A Review of “Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” – Can I Still Pass Go? How about $200?

“Oh S***! That would really hurt if it wasn’t so much FUN!!” 
Mari Illustrious Makinami “Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance”

“Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” is the sequel to the popular reboot movie “Evangelion 1.0 You Are (NOT) Alone” and the second movie in the “Rebuild of Evangelion” series. While the first movie successfully reintroduced us to some of the characters we know and love [and with regards to Gendo, I use the term love loosely], “Evangelion 2.0” succeded in giving us one, or rather one and a half, new characters to shake things up and also introduce us to the world of Tokyo-3 that, sadly, we got very little of in the original series or prior movies. How did the second movie fair in my eyes? Did the new story redeem itself from the previous rehash of the first movie? Did the addition/reintroduction of certain characters bring more to the table? Is the animation style FINALLY something that is viewable on all mediums? And just how does Tiffany Grant sound after being absent from the Eva stage for so long? Let’s get some answers.

Who This Movie Is For – This movie is for you if you are an Asuka fan of any kind, as this movie heralds her return in the most epic way possible–in battle. This movie is also for you if you if you enjoy watching the Evangelions in battle, as this movie has almost back-to-back clashes, the likes of which never seen in the original series. This movie is also for fans of Rei Ayanami, as she grows a little more this time around as a character, actually smiling and speaking. [I know, right?! And it’s actually natural and cute too!] 

Who This Movie Is Not For – “Evangelion 2.0” is not for you if you are averse to blood and gore as this movie has quite a bit more than in the original series. One battle in particular is way, WAY gorrier than it’s series counterpart…and that’s saying a lot. This movie is also not for you if you are a averse to profanity, as this movie does have a touch of salty language, though it’s used sporadically and never to excess. Finally, this movie might not be for you if you are not a fan of fanservice as it does provide a little, courtesy of Asuka’s new plug suit.

Story and Premise – “Evangelion 2.0” picks up where it’s predecessor, “Evangelion 1.0”, left off, and it mostly covers the events of episodes eight, nine, twelve, fifteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen in a highly remixed fashion. The angels are still attacking, making any and all attempts to reach Lilith beneath NERV HQ with the Evangelion units being mankinds only way of defeating the angels. With the addition of Evangelion Unit-02 piloted by Asuka Langley Soryu Shikinami and the [albeit brief…] addition of Evangelion Provisional Unit-05  and its pilot Mari Illustrious Makinami, the Angels now have a real fight on their hands. I love the fact that this story takes what we already know about the Evangelion world and turns it on its head. With new characters, new technology and old flames rekindled, “Evangelion 2.0” is a fresh, new story that pays respect to the original while adding its own new flavor. In essence, “Evangelion 1.0” is the “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” of the anime world, while “Evangelion 2.0” with it’s fresh look and new characters is “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“. [And yes, I’m a Trekkie too…if you’re nice, I may just review all the movies one day…] (25/25)

Characters – “Evangelion 2.0” marks the introduction of a brand new character into the Evangelion franchise; the spirited pilot of Evangelion Provisional Unit-05, Mari Illustrious Makinami [I’m not even going to ask what the “Illustrious” part of the name means…add flair maybe?]. Mari is a very, very unique girl as she relishes the job of being an Eva pilot to an extreme that rivals even Asuka’s tenacity. Though her total screen time only amounts to about 5% of the total movie, when she IS on the screen, she really holds your attention. In my opinion, Mari is just what “Evangelion 2.0” needed to keep “Rebuild of Evangelion” from becoming just a re-re-release of the series we’ve already seen. We are also re-introduced to the character of Ryoji Kaji, virtually unchanged from the character as seen in the series which is a good thing as Kaji is a genuinely good character and functions as a mentor of sorts to Shinji. Finally, after an extended absence from the Evangelion franchise, the character of Asuka is brought back…somewhat. Asuka 2.0 is an update from the fiery red-head that caused many fanboys to swoon. Asuka Langley Shikinami is a meaner, feistier version of her former self. Where as Asuka 1.0 let loose with the German dialogue at random moments, was fast friends with Hikari, and expressed her almost criminal desire to be with Kaji, Asuka 2.0 shows none of these traits. [A shock even to her American voice actress Tiffany Grant…]. Honestly…I don’t really care for this version of Asuka. I mean, it just seems like she’s cruel without no good reason to be. At least in the series, she has her moments when she is kinda cool, and there is a legitimate reason for her being the way she is. This time around, she’s just a witch-with-a-capital-B, only showing a somewhat softer side before her downfall. (24/25)

