Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone – Review
by Miguel Douglas on January 27, 2010
Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone is the first installment in a 4-part film series known as the Rebuild of Evangelion that reimagines the story first told in the critically acclaimed anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Covering the material from the first six episodes of the TV series, the film opens with 14-year-old Shinji Ikari as he arrives in Tokyo-3. His mother dead and his father painfully distant, Shinji is lonely, quiet, and wracked with torturous self-doubt, but Shinji’s arrival in the city signifies his chance to prove himself as one of the teenagers chosen to pilot an Evangelion, a mechanical cyborg that is the only line of defense against the monstrous beings known as Angels.
Following the first six episodes of the TV series, Evangelion 1.0 will seem familiar to those accustomed to the original series. In fact, for the most part, Evangelion 1.0 is exactly the same as the original series in its basic construct. We see almost a shot-for-shot comparison for a majority of the first half of the film, minus the subtle changes that many diehard fans of the original series may or may not take notice of because they’re so minor in appearance. This might seem disappointing to many viewers considering that they are essentially viewing the exact same material they saw years ago, just improved through the use of technology and animation techniques. While the subtle changes are hardly noticeable during the first half, the mid-to-later half of the film is where Evangelion 1.0 departs from the original series quite drastically, while still maintaining some resemblance to the original.
The slow unveiling of the true changes made throughout Evangelion 1.0 is all but made obvious during this latter portion of the film. It’s here that fans of original series will take note of the striking differences that separate the film from the series—but also introduces the potential for discomfort amongst longstanding fans of the original series. These additions and alterations to what basically amounts to a reimaging of the television series could swing towards a favor of like or dislike for fans of the original series, especially viewers who believe the original series was fine the way it was and did not need such changes.
Fortunately, the chipping away at to reveal such changes throughout the film are handled with care, and this is in consideration of the actual changes themselves. The changes are, for the most part, not so obtrusive to the original story that a viewer will feel as if they’re watching a completely new take on the series. In fact, a majority of the changes are just visual adjustments that elaborate upon specific scenes already established in original series. There are some crucial ones that are revealed towards the latter half of the film—the ending undoubtedly being the highlight—that will affect the course of how the sequel will play out, but Anno doesn’t allow too much information to be dealt that could ultimately diminish the quality of this film being able to stand on its own.
As for the actual structuring of the film, the compression of nearly six episodes into an hour and a half feature is bound to leave scenes out. Evangelion 1.0 can’t escape this, and some of the character development found in the series is completely absent. Other scenes shown within the original series are at times slashed, replaced and even omitted at times. While this is obviously used in consideration of the running time, it doesn’t allow for certain things to digest as extensively as the television series did. Fortunately, the story should be understandable to those who watch this and haven’t seen the original series. Judging the lack of development of certain characters now would be erroneous considering how the future films within the series will further improve on that lack of development—or even if they will address it at all—will remain to be seen. I say this mainly because of my predisposition with the original series, but the story is completely understandable in the context of a viewer’s first exposure to Evangelion being this film.
As for animation in Evangelion 1.0, it’s astonishing. This is probably one of the few animated films that successfully blend both CG and traditional animation without distracting the viewer. Gone are the days of the original series with their repeated scenery, character attire flaws, and usage of still shots. The significant increase in budget has no doubt helped the superb talent at Studio Khara in addressing many of the animation issues found in the original series. In consideration of my above comments addressing the shot-for-shot comparisons, it’s great to be able to witness some of the more important scenes in the original series with improved animation. Besides this obvious change, the extended final battle is absolutely gorgeous, and the animated differences viewed in other scenes make the film all the more better visually. One of the better qualities within the film is the extension of the final confrontation scenes—the increases in expository sequences during this segment are fascinating and truly showcase the depth and scope of the creators.
As for the music, those familiar with the original series will feel right at home with the soundtrack used in the film. It was composed and arranged by Shiro Sagisu and was performed by the London Studio Orchestra. The rearrangement of most of the original tracks is superb, especially some of the newer selections that really give Evangelion 1.0 that superior sound quality that is very much appreciated in a cinematic form.
Overall, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone presents itself as a necessary step in getting the Rebuild series off the ground. While some will surely complain that it’s too much like the original, some will find no problem with the comparisons and in fact take it as a complement to how great the original series was. The limitations that were established in terms of animation—and in Gainax’s case, budget—found in the original series are all but gone now to due to the incredible increase in animation, sound quality and technical prowess that has occurred between the ending of the series and now. Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone will definitely bring about nostalgia for fans of the original television series, but it’s also a film that should appeal to viewers who aren’t familiar with the source material. While not entirely original in its execution, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone is still a great introduction to a potentially fascinating film series. It’s too early to speculate further on the matter, but if this film is any indication of what’s in store, the Rebuild film tetralogy is off to a very promising start.