Evangelion 2.0

When I first heard of the Rebuild project, I was very, very skeptical.  Why mess with my favorite show?  I saw the first film and confirmed all of my doubts.  It was pretty much a compressed version of events with better animation.  Better animation is great, but not if it comes at the loss of so many important moments in the series.

Asuka does Plato. (look at the my blog header, on the left)

So I decided not to watch 2.0 when it came out.  Time passed and I saw Revolutionary Girl Utena.  I learned that there was a scene at the end of Utena that was replicated in Evangelion 2.0 [here’s a visual comparison].  The relationship between the two intrigued me, especially after I learned Utena scriptwriter Enokido specifically asked to include this sort of scene in the Eva film.  It’s an iconic scene, and it popped up in Ultraman Nexus [here] in 2004-5.

Anyway, I was intrigued enough to go watch 2.0.  I watched it in 30 minute installments as I often do (is that strange?).  After 30 minutes I was appalled at the silly conversations, Rei’s humanization, the clumsy new fanservice and that new lady who is hailed as the nemesis of Asuka fans.  It’s a good thing the scene I wanted to watch was at the end, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen the rest.  After 1 hour, I was having fun with the film.  After 1 hour and a half, right in the middle of Mari’s illustrious battle against the Tenth Angel, I was dazzled.  Believe it or not, I turned the computer off after 1 hour and a half and went to bed.  Then, this morning I saw the end.  Cool~

I have tons of criticisms, but the film slapped me in the face and said: “Just sit down and enjoy me” and so I did.  Anyway, now that the movie is out of the way I want to address some of the criticisms.

1. There is a wonderful Triangle of Everything between Shinji, Asuka and Rei so leave it alone.  Adding Mari to the mix threatens this structure.  However, in this film she was very carefully kept apart and her attitude is so different and unpolluted by the others that I don’t think she hurt this triangle at all.

Is life fair? Mari gets her right eyeglass broken. Asuka will lose her left eye.

2. The fanservice is problematic.  There is a certain scrawniness to the Evangelion character design that goes well with lower quality animation, but that clashes with better animation.  Maybe leaving it like this is intentional.  In any case, the battle scenes and the Evas look so friggin’ awesome I honestly couldn’t be bothered by the presence or absence of naked people.

Rei, next time order some pizza. Shinji's not worth the time.

3. Asuka gets abused again.  Well, we have to understand that in the economy of these films, which include a brand-new pilot (Mari) and a Kaoru who is more present earlier, putting Toji into an Eva would have been too messy.  It makes perfect sense to have one of the regular pilots take over the Angel-infiltrated-Eva just to keep things tidier.  Why Asuka?  I guess maybe Anno hates her.  But apparently she gets an eyepatch soon, so it’s worth it.

Asuka: "Anno, you motherf--"

4. Rebuild is trying to lighten the mood.  Actually, I’m not convinced about this at all.  It’d be just like Anno to have Asuka be nicer and Rei be more humane just so that they can both become brutal basket case killing machines in the last film or something.  That said, I think the whole idea of Rei trying to cook dinner for everyone was stupid.  And Asuka’s phone call to Misato was stupid as well.  But they were both tolerably stupid.

Freud would have something to say about boys smashing their daddy's pyramids.

5. What’s up with the songs?!  OK, I know I have a very low tolerance for anime music but OMG, the singing during the film was awful.  I wish Japanese music was closer in quality to its animation, I really do.  What makes the whole thing ridiculous is that they had Hikaru Utada doing the theme/ending song.  Utada is great, the song is beautiful, why don’t they just have her sing during the film as well??  I’m sorry Hayashibara, you’re an amazing voice actress, but let’s have you do your job and Utada do hers!!

A word about the end.  In my unprofessional capacity as a Japanese translator, I hereby declare solemnly that it is my opinion that Kaoru’s statement very plainly implies that the events in this film are happening a second time around and he is aware of it.  He says the time has come to fulfill his promise and that this time around he will make sure that Shinji at least (or, Shinji alone) will be happy.  Anyway, it could be a red herring.  I’ll be looking forward to the next film.

Did I forget to put a Shinji pic?? Sorry, already clicked the Publish button 😉

~ by Haloed Bane on May 8, 2011.

