In a film series like Rebuild Evangelion, the second film is very important.
While the first film was more or less the set-up for the series, after that the creators have to delve deeper into the workings of the story.
For this series, this is important because it’s these workings are what makes it stand apart from other titles in the medium and with the added aspect of rebooting the franchise, the creators have to decide what to keep and what to change.
These changes will be corner stone of all developments down the line.
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance. is the second film in the Rebuild Evangelion series led by Hideaki Anno.
The film picks up shortly after the events of the first film as the two original pilots Shinji and Rei quickly meet the new pilot from Germany, Asuka Langley Soryu.
Much like the original series Asuka is a loud, pompous pilot that quickly tries to insert herself as the head of the team after she destroys a Angel with ease.
Asuka and Shinji also have to start getting alone as they both start living together under Misato’s roof.
While the two argue, another pilot, original to the Rebuild films, named Mari Makinami enters Japan, with a agenda of her own.
In addition to this Seele and other countries start to advance there Evagelion projects and their own mysterious (at least to new viewers) plans.
The NERV pilots must work together and defend Tokyo III from the upcoming Angels and save the world in the process.
While the last film was a direct adaptation of the original series, the second movie starts to move in a different direction. The film follows most of the main plot points but reworks a number of the theme’s, Angel designs and character development. Where the last one felt like nothing was different, it’s clear that changes were made for Eva 2.0 and their appreciated.
For instance much like with Shinji in the first film, many of the character developments seem to work better in film due to the shorter running time. The story moves quickly and all of the main characters are developed in some way throughout the film.
Also improving this time are the 3D graphics. While the first films animation was better than most, this time the meshing of styles is damn close to perfect.
The use of digital animation allows the cinematographer Susumu Fukushi to create some nice camera movements that make the 3D Eva unit’s blend in with the 2D background. These shots are used sparingly and the movie is better for it as too much of anything is a bad thing.
One dramatic improvement coming from the sequel is Eva 2.0’s music.
Series composer Shiro Sagisu is given time thorough the story to show us some impressive background music. Most noticeable during the films montage scenes featuring the pilots living and going to school. The lack of wall to wall dialogue allows the creators to show us some development without having the characters say it, something that animation doesn’t often do.
The films ending theme also improves this time round as it really has some dramatic weight to it.
However, the biggest improvement is it’s divergence from the original story.
The main issue I had with the first film was the fact it was little more than a remake of the first six episodes and nothing more. This time changes to the plot were made allowing the creators to cut out of narrative fat that wasn’t needed.
When Anno announced the Rebuild of Evangelion it’s clear that the focus of these films was to rework the plot to get to the ending that he wanted. This film was the first strong step towards that end and should be welcome by fans of the original series.
Despite this, the film isn’t perfect as there are still a number of things that hold Eva 2.0 back.
While Evangelion is known for people’s hatred of Shinji, it’s clear that Asuka is a close second. Over the course of the show she bounces around from a psychopath ace pilot to a lost child over the course of minutes. While the films 108 running time does eliminate most of that, she still can be annoying.
Also returning in this film, is it’s use of techno babel. While it’s clear we’re not supposed to understand some of the ideas and technology at this point in the story, there are a number of things that should be explained for the viewers understanding.
The series seemingly wants its viewers to just except that these things are happening without explaining what they mean. Case in point; What’s a AT field?
It’s a creators job to make sure that the story makes sense and little things like this pile up after a while.
Another example, how are the Eva’s created? Why do they seemingly had organs if their giant robots? Are the EVA’s living creatures? Am I watching Farscape?
However, what’s most annoying is the films use of “fan service.”
Much like the original franchise, the film seems to take a more childish glee from showing the female pilots (who are underage teens) or Masato (at least she’s in her mid to late 20s) in provocative ways. But if this is supposed to be a serious story, then why would they waste time with the cheesecake shots?
The inclusion of the new pilot Mari seems to of been done for little more than fan service and to kick Shinji in the ass during the films climax.
While I understand that she’ll ultimately service more of a purpose later she does little in this film that couldn’t of been done by a already introduced character.
Regardless of these issues Evagelion 2.0 is still a better film than the previous one. It has better music and 3D animation, characters develop and it starts to move the story in a different direction.
The franchise could open up into some very different territory and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the NERV crew.
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance was directed by Hideaki Anno, Masayuki and Kazuya Tsurumaki and was based upon original characters and plot created by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Anno. The film was produced by Stuido Khara and licensed by Funmation Entertainment (North America), Manga Entertainment (Europe), Madmen Entertainment (Austrialasia) and KlockWorx (Japan).
Note: Much like last time they renamed the film was its home release. All versions are known as Evagelion 2.22. Why? Cause they can.