The Blu-ray most Region 1 anime fans have been waiting for has finally arrived! Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance has been released by FUNimation, and it's every bit worth the anticipation and hype.
FUNimation has released Evangelion 2.22 on both DVD and Blu-ray. Like the first film the quality of the picture and sound was far greater on the Blu-ray, but the quality of the film and extras are the same on both accounts. This edition features two discs: one with the main feature and the other with the bonus content.
Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance is a complex animated feature. It's not something that stands on its own, but in the context of the franchise it could easily be likened to Empire Strikes Back thanks to the tone it sets and what it does for the characters and plot. It's an integral part of the experience and it's decidedly darker than the first film, You Are (Not) Alone.
The second film begins in another part of the world where a lone Evangelion unit and its pilot are fighting against an Angel threatening to destroy the surrounding area. In a highly dramatic flourish we are introduced to newcomer, Mari Illustrious Makinami. Mari is without a doubt one of the best additions to the franchise. She's unbridled violence and all sorts of kick-ass wrapped into a cute girl with glasses. She's basically that aspect of Asuka's character from the original TV series, just split into a separate person.
Shortly after Mari's introduction, we get a glimpse at Asuka her self as she's introduced to new audiences. She's cocky, skilled, and violent, though more reserved and perhaps a little more fragile than we once knew her. She uses her abrasiveness as a defense mechanism to keep people from getting too close, but eventually she warms up to Shinji as the film progresses. That's a long time coming, however, though her burgeoning feelings are nurtured quite nicely in the context of the plot. Now, that's enough about the new characters for 2.22. What's actually going on here?
To summarize things without spoiling much, all I'm going to say is that the Angels are getting stronger in this installment, and their attacks are more relentless. They really press on and force the Tokyo branch of NERV to take on desperate measures. We also get a little about the history of the Second Impact, and events here lead up to a potential Third Impact by the end. That's pretty much it in terms of core plot, but it's the incredible detail in between that really creates the experience.
There's some amazing insight and developments in the characters here. Rei starts to go from cold-hearted to somewhat-cold-hearted-though-mildly-warming-up and we get some fantastic scenes that showcase that, as well as the reaction of those around here. The aforementioned characters of Asuka and Mari are all introduced with great fanfare, and there's a little intrigue regarding the boy on the moon we saw at the end of 1.11. We also get a look at what Misato the person she is today. The biggest character growth here absolutely has to be Shinji. He really matures here and it's tragic, yet admirable, how his father gets it out of him. From the beginning to the end there's an incredible evolution in Shinji's character and it really creates a bond between he and the viewer.
Aside from the characters, one of the biggest themes here is just how fragile and precious life truly is. There's a school fieldtrip to an aquarium that's attempting to rescue sea animals from the red water, and it speaks volumes to the way humanity is eking out an existence in the world's current state. Accepting death and fighting for life also come into play here, and they work wonderfully into Shinji's maturing. There's also the life of a main character put on hold, and the history of the Impacts really puts a lot into perspective.
Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance is a powerful and complex film. It's a movie that makes you think and it builds upon already established layers with each scene. It's a well-balanced piece that really pushes the envelope in terms of what you know about the characters and world. I loved it and I absolutely cannot wait until the next installment!
Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance is presented on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and comes with a full 1080p output and AVC MPEG-4 encoding. Like the first film in the franchise, 2.22 is simply gorgeous from top to bottom. Everything from the sharpness of the lines to the detailed backgrounds, vibrant colors, and rich blacks is meticulously crafted and presented here. Then again it really helps that the source material was strong to begin with. Animation is fluid all around and there really isn't a bad thing to say about the transfer. Okay, maybe there's a little banding at points, but that's it; and even that's hardly worth mentioning. A gorgeous looking film all around!
For audio Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance comes with English and Japanese 6.1 Dolby TrueHD tracks. Once again the presentation is spectacular. The sense of immersion, the presence on the soundstage, and all the little details in between really make for a powerful experience. The action sequences stand out the most, but ambient noise, atmospheric details, a solid soundtrack, and nicely focused vocals round out the show. Details are crisp, clean, and the use of LFE simply must be experienced. This is one of the greatest audio packages I've experienced with an anime before, and it plays second fiddle to no other.
For bonus features, this two-disc Blu-ray release offers up an audio commentary with the English cast on the first disc to coincide with the main feature. The second disc includes a remixed scene, some omitted scenes, Japanese TV spots, Train channel Spot, DVD and Blu-ray spots, the original Japanese trailer, and "Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02". Overall it's roughly 40 minutes worth of material on the second disc, and the "Rebuild" feature takes up the most of it. There's also a 20-page booklet included inside the case.
Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance kicked ass and I loved absolutely everything about it. Even in the downtime there was so much attention to detail that it's easy to spot stuff you missed the first or second time through. The action is over-the-top, the story is richly layered, and all around it's a fun ride that leaves you breathless at the end. It's worth noting that this film doesn't really stand on its own two feet if you haven't seen the first, but taken in the correct context it's absolutely amazing. Highly Recommended
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