Neon Genesis Evangelion, Platinum: 02 DVD

Film:
DVD:

Directed by Hideaki Anno
Character Design by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Mecha Design by Ikuto Yamshita and Hideaki Anno
Illustrated by Takeshih Honda
Story by Gainax
Music by Shiroh Sagisu

Features:

  • Running audio commentary on one episode with Tiffany Grant and Alison Shipp
  • Clean opening and closing animation
  • Animatic for episode nine
  • Profiles booklet

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Scary aliens
  • Hyper-competitiveness
  • Violence
  • Angst

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+
Anamorphic: No; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: A must-have.

A legend among otaku, Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most famous and beloved anime series in history, and for good reason. It was not only the gateway drug that led many of us into anime fandom, it was and is one of the finest, most seminal series out there.

The idea is that around the year 2000, half the population of the Earth is killed when a meteorite strikes the area of Antarctica. Fifteen years later, the survivors hide in underground cities where they believe they are safe, but then the Angels, a race of aliens bent on dominating Earth, arrive with their powerful weapons. Only NERV and their giant mecha known as Evangelions stand between the survivors and the total destruction of humanity. The problem is that the only people capable of piloting the Evas are those children born nine months after the disaster… why?

In this disc, we get five more episodes that introduce the third Eva pilot, one that wants to compete with Shinji and prove that she is the best Eva pilot, not him or even Rei. Meanwhile, Shinji heals from his battle with Angel 5 and Misato tries out a prototype rifle that she thinks could save humanity. Further episodes on the disc reveal some answers about the Second Impact (second because the first meteorite impact was the one to kill off the dinosaurs), which was of course not a meteorite at all, but the arrival of two Angels, who melt the polar ice caps and start the destruction of modern Earth. Shinji is left to deal with yet more disasters as he and Misato try to cope with faulty killer jets, more Angels, a volcano, and his own gracelessness.

What makes this release the “Platinum Edition” isn’t just the shiny silver slipcase. To start with, we get five episodes instead of the usual three to four. There is also a very nicely produced twelve-page booklet that provides useful background information on the show, very in-depth episode commentaries from the Japanese staff, nicely chosen images from the show, and Angel profiles. There’s also a full animatic for episode nine, which basically shows the storyboarding and layout/design of the episode, sans dialogue and voice talent. Fans of the process will love this look into how anime is made, but non-technical people will probably skip this and just appreciate the fact that it’s there at all.

We also get a commentary track for episode eight with two of the English voice actors, and while there’s more chatting going on than real discussion of the show, any commentary at all is a good commentary, and a gift we should support lest producers never give them to us again. The horror! Actually, this commentary does provide a few useful and interesting snippets among the banter, and it’s useful for fans for that reason alone. Finally, we get clean opening and closings that beautifully show off the quality animation of Evangeion and why the character and mecha designers are among the best in the business.

The video and audio elements continue the high quality found on the first platinum release. The visuals are just plain stunning in some places, especially when the mechas are showing off what they can do and the scenes with lava, although there are still a few places where the visuals are less than perfectly crisp. The voice talent on the original soundtrack is among the most talented in Japan, though the English dub shows that voice actors in this country were less talented just a few short years ago. In any case, the sound and graphics are both bright and clear, with no problems.

Combining post-apocalyptic science fiction with truly fine character development, mecha battles, and great art, Neon Genesis Evangelion is deserving of its cult status. The action seems non-stop, and given that we are now just over a third of the way through the show, some of the plot threads are coming together and things make more sense. Even if the eventual ending of the series leaves you confused and/or annoyed, the journey is worth the mysteries, and no anime fan can truly call him- or herself an otaku if they haven’t watched and re-watched this outstanding show.

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