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"Neon Genesis Evangelion" Platinum Edition Vol. 4: Now Nearly Action-Free!

Everyone should know the basic premise of Neon Genesis Evangelion by this point whether you’ve seen the entire series, just caught the quick Toonami run, or heard the legions of fanboys screaming like little girls over it. Giant robots battle giant monsters, all while a whiny kid named Shinji gives viewers giant headaches. And it’s a giant of a series, but the fact is I’m only now catching it for the first time.

So the following is probably a rarity on the web: a review by a guy who doesn’t know the whole ending of the series (assuming chatty Matty Greenfield can keep quiet) and who can thus actually review it as it unfolds, courtesy of ADV’s recent Platinum release.

Episodes included on this disc:
Episode 15: “Those women longed for the touch of others’ lips and thus invited their kisses.”
Episode 16: “Splitting of the Breast”
Episode 17: “Fourth CHILD”

In “Those women longed for the touch of–” Ah, screw it. Don’t ask me what is up with Eva‘s weird episode titles. In The Episode With The YadaYada Title there’s very little mech action. Misato and Kaji end up at a friend’s wedding and Kaji, the stubbly point of romantic contention between the louder ladies of the series, acts as a shoulder for a drunken Misato to cry on. I know I shouldn’t find “sobbing Misato” funny, but it’s preceded by a scene of her getting so drunk she vomits, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

I also couldn’t help but laugh at how Asuka and Shinji pass the time while Misato’s away. For those of you who have been finding Shinji annoying up to this point, or who have a fascination for Asuka (she’s easily my favorite of the Three Children, followed by subdued Rei), you’ll be able to get your Shinji hate on even more after this.

“Splitting of the Breast” (which, as near as I can tell, doesn’t actually include the splitting of any breasts) has the only Angel fight on this disc. When Shinji gets trapped inside the Angel’s “Sea of Durac,” the series goes all self-introspective as he deals with his own mortality. You can’t live forever while trapped in oxygenated liquid that’s slowly losing its oxygenation… ‘course, how you could live in oxygenated liquid in the first place is just one of the series’ sci-fi oddities. [C'mon, haven't you ever see The Abyss? -Ed]

To pilot the newest Evangelion Unit, a new kid has to be chosen in “Fourth CHILD.” This is a rather slow episode, with no fighting and some pretty bad attempts at misdirection to cover up who the Fourth Child will be. If you haven’t figured it out in five minutes, you’re not paying attention.

These are not bad episodes, and some parts are especially enjoyable, but they’re more introspective, and the action is minimal. This isn’t the best disc if you’re looking for a higher concentration of the aforementioned giant-robot-vs.-giant-monster action.

Now, I know it’s gonna sound like the old joke: what lousy food, and such small portions. But even I felt the disc was over too soon. Three episodes just isn’t enough, considering that this release starting out with a five-episode volume one and the insert says that episode 17 is the start of a three-episode mini-arc. I completely fail to see the logic of stopping it here.

The extras are also ho-hum. There’s a commentary by Tiffany Grant (Asuka’s VA) and Matt Greenfield (ADV’s deity of anime) that covers aspects of voice acting (like how to pull off a kiss) while Tiffany loves on her character. And Greenfield is more restrained with the spoilers this time around, though he exaggerates EVA’s “broadcast TV” run a bit.

Accompanying the commentary on Episode 15 is the animatic for the episode. Nice if you’re into watching unfinished product, but I just found myself fast-forwarding through it. We also get a few minutes of “That Little Red-Haired Girl” with Tiffany, who talks about all the Asuka merchandise she has. Yeah, Tiffany probably blew her entire pay for the role on Asuka stuff. I mean, I enjoy the character too, but hell if I’m spending that much.

Oh, who am I kidding? She made more recording one episode than I do in a month.

Also, clean opening, closing, and ADV previews. You knew they’d be there. Likewise, the insert is a multi-page booklet, now adding a glossary along with the printed commentaries and bios.

Eva fans, you’ll know you’ll grab it. I just wish I had grabbed it at a cheaper price or a higher episode count.

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