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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Neon Genesis Evangelion: Perfect Collection
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Perfect Collection
ADV Films // Unrated // April 9, 2002
List Price: $169.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Earl Cressey | posted September 21, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my all-time favorite anime series. Released originally in Japan in 1995, the series ran twenty-six episodes. In May of 2000, ADV released the first of eight volumes that comprised the series on DVD. More than a year later, the final volume was released, and earlier this year, the entire eight-volume set was introduced in a more affordable package dubbed The Perfect Collection. While much of The Perfect Collection is identical to the original releases, even down to the annoying ADV trailers before the main menu, there are some differences. The first volume was re-mastered and both the first and second volumes received new DVD inserts so the spines would match the other six. Extras remain the same, and are spread across the collection.

In the year 2015, the battle for mankind is waged between deadly, bio-humanoid, combat mechs known as Evangelions (or EVAs for short) and the other-worldly and mysterious beings known as the Angels. After the 2nd Impact in 2000 that wiped out over half of the world's population, the EVAs were developed in secret to battle them should they return. The EVAs were built by NERV, a covert agency under the control of the U.N., though they can only be piloted by special children who are able to 'sync' with them. When Rei Ayanami, the 1st Child, is seriously injured when fighting an angel in Unit 0, Gendo Ikari, head of NERV, sends for his son, Shinji. Shinji is a lonely, confused, insecure, and frightened fourteen year old, in part because his mother is dead and his father seemingly abandoned him at an early age. When he arrives at NERV, he is told to pilot EVA Unit 1. Now Shinji must face his fear and his father, though he isn't alone in this quest. Helping him are fellow troubled teens, Rei, who pilots Unit 0, and Asuka Langley Sohyru, the 2nd Child who pilots Unit 2. Together, and with the resources of NERV, they must defeat the Angels in order to save what's left of the world.

Neon Genesis Evangelion, is, in my opinion, one of the pinnacles of anime. That's not to say its perfect or without fault; however, it deftly mixes high-tech action, awesome mecha battles, searing drama, stunning animation, religious symbolism, a well-thought-out story, and fully realized characters to produce one of the most thought-provoking and interesting anime series I have seen. It would be a disservice to delve much more into the intricate plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion, so instead, I'll briefly mention what I feel are the flaws in the series. First, and most notably, is the oft confusing, debated, and somewhat bizarre ending that occurs in the final two episodes. While it has grown on me over the last few viewings, it was rather disappointing to many fans, and to appease them, a new conclusion was released theatrically, titled, End of Evangelion. Second, Shinji is a tad too whiny in a few places, though remains mostly likeable throughout. Third, the fan service, while a welcome relief from the drama occasionally, is mostly distracting. These are, admittedly, minor concerns with the series, and by no means should prevent anyone from experiencing Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Video:
Neon Genesis Evangelion is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. While the original release of Volume 1 had considerable macroblocking and a general hazy look to it, the re-mastered version, included here, looks significantly better. While a different company than those who handled the first authored the other seven volumes, video quality is very consistent between the eight. The transfers boast fully saturated colors that are solid and vibrant throughout. Blacks are likewise solid, though some grain and compression artifacts occasionally appear in a few of the nighttime scenes. There is some softness and a faded look to several scenes, however. Some macroblocking is still evident, and there is also some line noise during transitions.

Audio:
Neon Genesis Evangelion is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in Japanese, English, French, and Spanish. The stereo track is solid throughout each disc, with crisp dialogue and no distortion or dropouts. The series also boasts some terrific music, especially the opening, and it sounds great. Optional subtitles in English are included.

Extras:
Extras include text profiles for the characters, angels, and EVAs, DVD credits, ADV previews, and ADV's weblink.

In my mind, The Perfect Collection is a misnomer, as extras that should and could have been included, such as clean opening and closing animation, aren't. While the inclusion of the text profiles is a nice bonus, they are lacking when you consider the more comprehensive and informative ones found on Manga's release of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth. At least the case is pretty cool.

Summary:
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deft mix of high-tech action, awesome mecha battles, searing drama, stunning animation, religious symbolism, a well-thought-out story, and fully realized characters that produced one of the most thought-provoking and interesting anime series I have seen. ADV has collected the entire eight-volume series in The Perfect Collection, which boasts a great audiovisual presentation for each of the twenty-six episodes, a few extras, and an attractive price point, especially considering the single volumes retailed for $30. Despite a few flaws, Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of several anime series I recommend highly enough to give it DVDTalk's highest rating: Collector's Series.

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