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volume 3 issue 8

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12 home / august 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth DVD
Bilingual DVD
115 minutes
Hideaki Anno
Production I.G.
Kadokawa Shoten
TV Tokyo
Manga Entertainment
A nice recap and teaser, but little more than that.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth DVD
By Adam Arnold

The first of the long sought after Neon Genesis Evangelion movies have finally arrived and fans couldn't be happier. Evangelion quite simply ushered in a new era of anime, and still to this day, stands as one of the most highly debated series ever.

Starting as a 26 episode TV series from the depressed mind of Hideaki Anno (who later did His and Her Circumstances) and the animation studio Gainax, the series quickly gained both a fan following and a lot of press coverage. But, when it came time for the series to conclude, the final two episodes were told almost completely with production art, scrap cells and stock footage from the point of view from inside Shinji's mind. Some fans liked the conclusion, but the vast majority of hardcore fans felt betrayed and demanded something more.

That something more came in the form of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion. While both films are split into two parts each, Death and Rebirth is ultimately just a teaser for the real revelations to come.

The Death section of the first movie is an interesting, non-linear look at the events of the first 24 episodes of the TV series. Starting with Misato and the Second Impact, the movie goes through all the key players of the series and tries to pull together the narrative of the series into a coherent tale with some new footage and some of Region 2 TV series director's cut footage added in for good measure. This recap serves as a refresher course for fans of the series, but will likely just confuse anyone who hasn't experienced the series all the way through. In fact, the nauseatingly violent and carnal Eva 01 scene looses a lot of its punch in this movie but makes a bit more sense.

This bit of narrative retelling is set in continuity. The framework of the Death segment is set up with Shinji, Asuka, Rei, and Kaworu all practicing and tuning a series of string instruments before a rehearsal at school. So, technically this takes place in the middle of episode 24.

Now, moving onto the Rebirth part. Simply put, this section is little more than an ultra-violent teaser for what is to come in the first part of The End of Evangelion. Consisting of roughly the first 30 minutes of the next movie, this portion shows Shinji's descent into depression, due to the choice he had to make with Kaworu, and Asuka's sudden realization that she does matter. But, the simple fact is that everything is too late. The angels are dead, and Seele wants NERV out of the picture, so they send in soldiers to make sure no one survives. Senseless death, bloodshed, and mindless violence ensue in one of the most graphic pieces of animation out there. But, it all ends in a cliffhanger. Ultimately, however, the cliffhanger doesn't matter, because the first part of The End of Evangelion known as Air, aka the new episode 25, has the entire Rebirth section of the movie seamlessly put together with continuation.

With all that said, this DVD essentially only has a recap and a teaser, but it's still worth checking out. There are some nice DVD extras added in as well. Set up as a double-sided DVD, the first side simply contains the film in both Japanese and English with the choice of only sign translations or sign translations with dialogue subtitles. The other side of the DVD contains the film in English only with the option to turn on a special Makuji Interactive feature that brings up a menu on the bottom portion of the screen that gives instant access to words definitions and character bios throughout the film.

There is also a nice photo gallery and a series of English and Japanese movie trailers along with a rather spoiler-filled preview of The End of Evangelion. The Makuji interactive database can also be brought up from the extras menu and is loaded with facts from the now famous Evangelion bible known as the Red Cross Book. What really rounds out the disc is a fun audio commentary that features Amanda Winn Lee (voice of Rei and the lady who did the script adaptation), Jason C. Lee, and Taliesin Jaffe. It's a rather hilarious commentary to listen to that, at times, really helps to shed some light on some of the more obscure things in the film, the challenges of finding people from the TV series dub, and the problems associated with doing a Dolby 5.1 mix. I personally found myself really interested with some of the facts that Taliesin throws out that really serve to highlight how meticulous this show really is on so many levels.

When Manga announced that they would be retaining a large number of the original English voice cast, they undoubtedly were doing it to please all the fans of the original dub. Issuing a series of movies with entirely new voice casts would have undoubtedly caused fans of ADV's dub of the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series to not get the full effect of the movie. All the key lead characters and a lot of the supporting character voices are back, and I must say that after watching the movie dubbed that all of the original voice actors emulated their original roles perfectly. It's like there was never a time gap at all.

Still, not everything is all sunny in dub land. The one problem that this dub faces is in the supporting cast department. The voice of Makoto Hyuga, the NERV tactical operator, is by far the most out of place and poorly acted. The acting for this character is distracting because of slurred words, and over-enunciation is prevalent and just out of place for this guy. It actually got to the point where I was just hoping that one of the soldiers would shoot this guy and put him out of his misery.

The other voices, such as those of Kaji and Kaworu, take some getting used, to but are in many ways superior to their TV series dubs. Touji's voice is a decent choice, but the dialogue he uses doesn't retain any of his trademark accent. What I am very pleased with, however, is the choice to give distinctive accents to the Seele members. For any viewers of the TV series, the voices for these characters were often high or deep pitched and failed to have any accents at all. This recasting actually helps to show the international nature of Seele in this instance.

There are a few script changes that are for the better from ADV's TV series release that should be noted. The first of these is the fact that Kaworu calls the human race "Lilim" in the Death recap instead of "humanity." This is an important change since it was the actual word used in the Japanese script and actually helps the plot make a bit more sense. In fact, overall, the translation for this movie is actually closer to the original series than ADV's release.

Even the most fanatical of Eva fans will be happy over some of the script changes, and this change bodes well for the next movie. The only thing is that they have to wait until September to enjoy the conclusion.

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