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Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance(2009)
The second film in the four-part silver-screen remake of sci-fi anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance continues the familiar story established in the first film, while also reimagining the series with new characters and arcs. Picking up where You Are (Not) Alone left off, the second feature introduces two more EVA pilots - Asuka who moves in with Shinji and Misato and throws their world into further confusion, and new character Mari, a mysterious pilot from Europe. As the war against the Angels rages on, more light is shed on the true motives and powers behind NERV and Gendo Ikari and SEELE's secret project.
For more about Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance and the Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray release, see Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on April 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kotono Mitsuishi, Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Yuko Miyamura, Akira Ishida, Fumihiko Tachiki
Directors: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
» See full cast & crew
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray Review
They're baaack. And that's a good thing.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, April 16, 2011
If you've ever wondered what all the hype about anime is all about, there's probably no better place to start than with the phenomenon known as Evangelion. This multimedia avalanche of a project began with a much beloved television series called Neon Genesis Evangelion which soon erupted into all sorts of tie-in products, and eventually a revisionist film series, of which Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance is the second installment in a proposed four film set. Filmmakers have often returned to their original versions to recast them in "Director's Cuts" or some similarly verbiaged editions. But there has probably been nothing close to the "extreme makeover" the Evangelion cycle has undergone with these films. If Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone gave longtime fans a major twist or two along the way as it revisited the first half dozen or so of the original television series' episodes, it at least hewed a fairly straight and narrow course through the basic story elements the television series had set up; Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance on the other hand so drastically alters the Evangelion universe that the original source material seems like a distant religious text which has been reinterpreted for a modern vocabulary. And that's only fitting, as Evangelion is one of the most religiously obsessed animes in the entire history of the genre. Sometimes the allusions to the Judeo-Christian tradition are flat out obvious, as when attacks result in huge crosses of light which penetrate the post-Apocalyptic Tokyo sky. At other times, they're decidedly more subtle, and probably will be caught by only those with special "insider" knowledge, as when an overhead shot resembles the Jewish Kabbalistic Tree of Life. But as I mentioned in my review of Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, even those without any particular religious proclivities will probably catch the bolder statements this series offers in both the visual realm as well as actual plotlines. This is a series absolutely caught up with salvation and revelation, two age old tropes of virtually every religion out there. While longtime fans will probably be able to eke out more of the ins and outs of Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, as with the first revisionist film, newcomers won't be entirely left in the dark, as the film not only continues the Evangelion saga with a great deal of momentum, it actually works as a standalone film in and of itself, though some of its more subtle character moments will probably be lost on those not familiar with the labyrinthine Evangelion universe.
For those new to that selfsame Evangelion universe, again as I mentioned in my recap of the first Evangelion film, despite rabid fans' assertions that this series is by far the most innovative thing to ever hit anime, the truth is it simply revisits some longstanding anime tropes and recasts them in its own admittedly very distinctive mode. We're in a futuristic society (in this case 2015 Tokyo, which doesn't seem all that futuristic anymore) where society is reeling from the effects of an alien invasion, in this case gigantic robotic attackers known as Angels. Mankind's salvation (there's that term again) rests with the efforts of a shadowy organization known as NERV, which employs a bunch of teen fighters who operate huge mechas known as EVAs (pronounced with a long A sound on the first syllable). The first Evangelion introduced us to the troubled Shinji, a reluctant fighter whose father is behind a lot of the still unclear motives of NERV.
While Shinji is still front and center in Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, and in fact is arguably the character with the deepest emotional growth and "arc", this iteration actually starts with the introduction of an exciting new character, Mari Illustrious Makinami. Imagine every spunky teen heroine you've ever loved packed into one feisty yet basically adorable character and you'll have a good idea of what Mari brings to this franchise. She seems to assume some of the more combative elements of the original Asuka's character, but Asuka herself is here in all of her prickly glory, and in fact Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance does some very nice mirroring work here in showing how similarly scarred Asuka and Shinji are, though both deal with their insecurities in radically different ways.