22 Responses to “Evangelion 2.0”

  1. In my unprofessional capacity as a Japanese translator, I hereby declare solemnly that it is my opinion that Kaoru’s statement very plainly implies that the events in this film are happening a second time around and he is aware of it. He says the time has come to fulfill his promise and that this time around he will make sure that Shinji at least (or, Shinji alone) will be happy.

    Most interesting.

    I favor remakes, rebuilds, and retellings in anime primarily for the improvement in the production values. This is always the case for TV anime. What becomes more of a problem for me is when the continuity is actually altered in what really should be just “here’s the show you like with better production values, please don’t mind the edits we had to make to fit the theatrical format.”

    Such a project can’t “ruin” a work already consumed, but to declare a narrative unfinished, and then continue it… that’s different don’t you think?

    • I get what you’re saying. I myself don’t like Diebuster nearly as much as Gunbuster, does Diebuster qualify as a declaration of an unfinished narrative?..it sort of does. Honestly, though, I personally tend to even forget that Diebuster exists…so one always has that option with Rebuild.

      I think it’d be awesome if they remade the Eva TV series with the improved animation. But they won’t, will they. The kids want new stuff, and they want it in a nicer, brighter package. I hope Anno kicks everyone’s butt in the last film 🙂

      • I love Diebuster, perhaps slightly more than Gunbuster, but also because it remembered love oh so magnificently. It leveraged the world building elements in a fantastic way revealed strikingly and awesomely.

        Also, what people miss about it is that it isn’t Nono’s story as much as it is L’alc who is the true heroine. Nono discovers who she is and plays her role. It’s L’alc who actually has to make choices and other interesting things.

        • So maybe 5 years from now people will see Rebuild the same way you see Diebuster 🙂

          I need to rewatch Diebuster, actually…only seen it once.

  2. This pretty much totally sums up my feelings about 2.0. The amount of fanservice was grating, the simplification of the story didn’t always work and Mari didn’t really fit. But when the film worked, it worked so incredibly well that I practically couldn’t complain. It’s Evangelion as blockbuster movie, and perhaps the most significant lesson about 2.0 is that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    • We’ll have to wait for film 3 to see how well they can fit Mari in. It’ll be tough for her as she’ll be competing with good ol’ Kaoru too. Come to think of it, it’s gonna be tough to balance everything well in 3.0. We’ll see…

  3. I have the Blu-Ray of this movie sitting here and I think I’m going to watch it again with this sequel/rerun thing in mind. Have you seen the series of side-by-side images from End and Rebuild that floated around the internet for a while?

    Personally, I would find it very interesting if those kinds of hints were all we got as to the sequel/rerun nature of it (and that seems likely, as Anno is not a huge fan of confirmation), but there’s a lot of (what I would call) compelling evidence.

    • I haven’t seen side by sides of End and Rebuild.

      I’m sure you’ve seen the Retake doujin, where Shinji gets to do things over and be more of a man the second time around. I know a lot of fans loved that notion, but yeah, I agree with you Anno is not the type to confirm things one way or another.

      However, that line of Kaoru’s at the end sounds crystal clear to me…I know people think it’s ambiguous but that’s because they’re already thinking too much about it. If a Japanese non-Eva fan were to listen to the words s/he’d simply say: Ok, so Kaoru feels he failed Shinji the first time around and now he’s pledging not to fail him again. That’s how I see it.

  4. Fanservice is so clumsy and ugly I think it is deliberate. And speaking about Asuka abuse, she is the primary fanservice victim – and at the same time they made her breasts smaller!! No wonder she has that misanthropic look all through the film.

    Somebody commented that the true and real fanservice in Eva Rebuild 2.22 is Shinji getting some stamina, more humane Rei, nicer Asuka, the lighter mood of the show, etc. and I like this idea. Isn’t it what fans (secretly) wanted to see? This stuff is lulling and at the same time creeps me out, like Anthy Himemiya’s smile. Have to keep in mind the “(not)” of the title. All in all, i think it’s done not to hook up new kids, but to annoy the old ones 😉

    On the other hand, I’m all for the rerun theory (Groundhog Day style), and it is exactly the different take of the characters that gave me the clue in the first place. They can’t pass over exactly the same crises all over again. Or in exactly the same way… Though I’m sure there are new crises yet to come.
    Also, it looks like the mysteries of the TV-show are open secrets now. Though there is no direct evidence, I’ve got an impression that when Rei says “It’s all right, there are replacements for me” Shinji knows just what replacements she means and refuses this idea violently (the dilemma reminds me of the Little Prince and his Rose). I think Misato knows about Rei too. Which is sensible again – why make a big secret of something everybody knows?

