This review is purely of the first Neon Genesis Evangelion movie/rebuild, “You Are (Not) Alone”, and does not cover (and isn’t compared with) the original anime series or the subsequent movies. This review is spoiler free.
Earth is being attacked by gigantic creatures called Angels, whose purpose is to annihilate the human species. Shinji Ikari, a meek little boy who’s seeking to win his father’s approval, is chosen to pilot Evangelion Unit 01, a mecha which is capable of killing Angels. Can Shinji overcome the difficulties of growing up and accept the fact that no human can walk without a burden on their shoulders, all while defeating the monstrous Angels?
From the point of view of someone who has not watched the original 26 episode series, the story is very confusing. Why are mechas that are larger than skyscrapers piloted by kids? What are these “Angels”? Why do all the Angels attack only Tokyo? I had no idea what the hell was going on for the first 20 minutes of the movie. The movie didn’t answer any of these questions, but the MAL synopsis of the original series did. It wasn’t very hard to deduce through the course of the movie though, considering it was the usual shonen fare, mixed in with a lot of sci-fi Hollywood elements. The plot is nothing standout. But then again, what did you expect when the main character was a boy (whose father is a genius) is The Chosen One and once again, the fate of the world and the human species is put in the hands of a Japanese kid. Oh, and throw in a female tsundere and two goofballs while you’re at it.
Adding fuel to this sci-fi letdown fire are the clichéd scenarios. You have just about every single one of the usual shonen scenes, such as the boy seeing the girl naked unintentionally, memories flashing across the screen whenever the hero is losing the battle, eyes going into the shadows when talking about the past – you name it. You can see the climax coming from a mile away and I had a hard time stifling my yawns. Totally predictable, unless you’re new to anime.
However, sci-fi fans will be entertained to nerdgasmic proportions thanks to the drop-dead-gorgeous animation. Gainax went all out on this one. You can almost see the cash on the Angels. The characters are very well detailed and the movements are fluid, even with CGI. Mecha battles are a real treat and will have you nerd-drooling all over the place. The whole thing looks fantastic. My only complaint was that Shinji’s mecha looked disproportionate at times and that the NERV logo was drawn inconsistently. Still, good enough to get a perfect ten from me.
One thing I did find very distasteful was the (mild spoiler) nudity of kids. There were certain moments in the movie when I felt the Youth Ordinance Bill was justified.
Soundtrack is fitting. Not much else to be said here, other than the fact that I found the OP, Beautiful World, to be an awesome track. The seiyu were doing a great job, but I felt the English dub wasn’t nearly as good as the original version. As if Shinji’s whiny personality wasn’t enough, his voice actor makes you want to pull your hair out in annoyance. It was a problem of miscasting more than the language itself.
NGE You are (Not) Alone was fairly entertaining. It wasn’t adrenaline pumping awesome nor was it excoriating to watch. It was somewhere along the middle, slightly leaning towards the former, but comes nowhere close. The movies was completely devoid of emotions and it felt hollow. Never did I find myself emotionally connecting to the characters, even in the most dramatic scenes. It’s pretty good for killing time, but I don’t think I would ever watch this more than once.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
Neon Genesis Evangelion: You Are (Not) Alone is a great shonen-mecha anime. But if you’re looking for anything more than that, chances are, you aren’t going to find it in this 100 minute movie. The plot is predictable and will rarely surprise you because of the avalanche of clichés, which pile one on top of each other. That said, it’s still a fun fare for shonen fans that are looking for a couple of hours worth of good entertainment. Spectacular animation reflects on the (extremely) high production values. The ending wasn’t very conclusive, but it left you wanting for more. However, this movie does no justice to the tremendous amount of hype (and acclaim) is received.