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"Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum: 03" Can Platinum Tarnish?

Welcome to the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Whereas in the real world, Y2K brought us nothing but needless worrying, in the Evangelionverse, a mysterious destructive force blew up Tokyo. Skip ahead a decade or so, and three teenagers (one with a serious attitude problem) pilot giant constructs known as Evangelions to protect Tokyo-3 from future invasions by the “Angels” (the extraterrestrial, deadly kind, not the good, winged kind). Can Shinji, pilot of the EVA-01, overcome his father issues and insecurities long enough to deal out kick-butt mecha action?

Episodes included on this disc:
Episode 11: “The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still”
Episode 12: “She said, ‘Don’t make others suffer for your personal hatred.'”
Episode 13: “Lilliputian Hitcher”
Episode 14: “Weaving a Story”

All right, by volume 3, you should know my spiel. Never caught Neon Genesis Evangelion outside of the two episodes on Toonami. Don’t look at me like I’m crazy, I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen the series. The guy at the Street Fighter fansite cammyfan.com recently owned up to it too, so while Not-Having-Seen-Evangelion-itis may be a rare malady, we do walk among you. Likewise, you should already know the deal with this release, the Platinum Edition that recently gained Animé Insider’s “Best Animé DVD Release Ever” award.

On “The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still” the power goes out. I don’t know about you, but when my power goes out, I just load up my Nintendo DS and Feel The Magic™. Turns out handheld systems don’t exist in the future. Either that or NERV decides the Ninth Angel attacking is more important. Shows where their priorities lie. Whatever. As NERV is quite electricity-dependent, the outage means that the no-name people in the background have to manually prep the Evas for launch and hope that the First, Second, and Third Child (Rei, Asuka and Shinji, respectively) can make their way into headquarters, suit up and get ready for battle with no power to aid them. There’s some nice characterization of the three kids, showcasing Asuka’s ego, Rei’s intelligence, and Shinji’s, well, inoppurtune timing. When you’re crawling in a ventilation shaft and a hot (well, to a fourteen year-old boy [C’mon. Feel the guilt. -Ed]) German chick in a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is crawling in front of you, do not bring up why you’re fighting “Angels”. Bad idea, my friend. Enjoy the moment.

In the episode with the title that seems to stretch on an on into infinity, Misato, Shinji’s guardian/drunkard, gets a promotion at NERV. Naturally, this seems like time to celebrate except then you remember it’s Evangelion and the metaphysical stuff kicks in. Shinji starts wondering why he exists, how he can prove himself, why people better themselves, etc. The kid’s got some problems, and he can really bring a party down. When the Tenth Angel, the largest one yet, threatens to divebomb the planet, the Evas are gathered to attempt to save the day. Overall the episode, which mainly features comments on Shinji’s messed-up psyche and Misato’s messed-up past, is disturbingly forgettable.

In the episode with the title I know you’re going to Google just to figure out what that phrase means, a computer virus invades the MAGI, the three computer AIs that run and make decisions at NERV. Or at least that’s what it seems to be. If it was just a computer virus, they could run Norton or System Restore, but no, it’s an Angel, one small enough to simulate data. Ritsuko (the wetsuit-clipboard woman) gets some good background in this episode.

The first half of the final episode on the disc is a semi-flashback. Well, it’s more of an intelligence report-type thing, but all we see is slight foreshadowing about Gendo and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The second half is, well, a mind trip. The booklet included with the DVD mentions that only 500 or so frames were created for this episode, and it shows. It’s mostly incomprehensible; you just need to take your brain out and look at the pretty pictures.

As with all volumes in the EVA Platinum Edition series, this disc comes in a cardboard slipcase featuring Asuka as seen on the box from Volume 1. The aforementioned booklet includes information on the how the 5.1 remix came about, standard bios for the Angels and an Eva unit, and commentary on the episodes.

Disc extras include the clean opening and closing and ADV previews, the normal stuff. On the Episode 11 commentary, Tiffany Grant (Asuka) and Matt Greenfield (ADV bigwig and Leonard Maltin’s clone-apparent) discuss various things from Evangelion drive-thru to Ritsuko’s wetsuit. Surprisingly there’s another commentary, for Episode 13, which features Matt Greenfield and Wade Shemwell. No idea who Wade is? He’s the English 5.1 Mix Supervisor. If that sounds interesting to you, you have a much higher boringosity threshold than me. I kept zoning in and out during this commentary, which droned on about the technical aspects of the sound. Considering even my TV’s built-in speakers are on the fritz, I’m definitely no audiophile.

Lastly, there is a mini-special called “The English Remix Process”. I know some people may find this enjoyable, but this is the first Special Feature that has actually angered me. To start, Matt rambles on from the remix process to blatant spoilers about the end of the series. I haven’t seen the end. Yes, he gives you a three-second leave to plug your ears, but that’s not a lot of time. Thanks Matt. Thanks a lot. Oh, and the second kicker? Matt reveals that he’s pretty much betting on there being a better release of this series down the line. Good job making people buying this series feel like they’re wasting money.

Sadly, this is the weakest entry in the Platinum release so far. The plot boils down to only about 3.5 episodes, one commentary is fluff while the other is too technical, and a special feature that made me angry? Evangelion fans, you’ve already bought it, but it could have been much better. Please shape up with disc four, ADV.

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