Yes, you just read that right. The Evangelion series is actually getting rewritten and remade in the form of a planned 4 movies, the first 3 retelling the original story and the last one giving a more conclusive end and explanation to the series plot.
Evangelion 1.11 is a rough retelling of the first 6 episodes from the original series.
If you are not familiar with the Evangelion series but recognize the giant “robots” from plenty of pictures you’ve seen online, I will summarize it for you:
- The giant robots are actually synthetic beings
- Only humans bone with special traits can sync with them and drive them. This happens to be a group of kids that are 14 years old.
- Giant insane alien-demons keep attacking Earth/Toykyo #3 and a clandestine military group called NERV uses the “Eva” units to kill them one at a time.
- There is a big connection between the alien-demons, the Evas and mankind as a whole… but that is one of the best parts of the series so I won’t go into detail.
If you are a fan of the series, the only thing you are curious about is “How is this re-imaging of the series?” and the answer is “Excellent”.
There is a Japanese and English audio track. Much to my surprise the English audio track contains voice-actors so closely matched to the original Japanese voice tallent and so well performed that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Each of the English-voiced characters had the same tone, mannerisms and inflection that the Japanese-voiced counterparts did.
We also noticed an effort to more clearly communicate emotions or feelings in a “Western” way; with wording or behavior that was more apparent to me than the original series where I had a feeling some of the emotions (deep and conflicting) were lost in the Japanese to English-dub translations.
All your favorite actors are re-created here in sharp, high definition excellent with a smooth hand-drawn animation style with the occasional cell-shaded CG sequences mixed in very subtly so as not to detract from the movie or look out of place.
A few of the marketing pictures we saw for this movie before hand had us thinking that some of the Eva sequences would be CG, but we didn’t notice that at all. In all of the battle sequences the Evas all looked hand-drawn much like the original series.
Additional spit and polish we noticed went into the “data screens” shown during the movie; like computer terminals or the huge heads up display the control center uses during battle. There always seems to be pertinent information on the screen and it added to the fidelity of the movie.
Overall there does seem to be a slightly more adult tone to the movie, showing brief moments of nudity (see screenshot below of Rei) as well as paying a bit more attention to the implied developing relationship between Shinji and Misato which I thought was important in the original series and not ever acknowledged openly until the last episode or two.
Conclusion [8.5 out of 10]
Evangelion 1.1: You Are (Not) Alone is a dream come true for fans of the Evangelion series.
While the original series ground to a very odd conclusion due to budget (and other) constraints, the most recent reboot of the franchise shines like a bright star in the sky. The voice acting is fantastic, even the English actors voice work matches the same tone and pitch of the original Japanese actors making it feel fantastic. The animation itself is primarily the classic hand-drawn animation, done smoothly and short segments of well-disguised cell-shaded CGI merged into scenes to bolster the effects.
The entire presentation is great.
That being said, if you are coming into the Evangelion series for the first time, without all the baggage of being a fan bolstering it up for you, the experience is that of a complex-but-cool story and solid animation. The animation doesn’t blow you away like Appleseed: Ex Machina, but for hand-drawn it is crisp and colored well. The story, much like the TV show Lost, hooks you in by introducing you to complex and confusing characters right away. There are no episodes to sit through before you learn about SEELE or Lilith; you get that stuff in the first 30 mins, you just aren’t told who they are and what they are doing here.
Overall, if you are a fan, this is a 9 out of 10 and a “must watch” just to see the more coordinated and polished re-telling of the epic story. If you are not already a fan, you will think it is a very good anime, but some of the subtleties in the story (especially towards the end) may cause you to run over to Wikipedia after the movie is done and figure out what you just watched.