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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Review: Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance

Review: Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance

Song of the moment: Shiro Sagisu - The Final Decision We All Must Take (Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance OST)

This review was first posted on

Matafleur (from and's chief technical officer) and myself took a trip down to Orchard Cineleisure yesterday to watch Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance before it closed on Wednesday.

Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance is the second part of the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy of movies, which is a remake of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. The Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series was first broadcast in Japan in 1995 and has since spawned several movies, mangas and video games. Produced by Studio Khara and Studio KlockWorx together with Gainax, this remake is written by Hideaki Anno (Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Evangelion Series, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo) and directed by Mr. Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo, FLCL). Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone was essentially a retelling of the first six episodes of the original anime series, featuring updated animation, CGI and a new soundtrack by another Evangelion alumni, Shiro Sagisu.

Evangelion 2.0 is where it really starts to diverge from the original anime series. Various hints of it was shown in the Evangelion 1.0 and it is further developed in the second movie, with a new character introduced (Mari Illustrious Makinami, pilot of EVA Unit 5. Voiced by Maaya Sakamoto) and a number of major changes in plot. Before watching the second movie, I was a little worried that it might stick too closely to the plot of the original series and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of changes worked into the movie. I personally thought this allowed me, a fan of the original series, to enjoy the new movie more as well as look at Rebuild of Evangelion as more of a partial reboot (restart of a series with a new canon) as opposed to a remake (Especially with the preview of 3.0, where it looks totally different from the original series). Rebuild of Evangelion seems less pretentious and "emo" than the original series, giving it a seemingly brighter outlook. This makes it more accessible to new viewers of Evangelion (like Matafleur) and allows fans of the original (like myself) a new perspective to the franchise.

While it is certainly less "emo", it still has its fair share of heart-rending moments (Minor Spoiler: Unit 03 / Tenth Angel) as well as a slightly more sympathetic portrayal of Gendo. Other characters in the movie like Asuka and Shinji are seemingly more stable than their counterparts from the original series as well. The movie also has its fair share of "fanservice" to keep fans of the original happy (Spoiler: Asuka and PenPen).

What I am not too happy about is mainly two things. First would be the reduced role of Asuka, at least for 2.0. Continuing off from 1.0, 2.0 continues to lean towards more of a Shinji/Rei pairing. The main reasons being that I am a fan of the Asuka/Shinji ship ("ship" as in "relationship"). Since Evangelion 3.0: Q's preview is inconclusive regarding this particular issue, I do have hope that they might resolve it later. (Casual movie goers can just ignore this since its my fanboy tendencies acting up...)

Secondly, it would be the score for Evangelion 2.0 by Shiro Sagisu. I am not saying that the score was bad. In fact, I actually thought it was pretty good for an anime movie. What concerns me is that the music from certain scenes seemingly rips off another Gainax anime which Sagisu scored, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo. While both Kare Kano and Evangelion 2.0 do share the same director and composer, the similarities in the music is a little too obvious. The tracks in question (if you happen to have the OST of Evangelion 2.0) are "2EM05 KK B09", "2EM06 KK B16", "2EM05 KK B09InDoor", "2EM10 KK C01 AddGuit", "2EM12 KK A09", "2EM10 KK C01", "2EM12 KK A09 Kuriya" and "2EM10 KK C01 Str+AcGuit". The ending theme song for 2.0 is just a remix of Evangelion 1.0's ending theme as well. Might this be a lack of creativity by Sagisu or a creative decision by Anno? While it certainly sounds good, it certainly isn't original...

Despite some questionable choices in terms of the music score, the movie still excels in all areas. From the animation to the characters to the plot, Hideaki Anno presents not just a movie which lives up to the reputation of the original series, but a movie which excels past the weaknesses inherent in the original series to become a great movie by itself.

Movie goers might want to watch the Evangelion 1.0 first so as to better appreciate the second film. One should also stay beyond the final credits to catch not just the preview for 3.0, but a surprise twist as well. While ending the movie like this does indeed whet one's appetite for the next movie, as Justin Sevakis of ANN says "what a wait this is gonna be..."

Rating: 9.0/10

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