The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance

Title: Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Studio Khara
Format: Movie, 102 Minutes
Dates: 27 June 2009 

Synopsis: In an attempt to assist humanity’s defense against the mysterious supernatural beings known as the Angels, Asuka Langley Shikinami, a pilot from Germany, is transferred to the Japanese branch of NERV. Together with Shinji Ikari and Rei Ayanami, she fights to protect humanity from destruction. At the same time, the three youths struggle to find their own identity in a world that is quickly falling apart.

The Highlights:
Animaton: Crisp and unbelievably fluid.
Characters: Much more complex than their original selves.
Music: Soundtrack is a bit lazy and recycled… but still works.
Pacing: Cuts down 10 episodes into two hours.
Mari Illustrious Makinami: What a name, what a girl.

Comparions between Eva 2.0 (and the broader Rebuild of Evangelion series) and the original Neon Genesis Evangelion are inevitable. For anyone’s who’s ever watched Neon Genesis Evangelion, Eva 2.0 will be a trip down memory lane. However, don’t expect a redrawn and remastered version of episodes 6-20 in this movie. Unlike Eva 1.0, 2.0 is not faithful to the original plot, and takes massive liberties with direction and characterization. All for the better, as 2.0 avoids almost all of the issues that plagued the original series.

Eva 2.0 is fast. There’s quite a bit of action packed into the little-less than two hours of the movie. At times, it may seem that the plot moves a bit too fast, and there’s an over-reliance on deus ex machina type plot devices to keep the story going: the old “mechanical failure” plot device is still very much alive in Eva 2.0, much to my chagrin. The action sequences simply happen– there’s not much explanation as to why anything is the way it is, and not a lot of questions are answered in the course of the movie. This, of course, is to be expected. After all, Eva 2.0 is the second movie in a tetralogy. Still, however, it makes watching the movie as a standalone work a bit frustrating at times.

Rei, Shinji and Asuka have been given a complete makeover, and are much more complicated and realistic than their one-dimensional cutouts in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji has been fleshed out fully as a troubled teenager searching for acceptance, and Rei’s quest to find her own humanity is explored in much greater detail. The movie doesn’t beat viewers over the head with character development – much of it is portrayed in subtle, tiny flashes, which definitely adds to realism. Ultimately, the movie is about Shinji and Rei – not much screen time is given to minor supporting characters, and even Asuka falls to the wayside halfway through the film. All the better: two hours is too short of a time to give everyone their turn in the limelight. Instead of falling into the usual trap of developing every character a little bit, 2.0‘s narrower focus allows viewers to really understand Rei and Shinji. I was happily delighted by Shinji’s development and maturation, which stood in stark contrast to his sniveling, unassertive nature in the original series.

Speaking of characters, Mari Illustrious Makinami is an interesting addition to the series. She’s an enigma, and not much about her has been revealed in Eva 2.0. Her character design (by original character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto) is attractive and slick, and her personality – maniacal, perverted and twisted – immediately grabbed my interest. Mari’s existence in Eva 2.0 doesn’t seem forced, and she is a wonderful addition to an already fascinating cast.

Ultimately, Eva 2.0 is a fun way to kill two hours. While the plot suffers from underdevelopment and gimmicky developments, the characters are fleshed out wonderfully, and their interactions have been given an edge of realism not seen in the original Evangelion. Eva 2.0 serves as a solid bridge between the old and the new – several signature scenes from the original series have been kept intact with little editing, while the new content has been integrated seamlessly into the movie. An interesting re-imagining of a classic series, Eva 2.0 will thrill die-hard Evangelion enthusiasts and first-time viewers alike.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Akira

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