Sunday, September 20, 2009

Movie Review: Evangelion 1.0

In this first of four movie adaptations of the groundbreaking Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, we are (re)introduced to Shinji Ikari, a youth thrown into the middle of an apocalyptic conflict between humans and "angels" -- strange giant, um, things that keep appearing to attack Tokyo. Ikari's father is part of NERV, an international effort to deal with the angels.

According to the Wikipedia description of the film, these movie revampings of the series are supposedly going to clear up any of the many murky, confusing points from the original TV series. Well. The art in this movie is great. The story is intriguing. But if anyone thinks this movie clears up anything from the series, then they're using some pretty powerful drugs. I've seen the original series, I've read most of the manga of the series, and now I've seen Evangelion 1.0. Not without reason, I think I am a fairly intelligent adult. And I am still mystified.

The basic story of young man thrown into the chaos, piloting a giant robot to fight mysterious opponents, is easy to understand. It's the story of Mobile Suit Gundam, after all. Add in the story of Shinji trying to reconnect with his imperious and mysterious father, the attempts by the alienated Shinji to make friends with his peers, and a humanity struggling to re-establish itself after some giant disaster, and you get a story that can be quite rich and, well, understandable.

In the hands of the Evangelion crew, however, it goes who-knows-where. It's worth anticipating Evangelion 2.0 (already trumpted on the cover of the Japanese edition of Newtype magazine; see photo). But I'm beginning to wonder if, like Twin Peaks, I'll keep watching episode after episode of this story, expecting it to be understandable by the end episode, only to realize when I get there that the people making it aren't interested in clearing up anything. If it turns out to be as incomprehensible as the manga and original TV series were, then it will be a big disappointment.

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