The new movie Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance is definitely one of the biggest and most anticipated Anime movies of the year. When I heard that Singapore would be screening the movie, I couldn’t wait to see unadulterated EVA awesomeness on the big screen.
…and now that I have watched it, here are my thoughts, feelings and analysis of the movie.
Of course, there will be SPOILERS!!! For my spoiler free review click here.
So where do I begin? Well, instead of going for the chronological review, I’ll be organizing my review by the points that I would like to address instead. Masugu GO!
First of all, the Animation. Fluid 2D animation combined flawlessly with gorgeous CGI really gave a whole new life to the series. The first movie already showed off the quality of the CGI, this movie really used it to its full potential, especially with the Angels and the fight scenes which I’ll talk about later. However, let me just say that the epic fight sequence at the beginning with Mari and the Angel just blew my mind and set the tone for the entire movie. Another thing that I thought was a nice touch that was also seen in the first movie is the usage of CGI models in the NERV displays.
With regards to the character designs, I’m not too fussy, so no complaints or comments about them.
Asuka was the first character that I was really looking forward to seeing when I first heard about this new movie series. Being one of my favorite characters, hearing her say ‘Anta Baka?’ in the Cinema was simply too awesome for words. As for her character, she’s the same fiery red headed tsundere that we all know and love despite her change of name from Sohryu to Shikinami. Her characterization was really well done and I dare say much more well handled than the TV series, mainly because they hint in greater detail and display her ‘I don’t need anyone else’ more explicitly. This is best shown in the fight scene with the Eighth Angel (Sahaquiel). Her confidence in herself and stubbornness nearly backfires when her first shot at the Angel core misses its mark. She only makes it with the help of Unit 00.
Asuka’s relationship with Shinji was explored even further in the movie. We see her try to cook a meal for Shinji, getting jealous of Rei. Exceedingly moe/kawaii. Sadly she was MIA in the second half of the movie, but oh, well.
Yes, yes… I’m all for the TEST plug suit.
What a big improvement. She actually has some personality this time! Keeping her cool, quiet and composed persona, Rei shows numerous instances of emotions and independence. Her attempts to make a meal for Shinji were cute and the little scenes where Shinji interacted with her really helped to bring out the best in Rei. Something that I loved was when we found out that Rei was a vegetarian. Although this was stated in her bio, I don’t think it was mentioned in the TV series. Once again, a nice detail that fleshed out her character even more. Whatever the case, her determination to make a bento for Shinji and to organize a dinner to get Shinji closer to his father showed off her caring and, dare I say, moe side that was seriously lacking in the TV series. One final touch that showed how much she cared for Shinji (‘loved’ as Asuka put it) was when she kept Shinji’s tape player by her side. Rei did sacrifice herself in the original TV series, but this time, it was so much more poignant and obvious that Rei felt something for Shinji. I actually felt for her. Had she been portrayed this way in the TV series, she might have become my favorite character instead of Asuka!
She even defended herself from Asuka’s slap this time round, instead of taking it face on like she did in episode 22. This little scene encapsulates her character change/evolution from the original series so well in such a short time.
…and that brings us to Shinji. Shinji is well known as the gutless, spineless and possibly most well known pussy in Anime history. NOT ANY MORE! It surprised me greatly to see that in the final battle, he decided to risk his life, and through his own determination and will, save Rei. Nice to see his character evolve and grow instead of staying the same. Once again, the relationship that Shinji and Rei have for each other is so much deeper and well fleshed out. Other than that, Shinji was pretty much Shinji in the rest of the movie.
She’s the new character that everyone has been talking about. I found her to be a very amusing character that I suppose will play a bigger role in the future films. I felt that she was the happy go lucky genki girl. At first, I was slightly skeptical of her character, but at the end, she warmed up to me so much that I will even go as far as to say that she is now up there along with Asuka and Rei as an Honored Eva Girl. Her personality really shined at the end with her stepping in brazenly using Eva 02 and becoming all bestial. After that, I was all for Mari. Again, there hasn’t really been enough of her for me to fully get a grasp of her personality, though from what I’ve seen, Mari is definitely all right in my books and might be even my favorite new character from the movie series. (Yeah, well… She’s the only one so…) What really surprised me was how well she fit in with the rest of the characters. Knowing that Asuka, Rei and Shinji are characters from the 80s and Mari from the 21st century, she didn’t feel out of place at all.
