9 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

I didn’t like it cuz it was different: Evangelion 2.0 spoiler-free impressions

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to an anime movie ‘festival’ of sorts where, amongst other things, they were screening the two new Evangelion movies. This was pretty big stuff seeing as the second movie, Evangelion 2.0, hasn’t been released on BD in Japan yet so it hasn’t been fansubbed and relatively few people have seen it outside of Japan. It was also the first time I had touched Evangelion since all those years ago (about 2 years, which is pretty big in my minuscule fandom lifetime) and a lot of what made it great had escaped my mind. I’ve kept this review as spoiler-free as possible.

First up, Evangelion 1.11, since this was my first time seeing that, was pretty much the exact same as the tv series, except maybe a bit more streamlined. Thanks to it’s monster-of-the-week format, I think it lends itself better to a TV series format, compared to say, Lagann-hen, which is essentially two continuous battles. That isn’t to say the movie isn’t fantastic though. Because it stopped before Asuka enters the story, you get the entire movie that focuses on Shinji’s struggle. Now some of you might say ‘oh great, an entire movie of that wimp’ but it was watching this movie that made me realise what a fantastically done character he is. The fear he has of piloting that robot and how he tries to deaden his mind when he goes in, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the same position acting any differently.

Evangelion 2.0 though…I have my problems with. Honestly it felt like they had hired a bunch of the Gurren Lagann script writers onto the team. Shinji, when tearing into a robot, no longer had a primal scream of absolute terror, it was a cry of sheer determination and spirit. The ‘I mustn’t run away’ line felt like it had changed. It was no longer fear that drove him but determination. His robot stands up again when he gets serious. There was even a line spoken between the two female NERV members that went something along the lines of “there’s a 99% chance of failure” “we’ll succeed with are human spirit”. There was also a level of self-parody to 2.0. I know Gainax have built their career on that sort of stuff but in Evangelion it more annoyed me than anything. Basically, the entire tone of the series had altered quite noticeably from the first movie to that of a more upbeat package.

In short, I didn’t like it because it was different. Which is the most fanboyingly stupid response you can possibly imagine and coming from me, the guy who constantly finds himself getting annoyed at fans who whine when an anime adaption of a manga isn’t the exact same, it adds in that extra layer of hypocrisy. Even during the movie I found myself thinking ‘why can you not just enjoy it for what it is. Stop forcing your expectations on it’. The problem here comes with the fact that it’s meant as a direct sequel to 1.11. The tone of the two movies is very different to the point that it was jarring to move from one to the other.

Before I’d seen these two movies I’d never considered myself an EVA fanboy, despite the series ranking in my top 30. An EVA fanboy, in my mind, was someone who actually liked the ending. However the first movie, combined with my reaction to the second one’s change in tone, confirmed that I was, at heart, an EVA fanboy. The main flaw I had with EVA was its underlying plot. It didn’t make the slightest bit of sense by the end and was basically made up as it went along (anyone who tries denying this hasn’t done their EVA homework). The problem was not the oppression felt by the wimpy characters, that’s what made the series great, and in that is what my main problem with 2.0 is. It’s like leaving your house to some interior designers to re-do your kitchen only for them to do up every other room in the house.

Really though, I’m being overly harsh and fanboyish here. By no means is it a bad movie. Instead of the gradual oppression that is standard EVA, this version is more train-wreck style where they build up everyone’s hopes before then throwing everything against them at once (oh great, more hypocrisy. Disliking a train-wreck style anime from a guy whose blog is named after Code Geass). Even with the inclusion of Asuka, who was my favourite character from the tv series, it is Shinji who steals the show yet again. It’s a slightly different Shinji, who gets openly angry at one stage rather than the usual heaping it inside himself, which is what results in ‘manly spirit’ robot piloting he does later on, but it’s done fantastically well, especially combined with the usual indifference of Gendo Ikari. And whatever I might say about Gainax winking at its fans, I still laughed at Asuka’s conveniently placed straw. It is a good movie, it really is. I just find it impossible to lay aside my preconceptions as to what Evangelion should be like.

One part that is absoultely terrible though is the first angel of 2.0. It’s like those robots at the start of Transformers 2. They’re just plopped in to show an action scene at the start, are beaten stupidly quickly and destroyed the beautiful pattern the Angels follow. Each Angel gets progressively creepier and more difficult to beat as the opression heaps on each character, never subsiding and heaped on further with which Angel appearing. This Angel was so stupidly easily beaten compared to the Angel that finished off 1.11 that it ruined the cycle of Angels. Again though, this is me placing my preconceptions of how it should be like like the bloody idiot fanboy that I am.

