When I made up my mind to devote the entire month of November to the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” franchise, I didn’t fully grasp just how daunting a task it would be. There are so many pieces to this puzzle, that putting them all together into a cohesive review is going to be rewarding at best and downright confusing at worse.
Not only has this series been released, re-released, and re-re-released in both Japan and the US [and each release given more names than the artist formerly known as Prince], but no one company exclusively owns “Evangelion” in its entierety. The company formerly known as ADV owns the license to the original twenty-six episode series and subsequent re-releases, Manga Entertainment owns the license to the first two movies, “Death and Rebirth” and “End of Evangelion” [though rumor has it that this may no longer be the case], and just recently Funimation Entertainment owns the license to the latest two movies, “Evangelion 1.0” and “Evangelion 2.0” with a third “Evangelion 3.0” to come later.
As if that wasn’t enough, some of the characters in the American Dub have more than one voice actor due to certain circumstances where the original V/A [short for “voice actor/actress”] was either not available, not interested, not locatable, or no longer in the voice acting business when a particular Evangelion project came up. For example, the character of Kaworu Nagisa was played by four separate voice actors in the US: Kyle Studivant in the original 26 episode series, Greg Ayres for the “Directors Cut” episodes, Aaron Krohn in “Death and Rebirth” and “End of Evangelion”, and Jerry Jewell for “Evangelion 1.0” and “Evangelion 2.0”. Quite a lot of vocal talent for a character that only appears once in the series, and sporadically throughout the movies. Thankfully, most of the principal cast was available and willing to return to their original roles with the lone exception of Rei Ayanami who received a new V/A when Amanda Winn-Lee proved either unavailable or unwilling to return to the iconic role. My own theory on this is that she washed her hands of the entire “Evangelion” franchise due to the backlash she recieved from her tenure as writer/director/producer of “Death and Rebirth” and “End of Evangelion”, coupled with carrying for a sick child [as mentioned in her Live Journal some years back]. In any case, the new Evangelion movies and any subsequent movies will continue on with a new voice actress for the role of Rei and we can only hope that no other major replacements are made.
And then there are the fans. Evangelion has a fanbase unlike any series I’ve seen before with fans who take great pride in their theories and research findings. Simply do a Google search for “Evangelion”, and you’re greeted with pages upon pages of links containing websites, forums, blogs, you name it. Each one, containing some “new” findings allegedly citing members of the production staff or even Hideaki Anno himself. And this information is changing almost daily; one minute Evangelion is your typical mecha [giant robot for those who didn’t know] series with a “monster of the week” story telling style with heavy religious overtones and the next minute “Evangelion” is a study in the human psyche with no connection to religion whatsoever. One minute, the word evangelion is pronounced with a hard “G” and the next minute it’s pronounced with a soft “g” but a hard “E” with an accent. One minute Misato’s chest is a D-Cup and the next…well…you get the idea. And on more than one occassion, they can be quite ruthless with some aspects of Evangelion, especially with regards to the handling of the American dub of “Death and Rebirth” and “End of Evangelion”.
It’s a heck of a lot to consider. It’s a heck of a lot to digest. So how will I approach it? Easy:
- My review of the TV series will encompass the original twenty-six episodes as found on the “Perfect Collection” box set [the very first one that ADV produced]. If an episode has a “Directors Cut” version, then I’ll review it against the original and draw comparisons between the two.
- All movies will be known by their American names to cut down on confusion. I am fully aware that there are multiple names and designations for the earlier two movies, but I am NOT about to give myself a headache trying to remember them all.
- I will not attempt to get into the deep psyche of the story or it’s characters. This is not a thesis or a “History of Evangelion” type review. This is a “here’s what I think, take it or leave it” type review. I’ll keep things simple as simple can be.
That being said, it’s time to jump, once again, into the world of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”…and hope I don’t drown.