More on her actual role in the plot. From what I gather, she’s from the US Nerv HQ going to Tokyo’s Nerv HQ for reasons still not revealed. The world of Evangelion was again expanded as we got to see the American Nerv HQ. This goes back to the whole basis of the movie, adapting and expanding the Evangelion Universe.
…and she says ‘Nyaa’. Come on. That’s epic.
Last but not least, the mysterious Bishonen, Kaworu. Still, nothing much from him, except some shots of him on the moon, looking beautiful. I suppose he pilots Eva 06 as well. Can’t wait to see him play his part in the next movie.
– Side Characters
For the side characters llike Touiji, Misato, Ritsuko, Gendou, etc… I don’t really have much to say about them. To me, nothing really significant has changed with their characterization. However, it is possible that there are some details I have missed. I’ve only seen the movie once after all. (^.^;)
They also weren’t featured all that much in this movie either nor were any histories really explored or revealed, except for Misato’s past which was briefly shown and hinted at through an abstract interpretation of the Second impact. I don’t mind at all as I suppose more time will be devoted to them in the following movies, as did the original series.
– The Evangelion Units
The titular cyborgs of the movie, the Evangelion units never looked this good… Or kicked that much ASS! Let’s go through them one by one:
– Unit 00
Well, nothing much to say regarding 00, except that it gets EATEN. Its blue color scheme was never used either. In my opinion, this is for the better as that translates to one less figure I’ll have to buy. (^.^;)
– Unit 01
The star Evangelion unit of the movie. One of my first observations when it came to Eva 01 was that Yui was never mentioned explicitly to be residing in the Evangelion unit. While it was hinted at by Ritsuko, in the final battle, instead of Yui saving Shinji, he enabled Eva 01’s Awakened State by himself, though his seat did turn into blue flame. I kinda liked the original’s idea of ‘Yui is protecting Shinji’ but I like the movie’s portrayal as well. Hopefully, this will be discussed and explored further in the later movies.
A parallel to to Episode 19’s Beserk Mode (Synchro Ratio 400%), the Awakened State = Neo’s awakening from the Matrix. Invincibility (super powerful AT Field), the power to fly and project energy blasts from its eyes. Unit 01 even had the ability to generate an arm out of pure energy and materialize energy blocks. All this coupled together with a sweet neon orange highlights and Angel Halo and you’ve got the definition of epic staring you in the face. I absolutely love the whole Awakened State and believe that it did the original Berserk mode justice and kept the feeling of ‘Eva’s Awakened. Pwnage now’. However, this time, since Shinji was in control, the Eva’s actions were more controlled as well. Gone is the bestial carnage of the original. That brings us to Unit 02.
– Unit 02
The updated look of Unit 02 is great. Some people didn’t like the ornamental piece on its head, but I do. To me, the head piece gives Unit 02 a more regal and menacing look that enhances and improves on the original design. It was great to see the Unit 02’s new weapons and tech such as the dual Progressive Knives, Jet Pack and Cross Bow, but what really left the greatest impression on me, and I suppose everyone else, is the introduction of Eva 02’s Beast Mode.
Completely out of left field, I’d say that 02’s Beast mode is the closest thing to Eva 01’s Synchro Ratio 400% Beserk Mode from the original series. As said above, Unit 01’s Awakened mode was far more controlled. In contrast, Eva 02’s beast mode was well, beastly. Great job by the animators/director in conveying the raw, unbridled fury of Eva 02 through the limiter pylons exploding from its body and the whole Venom (Marvel) esque mouth & teeth.
One other thing that I absolutely adored about the whole beast mode was that it showed the closeness of the bond that the Evangelion unit and its pilot shares. In the original series, sure we knew that the Nerve Clips, LCL and plug suit made the pilot synchronize with the Eva unit to enable the pilot to control and execute fine movements through the Evas. This connection is so close that the pilots feel the pain of the Evas. However, in this whole scene, Mari’s every movement was mirrored by the Eva. We could also see the corruption of Mari through the fantastic little tweaks to her facial expression. Great scene that was wonderfully executed.
…and just because this picture is so cute.
