2009 Movie. Director: Anno Hideaki. 98 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $29.98. Distributor: Funimation.
The first installment of the Rebuild of Evangelion tetrology, Evangelion: 1.01 is like reconnecting with an old friend. And no, I’m not talking about the droves of high school “friends” adding you on facebook to bolster their numbers. This cherished face simultaneously opens up the past while creating an unknown future.
So, the past is indeed resurrected. 1.01 is essentially a transformation of the first six episodes of the original anime. In the now familiar post-apocalyptic Tokyo-3 the Earth is still under attack by the otherworldly Angels. Shinji Ikari is summoned by his father to pilot the Eva Unit 01, a towering biomech unit capable of defeating these enigmatic creatures. The Fourth Angel has descended, and the distantly cold Rei Ayanami is too injured to assume her pilot duties. Shinji may be only fourteen, but the world is now thrust into his hands.
What about the future? Well, pay attention. Changes have been surgically introduced into the storyline – and I don’t like spoilers. Something new, a variant direction, has been created. Nevertheless, if you’re a dire hard fan of the old series, the excitement is born all over again. If you’re a Jonny come lately, you’ll be happily ignorant.
Unfortunately, years spent in grad school reading ancient Greek pulled me away from many anime series. Neon Genesis Evangelion was one of them. I just didn’t put in enough time. After watching 1.01, I’m utterly disappointed with myself.
Obviously the complicated relationship between Shinji and Rei is the quicksand into which so many fans have fallen. But Evangelion is not so simple. The mentally explosive mind of Anno Hideaki has left deep fingerprints. Alienation, depression, detachment, impulsive emotion, and divine-like angels: Tokyo-3 is a world on the verge of collapse, and thus often starring into the face of humanity, spirituality, and death.
Story, action, and failingly real love: Evangelion 1.01 is why we cherish anime. Between the artistry of a supposed cartoon and the drama worthy of a live action film, we find ourselves awkwardly both children and adults.
I’m sold. Besides eagerly awaiting the next installment, I now have to go back and rediscover the original series.