With Rei Ayanami and Shinji Ikari having successfully defended Tokyo-3 from the onslaught of the monstrous Angels in their mechanized Evangelion units, the rest of the cast can assemble! Hotheaded Asuka Shikinami and the mysterious bespectacled Mari make their way to NERV headquarters, and prepare to defend humanity from the Third Impact that would eradicate all life. Can they be succeed? Do all the members want them to? Will we ever get that fanservice they promise? Does the rebuild of Evangelion continue or derail in Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance?
Gainax is back to milk as much money as they can from the Evangelion franchise, continuing their planned four-part movie series. While the first movie, You Are (Not) Alone, directly adapted (by and large, but not by whole) the events of the first six episodes of the television series, 2.0 (and in this home release, 2.22) puts the train onto a slightly different track.
Fans who have watched the series will notice that the Angel designs—and even some of the Evangelion designs—look vastly different. While these could just be considered modernizations, stylizations, or even an attempt at selling new toys and figures, they’re far from the most shattering of divergences. That comes courtesy of Mari, a wholly new addition who’s suddenly the best Evangelion pilot around. With her established (to the extent this movie feels it needs to establish her), popular Evangelion character Asuka Langley Soryu—I’m sorry, “Shikinami”—makes her appearance in the series, having vastly changed beyond the surname. She now lacks the crush on her superior; she’s now a captain; and she now takes on roles that other characters once took in the series. One of the humorous visuals had Shinji, naked, finding out that they live with a penguin; perverts of the world (she’s fourteen!) now get Asuka to be the nude penguin discoverer. Additionally, they get to see her (self-admitted, at least) test Unit-3 with a very revealing plug suit instead of Toji (who, like many of the side characters of the television series, really has a reduced role in the film series). The storyline, with the addition of one character and heavy revisions to another, begins to rapidly unravel. While the first movie may have just been a Special Edition of the TV series, the second movie is a What If, which will presumably allow the third and the fourth to go from “Completely Different Concept” to “An episode of Three’s Company that happens to feature John Ritter saving humanity from being turned into Tang.”
For those who aren’t as initiated in the mega-franchise as Gainax would like you to be, the movie itself stands up just fine if you watched the previous entry; this Rebuilt tetraology is being done with the new fan in mind. The biggest annoyance may be that the movie ends with an insane cliffhanger (that gets slightly lessened by the post-credits scene), even though the third movie hasn’t been named yet, let alone been released in Japan, or announced by FUNimation for release in America. It will easily be 2013 before anyone watching this set will get to legally see its sequel in America. Given that the world’s going to end in 2012, and…
Ah, perfect move, Gainax. You’re going to create the Third Impact to end the world. Biggest movie tie-in ever.
The action has been upped (with the stated goal to make the movies more action-packed than the TV series was done on its limited budget), and with that comes some purely solid animation. Cel-shaded CG helps with a lot of the action, and honestly helps provide some truly odd Angel designs. Voice actors stay mostly consistent with their classic roles, and the new voices added in the mix make everything sweeter. The musical score is haunting and counter-intuitive at times, with the most calming music playing as the most disastrous scenes play out; in short, it’s standard Evangelion pseudo-beauty.
The DVD comes in a bright-orange slipcase (accompanied by bright-orange menus) and is accompanied by a 20-page guidebook featuring an introduction by Hideaki Anno; commentary on the “Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02″ feature; a character/mech/monster guide; pin-up artwork; a keyword glossary; and a breakdown of how animation goes from sketch to finish. The first disc features a unique commentary from the English voice cast, taking all the actors for small chunks and mixing it sequentially, instead of having them all together watching the movie. Trailers are on the first disc as well. The second disc features the music video/production featurette “Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02,” the Japanese trailer, promos, and TV spots, unfinished scenes that didn’t make it in, and a modified scene.
Evangelion 2.22 provides a satisfying sequel to people who saw the preceding movie, and provides a wholly new story for those who’ve seen the TV series. You mustn’t run away from this set, and instead need to man up and play. What are you, stupid for skipping out on this?