– Unit 03
Eva 03 served exactly the same role it did in the original TV series, however, this time, it was piloted by Asuka. I’ll get into that later on, but the only major difference is that it’s ‘corruption’ nature was expanded with it growing extra appendages to make it look more inhuman and alien than it already was. Of course, it also started to corrupt Eva 01, which it didn’t do in the original series (It only corrupted Eva 00’s Arm).
– Unit 05
The provisional unit with the most unique look out of all the Eva Units. Ever since I saw it in Revoltech form, I was pretty curious. While the movie did do the Evangelion Unit justice in terms of action sequences, it was destroyed and never seen again after the first battle, ala Demolishor from Transformers ROTF. Not really sure how I feel about its destruction, but I didn’t care much for it from the start anyways.
– Unit 06
First seen in the trailer at the end of Evangelion 1.0, it’s appearance was just as brief. Seeing only glimpses of it as it was being built on the moon, Eva 06 made a full appearance only after the credits rolled to stop the third impact by impaling Eva 01 with the Lance of Longinus.
– The Angels
Following in the footsteps of the Evangelions, the Angels themselves received a significant overhaul in terms of design, function and bad-assery.
– Third Angel – Skeleton Thing
The first completely new Angel we see. Since it appeared in the first scene of the movie, it really set the tone for the rest of the film, assuring the viewers that they were in for a completely new ride, while keeping elements same as the original. This is definitely more evident with the later Angels, but it was really refreshing to see a new Angel. Great design that complements the other-worldly and bizarre look of the other Angels of the series. Do note that Sachiel, the Third Angel of the original series, is now the fourth, as mentioned in the first movie.
– Seventh Angel – Spider Clock Thing
The spider like look is definitely carried over from the Ninth Angel, Matariel, of the original series. Other than that, it is once again a completely new angel that seems to have a very mechanical, clockwork design, what with it’s ticking bird mask and pendulum bob. The addition of the bird like mask was another nice touch. Destruction wise, it did a great job of being very imposing and threatening mainly due to the expressionless and emotionless nature of the Angel. CGI wise, there’s nothing more to say other than, good. The mechanical structure was presented very well, especially when it reconstructed itself.
– Eighth Angel – Space Bomb Thing
Based on the tenth Angel, Sahaquiel, the movie’s interpretation of Sahaquiel has it become more menacing and imposing than it was, as hard as that is to believe. This was helped tremendously by the CGI, adding a level of intricacy, bizarreness and mystique to the Angel that the original lacked. Talking about intricacy, the entire scene also had much more detail and fuss as to how they were going to ‘catch’ the Angel. Overall, this contributed to the sense of scale that was lacking in the original. Other than changing its design, a face with hands was added to make Shinji’s/Eva Unit 01’s job of holding the Angel up harder than it already was. Turning in to Lance of Longinus esque things, the Angel really did a number on Unit 01’s hands. I do believe that because it was made of a mystical weapon the Angel was able to hurt the pilot physically, instead of just causing pain (ala Asuka’s injuries in the End of Evangelion).
– Ninth Angel – Corruption Type Thing
Everything I said about Eva 03 applies here as well, as they are pretty much one and the same.
– Tenth Angel – Thing of Utter Pwnage
My absolute favorite Angel of the series, I’m happy to say, get’s the best movie treatment. Zeruel’s original design was great and I’m so glad that it was the Angel in this movie that most closely resembled its original counterpart, the changes that were made to its design only added to its awesomeness. It now has entire body made out of steel fiber arms, allowing it to be more ghostly, deathly and soulless. In terms of powers, aside from the eye blasts and steel body, it now has the ability to project super-strong AT Fields. Yup, not just one, but layers upon layers of them. One’s not enough for the Angel of Pwnage. Elements of End of Evangelion’s Lilith were incorporated into its design as well, but I’ll talk more about that later on in this review.
– Action Scenes
What more can I say that hasn’t been already conveyed in words in the previous sections? Amazing, magnificent, outstandingly, well done action scene after scene that kept me on the edge of my seat. Again, scale is the key word here. What the original series had, this movie kicked up 10 notches. Well, also, since they are action scenes, you really have to see them for yourself. It is a visual media after all.
– Interesting Observations
Now, I would like to take some time to talk a little about some of the plot points of the movie. While I have already discussed some of these above in previous sections, there are some really interesting little observations that I would like to point out and bring up for discussion, especially with regards to the differences between the movie and the original TV series.
