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Platinum Beats Gold in "Neon Genesis Evangelion, Vol. 1"

When Angels attack Japan, it’s time for NERV to launch Evangelions! But, will the giant’s pilots (an unsure boy and a quiet girl) be able to save the day? Neon Genesis Evangelion has been hailed as the third coming of animé, but is Platinum truly better than gold if you’ve never seen the whole series before?

Alright, I feel this needs a preface, as I’m probably the only person on the planet who claims to be a fan of Japanese animation but has not seen Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Wait, I take that back. I have seen the two episodes Toonami aired as part of its Giant Robot Week. I personally don’t mind edited material if it’s on TV for free (especially if it’s Toonami’s handling of editing). It was interesting enough to follow up on, but there were a myriad of Evangelion releases. With everyone on Toon Zone telling me to pick up the Platinum Edition, and Best Buy selling the first volume with box for sixteen bucks, I eagerly jumped in. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the first volume has five episodes…

But five episodes wouldn’t mean anything if the show was bad. Luckily, this isn’t the case.

For the five of you who haven’t seen this series (Maxie Zeus, I’m looking at you (Just keep looking if you want. I’m not going anywhere. -ed.)) and are in the same boat with me, here’s the basic plot. Mind you, this is the “basic, first grader, spell things out” plot. Everyone’s been telling me the series gets mind-screw crazy later.

A dozen or so years ago, a giant monster menace called an Angel (I have a feeling there’s more behind that name than just coolness) arrived and pretty much destroyed stuff. While rebuilding, a group called NERV brought out the Evangelions—gigantic, piloted robots. When the Angels returned, Dr. Gendo Ikari calls on his estranged son, Shinji (the unsure one), to pilot one of these mechs. Another pilot, Rei (the quiet one—I know, every animé had to have the quiet girl), was nearly killed in combat last time, so Shinji needs to come save the Earth’s collective butt. Along for the ride are Mitsuko, a drunk and lazy woman who somehow ends up sending Shinji into battle, and Ritsuko, another (but less inebriated) woman at NERV.

I know there’s a bigger plot going on, but I certainly haven’t figured it out yet. Seeing this batch of episodes for the first time, though, you do begin to like the characters, despite their whininess or, in Rei’s case, general weirdness. Misato’s likable as the drunk girl as well.

The first volume comes with a box designed to hold the entire series. The disc comes in an amaray case that goes in a sleeve, which then goes in the box. Lot of packaging done here. The insert is a 12-page booklet with commentaries on the episodes, descriptions of the Angels, and some screencaps. Also included in the package is a special numbered parking decal for NERV. For some reason, I have a feeling we’ll never get a chance to see if it’ll actually work at their headquarters. The box itself is shiny silver, made out of hard cardboard and featuring various characters on each side.

On the disc, we get standard creditless intro and ending, along with some ADV trailers. Of special note are two commentary tracks, one on episode 1 by Matt Greenfield (ADR Director), and one on episode 2 by Greenfield and Spike Spencer (Shinji Ikari’s VA). They rarely refer to what’s happening onscreen and instead spend most of their time talking about the voice-acting. (There’s supposedly an unaired commercial for AIDS prevention out there that pretty much had Asuka and Shinji having sex.) Be warned, they do somewhat spoil later episodes, though this might only apply to me, the only person in North America to have not seen the series beforehand.

Video and audio are supposed to be better in this release, but as I haven’t seen a previous release, I couldn’t tell you. I can tell you I didn’t have any problems with how the episodes looked or sounded.

So: Platinum’s better than gold, right?

Well, it’s a great series so far, and the Platinum edition has good extras and a nice box. Evangelion‘s truly platinum so far, and this first-time watcher can’t wait for more.

Episodes included on Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum: 01
Episode 1 “Angel Attack”
Episode 2 “The Beast”
Episode 3 “A Transfer”
Episode 4 “Hedgehog’s Dilemma”
Episode 5 “Rei I”

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