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"Neon Genesis Evangelion" Platinum Edition Vol. 5 and 6 Make No Sense, But Still Rock

The Evangelions versus the Angels. That’s how the fight has been set up in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and if you’re part of the everyone who’s seen it category, you’d know that. But for those of us just now catching the series, how does the drama and mystery hold up on the first run? The discs may be Platinum, but can they hold up (outside of spoilerific extras, that is)?

Episodes included in Volume 5:
Episode 18: Ambivalence
Episode 19: Introjection
Episode 20: Weaving a Story 2: oral stage

Episodes included in Volume 6 (Both original airing and director’s cuts):
Episode 21: He was aware that he was still a child.
Episode 22: Don’t Be.
Episode 23: Rei II

The last time we saw our heroes of humanity, a new Evangelion pilot was being chosen. Well, we now officially know who the pilot is, but that’s no good when his Evangelion Unit goes berserk, forcing Shinji to make a decision that’ll affect his continued operations as pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. Gendo, his father and head of NERV, forces his hand by activating the unit’s dummy plug, making the humanoid mech go into berserker mode, ripping the rogue Eva (complete with unwitting pilot still inside) to shreds.

Shinji’s questioning of NERV is put on hold when an Angel attacks his friends. You can’t really dillydally about piloting a mech when your friends just got their butts kicked and you might be the only one who can save mankind.

To add to the confusing psychological twists, “Weaving a Story 2: oral stage” has Shinji become one with the Eva on a strange trip that, well, makes me think Hideaki Anno was a victim of hippie-dom. The show just goes too far out there at times, not even really logically explaining how Shinji kinda melts in the Unit-01.

Volume six is not much better at avoiding headache-inducing plots, but it does offer some relief. The episode that has an entire sentence in it’s title is a much-needed flashback to the origins of NERV, Gendo and his wife/Shinji’s mom Yui, Ritsuko, Misato, and more, then they throw you a curveball when Gendo (in the past) introduces the kid he’s taking care of.

Asuka’s past is revealed in Episode 22, unsettling her present and casting doubt on her future. When she can’t pilot an Eva, things just get bad, especially when Rei becomes the last line of defense against an Angel that can easily infect the Evas.

Then there’s the final scene of Episode 23, “Rei II”, that is… well… I think my brain exploded trying to understand it. The next volume can’t come fast enough.

Volume 6 appears to contain 6 episodes, but it’s actually just two versions of the same three episodes. The Director’s Cuts apparently do not add or revise much, but the scenes added really should never had been cut at all; they’re pretty nice, offering a little more insight into the characters and their pasts.

These six episodes, over the two volumes, include a good amount of action, a long-overdue batch of back story, and some great characterization, especially when it comes to everyone’s favorite Eva pilot, Asuka. Despite all these good parts, though, it never reaches into “THIS IS THE BEST SERIES EVER” territory, since it tends to stay away from some sillier giant mech staples. Cowboy Bebop was also a serious series, but they managed to at least throw some fun into the mix.

Extras are… under protest. Yes, I am protesting reviewing something. As multiple, considerate readers have pointed out to me, both the on-disc and in-box extras are full of spoilers about the series. Matt Greenfield and Co. haven’t realized that not everyone on the planet has seen the entire series. I’ll watch and read them later, but they are just not in the running for my final judgment of these volumes for now.

I like Neon Genesis Evangelion, I really do. I’m intrigued by these mysteries unfolding, and truly hope that the final volume will clear things up. While I am far from the most psychologically-attuned watcher, I think I still understand… eh, I’m just screwing with you. Sometimes this series makes no sense whatsoever.

I still can’t wait for the final volume though.

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