– Improvements and Homages
The first movie was, frankly speaking, nothing more than a re-do of the first. Sure it was flashy, pretty and a fantastic fan-wank that got everyone interested in Evangelion again. This movie, however, delivered on director Hideaki Anno’s promise of being a bold new re-imagining of the franchise. Indeed a re-imagining. Many things from the original series were re-used, but aspects were changed and new elements were brought in to keep the most ardent Evangelion fan delighted.
– Asuka X Beer Cans
A nice little scene that had absolutely no need to be included, but I’m so glad they did. Remember how in the original series and the first movie, we had the little comedic scent where Misato removed the beer can that was covering Shinji’s privates? Well, the same scene was repeated, this time with a straw covering Asuka’s naughty bits. EPIC WIN.
Will it be Mari’s turn next movie?
– Re-Shuffled Scenes
Many other scenes were straight from the TV series, such as Misato overlooking a flirting KajiXRitsuko and Gendou and Shinji visiting Yui’s grave were in the movie as well, but they were shuffled around. For instance, the Gendou and Shinji scene was in Episode 15 of the original series, but was one of the first scenes in the movie.
– Notable Scenes
I did mention this above in Rei’s section, but the slapping scene between Asuka and Rei in the lift was perfect as while being a scene taken straight from the original series, it changed it slightly. But this change was great in illustrating the differences and bold steps that the movie takes away from the TV series.
The last improved scene I would like to mention is Shinji’s temper tantrum after the battle with Unit 03. Instead of sitting idly in the cage, Shinji actually takes the Evangelion unit and stomps on the GeoFront, King Kong style. Originally, Shinji didn’t feel like much of a threat, but in this movie, he actually used the Eva to stomp on the building, increasing his credibility and the overall tension and seriousness of the moment. I do believe that this is one of the few times that we see any of the Children do what they want to do with the Eva and not for the sake of Nerv.
Continuing on, Unit 01 was actually seen physically resisting the Dummy Plug as it strained in the holding cage. Just another little touch that had so much more visual impact.
– Original Music
Another thing that the movie didn’t disappoint in was re-using the kick-ass music from the original movie. Imagine my delight when ‘Normal Blood’ (you know, Dum dum, dum dum dum, dum dum, dum dummmmm…) was used when Evangelion Unit 01 Awakened. The buzz that came off me was simply immense. Not only was ‘Normal Blood’ my absolute favorite BGM from the original, the fact that they used it at the climax instead of during all of the instances the Evangelion went beserk heightened the awesomness, impact and anticipation. I shed a tear. Seriously. A MANLY TEAR.
During Asuka’s introduction, music that sounded like ‘Both of You Dance Like You Want To Win’ played in the background. Very apt.
The battles, especially the one with the Bomb Angel, again was a great homage to the battles in the original series. As discussed above, nothing was really completely changed, but simply improved and expanded.
However, this movie knew when to be nostalgic. The battle with the Tenth Angel was kept, nearly frame by frame, identical to the original series including the Eva 01 heroically stepping in to save everyone and Gendou getting sprayed with the blood of Unit 01.
– The Red Sea
A huge addition to the new movie series that was only hinted on, but blatantly pointed out in this one, is the Red Sea. Having read a number of opinions and discussions about the Red Sea, I’m inclined to agree with the theory of the ‘Circle of Life’ in that life repeats itself.
We’ve seen this before in shows like Megazone Part 3, but it would be really interesting to see how it is all tied together. If you are still unsure as to what I’m talking about, let me explain:
This whole Movie-Verse could be a continuation or ‘re-set’ of the Evangelion world after the events of ‘The End of Evangelion’.
Not only does the Red Sea hint of this, but other things do as well. For instance this outline in the ground:
could possibly be one of the MP Evas that fell back to earth, judging from the elongated head and posture. What do you think?
– Asuka, Unit 03, Mind Rape and The Dummy System
A whole new spin was taken on the battle with Unit 03. Instead of going out together with Asuka and Rei, Shinji is all that stands between Nerv and Unit 03. Speaking of Asuka, she’s the pilot of Unit 03 this time. Many details from the original were re-worked into this one particular battle. Eva 01 gets corrupted instead of 00 and Asuka’s mind rape happens during the corruption of Eva 03 instead of later on in the series. It was a clever way to rework Asuka’s mind rape earlier into the series, but boy was I surprised.
