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Neon Genesis Evangelion - Genesis Reborn (Director's Cut, Episodes 24-26)

ADV Films // Unrated // March 9, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted March 25, 2004 | E-mail the Author
The Shows:

Neon Genesis often appears on people's list of their favorite anime shows.  I know it's in the top 10 for me.  This was a ground breaking show that took the genera of Mecha anime seriously.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (or Eva for short) started out as a typical mech show.  A young boy pilots a huge robot and fights alien monsters.  But over the course of the series, the show changed.  Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the tone of the show altered.  It grew more serious, and less carefree.  The mood became much darker.  Near the end of the show the program dealt with the death of a main character, depression, and suicide.

As the show went on, the characters grew too.  They evolved from two-dimensional caricatures into fully fleshed out characters, with all the weaknesses and insecurities associated with real people.  The pace of the episodes increased.  The show kept getting better and better.  I was sure it was building to a great climax!

Then came the last two episodes.  After seeing the end of the series, many fans, myself included were left scratching our heads.  "Just what the heck was that?!?"  We could be heard muttering.  The end did not wrap up all the loose plot threads.  Instead it was two episodes of weirdness that didn't make sense to a lot of viewers.  The reaction ranged from disappointment to rabid anger, for the most part.

Now the creators have gone back and reworked the last six episodes of the series.  Though it is labeld as a 'Director's Cut,' they did more than just re-edit the programs.  They revised the shows and added new animation to make the story more clear and less ambiguous.  ADV has released these six episodes on two DVDs.  This is a review of the second DVD containing episodes 24-26.

In the first episode on this disc, we get to meet the mysterious fifth child, Kaworu Nagisa.  He is to be the newest Eva pilot, since Oska is no longer fit for duty.  Kaworu is a good pilot.  Too good.  The tests they run on him come back impossibly high.  What the other pilots struggle to do he seems to accomplish without even trying.  Where did this odd boy come from and why is he so accomplished?  These questions along with Kaworu's fate will all be determined in this episode.

Episodes 25 and 26 are really one show split in two.  After the events with Kaworu in the previous episode, Shinji is about to have a breakdown.  But Shinji's father has been plotting and schemeing this who time, working toward an ultimate goal.  Will his plan come to fruition?  And if it dies, will he end up remaking humanity, or destroying it?

So, how do the new versions compare to the originals?  Is it worth the upgrade?  The short answer is that story wise, these are an improvement, that every Eva fan should enjoy.

The last two shows make more sense.  Things are not crystal clear, and there are a lot of questions that are still unanswered, (at least in my mind) but with this version you can at least see what the creators were attempting, and understand the conclusion of the show.  There has been extra dialog and scenes added to the last pair of episodes that explains what is happening to Shinji.  The problem with the presentation of the original last episodes was that there wasn't a handle to grab on to.  They solve that here, for the most part.  They give you a slight frame of reference through some new title cards, and that is enough to figure out the puzzle.

Make no mistake; the last two shows are still confusing.  You'll still have to ponder a bit, but there is an answer lurking amidst the odd events.  Though it is still not the perfect ending to the series, at least it is an ending I can now understand.



The DVD:

One of the nice things about this DVD is that it contains both the original episodes and the director's cuts.  That makes this disc the definitive edition.  If you don't like the new edit, you can always watch the original version.

Audio:

The show was presented in stereo, with a choice of the original Japanese or an English dub.  The Spanish and French audio tracks that were included on the original release are left off of this one.   The sound was very good, with a good amount of use made of the sound stage.   From what I could tell with a quick spot check of my original release DVD, these seem to be the same audio tracks that the original release had.  I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a 5.1 soundtrack, but I guess you can't have everything.

Video:

The video quality was quite good.  There were few digital defects, aliasing and digital noise being very infrequent.  There was some bandning in a few of the scenes, but nothing major.  The colors were bright and lines sharp.  Compared to the older disc, my spot checks led me to conclude that this DVD does look a little better than the first release.  Not a huge improvement (the first release wasn't that bad after all) but still a step up.

The Extras:

Included on this disc are a textless opening and closing, preview to other ADV titles, and a sneak peek at the live action Eva movie.  I was looking forward to the last item, but ended up being disappointed in it.  There wasn't any actual film footage from the movie, just a series of pre-production sketches set to music.   Most, if not all, of the images were shown in the interview that was on the previous volume, so there wasn't any new information.

Final Thoughts:

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a favorite series of mine.  While I'm not a rabid fan, I did enjoy the show immensely when I first viewed it.   That is until the last pair of shows.  They made no sense and left me scratching my head.  Now, with these reworked episodes, I can understand the ending.  While I'm still not enamored with the way they choose to end it, this version is a great improvement over the original.  The fact that they also include the unedited version makes this the version to get if you haven't completed the series yet.  For fans that already have the entire run of DVDs, they should strongly consider upgrading.  Highly recommended.

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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