For those of you who don’t watch anime, here’s some context:
Back in the mid 90’s, a show was released by Gainax called Neon Genesis Evangelion.
On the surface, it appeared to be a show about mecha (giant robots), but it didn’t take too long for audiences to realise this wasn’t going to be your typical action driven science fiction story. Evangelion told the story of 3 Evangelion pilots, all 14 years of age, who fought against strange creatures called “Angels” which seemed to be intent on destroying the Earth. All the characters in this show had intense personal demons to conquer, particularly the male lead Shinji Ikari, who, unlike most leads at the time, often couldn’t cope with the pressure of being humanity’s last line of defence. Love him or hate him, Shinji had Japanese audiences attached to their screens for the 6 months that the show aired.
Like the Japanese, I too fell in love with the emotional intensity of Evangelion. I remember logging onto the Internet every night just before bed, and hoping that my highly unstable 56k modem wouldn’t disconnect while I was asleep. If I was lucky, I would get a 100 meg file which had two episodes in it, and the quality would be vaguely watchable. After many painful weeks of corrupted files, my modem calling it quits while I slept, and incorrectly named episodes, I eventually got the whole series. Like Princess Mononoke, this was one of those shows that changed my view on what stories could be told with animation.
(Just a quick note: you will notice a difference between the movie names on the posters, and the movie names in the text. The names of these movies vary depending on source, so I’m just going to go with the Wikipedia entry).
Fast forward to September 2007. Just released in Japanese cinemas was the first of a new series of Evangelion movies called “Rebuild of Evangelion”. The director of the show had secured enough funding so that he could retell the story with up to date animation, and without all the shortcuts they had to take in the original series. The first movie was called Evangelion 1.0 : You are (not) Alone.
It was pretty much a repeat of the story from the first few episodes, albeit with some minor tweaks to the story and a major animation overhaul. In June 2009, the second movie, Evangelion 2.0 : You can (not) Advance was released.
Now this is where things really started to take a very different turn, with new characters playing a major role, some of the key players from the series making a much earlier appearance, and also ended on a massive cliffhanger. In November 2012, the third, and second to last movie, Evangelion 3.0 : You can (not) Redo was released.
Now, as you can no doubt tell, I’m a pretty big fan, and this movie honestly left me asking myself “what the fuck just happened?” While this happened fairly often towards the end of the original series, this hasn’t happened much in the previous two Rebuild movies, so it caught me slightly off guard. This movie is also quite unsettling in places, even by Evangelion’s standards. It’s not quite on the level of Grave of the Fireflies, but if you are planning to watch this movie soon, don’t do it if you’ve been having a bad day.
So if you haven’t seen the third Evangelion movie yet, I highly recommend you wait until the last movie is released. The third movie appears to be all about setting up the final act, and as a result there’s a whole lot of questions left unanswered, and you’ll just be left wondering what you just watched.