The Dummy System was modified as well to physically ‘take over’ the pilot in the more literal sense of the word. A device covers Shinji and obscures his view and ‘hands’ take the controls. This adds more to the visual aesthetic of the Dummy System and intensifies the inhuman nature of the system. However, the one thing that I kept wondering about is how did Shinji know what was going on?
Green and black is a great new look for the Dummy Plug.
– Elements of ‘The End of Evangelion’ (Rei, The Tenth Angel, Unit 01’s Awakening and the Third Impact)
I’ve talked about how elements were reworked and scenes combined with other scenes for the new movie. Well, the end of the final battle was one big homage to the End of Evangelion, what with the Tenth Angel’s Lilith-like assimilation of Rei and Unit 01’s Awakening. Did I forget to mention that Unit 01’s Awakening was the beginning of the Third Impact? It really perplexed me at first as I kept asking myself how it would progress from here. If the world ended, what was there left to cover in the subsequent films?
All my doubts were answered by my favorite weapon of the series, The Lance of Longinus (I think). Descending from the heavens above, Unit 06 impales Unit 01 to stop the Third Impact in its tracks. Biggest anti-climax of all time? Yes. Was it annoying? Hell no. It was definitely stunning, but for some reason, it all just seemed to flow and I had absolutely no qualms about it. I thought it was much better than waiting for 2 – 3 years to find out what happened.
I’m not a music aficionado by any standards, but I did immensely enjoy the soundtrack to the movie. What stood out to me the most was the music at pivotal scenes of the movie. Soft, cheerful, childish music played during the climactic battles (Dummy Plug/03 and the Final Battle). The juxtaposition was simply too overwhelming. Not only were the scenes made more poignant, the music actually increased the visual impact of the scenes and made them seem more horrific, grotesque and creepy than they already were.
– Problems With the Movie
Now. Why wait until the end of the review to talk about the failings of the movie? Well, simply because there isn’t any. Really. This movie was just that good. If I had to go out of my way to nitpick some issues, I’ll say that the main issue I had with the movie was its pacing.
The Evangelion movie was based on a TV Series, thus, the movie felt episodic in nature. It was Battle, Character Development, Battle, Character Development, Battle, Character Development and Battle. It wasn’t as jarring or deal-breaking as it sounds here, but it is an inherent problem with movies that adapt themselves from TV series and this was evident in the first movie as well. Nothing much can be done here I suppose.
Another possible drawback is that the movie definitely has an appeal to Evangelion and Anime fans. I don’t think it will go over so well with soft-core fans or those who are new to Anime. Tons of little details and nuances could and would possibly fly over their heads. If you want to take someone who is new to the series to this movie, make sure he/she watches the original, or at least the first movie, first.
– Third Movie Trailer
As with the first movie, the trailer for the next film was placed at the end of the end credits in a classic ‘Next Episode’ fashion, music and Misato’s narration and all. I won’t talk about it too much, but boy, does it get me hyped up for the next movie.
In conclusion, I really want you to know that while I tried to deal with as many things as possible during the course of this review, I have barely scratched the surface of the movie. There is so much more depth to it that can only be conveyed via watching the film. Character interactions, voice acting, scenery, settings and more, all were just done inexplicably well.
Overall, I say that the movie is a superb and solid addition to the Evangelion franchise that, contrary to many fan’s original worries, does justice to the original series. But hey, even if you are one of the few out there that actually disliked the movie for whatever reason(s), you’ll still have the original, so don’t fret too much. As for the rest of us, Evangelion 2.0 is a solid Anime film that shows just what Anime is capable of. Telling a story using the most absorbing, influential and impressive medium of them all, visual media.
The movie felt longer than it was. This effect is usually attributed to a bad movie, however, Evangelion 2.0 was just so engaging, so enthralling and so mind-blowing that time/space seemed to stop as I was thrown into the wondrous world of Tokyo-3.
With a rich plot, gorgeous animation, kick-ass action sequences and savory fan-wanks, this movie is a masterpiece of animation that must be seen by all Evangelion fans, new and old. I can’t wait for the next one.
Will it turn out like this:
Only time will tell. But I’m SO looking forward to it.
Total (Not an Average): 5/5
Well, this has been a long review. If you have seen it, do feel free to post your thoughts on the movie, my review and whether you agree or disagree with me. (^.^)
All pictures sourced from Gelbooru.