Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022! This NEW segment dives into the films of the hit sci-fi franchise.
The first epic film in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy sets the groundwork for an entirely new story to come.
God, I love this film.
For the longest time, this movie was not only my favorite piece of the Evangelion franchise, but also my favorite film in general. It came to me at a time when I was at a low in life, and the rewarding sensation of unwrapping the plastic of the Blu-ray immediately after finishing The End of Evangelion for the first time remains one of my most cherished memories. It retells Shinji’s origin leading up to the intensely charged fight with Ramiel, and I remember reeling in the surprises that the Rebuild was setting up for this new groundwork—the different numbers for the Angels, Misato’s showing of Lilith to Shinji, the world eroded by mysterious damage (presumed to be fallout from EoE, but more on theories later), and the crimson sea that now covers the Earth. If you go straight into Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone. from NGE (like I did then and always do now), you’ll find yourself in a world freshly redesigned—yet still charmingly Eva.
However much of a masterpiece I still think this film is, I have resigned to the fact that, compared to the films that follow, the pacing errs on the slower side. (And that’s really saying something, given that only ~20 min of content are cut from making this a 1:1 rehash of the first FULL 6 episodes!) Really, I only notice it lagging when I’m watching it with other people, specifically right before and after the fight with the now designated “5th” Angel fight. (My consciousness wanders to overthinking about others’ own perceptions . . . does this happen to anyone else?)
All of the prep work leading up to the climax remains stellar, though. Watching the lights fade across Japan as the ludicrous amount of heavy machinery whirls away to the faint purple aura of the night is truly a sight to behold. I like Eva when it obsesses over technology like that. You definitely can tell where Anno has left his mark, as 1.11 especially is saturated in his signature style. Cloaked in the darkness, Misato and Ritsuko pray that the operation goes smoothly, and Shinji and Rei share a unique exchange with one another. The rest, then, is history—but not before Anno decides to make Shinji muster his courage to fire that positron rifle a second time. He’s already shaping up to be more heroic than NGE ever allowed him to be.
As the start of Shinji Ikari’s new theatrical story, 1.11 harnesses all of the cherry nostalgia and glowing fondness that I still cherish from my first experience with Eva in 2015. In fact, it was the striking logo of the film that initially caught my attention so many years ago, the title itself shrouded in curious mysticism. I’m forever thankful to 1.11 for inviting me to Shinji’s world.
By the way, for the EVERYDAY EVA, I decided to pursue the recently distributed English dubbed version on Amazon Prime since it’s the only version of Eva that I’ve yet to watch through in its entirety. My initial thoughts? Not a huge fan. Misato is more chipper than ever (which could be a plus for many), but everyone’s dialogue comes across as awkward—no thanks to Khara for sending the dubbing team their uber stilted script. Still, it’s the reality we must unfortunately face. I still dream that Funimation would snag the final film and complete what I personally find to be THE best dub (casting and scripting) of Eva, but with their licenses to the other films not being renewed—PLUS the entire company shifting around with all the Sony/Crunchyroll business—I’m not sure it’s even feasible anymore. At least most of the old dub crew is back in the cockpit one last time.
The plot picks up significantly in Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, which is somewhat ironic given the title. “New” characters are introduced, including Asuka, Kaji, and a strange pilot from NERV’s Euro branch, Mari. Shaking up Shinji’s life, their combined presence ushers in what I like to call the “true spirit of Eva.” More action, drama, and mystery await, as well as several novel departures from the classic story we know and love (or hate—I won’t judge). Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!