Lurkers' Retreat

Cert PG

except Vols 5, 10, 12 & 13

Manga Manga/Palm Pictures
Death & Rebirth: MANG4107
End of Evangelion: MANG 4109


Neon Genesis Evangelion

Seemingly a fan favourite (certainly as far as a certain CAPOWer is concerned!!!), the whole thing is set in 2015, fifteen years after the Angels last attacked. The storyline seems to be reminiscent of Gall Force, good mecha, bad mecha and some humour.

Post war Tokyo meets Stingray with buildings that can be lowered into the ground, underground bases and such. The main centre of the story, Shinji, seems to be on his way to a reunion with his father, though his father seems to be an odd sort, more interested in what he can get out of his boy than anything else. A side story is the badly banged up young girl, Rei, who seems to be a portent of what Shinji is going to get into, and some friendly rivalry between Shinji's erstwhile colleagues. The second part details Shinji's next battle, his training and his reaction to his situation, especially in relation to his new school and the people in it. Also Rei says something. As the series continues, it gets more complex, with the introduction of more Angels, more pilots including the obnoxiously confident and egotistical Asuka, and little peeks into the past of the elder generation that lived through the Second Impact.

I'm well aware of the fans that this offering has. What I originally said, following the first seven tapes, was that "I've seen nothing new yet. The father and son bit, the mecha seemingly with a life of its own and the mysterious Angels are very reminiscent of Giant Robo. The kawaii sidekicks and so forth can be seen in any of ADV's (or a lot of other) releases. Having said that, I enjoyed what I saw. Reasonable dub, good animation and a story that seems to have promise. The story seems to be developing nicely after four episodes, with the charas being developed well. Only Rei seems to have been left out so far, but the trailer for part 5 seems to promise a fuller part for her to come. I think I may enjoy this!" I can't say that each volume is fantastic, indeed some of what I have seen so far was very overplayed, but the character development reminds me a lot of Bubblegum Crisis in the way that exposition is not crammed down your throat but is trickled invitingly as the series progresses. Probably the most annoying thing is the black screen with "to be continued" written on it, mainly because I find that I want to go on and see more. Perhaps that is what makes a series good...

As someone on reminded me once, there are quite a few anime series and programmes that end inconclusively. Some are no worse for it (goodness know that more than one Takahashi has finished with an open ending). This one... well, history shows what folk thought in Japan! As for me, the final tape, containing episodes 25 and 26, was enough to kill a star on its rating, though I shall take no more than that as the series up to then was worth the watch. Perhaps one day, when the films appear in the West (which, since writing this review, they now have), I might have reason to reassess the series, but as it stands I cannot do more than repeat a question that I asked on umaa.

Was the ending obscure for artistic purposes or was it purposefully vague to mask the lack of a decent ending? (Well, just see the various movies and see what you think!)

Evangelion Movies

OK, so I've now seen the movies, so it's about time to wrap this mammoth review up!

Actually, there are three of these. Death & Rebirth was released as a single disc/tape, featuring two films. The first film, Death, is effectively a recap of the series, from the point where Shinji first meets up with Misato, right up to the defeat of the last Angel. If you have seen the full series, then there is nothing there that will be new to you, and if you haven't, it may be a little difficult to follow. I have my doubts about the reasons for including such a movie, but then I'm possibly more cynical than the creator of the series!

Rebirth, on the other hand, is all new stuff. We get to see what happens following the death of the last Angel, right up to the point when we find out that SEELE has an even more sinister agenda in mind than even Gendo suspected. The movie leaves in the middle of the first action, which is where the last movie, The End of Evangelion, picks up.

I've heard more than one person say that in the final movie (which poses as a two-and-a-bit part show) is all about everyone dying. Having watched the movie twice (at time of writing), once using the US disk, once using my own UK copy (there are a couple of differences), I'm far from convinced that this glib assumption is accurate. Certainly it clears up a few questions about Lilith, Adam, AT fields, Ayanami, Yui and Gendo, and it is certainly easier viewing than the often criticised last two episodes which these movies are supposed to replace, but the psychobabble returns in the last segment of EoE which could be the reason why some folk jump to conclusions about it.

I've lost track of how long it has been since I started in on this series. It is a strange series, certainly a mind-bender, and while I realise that it generated a lot of fan interest in the beginning, but I wonder if it would have been so popular had anyone realise that the end was so convoluted. At least it isn't quite as ambiguous as parts 25 and 26 of the original series.

[4 stars]

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