While there are a number of fascinating revelations (there's that word again) along the way which will no doubt delight longtime Evangelion followers, this outing is less about plot than it is about character. And that's where this film excels, delivering unexpectedly nuanced work in a genre which is not typically thought of as being particularly deep, despite the genre's selfsame pretensions toward depth. But Evangelion has always been a notable exception to the rule. This is a project which manages to convey all the angst and torment of being teenaged within a completely distinctive context, and several characters here undergo rather interesting changes both from where they start in this film itself, but perhaps more interestingly for longtime fans, from where they were in the original television series. A couple of major characters have yet to really make their mark in this film franchise, but it's expected that they will come more to the forefront in the next two films.
Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance seems actually more relevant than ever in our troubled times than the original television series did a decade-plus ago. This relevance bears some surprising emotional fruit throughout the film. We see the ecological destruction surrounding these characters, a destruction that seems eerily prescient of what Japan is going through right now after earthquakes and tsunamis that some at least are claiming, rightly or wrongly, are tangentially related to Man's boorish treatment of His home planet. But Mankind itself is shown to be both endangered but resilient in Evangelion, and that may be both the television series' as well as the films' greatest strength. Evangelion manages to introduce a very real feeling emotional content within a decidedly outrÚ setting, and that dialectic is what gives the Evangelion universe its very visceral impact. It's not hard to understand what all the hype about anime is all about when you delve into something as rich and rewarding as Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance.
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray, Video Quality
Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance blasts onto Blu-ray with a brilliantly sharp and colorful AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This is one of the nicest looking anime Blu-rays we've yet been offered, with a really nice combination of CGI and traditional cel animation. The disparity between the two kinds of techniques is artfully handled, but some may find the hand drawn elements to be lacking in the "wow" factor that the CGI elements display. As with the previous Evangelion film, this offering fairly erupts with bright color and some really gorgeously rendered lighting effects. Effulgent streams of light are almost volcanic at times throughout the film, and there is a really sumptuous array of gorgeously saturated colors utilized throughout.
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I'm a little bit torn about which audio track to recommend to first time viewers of Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, but the good news is, whichever you do choose to listen to, you're going to get a bombastically fun audio ride courtesy of two lossless Dolby TrueHD 6.1 tracks, one in English and the other in the original Japanese. The issue with the Japanese is that there is a wealth of background "noise", as in supplementary levels of dialogue (almost like in a Howard Hawks film) which is simply not dealt with in the English subtitles. Also, some of the characters attempt halting quasi-English on the Japanese track (don't ask me why), and it can be quite difficult to understand them. For that reason, I'm leaning toward recommending that you stick with the English dub, which is really rather artful, for your first excursion through Evangelion. That way you get all of the multilayers of information, especially within the bowels of NERV. Later, you can go back and experience the original Japanese track and not feel like you're missing anything. One way or the other, both of these tracks are absolutely a whirlwind of surround activity, with boisterous LFE erupting from the subwoofer and a virtually nonstop array of effects populating the surrounds. While the mix is intentionally quite busy most of the time, clarity is never sacrificed in either mix, and dialogue is always presented cleanly and crisply. One niggling complaint for some may be the at times obtrusive and really rather anachronistic score, which at times at least doesn't really seem to support the onscreen action.
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
For the record I have seen some sites promoting this as a two-BD set, with most of the extras on a second Blu-ray. The review copy I was provided with featured everything on one Blu-ray, and from what I've been able to ferret out online, there's nothing missing on this one disc version.
Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Evangelion is one of those rare enterprises that not only lives up to its hype, it actually exceeds it a lot of the time. While this series, both in its original television incarnation as well as these filmic revisions, may not be as innovative as the franchise's most ardent fans insist, there's no denying that in the long run that really doesn't matter as much as the intriguing characters, knockout action sequences and incredibly complex plotlines. This second Blu-ray release in the proposed four film set once again offers stunning image quality and exuberant sound design courtesy of two great lossless tracks, and this release is most definitely Very highly recommended.
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Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Anime Blu-ray Wave from Funimation in February-March - November 18, 2010
FUNimation has revealed its Blu-ray slate for February-March 2011, with a dozen titles. They include two eagerly awaited anime movies: the second Evangelion feature, Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance, and Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars, previously only available ...
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