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Evangelion begins again. Using the plot of the original anime series, writer/director Hideaki Anno decided to take the story of Shinji Ikari as he’s summoned by his elusive father to join the NERV program and pilot the Evangelion Unit-01 against the seemingly ever coming Angels and take it for a modern technology spin. However, unlike the recently rebooted Ghost in the Shell, he didn’t go for a simple CGI overhaul on select scenes, he opted to start it all from scratch with many of the original TV show staff and even the original voice actors.

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.
Despite being a massive Anime fan during its nineties explosion, I somehow never really found my way to the original Neon Genesis Evangelion. I was aware of it, I liked the style of what I saw and recently I really liked the concept designs released from WETA when Peter Jackson was toying with giving the franchise a whirl. So the release of Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone seemed like a fine place to start. Bring on Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance.

From the get go, I had a grin on my face. Mainly due to the Anime/Manga storytelling technique of introducing us to a school boy and expecting us to go along with the idea that he’s simply going to get into a giant mecha suit and go to battle with some invading menace. Y’know with no training and almost no self confidence, it's totally possible. Of course, loving the genre, I let this slide as I always do and within twenty minutes Evangelion was off and running with massive explosions, battling giants and a thinly woven back story about what all this NERV stuff was actually for.

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.
As the story progresses we’re given more nuggets as to why Shinji Ikari is such a messed up kid and why his feelings about being an Eva pilot are so conflicted and really this becomes the heart and soul of the piece. It’s not particularly subtle (hey it’s anime) but it counters well with the huge task he’s taking on protecting Tokyo-3 and somehow makes the closing scenes a little more personal, despite giving us very little detail to fully understand the character or indeed the situation with the invading Angels.

With a cliff-hanger setting us up for the second instalment (that’s not really that exciting), Evangelion proves to be worth the hype it’s built up over the years. I wouldn’t say it’s the finest example of the genre but it certainly has a solid story idea with plenty of avenues to go down and for this newbie, I’m more than willing to see where the NERV program goes next and to see if Shiniji can get that hug he desires from his dad (hell even a passing glance would be a start!)

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.

Video


Well this won’t be a long segment. Essentially the transfer here is near perfect. Everything you’d want from an Anime release, with an incredibly clean and bright image, colours that explode out of your screen and small touches like screens glowing or explosions rippling or even glints of light bouncing off of water surfaces all sell Evangelion as a piece of high end animation.

Evangelion is a Blu-ray that shows off the HD format and Anime beautifully, and after watching this disc my appetite for some more discs of the Japanese art form has risen. I was besotted with Miyazaki’s Ponyo Blu-ray recently and thought my only concern would be getting the rest of his work in HD but now I want more giant robots and mecha suits blasting up my screen too. This really resparked a past love affair and really that’s the biggest praise I can give to Evangelion and its visuals delights.

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.

Audio


The 6.1 Dolby TrueHD isn’t exactly an atom bomb of brute force, but it’s got it where it counts and with the many, many, many large scale explosions and giant size mechanics roaring through the big moments there’s lots to enjoy.

At its most dynamic the track takes full advantage of the speakers, Evangelion v.s Angel ripping through the front speakers, devastation in one rear speaker, army orders barking over tannoy systems in another, it all kicks off nicely and with the use of the seventies/eighties action cartoon score filing in the rest, everything feels balanced and well thought out.

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.
Elements of the track sometimes suffer with some sound effects placed a little too well in a specific speaker and making the overall effect feel a little fake but this can be the case with a lot of animation and those brief moments take nothing away from the track when it’s working well. Generally Evangelion provides an impressive track that handles subtle atmospherics in dialogue scenes as well it does explosions that make Michael Bay look like he’s playing with matches.

Extras


Frankly, I found this area of the Blu-ray a little underwhelming. There are a couple of animation reels ‘Rebuild of Eva’ both running at 1080i for about sixteen minutes each, an ‘Angel of Doom Promotional Music Video’ (1080i 02:20), ‘News Flashes’ (00:52) which are just text (and not very exciting at that) and three trailer type affairs called ‘Beautiful World’ (1080i 01:36 each).

There’s no explanation of the history of the show, no insight into the reboot/reimagining/rejig (whatever they call it) and it's disappointingly that nothing really amounted to anything remotely memorable or interesting.

 Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone.

Overall


Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone (man that title sucks) is a fine first entry into a franchise that has a lot of history. Despite having a story that left me in the dark for more than a handful of the key plot details, it gave me enough to fill in the blanks myself and threw me enough visual treats to totally get on board for the ride. The characters are generally good, the action well presented and the disc itself looks and sounds incredible. It’s just a shame the features are pretty worthless. But hey, it’s the first movie of a planned four, so there’s always room for improvement in that area I guess.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.


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