The original TV series of Evangelion was one of the few anime series I rewatched (I actually watched it three times). I personally don’t think it’s the best anime ever, but I do believe it ranks up there. Despite the complications and the complexities of the plot, especially elevated during the final two episodes, I was able to appreciate it as a moving character drama within an intense and eminent science-fiction series.
I did not like how it ended; End of Evangelion placated me a little bit more with regard to the TV ending, but there was still something missing. I still wanted more, despite everything.
Of course I was extremely delighted when it was announced, back in 2006, that a re-imagining of Evangelion was in the works. It was to be called Rebuild of Evangelion (very apt title), and it was to be shown in four movies. I did not expect anything much from the film series: I knew that it was much easier to fail than it was to succeed, and even more so with a series hailed to be among the best ever made. I was pleasantly mistaken: the first movie was a most impressive beginning, and it closed with a very positive note, clearly delineating the difference between the TV series and the film: this time, Rei was human.
I was eagerly anticipating for the second movie to come out, and often checked certain indexers for it. I am glad someone told me to check another indexer, because despite being a cam-rip, the sound was good and the subs were relatively OK: I finally was able to find a copy of the movie, which, despite being shabby, was good enough for me.
I won’t do a piecemeal summary of the film, seeing that a lot of you can watch the film more clearly and with more quality in certain theaters in your place, but I will give general statements about the film in general. First, the film’s animation and art are top-notch in every sense of the word. Even with just the cam-rip I was amazed at how the film was constructed; I believe the feeling will even be more intensified when one is in the theater, enjoying it at the quality it was meant to be shown. Second, the film, in my personal opinion, has a lot more soul and humanity in it, and this is because Asuka and Rei are no longer philosophical representations, but were designed to be thinking and feeling people. Asuka remains to be her hot-headed, headstrong self, while Rei remains to be reticent and reserved, but a lot of difference as regards their characters can be seen: Rei actually treasures Shinji, and evidences this in a most kind way; Asuka is no longer the young angry girl, but the girl who tries to deal with her circumstances. Third, I think Mari, despite despite her short stint in the film, is a good character who actually represents, in my own opinion, the normalcy among the pilots. Whereas Shinji deals with unwillingness, Asuka with anger and Rei with silence, she tries in her simple ways to fight the EVA and enjoys doing it without any emotional snags to her. She attempts to cope with her lemons, and tries to make lemonade.
Finally, and I believe this to be the reason why the film is so much better compared to the original, Shinji grows balls, a heart, and humanity that is extremely visible throughout the film. He still deals with the demons of his father’s abandonment, and his willingness to be loved, but the climax itself revolves around the transubstantiation of his humanity into something transcendent: he decides to no longer wait and be appreciated by his father, but to live his life in his own shadow and with his own decisions. He shows his appreciation and kindness to his co-pilots, they reciprocate in their own ways to him, and this gives the movie a gentility and a humanity I was hard-pressed to find in the original series.
The film was excellently made. I still have yet to see Summer Wars, but I would unequivocally say that Evangelion 2.0is one of the best anime of the year, and probably the best film, if not second-best.