    • Well, I hope Shinji doesn’t know anything about Rei. I mean, that was one of the big climaxes back in the TV series, it’d be a pity to let that go. Maybe Shinji thinks she means that other children can take her place? I don’t know, maybe you’re right though.

      There’s definitely less mystery, although, that’s our perspective right now, who knows what lies hidden in the next film 😀

      At this point the main flaw with the Groundhog Theory is precisely the abundance of evidence in favor of it!! Think about it, Hideki Anno is not one to just let us know something…if it looks like this is a repeat/sequel then maybe it means we’ll find it’s anything but.

  5. > Adding Mari to the mix threatens this structure. However, in this film she was very carefully kept apart and her attitude is so different and unpolluted by the others that I don’t think she hurt this triangle at all.

    Nothing careful about it. In one draft for 2.0, Mari goes to school etc. and upstages Asuka in everything, especially Shinji’s attention.

    Have you seen Enokido’s interview and the other stuff in the _2.0 CRC_? Disturbing stuff if you are the kind of person who was hoping that there was a carefully thought through master plan for _Rebuild_ as opposed to ‘frantically improvise at random’.

    * translations of the book at http://forum.evageeks.org/viewtopic.php?p=399330#399330 – extremely interesting reading scattered through that thread if you’re trying to interpret the _2.0_ tea leaves

    > In my unprofessional capacity as a Japanese translator, I hereby declare solemnly that it is my opinion that Kaoru’s statement very plainly implies that the events in this film are happening a second time around and he is aware of it. He says the time has come to fulfill his promise and that this time around he will make sure that Shinji at least (or, Shinji alone) will be happy.

    Pfft. The line makes perfect sense, in all the translations I’ve seen, if Kaworu was a childhood friend of some kind (say, who attended Yui’s plug test with Shinji…) and was talking about *then*.

    • See, if Mari had gone to school I’d have gotten pretty upset. I bet you she’ll go to school next movie though…

      I have read snippets from that translation, and I was disturbed just as you said. There seems to be a chaos that somehow works. I imagine Anno has ultimate veto power though?? Then again, maybe that book is a blind, and there’s a very organized plan…they just make us fans believe otherwise.

      Your solution to Kaoru’s statement is so neat and apt that it creeps me out. I’m almost ready to believe that that’s exactly what Anno will do. He’ll put a little Kaoru right next to Shinji back in the past sometime, and then we’ll go: Ohhhh, so that’s what he meant!

      Anime characters tend to forget everything about their childhood friends when they’re older, so yeah… Like Utena and Saionji when they were kids. What! You’re gonna forget the one boy with long green hair?? Come on!!

      • > See, if Mari had gone to school I’d have gotten pretty upset. I bet you she’ll go to school next movie though…

        That doesn’t seem *very* likely, although I’d better add that to my list of _Rebuild_ predictions. Tokyo-3 seems pretty trashed by the end of 2.0, and all the Children are busy in the preview with various clandestine stuff. The Action Arc is over, and now we’re into the Descent Arc. Normality is gone. Shit has gotten real.

        > Anime characters tend to forget everything about their childhood friends when they’re older, so yeah… Like Utena and Saionji when they were kids. What! You’re gonna forget the one boy with long green hair?? Come on!!

        Indeed; and wasn’t much of this post about a _Utena_ person working on Eva…? (Quite substantially, more than one might expect from a mere consulting credit.)

        In any case, the childhood friends explanation is only *one* possible explanation. Shinji could have been so traumatized at a very recent point that he forgot (shades of the Yui plug test), or he could have been brainwashed or tampered with mentally (fan speculation about the ‘memory uploader/downloader’ used with the Reis), or maybe Kaworu is just being really metaphorical, or maybe he hung out with Gendo at some point and lapped up tales of Shinji and fell in love from afar, or…

        Jumping right to time loop theory is a bit premature, although certainly, it is not a theory I outright dismiss.

