.0 (new pilots and devices revolving around the characters), I think of this as an alternate continuity of the original season. Hopefully we will witness some tangible and satifsying conclusion at the fourth movie’s end, and with director Anno out of depression, this should look like the case. Or he could throw us into even more loops.
    (Oh and by the way, even though 4.0’s plot has yet been revealed, I call dibs on predicting that its title is “You Will (Not) Survive”. Just something to make you chuckle–it’s not real.)

  12. Anonymous says:

    The hints are shown here: http://img4.gelbooru.com//images/336/6d5289376f4ebce64f069debb57570099cdfeca0.jpg (All images are from EoE, the series, and 1.0, so it’s nothing you likely haven’t seen already.)

    Though, yes I disagree with the red water point, Kaoru’s words of familiarity with Shinji and especially his last line in 2.0 point toward this being something set in like a new loop or something.

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Man. I get busy, get side-tracked, and miss comments that get posted. ^_^;

    @O-chan — Ah. I hadn’t paid attention and just assumed it was Gainax. OK, if I get to watch 2.x, I’ll keep that in mind.

    @Garik — Nice to see you still around. ^_^ Yeah, this outing of Evangelion is much more enjoyable to me than the first one because of Anno’s better mental health. ^_^

    @Anon — I never watch anything anime in English these days, though I did watch NGE in English the first time as a rental from Blockbuster.

    @Kirbstar — If this is a sequel, then it is the closing of the circle, only things are somewhat different this time around.

    @Anon — The images are gone apparently. ^_^;; I guess that’s what I get for not paying attention. ^_^;;;

  14. Sarah says:

    Hayashibara Megumi’s birthday seems to have scattered on the internet, how lowly of me to forget ;-;

    Anyways, if you’re looking for “Thesis a cruel angel”, they released a 2009 Version (With a newly muxed “Fly me to the moon.”) a few months back (Not sung by any of the characters/seiyuus though.)

    I await news for Eva 3.33 if anything xD~ but yeah Eva 2.22 has lots of surprises to kick people with.

    I’ve told people that Shinji is less angst now than the TV Series, since really, Gainax really did end it rather… wrong 🙁

    Anywho *lurk mode activate*

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen Evangelion 2.0 and (MINOR-ISH SPOILERS)
    Shinji has his old music thing because it was his fathers, can’t remember how Shinji got hold of it but anyhoo, we discover this in one of those train scenes with Rei. 🙂 (don’t get me wrong, I love Asuka, but Rei is just…too awesome for words)When Gendo ‘betrays'(?) Shinji, he throws it in the bin and gets and i-pod (like mine, teehee)and there’s a shot of Rei taking it out of the bin and (SPOILER)
    she takes it with her in the entry plug (like Gendo’s glasses) and yeah… I can’t give anymore away, but I am waiting for the DVD release desperately!!!!
    (please don’t take it out on me if I’ve ‘ruined the story’ for you, I did warn about the Spoilers, they weren’t that big and frankly, it’s your own fault for reading them if you didn’t want the story to be ‘spoiled’)

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