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"Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone" In Thinking There Should Be More Here

FUNimation has recently released Evangelion 1.11 to DVD. Don’t be misled: This is not the second movie in the Evangelion Rebuild tetralogy. It’s the “fixed” version of 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone. Certain segments were color corrected, and around three minutes of new animation was added. This upgrade is indistinguishable from the original without comparing them side-by-side. The new animation doesn’t stand out as a revised plot point or a more exciting battle, and the color correction corrects color that seems okay in the first case. Neither revision warrants a new purchase unless you are extremely hardcore, but it should be the default purchase if you’ve not already jumped into the Rebuild.

The second disc includes a promotional music video, a 15-minute behind-the-scenes music video (with two different audio tracks), seven movie previews, trailers, and “News Flashes” for the first movie in the Rebuild. Nothing here is substantial, and this whole disc can be watched in 45 minutes or so, but they’re nice additions, especially for people who like the promotion of a movie as features.

, the retail release comes with a 20-page booklet with character art, production stills, movie notes, etc. This booklet was not included in the reviewer’s package I received, so I can’t say anything about it.

The original review of Evangelion 1.01 follows:

Years ago, a worldwide disaster killed much of humanity and left the rest in shambles. Now giant monsters known as Angels are ravaging Japan and trying to take the rest of the world down. Their origins are unknown, but their goal is clear. One organization, NERV, is out to save the remnants of humanity using giant biomechanical machines known as Evangelions. The quiet Rei Ayanami has just gotten help from NERV’s director’s son, Shinji Ikari. As the new pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, Shinji is thrown into a world he doesn’t understand. In a world where he’s the only hope for salvation, does Shinji know how to step up to bat, or will he just run away?

By this point it’s hard to find a fan of Japanese animation who hasn’t got an opinion about Evangelion. The franchise premiered in Japan over a decade ago, and it reinvented the real robot/super robot genre. Hideaki Anno eschewed the heroic, manly pilot for one that doubted himself. He added a preponderant number of female pilots, got rid of the concept that the robot would be, well, a robot, and added heavy levels of theological references and depressing endings for characters. He also set the standard for confusing psychoanalysis. The series put him on the map as a director of higher-brow animated series, but it also saw him acquire the habit of spending all his money before finishing a series.

Those budgetary problems, alongside the interest generated by two movies (Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion) that gave the series an alternate ending, lead to “The Rebuild of Evangelion.” Over the course of four movies, he is reanimating and retelling the story of Neon Genesis Evangelion with changes major (new characters) and minor (new promotional sponsors). Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone is the most similar to the original series, and except for an ending scene makes no major changes to the canon.

Instead, Anno has just done a straight-out reanimation of the story. Modern technology has given Evangelion a sharp and clear look, and added stuff like cel-shaded CG to machinery and a few uses of the Evangelion Unit 01. Even on a TV budget, the decade-old Evangelion looked good, so it is great to see it tackled again with a cinema-style budget and 2007 technology. Even small scenes showing off a desolate city give great depth and wallpaper fodder.

But viewed on its own, it is hard to make a judgment about it. Viewers who have seen the series will recognize that it covers events in the first few episodes, up to the point that Asuka arrives and changes the cast dynamics. Because of the placement of its climax, the events of one of those episodes is given greater prominence at the expense of some of the more nuanced moments in other episodes. Its close adherence to the plot of the series also robs it of a more cinematic pacing. At bottom, You Are (Not) Alone feels like a four-episode OVA without intros and endings.

Considering the series had a convoluted story, especially near the end, this movie is rather straightforward, and hopefully the later parts of this tetralogy follow the same pattern. I don’t mean that it lacks the franchise’s tendency to mindscrew, but it feels as though actual explanations will come down the pike.

Shamefully, this disc is the epitome of barebones. It doesn’t even pretend to have “extras”; all it offers is trailers. A good transfer of a movie can’t completely make up for a movie with no commentary, no interviews, and no featurettes. It’s so barebones one is almost surprised that it came with a decent slip case.

Evangelion, in some form, is worth a watch. You Are (Not) Alone isn’t necessary if you’ve seen the series, but it is a good refresher course, and a great visual treat even if you have seen the original. Those who haven’t seen the series would probably be best off checking out this movie. It’s to bad the movie is all you will get with this release.

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