        Time loops are popular in anime (look at _Haruhi_ or _Madoka_ for just the most recent examples), and are a venerable subsubgenre of the time travel subgenre of Western SF, which weighs on the subconscious of old school Japanese nerds. (Have you ever read _The Notenki Memoirs_? http://www.gwern.net/docs/2002-notenki-memoirs )

        • Your point about the school is well taken. I guess we’re still on track for films 3 and 4 to be bundled together? I’d rather have two separate full length films, but with all the destruction I don’t even know if it’s feasible..

          There’s also Kaoru’s “hello father” quip. Most think it was directed at Gendo, though i guess it could be for Fuyutsuki too (or maybe, horror of horrors, for both???)

          I know the Haruhi loops, which makes me wonder for some reason, is the new light novel volume ever coming out?? I think that in a sense Gainax has dug itself in as hole with Kaoru’s words. If they follow through with a time loop, people are going to call it crap, and if they go another route people are going to accuse them of being silly (because, honestly, if you just hear what he says and you’re a fan of the TV series i think the first thing that will come to mind is their relationship at the end of the series).

          I’ll have to look at those notenki memoirs. Gainax does love to be on display, huh 🙂

  6. Asuka becoming Eva-03’s pilot was an early decision according to the Complete Records Collection Interviews: http://forum.evageeks.org/viewtopic.php?t=10604

    With Today is the Day for Goodbye (Kyou no Hi Wa Sayonara) played during the 9th Angel/Bardiel and Tsubasa o Kudasai (Please Give Me Wings) played during the 10th Angel/Zeruel, they’re supposed to be music dissonance similar to Komm Susser Tod in EoE. Hell, the DVD/BD extra of the Noguchi Version of Tsubasa O Kudasai called “I Would Give You Anything” throws in KST-style clapping alongside the addition of sound effects. But yes, Hayashibara was clearly straining her voice (and singing out of her range) with the songs which is odd because she normally has a lovely voice.

    I know people have complaints about the film for one reason or another (I was mildly annoyed that Shikinami wasn’t developed more and that she and Shinji were merely roommates instead of something of friends like Shinji and Rei are. Or Shinji being romantically interested in Asuka). BUT I’m hopeful that 3.0/Q and 4.0/Final are going to have psychological introspection and character interaction aplenty. I still gave 1.11 and 2.22 a 10/10 because I’m overall pleased with where this different continuity is heading. And at most there should be only 2 to 3 Angels left. (Assuming Kaworu is still one. So far it’s hard to say if Rei is still Lilith, but the Rei = Yui connection and overall Oedipal themes are being hit pretty hard. And Rei’s still a clone at least. Shinji and Rei’s relationship so far in New Movie Edition reminds me of the weird relationship Shinji and NGE-Kaworu have with neither truly getting to know the other (even if they have some friendship love between them), only using each other for personal reasons, but that’s another thing.)

    Oh, for some hilarity and some thought-pondering, read this: http://zepy.momotato.com/2009/07/07/ogata-megumi-on-evangelion-voice-acting/

    (Before I forget: Rest in Peace, Utena’s seiyuu Tomoko Kawakami. 😦 )

    • Yes, re: Hayashibara for me the strain in her voice ruined what my intellectual appreciation of the (mis)match between the songs and the situation. Though I guess we could interpret the strain as a desired effect?!

      People love Asuka, don’t they…I imagine in Japan though they’re delighted Rei is getting so much play. The Oedipal theme is strong indeed. I’m mostly curious what they’ll do with (to) Kaoru and Mari in the next film..

      That link was hilarious. Shinji is such a girl~

      Re: Utena cancer sucks. RIP Kawakami.

