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Why I also like Rebuild of Evangelion

Just when I said I was going to write about anime, real life again interrupted. I admit, I was also lazy, with a lot of my write-ups started with fire but ending up embers.

Rei_smile_(Rebuild)

Her smile makes everything all right

It’s been almost fourteen years since I’ve become addicted with anime. From the humble beginnings of Gundam Wing, I’ve managed to watch a lot of anime into my college years. In fact, I’ve even managed to insert some anime-watching during medical school! I’ll probably never get over my love for anime.

One of the earliest anime series I’ve watched was Neon Genesis Evangelion. While I didn’t like it as much as Gundam Wing or Elfen Lied, it was among the series that made me realize that anime was so much than children’s cartoons. In contrast to the faux-happiness of series like Pokemon and Monster Rancher, it felt realistic.

It was violent. It was, at times, horrible. But it was and is a mature series. Like many other fans, I fell in love with Rei Ayanami; like them, I cringed at Shinji’s indecisiveness. I also felt flummoxed at its ending.

When Rebuild of Evangelion was announced, I was ecstatic. I wanted to see a different Evangelion: I wanted to see an Evangelion made by a non-depressed Anno, and he didn’t disappoint. The second movie was perhaps the highlight of the series: Rei had become truly human, and one of the most enduring un-realized love stories between Rei and Shinji had suggestions of actually becoming reality.

The third movie, however, was an utter disappointment in that regard. I was back to the Third Impact. I was back to the struggle against even more powerful angels, and I was back to an emotionless Rei. But I was content with this Evangelion.

Why?

This Evangelion was more realistic. I couldn’t curse Shinji anymore because he no longer hid from reality. His animus was no longer a coward. He was afraid, but he fought to make things right, in the previous movie and in this one. This was much unlike a Shinji tossed around by the people around him. This was a Shinji, at least, who chose. Even if he was distraught and devastated at the end of the third movie, Shinji chose for himself. Ultimately, that is why I like this iteration of Evangelion. These are more similar to teenagers conscious with their actions and the repercussions their actions entail: Asuka remained angry at Shinji, but she wasn’t that embittered. Even when he went against her, she still tried to save him, and didn’t physically molest him.

Rei, on the other hand, even chose for herself despite being another clone. She chose to go against the Angels. The teenagers are no longer mere pawns: they are human characters, and that is why I also like Rebuild.

Evangelion 2.0: there is none more lonely than the man who loves only himself

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 love how Rei and Asuka react in this picture.

I love how Rei and Asuka react in this picture.

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.