Evangelion:2.22 You Can Not Advance - (Region A Import Blu-ray Disc)
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Jason, Bellville. 19 May 2011
I am fast running out of superlatives. I had nothing but praise for Evangelion 1.11, so what to do upon the discovery that Evangelion 2.22 is even better?
Evangelion 2.22 picks up some time after its predecessor, with Shinji having adapted nicely to his new environment. In fact, for most of the first act the movie has more of a slice of life feel to it which is broken up with cuts to the underhanded machinations of NERV. There is also the introduction of Asuka in a bit of one-on-one combat against an Angel, and of Mari at the start where she too proves to be no slouch in an Eva.
But on the whole, the first act is all about Shinji and his interactions. Through him, Rei seems to be emerging from her shell. He also has what may be considered an intimate moment with Asuka. There’s even time for Asuka herself to be subjected to a Shinji-like pratfall, involving a straw instead of a container of toothpicks. So all’s well, right?
Except for the fact that this is Hideaki Anno’s vision, so you know — you just know — that he’s going to pull the rug out from under the characters.
So, is it all any good? Yes, yes, a thousand times YES!! The nipping, tucking and tweaking of the original tale make for a more efficient yet equally enjoyable story. In all it is a harrowing experience, though not as moody and unstable as the series became in its closing episodes (An indication perhaps that Anno was in a less moody and more stable state of mind during this production.).
On blu-ray, 2.22 upholds the Funimation gold standard. The hi-def shows off a vivid colour palette, it shows off just how well the CG imagery has been integrated into the 2D backgrounds. It allows for the showing off of intricate details in the backgrounds. It’s fabulous.
It sounds great too. It’s presented in Dolby TrueHD 6.1 in both English and Japanese. All things being equal, I went with the English track. The dynamics on offer during the combat scenes are among the best I’ve heard, at least the equal of Disney’s finest animated blu-ray offerings (Yes, that good.). It’s not just noise; it’s a rock solid pinning of effects and a sterling conveyance of ambience that does your system proud and leaves you glued in your armchair. The bass is more than up to the task for the numerous action set pieces, adding a palpable — near physical — presence to the explosions and other things that go boom.
The voice cast show that their solid performances in the first movie were no flukes. I was especially surprised by Tiffany Grant in her reprisal of her role as Asuka. In the ADV dubs of the series, her voice was the most grating and as a result all of Asuka’s depth of character was hidden under the sound of cats being slaughtered. For the Mange Entertainment dub of The End of Evangelion she was able to reign in the histrionics somewhat to excellent effect. Here she goes one better in finally nailing the bossy but uncertain nature of her character dead on, without making her sound at all annoying. Another character making a return is Ryoji Kaji, who through Funimation regular J. Michael Tatum comes across as less sleazy, more focussed and in one scene a lot creepier. The new character, Mari, is a useful addition to the character list. Her focussed yet eccentric nature is truly distinct from those of Asuka and Rei, and through her there is a whole new avenue of plotlines to be explored. VA Trina Nishimura also imbues her with an air of fun-loving aloofness which further distinguishes her from the other two female pilots. That she’s also not afraid to use the occasional f-bomb also makes for an engaging new addition.
As for extras, well let’s give Funimation an A for effort: Abandoned scenes, a breakdown of the use of CG in selected scenes and an informative booklet. The main attraction is the commentary by the English VA’s. Only it’s not a commentary, it’s a string of one-on-one discussions held with the main feature serving merely as a background. The participants do not directly reference what is playing, and so the commentary (such as it is) feels detached and unsubstantial. Better than nothing though, I suppose, and a damn sight better than the previous effort.
There is another negative, which works in stages. It starts when the end credits (an acoustic version of the ending theme from Evangelion 1.11) starts playing. By then you will be sitting in eager anticipation for the next instalment. And it is forthcoming, as shown by the coda following the credits. Next, you’ll be logging onto the internet to see when the third movie is to be released. AS on 19/05/2011 you will then come across numerous statements of the third movie not yet having a release date in Japan. And you will go crazy knowing that the wait will be an extra long one.
In closing, we have here a feature well worth the wait, a remake that actually improves upon the source material and in doing so sets the benchmark for how a remake ought to play out.
Region A - Includes most North, Central and South American countries and South-east Asian countries including the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.