  7. Oh, one more thing: A t-shirt of all things confirmed Kaworu’s “Nice to meet you, father” line was directed at Gendo. http://forum.evageeks.org/viewtopic.php?p=389045#389045

    Although it doesn’t have to be literal since Gendo doesn’t seem to have Adam (well, the AdamS) this time around. Friends that are close to each other in Japan will sometimes address the friend’s parents as “mother” and ‘father”. And in Kaworu’s case, he could be being a sarcastic bastard if he has knowledge that Shinji and Gendo don’t get along, not just knowledge of Shinji. (I’m assuming he knows Shinji from childhood ala Gakuen Dantenroku manga or Girlfriend of Steel 2 manga, but we’ll see.)

    • We’ll see…yup, there are so many possibilities it hurts the head.

      As you said, Kaoru could easily be saying Otousan in his position as Shinji’s friend. Heck, daughters-in-law call their fathers-in-law Otousan sometimes, so maybe Kaoru is staking out his claim for Shinji in advance!! Meaw grrrr!!

  8. I ❤ my Shinji-kun. ^_^ (He's my favorite character.)

    Going back to the CRC interviews, one of the guys (there are so many Interviews it's hard to keep track of who said what) stated that Kaworu's words and serious expression at the end of the film were similar to an angry husband returning for his bride. XD They (maybe this was two different people) said Kaworu's feelings were "Act r responsibly!" as he speared Eva-01 and "How dare you…! You've been with a woman while I've been away?!" *Hits the table*

    But yes, I'm rather curious on where they're going with Kaworu and Mari. With Mari and Kaji being part of IPEA http://wiki.evageeks.org/IPEA , are they some anti-Instrumentality/Seele organization or what? (Though their logo of Pseudo-Evolved Eva-01 http://wiki.evageeks.org/Eva_Pseudo-Evolution is rather suspect…)

    I have the feeling that Kaworu has his own agenda regarding Instrumentality/Third Impact (similar to Seele and Gendo having their own, although it's hard to say if Gendo STILL wants to reunite Yui or there's another new swerve our way!) considering his "make Shinji happy" talk, but we'll see.

    • And that, SSD, is why it is worthwhile compiling the CRC so one can easily refind memories like ‘what was that description of Kaworu again?’ From my current compilation http://pastebin.com/bzpS3BfL :

      > — One more thing: Kaworu’s existence in light of the fact that we are given this strong impression that, “this time, the human instrumentality project was this ‘love love strategy’ with Shinji and Rei.” There’s no doubt that female fans were extremely pleased by Kaworu’s line after the ending: “Ikari Shinji-kun, this time, I will make you happy.”
      > Tsurumaki: Kaworu’s line stayed the same from the very first storyboard. It was something he said while wearing his usual relaxed smile. Of course, at the last minute, just, I think, before we started postsynchronization, we began talking about whether or not it would be better if Kaworu looked scary during that scene.
      > — As a result, it looks like he’s come to take his bride by force! [*]
      > [* その結果、略奪婚に来たみたいに見えますよね。”略奪婚” refers, I believe, to the ancient practice of abducting one’s bride from a hostile tribe. Today I believe it’s used to mean a marriage that results from an adulterous affair, i.e. “stealing a husband/wife from someone.” I assume the original meaning must be intended here?]
      > Tsurumaki: Right, right (laughing). [We thought it would be] more interesting if Kaworu looked like [he was thinking]: “You’ve been with a woman while I’ve been away? How dare you…!” It’s not Kaworu’s usual relaxed expression; he’s somehow become irritated, right?

      These quotes are specifically from part 7 of Tsurumaki, by Numbers-kun: http://forum.evageeks.org/viewtopic.php?p=411903#411903

      • Thanks for this gwern!

        I looked up that stolen bride concept…pretty hilarious.

        These guys are so messed up 🙂

        BTW, Sailor Star Dust, I don’t believe I’ve ever been a member of evageeks, though who knows, I’ve signed up for so many fora that it’s always possible I did sign up at some point…

    • God knows what’s going on..which I guess means everything is right in the world.

      Mari’s definitely got some knowledge of things far beyond what the other pilots possess…though of course Eva is all about how A knows nothing compared to B, who is totally clueless compared to C, who’s being left in the dark by D, who is blindly following E etc.

      As for Kaoru, wouldn’t it be nice if he actually more firmly portrayed the will of the Angels themselves? It’d be nice to have a nice, strong spokesperson for these super important creatures…

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