Honestly, how many times is ADV going to release Neon Genesis Evangelion? I get that it's a popular series and if you haven't watched it yet then there quite frankly isn't any hope for you, but can the market really sustain reissue after reissue? Apparently the answer to that question is "Yes" because here we are once again looking at the complete epic show.
If you're a fan of the series and own one of the previous editions then you're probably wondering if ADV's latest is worth the upgrade. It really depends how fanatic you are about the show and what versions you already have in your collection. This set takes the original 2004 Platinum Edition release and packages the volumes into thinpak cases inside a simplistic silver tin. Bonus features from the individual volumes have been included here which is definitely a nice touch but apart from that there's nothing different compared to the previous Platinum collection. However, if you happen to be one of the few that has never owned this show before there has never been a better time to pick it up.
Originally released in 1995, this 26 episode science fiction series took the anime world by storm on both sides of our planet. Over ten years later it stands as a testament to the medium and helped put Gainax on the map as a producer of fine anime. There are few shows as deeply cared for as Evangelion and to this day you'll still find cosplayers aplenty at conventions and figures littering store shelves.
As popular as it all was, if you have watched it then you know that taking the 26 episodes as is proved frustrating towards the end. After all, an additional ending had to be produced in the form of a film in order to allow viewers to make sense of it all. That's one of the only things missing from ADV's collection though understandably so because the rights belong to another publisher.
Evangelion is an apocalyptic mecha tale that features a relatively complex story and many religious references. In the year 2000 an event that came to be known as "Second Impact" rocked the world. Essentially the event melted polar ice caps and killed most of the world's population but there were more sinister things at work as one might expect. What transpired that day wasn't know to the general populous but the fact of the matter was that this event was triggered during an experiment with something called an Angel.
Fifteen years later we see a much different world where Angels are attacking human cities and conventional warfare seems to be a moot point thanks to the power of the creatures we face. A government agency known as NERV was created to counter the onslaught of the Angels and thusly the Evangelion (Eva for short) unit was born. An Eva is a towering bio-mechanical creature that connects with its pilot and allows for proper combat against the Angels. The kicker here is that no regular person can pilot one of these things and in the end it comes down to a group of kids to do all of the fighting.
The first of these young pilots we meet is Shinji Ikari. To say that this kid has some issues would be an understatement and as the show progresses it explores his mental capacity in ways that few animes have done with their characters. He's a richly developed character that you'll grow to care for during the course of the program though at first you may find his uneasiness a tad irritating. Whatever the case Shinji is actually the son of the guy in charge of the Evangelion project and as such he is drawn into it through various circumstances.
The other pilots Asuka and Rei are equally as interesting as Shinji in the sense that are developed to the nth degree. The three come together under duress and through NERV are forced to work together in training and in combat. The goal of this entire operation is to protect Tokyo-3 at first but as the show progresses undertones erupt and more sinister things begin to happen.
I don't want to divulge all of the details from this fantastic show to you in case you haven't watched it but I will say that few shows will get your brain working like Evangelion does. This is a series that makes you think about everything from the hidden meanings in conversations to mental nuances of its characters and even religious inferences. Plots and subplots race neck and neck throughout each episode and there are so many layers at work here that it requires several viewings in order to get absolutely everything. Most everything in Evangelion is connected somehow and it's fascinating to discover all of the subtleties written into the script. Anime rarely gets as complex and heady as this one and I suppose that's the reason it stands as an inspiration to the rest of the competition.
From beginning to end Neon Genesis: Evangelion remains thought-provoking, insightful, intelligent, and haunting. It remains one of the most iconic shows to come from the 90's and to this day it's easy to see the impact that it had on the industry. The show is about as good as it gets and though the ending falters somewhat the preceding films more than make up for it. If you haven't seen this series yet then there hasn't been a better time.
If you only watched Evangelion the first time ADV released it then you missed out on a fantastic upgrade with the Platinum series. The publisher went back in for this transfer and spruced up the picture with sharper detail, less grain, more vibrant colors, and an all around presentation that truly brought the show to life like nothing before. I was amazed at the different between the two and though it's not completely night and day I will say that it's decidedly noticeable by comparison. Evangelion shines with the Platinum treatment which is quite the statement considering the age of the source material.
Another upgrade over the original release as far as Platinum is concerned is the inclusion of 5.1 Dolby Digital for both English and Japanese. The dubbing quality for both language tracks is fantastic with a lot of spot on performances and great emotional range. I used to prefer the English track due to the diversification on the soundstage but the remastered Japanese offering was too great to pass up. The sense of immersion is better all around and the action really fills the rear channels. Another feather goes into the cap of the Platinum Edition!
If you own the previous Platinum Collection release then you were undoubtedly bitten by ADV's policy of not including bonus features with box sets. Thankfully that's not the case with this release and each disc in this collection comes packed with bonus material that was featured on the individually released discs.
In total there are nine audio commentaries with members of the English cast. ADR Director Matt Greenfield appears in most every one of them along with members of the English voice cast and production team. The commentaries are a little more involved than typical anime inclusions and they actually extended the viewing of the show. I particularly enjoyed the final commentary on the seventh disc with Greenfield and Sean McCoy.
Each disc includes clean opening and closing animations and a selection of other features as well. Anamatics (crudely animated version) are featured across this set for episodes 9, 15, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, and 25. These particular features were nice to have even if they weren't informative or very interesting. A look at the English remix process is included on the third disc and the fourth offers Tiffany Grant's personal Asuka collection up for viewing. If you have always found yourself confused about some things in Evangelion don't worry, you're not alone. Thankfully a two part feature known as "The Mythology of Evangelion" has been placed here to help clear up some of the confusion and trust me when I tell you that it certainly helps.
Neon Genesis Evangelion broke the notion of what anime could be when it was released over a decade ago. The series pushed the boundaries in terms of how complex and thought-provoking an anime could be. Not only that but it included some well-developed characters and a boatload of action to fill in the blanks. It's a classic series that absolutely must be watched despite the fact that it somewhat unravels towards the end. This Platinum Collection is more complete than the previous ones and is a tempting upgrade. I would say that due to the asking price of this reissue that newcomers will get more out of it but if you're a fan and you missed out on the individual Platinum discs with bonus feature this is a great opportunity to get them!
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!