What They Say
At the turn of the century, the Angels returned to Earth, seeking to wipe out humanity in an apocalyptic fury. Devastated, mankind’s last remnants moved underground to wait for the day when the Angels would come back to finish the job. Fifteen years later, that day has come – but this time, humanity is ready to fight back with terrifying bio-mechanical weapons known as the Evangelions. Now it’s up to Shinji, Rei, Asuka and the rest of the mysterious shadow agency NERV to save Earth from total annihilation!
The audio was, at times, a bit of a mixed bag here. GAINAX and ADV have taken the old 2.0 mix, remastered it to clear up distortion, and updated it to a full 5.1 rendering. For the most part, this just meant remixing the sound that was already there, so it does not quite come through with the audio clarity that one expects from a 5.1 mix, though it certainly is a marked improvement over the original tracks. Where the audio really shines, though, is in the Director’s Cut episodes (21-24). Much of the sound has been redone, both for the newer scenes and the old ones, giving these episodes an aural feel much closer to true 5.1. The only drawback to the Director’s Cut is that it is sometimes easy to tell where new/redone dubbing has been done, because it does not quite fit with the rest of the audio. However, it still sounds really nice and does not take anything away from the overall feel, though it can make one wish that they redid the sound for the original releases as well.
The visuals for this release have also been given the full remastering treatment. The colors and animation really shine through now after the remastering, and EVA looks just about as good as it could. What I thought was particularly well done is that GAINAX has “dumbed down” the newer material in the Director’s Cut episodes so that it does not look out of place with the rest of the original animation. With the remastering, the original animation still holds up very well today, despite being fairly old at this point. Technically, the only issue with the video that I saw was a little bit of aliasing here and there, particularly during the last episode where there were many complicated black and white images. These were fairly minor, though, and do not overwhelm the image at all.
This set is mostly a typical ADV thinpak release, except that instead of a cardboard sleeve for the cases, there is a metal tin instead. The tin is plain along all edges except for the front, where there is an embossing of the title and close-ups of the eyes of Shinji, Rei, and Asuka. The tin is really nice, but I would have liked to have seen some sort of marking along the spine just because ADV has other series that come in similar tins, and on a shelf, there is no way of differentiating one from another. Still, it looks pretty.
The rest of the package is the same as the original thinpak release from 2005. It comes across seven discs, each with an image of a different character on the front of the case. Episode titles and summaries, along with some screen shots from those episodes, cover the majority of the backs, and the technical information with extras is displayed along the bottom. The discs are just a simple grey coloring with the title and episode lists printed on them. The cases and discs do not really stand out in anyway from the rest of ADV’s thinpaks, but the addition of the tin makes this a nice looking set.
The menu’s all have the same fairly simple design. Along the top is an image of wavy water, with the series title and selections underneath, set against a background of the same grey from the packaging. Each episode is listed individually on the main menu, but there is also a selection for play all. Choosing an individual episode will only play that episode, it will not then go onto the next. Individual chapters and extras have their own submenus. There is a nice, subdued piece of music that plays while in the menus that fits in nicely with the overall feel of the menus. Nothing extravagant here, but the menus are pleasant and functional.
Unlike most ADV thinpaks, the extras remain intact on this release. For the most part, we have the standard bag of extras here, such as commentaries and clean openings and closings, but there are a few other things that stand out.
Some of the episodes are given animatics; in other words versions of the episodes where only the key animation is seen. Those are interesting to watch but get old fairly quickly. On the fourth disc, there is a piece called ‘That Little Red-Haired Girl’ with Tiffany Grant (English voice of Asuka), where she shows off the thousands of dollars of Asuka merchandise that she has collected since doing the voice of Asuka. This is amusing, if also slightly disturbing, due to the sheer volume of pieces that she has.
The three extras that I enjoyed ‘The English Remix Process’ on disc 3 and the two part ‘Mythology of Evangelion’ on discs 5 and 7. ‘The English Remix Process’ is a 15-20 minute interview with Matt Greenfield, the ADR Director, and Wade Shemwell, who was in charge of the 5.1 mix for the Platinum Collection. This bit is about the efforts of remastering and updating the old 2.0 mix, and the problems they encountered along the way. They also talk a bit about some of the extra steps they had to make when mixing the sound for the Director’s Cut episodes.