Animation and Music – Now THIS is more like it!  Unlike it’s predecessor with it’s overly dark night-time scenes, “Evangelion 2.0” really did a spectacular job with regards to the animation and production style. Everything is visible, bright, clear, and looks amazing. The angel designs are hauntingly beautiful this time around, with my personal favorite being Sahaquel, the “Free-Falling” angel that all three Eva’s attack. The new Evangelions that we are introduced to, Provisional Unit-05 and Mach-6 have very interesting designs, and I would’ve loved to have seen more of them. I’m not too fond of the redesign on Evangelion Unit-02 though. It’s mostly personal preference, so I’m not going to deduct points, but I do have to disagree with the decision of giving Unit-02 those little horns. It just doesn’t look right to me. I also think that Unit-02’s head is too small for its body but, once again, personal preference.  The battle scenes, especially with Evangelion Unit-02 in its premiere battle are nothing short of awe-inspiring while the “Good Morning Tokyo-3” sequence [0:18:35 if you’re watching on DVD] is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Watching the city wake up with the sun and seeing everyone  move about their daily routine with the beautiful classic music swelling is the highlight of the entire movie for me. It was a brilliant decision to show the daily lives of the people in Tokyo-3, only to show the entire city being completely decimated in the ensuing Angel attacks. With regards to music, “Evangelion 2.0” pulled a fast one with regards to most of its instrumental music which is simply a remix or a re-record of the incidental music used in Director Anno’s earlier work “His and Her Circumstances”. In all honesty, I like the places where they used it, and I really like the new mix, but I think this was an easy-out. However, “Evangelion” redeems itself with its use of “We Will Say Goodbye For Today” and “Tsubasa Wo Kudasai” during two of the biggest battles in the movie. (24/25)

Performances – Once again, Mike McFarland takes the helm for the American version of this film, and does another awesome job at getting brilliant performances out of the actors and actresses. Brina Palencia shines once again as Rei Ayanami, settling into her role as though she played the character from the beginning. I love the fact that she showed Rei’s emotions in a very subtle way without going over the top with it. Trina Nishimura puts on a performance as Mari Illustrious Makinami that is absolutely amazing. She strikes the perfect balance between being a mature young woman and giddy school girl. I really and truly enjoyed every scene she was used in. J. Michael Tatum as Ryoji Kaji is absolutely perfect. He brings a new sound and attitude to the character without sacrificing any of the things that we liked about the character. [not to mention, he speaks English a helluva lot better than his Japanese counterpart…this had me laughing for the better part of an hour…] Last, but absolutely not least, Tiffany Grant’s portrayal of Asuka 2.0 is just as flawless as it was the last time she played the character in “The End of Evangelion”. Even though the character is noticeably different from when she last played it, Tiffany Grant does an awesome job adapting her acting to fit with this new Asuka. (25/25)

Final Tally:

Story and Premise – 25 out of 25
Characters – 24 out of 25
Animation and Music – 24 out of 25
 Performances – 25 out of 25

Final Grade: 98/100 = 98% (A)

Availability – Much like its’ predecessor, “Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” is available in a few brick and mortar stores like Best Buy and FYE in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. Trust me, you can’t miss it as the DVD and Blu-Ray cases are a bright orange color, similar to the old Nickelodeon logo. Seriously, when I picked up my copy from Best Buy, I saw it sitting on the shelf from fifty feet away. Aesthetically, it’s quite bizarre and a departure from the regular color scheme that we’re used to with Evangelion. While it’s a small nitpick, it’s still something that caught [and shocked] my eyes.  This is a two-disk collection, with disk one containing the feature along with an interview-style commentary track featuring Mike McFarland, Spike Spencer, Allison Keith-Shipp, Brina Palencia, John Swasey and a sound engineer. On the second disk, along with original trailers, and Funimation Entertainment trailers there are also four deleted Scenes that were not used in the final version of the movie. These scenes are pretty much advanced story boards, as they show rudimentary sketches and some three-dimensional computer rendering. It should be noted that these scenes were not dubbed by Funimation Entertainment, but are subtitled.

Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra)

  • Unlike the official  units, Evangelion Provisional Unit-05 employs a unique entry plug ejection system. When the plug is ejected, instead of flying off, it locks under a small jet propelled craft attached to the Eva, discards
    its ejection boosters, and blasts off away from danger.
  • Mari is the first glasses-wearing pilot in the “Evangelion” franchise and she is also the only other character, aside from Asuka, to wear her A-10 Nerve connectors even when outside the Evangelion.
  • During the “Good Morning Tokyo-3” Scene, when the light rail trains are passing through their individual junctions, one of the trains is labeled “1701”, possibly a “Star Trek” reference. In an earlier project by Hideaki Anno, “His and Her Circumstances”, a bottle can be seen labeled “NCC 1701”, the designation of the USS Enterprise.
  • It is worth noting that several of the tanks in the Marine Ecosystem Preserve form the shape of the infamous “Tree of Life”.
  • During the scene when Toji, Kensuke and Shinji are getting snacks from a nearby stand, there is a yellow Vespa scooter that can be scene to the right. This is the same Vespa scooter used by Haruko Haruhara in the OVA “FLCL”. [And yes, I zoomed in on the image and the license plates are identical.]
  • This movie marks the one and only time we actually see Toji’s little sister, but she is not given a name or any speaking lines.
  • According to the director’s commentary track, Tiffany Grant actually got the chance to meet and spend time with her Japanese counterpart Yūko Miyamura who compared her to Megumi Hayashibara [the voice of Rei Ayanami]
  • During the ending preview for  “Evangelion 3.0: Q Quickening”, Misato once again promises “more fanservice” as she did in the original series and “Evangelion 1.0”

So where does that leave us? Simply put, “Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” is an awesome movie that pops on all cylinders. With its intriguing story, great characters, jaw dropping animation and music, and a vocal cast on both land masses that makes you thankful that you have ears, “Evangelion 2.0” is a movie that can either make a fan of those who aren’t familiar with the original series, or reaffirm your fandom…and to think, we’re only halfway through the “Revival of Evangelion” project.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, with this review, we now close out our “Evangelion November”! I want to thank you all for sticking around for the last month listening to my ramblings about this very special series, but I also want to thank my Eva Nerd friends for their advice, encouragement, feedback, and information! You guys are the best!

Here’s the final breakdown of the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Franchise and it’s scores:

“Neon Genesis Evangelion” (Original Series including Directors Cut Episodes) –
Released By: ADV Films
ADR Director – Matt Greenfield/Amanda Winn-Lee
Final Grade: 94/100 = 94% (A)

“Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth” –
Released By: Manga Entertainment
ADR Director – Amanda Winn-Lee
Final Grade: 65/100 = 65% (F)

“The End of Evangelion”-
Released By: Manga Entertainment
ADR Director – Amanda Winn-Lee
Final Grade: 93/100 = 93% (A)

“Evangelion 1.0 You Are (NOT) Alone” –
Released By: Funimation Entertainment
ADR Director – Mike McFarland
Final Grade: 97/100 = 97% (A)

“Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” –
Released By: Funimation Entertainment
ADR Director – Mike McFarland
Final Grade: 98/100 = 98% (A)

Overall Grade: 447/500 = 89% (B)

Starting this week, I’ll be watching and reviewing another Studio Gainax/Hideaki Anno collaboration that I’ve been eyeballing on my shelf for some time now…in fact, it’s from this show that “Evangelion 2.0” got most of its incidental music from! So be sure to keep an eye out for my review of:

“His and Her Circumstances” [Kareshi Kanojo no Jijō]

Advertisements

One thought on “A Review of “Evangelion 2.0 You Can (NOT) Advance” – Can I Still Pass Go? How about $200?

  1. I’ve loved Evangelion from the very beginning, and the new Rebuilds have been just as amazing. I couldn’t comprehend just how crisp the visuals were as well as the voice acting (I love Tiffany Grant haha), not to mention the little twists in the plot for the Rebuild (actually they’re not so little eh? :P) Anyways, great review!!

    Oh, and I just made this the other day and thought you might like it, so check it out!

    Keep up those great reviews! And I hope you have a great New Year 😀

Speak Your Mind...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s