Monday, September 03, 2007

Evangelion Rebuilt

My lack of internet savvy and my excess of not paying attention to things led me to miss the fact that one of my favorite bits of media, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is being relaunched.

But let's turn back the page.

[Disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on Evangelion here, i'm just relaying my experience].

For those of "you" not in the know, Eva (as its known in short) was a 26 episode anime series capped off with 2 movies. Its an incredibly difficult show to explain, so I'd recommend hitting wikipedia's entry or something. It involves teenagers, twentysomethings, robots, the military, world government conspiracy, angels, angst, apathy, longing, sex, judeo-christian mythology and the apocalypse. You know that feeling as a moody kid that the world is ending based on your problems? This makes it happen. What I can tell you is that that the show and movies were a mindf*ck. Its also incredibly popular and apparently a multi-billion dollar industry.

In my incredibly losery freshman/sophomore years, I spent hours at anime clubs around the different universities in town watching the series til the end of the series, then the first movie "Death and Rebirth". See, the end of the tv series made no sense whatsoever. Lots of happy music, dreams, death and still shots. The director of the series, Hideki Anno, was not a popular man in Japan after this. Like death threats unpopular. So the "Rebirth" was the first part of a second attempt at the end. The End would be in the second movie.

The End came for me on the floor of the now-closed Anime Crash in Harvard Square. They arranged a viewing of "End of Evangelion", after someone snagged copy from Japan which had been hurriedly fan-subtitled (thank god these are MIT/Harvard nerds). I left the store after it had finished and stumbled into the night, walking back to Northeastern in a daze.

Now, many years later, I hear that a four-part movie series called "Rebuild of Evangelion" ( will relaunch and re-end the series. The first part may have actually been released in Japan. My eyes are peeled.

For now, all I have are trailers. These highlight many of the virtues of the series. The music featured in the series, such as opening and ending themes, are pop songs which contrast sharply with the darkness of the characters and events. The new opening theme song, "Beautiful World" by Hikaru Utada is a wonderful slice of j-pop. I did say "j-pop" so if you cannot appreciate sugary pop, then yr not going to like this. Of course, you can only go so far. The newly remixed version of ending theme, "Fly Me to the Moon," is just too awful. The understated original, which i was already on the fence about, was much more palatable. The morose mood and pop combination succeeded (for me, at least) to make the events even more poignant. When things are going pear-shaped, having a positive tune in your head can make you pretty wistful, pleading with you to keep moving forward.

Other elements featured are the attention to detail focused on what would usually be background objects. Desks, stairways, glasses, rain, powerlines, etc. Even shots where rain is gently falling on silent military equipment is just too beautiful. A street full of traffic can make you feel utterly alone. An escalator provides the only movement capable of being had.

Yeah, it makes no sense. But what a series, I hope that this "Rebuild" can provide the same amount of bewildered emotion.