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Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone(2007)
In the wake of the Second Impact, Tokyo-3's fate lies with 14-year-old Shinji Ikari and his ability to pilot the Evangelion -- a fighting machine designed by his father -- against a merciless army of alien invaders known as Angels. The film is the first installment of a trilogy inspired by a saga that began on television in 1995 with "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and concluded with the 1997 big-screen feature The End of Evangelion.
For more about Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone and the Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray release, see Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Fumihiko Tachiki, Motomu Kiyokawa, Yuriko Yamaguchi
Directors: Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Hideaki Anno
» See full cast & crew
Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray Review
One of the most highly regarded animes of all time gets yet another makeover with Evangelion 1.11 You are (Not) Alone.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 3, 2010
Before we take off into the body of this review, let's pause for a moment to look over our anime checklist:
Though animes quite frequently exploit mythic and even scriptural source material, one of Evangelion's claims to fame is its rather intent focus on tropes and images from both Christianity and Judaism. Even the title of the franchise itself harkens back to the Gospels. The original series trumps the generic title, adding Neon Genesis, a sort of neat encapsulation of the modern and the ancient, another pairing that tends to pop up quite regularly in animes. When Neon Genesis Evangelion premiered in 1995, it took the anime world by storm. Writer and director Hideaki Anno (great last name for someone Biblically prone, don't you think?) was hailed as a visionary, someone who took some frankly stereotypical anime tropes and melded them to some potent scriptural imagery and, later in the series, a rather compellingly deep psychological bent.
Neon Genesis Evangelion seemingly went into overdrive preparing an inordinately complex storyline which saw teenage protagonist Shinji Ikari summoned to the underground bowels of a supersecret Japanese governmental protection agency called NERV. Shinji has been selected, by his own long lost father it turns out, to pilot the newest iteration of NERV's defensive Mechas, dubbed EVAs (pronounced with a long A sound on the initial E), for Evangelions. EVA 1, Shinji's unit, is out to battle the weird, destructive robot-like Angels, whose genesis is at least hinted at in the television series, but which here is left largely unexplained. Shinji is completely overwhelmed by the task placed before him, finding his father remote and dismissive. He manages to find his only real friend in the female Rei, another EVA pilot.
That's the gist of Evangelion's plot, but summing it up that simply is somewhat akin to saying the Bible is about God. There are a wealth of interrelated storylines in Evangelion, some of which are frankly glossed over in this feature length revision. While those new to the franchise will probably have no problem getting at least the basics down, some background experience with the television series is definitely a plus as you enter the labyrinthine world of EVA 1, Shinji, NERV and the Angels.
As should be fairly obvious from terms like Angels and Evangelion, the series basks in a variety of allusions to various religions. These aren't exclusively Christian, though it's hard not to notice how every major explosion in Evangelion results in a large cross of light permeating the landscape. Late in You are (Not) Alone, the film combines images of the Jewish demon Lilith with that of the crucifixion of Jesus, to a peculiar if also very effective result. Mixed in with these callbacks to ancient times and characters is an equal emphasis on "tech speak," to the point where some viewers' heads may be spinning. Evangelion exults in large sequences where the "boots" of the various EVAs are detailed in large swaths of scientific sounding jargon. While some of it frankly comes off as more than a bit silly, as when Shinji's commander goes to great lengths to describe the effects of protons and gravity on Eva's aiming capability, closing out a long and crazily complex paragraph with, "Make sure to take that into account." Sure. No problem.. But overall it gives the Evangelion franchise a certain ring of post-apocalyptic truth, as a society on the edge uses every technology at its beck and call to try to prevent annihilation.
