Cover art for Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genesis Reborn, Director's Cut

Film:
DVD:

Planning and Original Story by Gainax
Directed by Hideaki Anno
Music by Shiroh Sagisu

Features:

  • Clean opening and closing animation
  • Live action version preview

Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

  • Mental anguish
  • Children with the weight of the world on their shoulders
  • Violence
  • Destruction
  • Intellectual demands

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Get it.


I don't think any show in anime history has generated as much debate as Neon Genesis Evangelion; fans seem to either love it and think of it as the Holy Grail of anime or hate it and think it's over-rated and incomprehensible. A few of those latter viewers might be able to reevaluate their opinion with the release of the director's cuts of the final six climactic episodes that answer a few of the questions viewers are left with after a first viewing of the show.

This disc, Genesis Reborn, provides the final three episodes with new footage, which takes the form of some extended scenes, new bits of dialogue inserted here and there, and a few entirely new scenes. The overall amount of new footage is not overwhelming, but it's inserted carefully enough to subtly, but surely, aid in viewer comprehension. Some fans might resent the implication that such assists are necessary, but the overall impact hardly equates to spoon-feeding. There is still plenty of room for individual interpretation, and the online fora that exist only to provide a place for Eva fans to bitch will still have action for years to come. The director's cut strikes a good balance between helping and compromising. If nothing else, the fact that this is the official final word from Anno should at least shut some people up.

Pic from Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genesis Reborn, Director's Cut

As with the release of the director's cut of Resurrection, one of the features here is a sneak preview of the upcoming live-action version of the series. This comes from the creative team behind the design of the recent movie version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, WETA Workshop, and boy howdy, does it look fantastic. There is no interview this time--only a series of stills from the design boards of the eerily lovely and clean post-apocalyptic Japan and some of the characters and Evas. If the final product looks anything like these designs, the film might just do the impossible--make some fans happy.

Audio and video are both nicely clean and lovely. Both language casts seem to know what they're doing and handle the ambiguities of the show, as well as the show's frequent violence and emotional depth, with aplomb. The visuals of the devastated Tokyo work nicely in the disjointed visual style, reflecting in part the fragmentation of Shinji's mind and of Earth's varied factions. See it as a clever, affective narrative choice, meant to disorient the viewer in sympathy with the characters (and reality), and not as some mere way to save funds. Given the chaos surrounding the multiple endings found in such releases as Death and Rebirth, Death (True) 2, and End of Evangelion, it's refreshing to see these director's cuts as the really and for true final word on "how it all ends." Or begins. Or whatever.

Pic from Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genesis Reborn, Director's Cut

In short, if you love Evangelion, then you'll want to have this and should be reasonably happy with it, even though Eva fans are notoriously cranky and impossible to please (or to agree with each other about anything). If you've seen the show before and didn't care for it, feeling that it was too incomprehensible and choppy, then give the director's cuts a try; I think you'll find them more amenable to you, yet still refreshingly demanding intellectually. Fans of mecha, action, science fiction, and philosophical pieces should enjoy this one immensely. Just get it and make up your own mind, far from the madding crowd of rabid, never-to-be-pleased otaku-fanboys.

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