Nineteen Ninety-Five. I was 12. Bill Clinton was President of the United States. The San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl in the first known Super Bowl party of my memory, and on the day after OJ Simpson was found not guilty, Neon Genesis Evangelion aired in Japan, and changed everything we knew about how completely fucked up you have to be to write mecha anime.
Evangelion tells the absolutely crazy tale of a world in which shortly after the millennium, someone forgot to fix the computer in the South Pole for Y2K and the pole exploded, causing Second Impact (if you believe First Impact to be what killed the dinosaurs) and rocked the world off its axis. Billions of people were killed and the ecosystem was thrown off balance. Humanity survived, barely, and a decade and some later, designed a organic robot designed to fight the “Angels”, alien creatures prophesied to destroy the world. NERV, an organization founded by Gendo Ikari and Kozo Fuyutsuki after Second Impact, along with the mysterious organization SEELE, who seem to be manipulating a plan behind the scenes, recruit Gendo’s son Shinji to pilot Unit 01. Shinji is brought to Tokyo-3 by Misato Katsuragi, a strange woman with even stranger tastes in men. Shinji is to be the pilot of Eva Unit 01.
As soon as he arrives though, he meets the pilot of Unit 0, Rei Ayanami, who was badly wounded in a previous battle but made to sortie again for the Angel attack. Having at least enough testicular fortitude to save an injured woman, Shinji boards Unit 01 and proceeds to fight the Angel, but not without giving us his signature phrase:
Naturally there wouldn’t be much of a series if Shinji lost and died, so he beats the Angel single-handily… unconscious. It seems at some point he passed out and the Eva berserk moded a win for our intrepid hero, and lucky for him, otherwise he’d have to run away!
Eva’s original series was known for using a lot of still shots, presumably to add dramatic effect, but also to save money as Anno and Co. didn’t have much of it and rode the coattails of success on the series only afterwards, and we all remember what kind of ending we got. Scenes like above were done a lot, and frequently, along with the orange train sequence and a number of other “in Shinji’s mind” scenes that I swear were designed to fuck with your head. Thankfully Rebuild takes advantage of you knowing pretty much what happened in the original series and doesn’t waste much time on the scene, immediately moving you forward to Misato and Shinji’s touching city moment, and then Shinji moving in with her. Sometimes I wonder whose bright idea it was to allow someone like Misato to let a boy stay with her anyway, it’s like a reverse-pedobear trap in the making.
It’s established thus far that Misato is a booze-loving slob and Shinji, despite being fairly unmanly for a super robot pilot, and generally sissy in nature, actually knows how to cook and clean. Feminists everywhere are not surprised. Meanwhile at school Shinji gets punched by Toji for causing a ruckus and putting his sister in the hospital as a result, largely ignored by Rei, and pretty much hates his life piloting an Eva. To add insult to injury, as he is fighting the next Angel, Toji and Kensuke get in the way and he is forced to bring them into the plug to save them, at the expense of battery power and almost dying. He manages to win, but takes no pleasure in doing so, although Toji’s opinion of him is reversed afterwards.
Shinji decides that piloting sucks and he is going to be a street bum for awhile, quitting NERV. However he is drawn back naturally of course by his attempts to understand Rei and why she finds none of the faults in his father that he does. After learning of how he boldly rescued her after Unit 0’s failed test, Shinji tries to get Rei to open up more as a person and not as a doll obeying orders. By this time the next Angel shows up and comes up with a defense that the Evas cannot touch up close, the only way to beat it is from afar. NERV appropriates the use of a high-powered railgun and all of Japan’s energy to power it, the only catch is, they only get one or maybe two precisely aimed shots. Enter Rei the distraction, and Shinji the gunner.
I especially liked this battle, both in the series and in 1.11, rather than be just a straight-up fight, they introduced the element of having to use other equipment in a unique situation, and nothing is more fun than a sniper rifle. In 1.11 though the Angel, like the other angels, had different special effects that just meshed well with the rest of the movie. Even little things like the HUD displays in the command center and on the Evas were given new touches, the computer screens and equipment, they really tried to make this remake of the series into something like they truly wanted, but didn’t have the money and technology to do so 15 years ago. Unlike George Lucas with Star Wars, they chose to not only update the original but keep most of the characters and story the same, changing a few things here and there.
So after saving the day and saving the girl, you’d think Shinji would turn into the best Eva pilot ever and whip the shit out of allthe Angels like Chuck Norris without an Eva, right?
HA HA… you wish.
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rebuild: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone
Sub Group I Watched: 3xR?
Rating (1-10): 8.5