It used to be that software was the only thing which got upgraded numerically. Now with such recent efforts as Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and this new updated Evangelion, some collectors may be wary of labels' insouciant attitudes about consumers' willingness to double, triple, or even quadruple dip. This might seem especially egregious in the case of Evangelion, where an unusually nuanced and radically complex television series has been melted down, as it were, to the basics for these feature film releases. One has to hand it to the creators, however, that they obviously aren't leaving well enough alone, and continue to refine and reimagine their product. My hunch is Evangelion fans, and they are legion, will flock to this release like bees to honey. While the new elements of this latest iteration are fairly subtle, there's at least one fun twist at the end of this outing which should delight many longtime Evangelion followers. My other hunch is that those new to this franchise may well be scratching their heads through much of 1.11 wondering what all the fuss is about. There's a lot of sound and fury in this outing, but those who haven't been along for the ride from the beginning may find it all signifies nothing.
Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray, Video Quality
Evangelion 1.11 You are (Not) Alone arrives on Blu-ray with a sparkling AVC encoded 1080p 1.78:1 transfer. This is a brilliant combination of both tradition cel animation and CGI, and the Blu-ray shows off both techniques wonderfully. Colors are incredibly robust and gorgeously saturated. Fine line detail on the handdrawn elements is superb, with excellent delineation between characters and backgrounds. Some of the CGI is a lot of fun as well. While some of it is used for computer readouts and more technically oriented moments, a large segment at the end features a polymorphous "evil" pyramid of sorts which constantly changes shape and intent, at one point becoming a gigantic drill trying to reach the underground NERV lair. Throughout all of this literal business (busy-ness), the Blu-ray supports an incredible level of detail and stunning gradations of color. Evangelion fans are going to be very pleased with the image quality of this release.
Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Funimation finally steps up to the high-def plate, aurally speaking, with two lossless tracks, both Dolby True HD, one a remixed English language track, and the other the original Japanese. Because I didn't want to distract myself from the image reading subtitles the first time through, I opted for the English track. (I typically go back to the original Japanese for subsequent viewings, usually without subtitles, once I have a handle on what the film is about). This is just a downright fun track, full of the typically hyperbolic delivery style that is de rigeur for a lot of animes. But there is such careful attention paid to directionality here, as well as one awesome discrete channel effect after another, that Evangelion's sound mix rises to a whole new level of enjoyment. One goes into these films expecting the battle scenes to be bombastic, and Evangelion certainly does not disappoint in that regard. You will hear the laser thrust of EVA's ammunition clearly moving through the various channels as it nears its Angelic target, but there's also an incredible wealth of ambient surround sound activity throughout much of this feature. Fidelity is top notch, with no distortion or drop outs, and LFE is simply spectacular. This is one soundtrack you definitely want to "turn up to 11."
Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
When you first access the Extras menu, you might be lulled into the false belief you have a wealth of supplements before you to explore. Unfortunately, that's not the case. What you really have is a 15:47 feature called Rebuild of Evangelion, a series of animatics and test footage showing additions to this version. It is available with two different soundtracks, one by Shiro Shajisu and the other, somewhat funnily, featuring Ravel's "Bolero." Aside from this extra, there's a 2:20 Angel of Doom promotional video, and less than a minute of interstitial News Alerts advertising this Evangelion's immanence. A second column of extras is entitled Movie Previews, but what it boils down to is seven versions of one teaser, all playing out at about 1:36 to 1:41, with remixes of either "Fly Me to the Moon" or Evangelion's closing theme "Beautiful World." A third column features very brief teasers for other Funimation releases. When you add all of this up, it's a pretty paltry assortment of supplements for what should be considered a major release.
Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Your ultimate personal enjoyment of this latest iteration of Evangelion is probably largely dependent on your knowledge of the source material. If you're a longtime Neon Genesis Evangelion fan, you'll love the subtle changes here, even as you may have to overlook some of the glossing over this "Reader's Digest" version contains, by dint of its very (abbreviated) nature. If you're coming in as a neophyte to this franchise, you'll be able to get the gist of what's going on, but you'll miss a lot of the subtext and backstory, which is kind of a shame considering what a wealth of information the original series provided. One way or the other, this is a visually and aurally sumptuous release that is sure to delight longtime fans and may in fact pique the interest of a whole new group of folks who will want to further explore the complex Evangelion universe.
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