Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion-part 5 and a half: TV ending and Death & ReBirth

This is a bit of an odd post this time 'round, as I actually wasn't planning on talking about this part of the series. However, I am an hour and a half away from seeing You May (Not) Advance at my local cinema, so I figured to get in the mood, I'd rant about Eva on my blog. So, here we are.

First, some history. Both the TV ending and D&R (not to mention the director's cut episodes) are basically a product of Studio GAINAX running out of money halfway through production, making it necessary to replace the epic conclusion Anno had in mind with a new, funky ending made entirely out of reused footage. However, as you can imagine with the most popular anime of all time, the fans REALLY wanted to see the real ending, and as we all know, anime fans always get what they want. And so, the outlandish masterpiece End of Evangelion was produced, made with such care and patience that they needed to produce a clip show recap, Death & ReBirth, to keep the fickle public interested. Anyway, they exist, so therefore I better say some stuff about them.

TV ENDING (Episodes 25-26)
Quickly cut animation sprinkled with philosophy and random words flashing past the screen. If you love Evangelion as much as I do, you are likely to be drooling at the moment. I know I am. Joking aside, this is really great. Though it's annoying how this whole thing lacks any context with the rest of the series (Uh, is instrumentality happening? Did it already happen? Why were the big robots important again?), it can very much be said that this is what made this show unique, if not what made it great. Lots of vibrant imagery and characterization is at play here. However, I take issue with one thing.
It is the happy ending. Part of the reason this is here in the first place is the TV ending's fundamentally different portrayal of The Instrumentality Project of unifying all the souls (Movie = be alone, TV = be with others) but that does not change the fact that a happy end contradicts the very nature of Evangelion's narrative. The whole moral of this story was that life can be harrowing, life can be terrible, but life is still necessary. Seeing everyone smiling while stating "CONGRATULATIONS!" just cheapens everything. And why is the last shot of Penpen? I mean, we all love Penpen, but he does not deserve those final moments! I feel terrible... :)

Death & ReBirth
OK this is a clip show recap, and some work-in-progress footage of End of Evangelion. That's is, guys. The editing's good, I guess. Cover art's nice. Death and rebirth is a major theme in Evangelion, so that's there. But really, since I am not a Japanese otaku in 1996 waiting patiently for EoE, there is nothing here. Don't fall for Manga Entertainment's cruel trap of advertising this as part one of two in the conclusion of Evangelion. Ignore this.

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