Last week in tangential celebration of the Easter holiday, I watched the first two Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Both are incredible adaptations of the original TV anime, mostly faithful to the source, and with really high production values.
I can’t get over how amazing-looking these movies are. They’re jaw-droppingly gorgeous. They really took it to the next level in many ways. But at the same time, I got a strange feeling from the shiny new polish that came with the colour redesign. It feels a bit too clean compared to what I remember of the series. That’s not to say I don’t dig the new aesthetic of the movies, far from it. I can’t get enough of Shinji’s big neon purple green Unit 01 covering most of the screen in all its vibrant, intensely hued glory. Misato and the rest of the characters look as lovely as ever, and I adored the little moments of her swinging her legs and spinning on a chair while looking bored.
I haven’t seen the original series in about three or four years, and I’ve been skeptical of my feelings toward it for quite some time. When I initially watched it I was in my first year of college studying psychology, and I remember being excited to recommend it to the lecturers there (probably hoping to have deep conversations about it with them). Nothing ever came of it, and I don’t know if any of them has ever seen it before or watched it in the time since.
This isn’t a review. Nor is it a comprehensive analysis or in-depth comparative of the movies and the show. This is just an older version of a me’s reaction to the two film compilations of a series I didn’t know what to make of back when I was younger. Thus, I make my return and… wow.
All the stuff happening on-screen was either exciting, interesting or simply just really pretty to look at. But once it got to the battles I could feel the adrenaline being shot straight into my skull. Unit 01 carries a humungous gatling gun and just unloads a barrage of bullets into one of the Angels. The shot of the giant shells falling to the street below and crushing cars was such a cool touch. And the whole sequence with the giant sniper rifle was the fucking epitome of awesomeness. This is supreme robot action, and it is nothing short of spectacular.
(I couldn’t find a video of the above mentioned, but this is also awesome robot action goodness).
So many big violent moments. Shinji having to fight Asuka and see Unit 01 eat what was previously Unit 03 will never not be among the most gruesome and powerful scenes I’ve seen from anything ever. It’s not often I get to see this level of physical brutality in a show, let alone a robot show. While the enemies and Units are in many ways super, the ‘real robot’ ordnance and dynamics work wonders in portraying a fearsomeness of the mechs and as a result when matched against unrelenting forces of equal/variable measure, the enemy is made to feel all that more imposing. And then once Berserker mode comes into play and the enemy is vanquished (devoured), it takes the striking imagery and emotions to an even greater height.
The attention to detail of the destruction of everything (buildings, mechs, people), is extremely satisfying. Though the actual weight of the Units is hard for me to parse. When they fall there is definitely a sense that these are giant robots and their size feels quite real in these parts. But then there are the moments where they are moving super fast or leaping really high, and they become less ‘real robot’ here. I’m sure the explanation comes down to the powers of the Evas and the ‘Rule of Cool’ more than anything. Which works for me, since these fantastic elements gave me more awesome, iconic moments to gape in awe at.
The rest is more or less the same from my memory of the show. What was altered didn’t really bother me all that much. I either thought it was neat; the field trip to the Aquarium, understandable; Asuka’s character being changed for the sake of the movie’s run-time (though perhaps not the entire reason this was changed), or unwelcome; Mari, but fortunately she is hardly present, so her addition to the story barely made an impression on me. But more importantly, I was reunited with some of my favourite characters and got to experience their stories (albeit to a lesser extent) again.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the Rebuild movies, ultimately what I got out of watching them was something beyond anything they presented me with: a powerful reminder of love for the show. I haven’t confirmed this, as I still have yet to revisit the series in full, but I felt it. The heart of my [former] discontent melting away as I embraced the personal connection I share with this incredible Japanese cartoon (ft. giant robots).
All the notes/commentary taken during my viewings of the first two Rebuild movies. In picture form (because I’m too lazy to make tables).
Does Hideaki Anno Remember Love? [->]