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8 Comments

  1. Freya
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I agree with you completely.
    I was quite disappointed by this movie, I feel that they not only changed Shinjis character, but Asuka’s quite a bit as well, she seemed a little flat to me…
    They also made Rei seem more human. I can’t really tell if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just…different.
    None of them had a very strong presence in comparison to their television versions, IMO. Though I don’t remember it as much since I saw it a while back. This movie also seemed a bit happier and less…twisted, in contrast with the original.
    Though one thing I can’t complain about were the spectacular visuals, and it was entertaining. This movie was probably really enjoyable on the whole, it’s a shame I couldn’t enjoy it as much because of a sad case of EVA fangirl sydrome.

  2. Scamp
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    @Freya

    I don’t have much to add except I totally agree and I’m glad I’m not the only one after reading only purely positive reviews on MAL

  3. fathomlessblue
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if this post drags on.

    I’ve finally had the chance to watch the movie (2.0) and mostly loved it. Granted i’m a huge eva fanboy and i’ll be as biased as they come but had I have to disagree with you on a few points, especially the, it’s different” part.

    The thing is eva 2.0 isn’t really that different at heart from the tv series. Ok I know the plot of certain things have been changed dramatically and theres new evas, angels, characters, places etc but the atmosphere is essentially the same. The first six eps of the series (and first movie) focused on shinji and this reluctance on piloting the eva but after that you have seven far more lighthearted episodes (known as the action arc) which is what the bulk (two thirds) of the movie was based on. While Shinji’s still reluctant, Asuka’s arrival, having friends, reaching out to Rei (and vice-versa), plus general easing into his life at home and work provide a far greater confidence and it show in both series and film. People often tend to forget this part of the series and only remember the darker sections.

    I think the idea was to create a lull, an idea of things finally working out for Shinji (even with this dad) before things go to shit again (Bardiel/infected eva story onwards). The first three films are supposed to be loosely based on the original series and I personally think they’re doing a good job so far.

    I do agree with more could have been done with some characters. Shinji’s fine for me, he’s exactly how he was throughout the same points of the series,; however, Asuka… The movie strips away alot of her personalty (at least superficially). They change her belief that she has to be the best to free herself from the past to a sense that she was simply raised this way. She seems much more able to rebel and accept others as the film goes on in relation to the tv series. Also, they remove her fake pleasantness around others (mainly adults) and mocking flirtiness with Shinji. I suppose those flaws relate to her mental issues in the series only, plus theres a bit too much to put into one movie so I guess they did the best they could.

    Theres also Mari. What little I saw of her I genuinely liked but it just wasn’t enough. I’m still not sure exactly what her role is especially in relation to Kaji. I hope they give her a more defined part in the last two movies because at this point she didn’t really need to be included at all (after merchandise…)

    I still believe the manga (released after the tv series) is the best adaptation so if anyone still has an interest in eva they should check it out. Its very much about the characters. Shinji is far more likeable although still the same, Rei reaches out far more towards Shinji (her actions in the movie reminded me of the manga). The plots altered and they tone back on the philosophy and mostly do away with the nonsensical religious imagery.

    ps yes the opening fight was silly and eva 05 did look like a transformer

    …phew

  4. Leviathean
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    “Each Angel gets pro­gressively creepier and more difficult to beat as the opression heaps on each character, never subsiding and heaped on further with which Angel appearing. This Angel was so stupidly easily beaten compared to the Angel that finished off 1.11 that it ruined the cycle of Angels.”
    To be technical, the first Angel of 2.0 was named as the Third Angel, which numbers it before all of the Angels in the first movie. So no matter when the events of the opening took place, it should make total sense according to your theory that it’s a weaker Angel. So is it not terrible anymore now that fits your theories?

  5. luffyluffy
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I finally got to see it… Good god, that was almost as manly as Lagann-Hen. Hrrrrrr, I loved it. NEEDED MOAR BIG SCREEN

  6. Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Absolutely agree with you, except for the 3rd angel, who’s the only aceptable enemy in this absourd remake

  7. Danihound
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    i just want to say i was a evangelion fanboy now i hate it with all my hearth damn thats what i call an awesome way TO RAPE A MOVIE

  8. Posted March 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Hey, at least you’re willing to admit your hypocrisy instead of being self righteous! That’s quite an accomplishment!

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