It's been between 6-7 years since the original Aquarion anime aired. It's hard to match the original in any situation, but after so much time has passed, it's damn near impossible with it happening very few times in media (T2 and Aliens are a couple of good examples), Evol has a lot to live up to, so how does Aquarion: Evol stack up against the original?
On the planet of Vega, The organization of Neo-DEAVA train young men and women called Elements to become the planet's protectors from it's sister planet, Altair. Altair's female population was wiped out by a mysterious disease called Curse of Eve. Their race comes to Vega in hopes of abducting their women, looking to preserve their own race. In Neo-DEAVA merging between 3 individuals is something the soldiers do to make a stronger mech and go against the Altair forces, however it is strictly forbidden for male and female to merge (and when they do it's apparently the equivalent to sex.) To make sure the two genders do not merge(out of fear of the Aquaria becoming Aquarion), they have erected a giant wall between the monastery where the women live and the base camp where the men live and train to become soldiers, prohibiting any contact between the two. They have even given the mecha safeguards so the two genders are not able merge.
With that said, Aquarion: Evol Takes place 12,000 years after the events in Aquarion. Since then the events that happened in the past series are considered myths, to the point that a movie was even made based on the events of the finale of the first season. It's here that we that we meet our two lead characters.
Amata Sora (voice of Christopher Bevins) is a boy who has always loved a movie called "Skies of Aquaria." So much so that he landed himself a job at the last theater that still shows the film. After a showing of the film while he is cleaning up the theater he meets Mikono Suzushiro (voice of Brina Palencia), a girl who also loves the film. Amata works up the courage to talk to her and ask her out, Amata and Mikono head out into the city to get to know each other a little bit more, but their date doesn't last long. While they are chatting about the movie on a boat ride, giant inter-dimensional mechs that are called "Abductors" attack the city. The only weapon mankind has developed that is capable of stopping the Abductors is a mech called the "Aquaria." Completely against his will, Amata ends up accidentally taking over one of the Aquaria with along with Mikono. In the process of this happening, Amata accidentally merges the Aquaruia with another female pilot and it becomes the Aquarion.
With the safeguards up, the Neo-DEAVA forces obviously want to know how Amata did what he did, so he along with Mikono are enrolled into their respective groups. The only problem is, the wall separating the two genders is no more. So the hormones between the two groups are at an all time high. Taking advantage of the situation, the forces allow for the men and women to merge since the stronger the emotion, the stronger the Aquaria.
During the course of the last set we were introduced to the character of Mykage (voiced by J. Michael Tatum), the lead antagonist for the series whom stayed in the shadows for the majority of the previous box set. While being from Altair, he doesn't particularly care about it's survival, his true motivations for waging war against Vega is to uncover the buried Aquarion beneath it's surface, becoming a godlike figure with unlimited power.
Part 1 ended with the death of a friend at the hand of Mykage and his attacking army. The first part of this box set is spent mourning the character (something I don't completely understand as he betrayed literally every lead character in this show.) While Amata and friends mourn his death, his killer, Mykage, uses Jin's death to rally the Altair army into action all while hiding the fact that he is the true cause behind Jin's death.
After the funeral of Jin, Fudo orders the remaining elements to be put through a harsh training exercise which involves being buried underground. While this training exercise takes the toll on all involved, Mykage takes advantage as Kagura finally follows through with his plan of kidnapping Mikono. As Amata desperately searches for Mikono, Zessica ties to take advantage of the situation, continuing to try and grow closer to Amata, eventually confessing her love to him, insinuating that they're the modern reincarnations of Apollo and Silvia, thus being destined to each other. As this relationship develops, Andy and Mix continue to develop as well, confessing their love to one another, eventually Mykage takes advantage of this situation as well, kidnapping Mix, sparking further rage from our heroes.
With the final battle closing in, Mykage takes further steps in his crusade to finding the legendary Aquarion and becoming a god of the world, while Amata, Andy, Zessica, Shrade, and all of the other elements head to Altair to save Mikono, Mix and to put an end to Mykage once and for all.
I should probably state that Evol is not a direct continuation to the original Aquarion. However, to fully enjoy Evol you will want to have watched the first series. There are some references to Aquarion, and some cameos from some of the original characters, although it shouldn't be too hard for someone to follow the series had you not seen the original.
+ The performances from the four leads, Bevins, Palencia, Grelle, and Tipton, whom portray Amata, Mikono, Andy and Mix, remain consistently strong.
+ While the way things wrap up are an overall disappointment (for me), The final few episodes leading up are solid.
+ The relationship between Andy and Mix is one of the redeeming features to the series. After seeing the trials the two continue to go through throughout the series makes the development feel real and actually give us something to root for.
- While the relationship between Andy and Mix actually feels real, The relationship between Amata and Mikono feels hollow with no real advancement. While you know the two will end up together, as they're "destined" for one another, but the entire thing feels completely forced.
- The relationship between Amata and Zessica. Zessica pretty much stalks Amata. Again, the viewer already knows that Amata and Mikono will end up together, so why do they spend so much time trying to put these two together? This was the worst part of the series for me.
- Filler episodes.
Video and Audio:
The animation quality can be hit or miss in Evol. The action scenes are absolutely beautiful... stunning even, the level of detail of the Aquarion's is easily enough to warrant a four star rating, the palette is simply stunning. The backgrounds are heavily detailed as well. With such a beautiful show, the character designs are a letdown. While each characters design is quite unique, they're just rather dull. The close up shots are decently drawn, but the faraway shots are not well detailed at all, with some characters at times not even having faces.
The audio options for are a TrueHD English 5.1 dub track and a TrueHD Japanese Stereo. Like usual I watched the English dub and I didn't particularly love it. So if you're more of a Japanese audio fan anyway, I'd recommend viewing it that way. There were no issues with any distortions or dropouts throughout the box set.
- Episode 15 commentary with Christopher Bevins and Talesin Jaffe. Bevins is the ADR director for the series as well as the lead character, Amata, whle Jaffe plays Kagura.
- Episode 26 commentary with Christopher Bevins, J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass. Bevins is the ADR director for the series as well as the lead character, Amata. Tatum portrays the lead antagonist, Mykage, while Glass handles Zessica.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- Japan promotional videos.
- U.S. trailer.
- Standard FUNimation trailers.
While the first series is no real winner, Aquarion: Evol manages to an overall weaker show. Amata and Mikono are by no means terrific lead characters, most of the time they're actually quite annoying, as is their relationship. The saving grace to the series is the development of the side characters (particularly Andy and Mix) and the superbly done action sequences. The first half of the series shown us some promise and potential, but sadly the second half, for the most part, squanders it. For the series as a whole, Rent it.