animefringe april 2003 / editorial
Do We Need Another Eva?

We should have seen this one coming. George Lucas provided filmmakers with the ultimate excuse to re-release previously completed films the way "they were supposed to be." I'm not really sure if that's such a good argument, because if a show needs to have the latest in audio and video technology in place to be considered "the way it was meant to be," then no movie would ever be complete. Every ten years, we'd need a new version of something previously released so that it could look the way it ought to look.

For better or for worse, the same thing that happened to Star Wars, E.T., and a number of other films from The Abyss to Beauty and the Beast is now going to happen to our beloved Eva.

So which is it? Is this going to be better - or worse?

In my mind, at least, there are two strongly opinionated sides to this issue. I guess there could be a third perspective - reserved for those who don't care a whit about Eva and wouldn't mind if all of the characters were replaced with talking cupcakes or if the Eva units themselves were repainted to look like heavily armored gigantic clowns.

However, I'd like to believe that there are at least SOME of you out there concerned with the fate of Evangelion. So...this column is for you guys in the concerned party.

So, on the one side, many of us have already watched the entire series and the movies as well as read the manga. Some of us probably bought a copy of Der Mond, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's artbook (published domestically by Viz). It's likely that more people own figures or model kits from the show than bought the artbooks, too. Heck, I'd wager a good percentage of our readers have even seen the dojinshi versions of the series.

With such a devoted fan base, doesn't that mean it's about time for more? The story of Evangelion is pretty much done - there aren't too many new directions in which it can go. But in our deepest dreams, haven't we really wanted to see more of Shinji, Asuka, and Rei? At least we want more of the latter two, right?

And let's face it, there are more holes in Eva's plot than in all the golf courses in Scotland. Hundreds of tiny details are constantly hinted at, but few things are ever explicitly explained. Isn't it about time that those damn writers told us what's up? It's been ten years since the show first came out, what's wrong with wanted to know what it was actually about?

Ah, but some would argue that the maddeningly complex storyline that leaves the viewers to plug the leaks is one of the series' most attractive elements. Every single person who's watched Evangelion could potentially have a different interpretation of the entire thing. Thanks to its loosely defined nature, the show is whatever a viewer wants to make it. Are you just here for the action? Check out those explosions! Is it the fan service that caught your eye? Then get a load of Rei, Asuka, and the bevy of other beauties frequently found in compromising poses. As I said above, some people are here only for the plot, and there's certainly plenty of story to go around, even if people have trouble connecting the pieces.

For all I know, even the classical music may attract some viewers. Pen-Pen may bring in penguin aficionados.

So, the problem here would be whether or not altering the storyline would change the entire dynamic of the series. Looking at many pieces of an incomplete puzzle, our brains can still form a coherent picture, even if it is an arguable one at that. But when enough pieces are given to let you finally see things as a whole, will "the truth" live up to our expectations? Or will the show degrade into an action-packed fan service festival with religious themes and a terribly entertaining penguin?

Once again on the flipside of the argument, there exists the possibility that the authors and artists that brought us such a great show the first time around will be up to the task of satisfying us again. They knew what was cool before, so how could they screw up their own project? As frightening as it is that someone will be messing with our Eva, perhaps it will end up better for the polishing.

On the other hand, the guns could be digitally replaced with walkie talkies.

I purposefully left this column open-ended, for I really don't have the answers to any of the questions I posed. For now, everything is up in the air save for the fact that Renewal of Evangelion is being produced.

When I finished taking in every element of Eva not too long ago, it took me some time to convince myself that there was no more. I had to work hard at filing the characters and story away in that section of my mind marked "all done." Sometimes, the best thing about watching a series or reading a book you know will have a sequel is your ability to imagine what wonderful things could possibly come next. Truly well written characters are the ones you can't stop thinking of, for long after you've turned off the television or closed the book, they remain alive and active in your brain. While I am fearful of what may come from this project, I'll admit that I'm intrigued by the possibilities.

I suppose I can't really support the remaking of an old series or movie, artistically. However, the fanboy in me is already scouring the web looking for a place I can reserve the new enhanced box set of the Renewal with a collectable Ayanami Rei figurine inside. As a critic, I'll remain wary. As a fan, I'll be counting the days until it arrives. Time will tell whether or not this is a good idea. In any case, Neon Genesis Evangelion just found a whole new way to be controversial.

Now that's the Eva I know and love.