‘The Mythology of Evangelion’ is a two part piece that discusses the symbolism and ideas that are behind the EVA story, along with the theories that Hideaki Anno tried to put forth in the telling. Both parts were interesting and informative, though they did not break any new ground for anybody who has followed and/or studied EVA previously. It would be good for those new to the series, though, and it is a nice summary of all of the details people pick out.
This release of Neon Genesis Evangelion is the second boxset release of the Platinum series originally released in 2004/2005. The Platinum releases feature remastered audio and video tracks, upgrading the audio to a 5.1 mix, and Director’s Cuts of episodes 21-24, which each have 2-5 minutes of extra material added. As a nice addition, the original cuts of 21-24 are also provided for comparison. It is probably the ultimate release of EVA for this generation, though with the switch to BluRay around the corner, I almost wonder why ADV opted to redo this set and not pour their efforts into a next gen release.
Evangelion takes place in the year 2015. In the year 2000, an event widely known as second impact happened in Antarctica, destroying the continent, millions of lives, and completely altering the Earth’s environment and humanity along with it. Since then, the world’s governments have been studying the events surrounding the second impact and developing a plan to help prevent a third impact, not to mention defeating the beings known as ‘Angels’ that begin appearing and destroying everything. At the front of this action is the mysterious group known as NERV and their giant robots known as the Evangelions, or EVAs—the only things known to man that can stop the Angels.
However, as the story progresses, we learn that virtually everything we know about second impact, the Angels, and even the EVA units is wrong, and those who have the answers are not speaking. So while most of the story tends to be centered on the EVAs and their struggles with the Angels, there are people running around behind the scenes trying to find the truth about the Evangelion project, the second impact, and this strange instrumentality project that keeps getting mentioned.
EVA is a series that I, like many others, have a bit of a love/hate relationship with. Episodes 1-24 are pure gold; probably some of the best and most interesting storytelling I have seen in anime. The depths that Hideaki Anno goes into Christian mythology to create the ideas and the imagery in Evangelion are tremendous.
However, the last two episodes completely lose the show for me, and amazingly enough they sour my attitude on the rest of the show. While the later movies address some of the concerns that I have with the show, the fact remains that as a TV show, I feel that EVA fails in a number of way. The last two episodes are designed to be a study of humanity at its base level, not to mention explore the question of what it means to be human. Yet while many of the questions and topics raised are interesting in their own right, they do not work well as the sole conclusion to this show.
There are other flaws with this show, though admittedly more minor than the lack of a cohesive ending. For all the questions about humanity that are raised in those last two episodes, there are too many questions about the storyline that go unanswered. For example, we know that the second impact is not what most people think it was, and we know that Gendo Ikari had something to do with the second impact, but we never find out exactly what it was. Considering that it was the worst disaster in human history, and it kick-started the rest of the story, that is inexcusable. There are a number of other questions similar to this that never get adequately explained either, and all this does is make the ending that much more frustrated.
For all the negatives that I can pile onto EVA, though, the fact remains that it is still a tremendous show up through the 24th episode. The interactions between Shinji and the rest of the characters really helps build a great cast of characters, and the action scenes were wonderfully done. In particular, EVA never falls into the trap that many mecha anime do in that each Angel attack is completely different, and there’s never any ‘one’ way that the EVA units always win. Each battle has a completely different feel and outcome. There is just a wonderful level of storytelling detail here that keeps the show moving, which is why the ending is so frustrating.
The additions made to the Director’s Cuts are a bit of a mixed bag. The additions to episodes 23 and 24 are virtually pointless, as those details are discernable from the scenes already present. The additions to episodes 21 and 22 are great, however, as they add new levels to the characters of Vice Commander Fuyutsuki and Asuka that were previously not there. In particular, the extra information about Fuyutsuki adds a new wrinkle to his relationship with Gendo a makes him out to be more of a sympathetic character than he otherwise comes out to be. In some ways, it is a shame that these four episodes are the only ones to get the ‘Director’s Cut’ treatment.
It’s Evangelion. I do not know how much more needs to be said. It is right up there with Akira as one of the most famous and important anime ever to be made. It is a show that all fans of anime should see at least once, certainly fans of mecha anime. I do not think that additions to the Director’s Cut episodes are enough to warrant upgrading to Platinum from the original cuts, but this would certainly be the set to get for anybody still holding out on picking EVA up. The work ADV and GAINAX have done in cleaning up the audio and video make this a definite improvement over the originals. Still recommended.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, All extras from single volume releases
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: November 27th, 2007
Running Time: 750 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS (S-Video Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System