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Evangelion 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance (Cert 15)

1 Disc (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running Time: 107 minutes

Forget everything you know about Evangelion as things are about to be turned on its head with this second feature length entry in the Rebuild Of Evangelion series.

The film opens with the introduction of a new character, fearless Eva pilot Mari Illustrious Makinami, a British girl who is in the midst of destroying the skeleton of a deadly Angel attacking NERV’s Arctic base via the self-destruction of her Unit-05 Eva. The bespectacled daredevil later arrives in Tokyo-3 and makes an immediate impact on the stories main protagonist, the terminally maudlin Shinji Ikari, by landing on him as she makes her entrance via parachute and giving him a face full of her ample charms. Mari may seem to be perfectly upbeat and gung ho on the surface but who knows what psychological issues she is hiding beneath that cheery façade?

Meanwhile a familiar face to long term Evangelion fans also makes her long awaited arrival: Unit-02 pilot Asuka Langley Shikinami (nee Asuka Langley Soryu). The feisty red head may have undergone a questionable name change but she is still the same bossy, over confident yet secretly emotionally damaged little madam we all know (and love by a huge percentage of the Evangelion fan base).

Next to reappear is shady playboy Chief Inspector Ryoji Kaji, who arrives with the Unit-02 bearing a gift for Gendo Ikari in the form of a mysterious object known as the “Key of Nebuchadnezzar.” The final debutante in this re-imagining is a silver haired alien boy Kaworu Nagisa, about whom little is known yet he appears to be quite knowledgeable about Shinji!

The story in this film revolves largely around relationships of the main characters and the way the newbies fit in. Shinji is still desperate for some form of recognition from his aloof father and even a trip to the grave of Yui Ikari, Shinji’s mother and Gendo’s wife fails to bring them closer.

However signs of a turnaround appear when an Angel attack sees Shinji, Asuka and insular Unit-00 Rei Ayanami just eke out a victory but not through team work, much to the chagrin of those in command, but it is Shinji’s efforts that are rewarded with a compliment from his frosty father, offering the lad a small beacon of hope for their relationship.

Unfortunately Gendo still reserves his attention for the impossibly shy Rei, who recognises the distance between father and son, and following a home made lunch from Shinji, plans to do her part to help rectify this by learning how to cook and holding a dinner party with the idea of a neutral and friendly atmosphere could serve as a catalyst to mending their relationship. It if wasn’t for those pesky Angels we may even have had a result.

Meanwhile Asuka moves in with Shinji and Lieutenant-Colonel Misato Katsuragi in their tiny flat, immediately causing ructions by turfing Shinji out of his room to make way for her and her never ending collection of possessions. The scene where Asuka is introduced to Pen Pen, the emperor penguin that lives in the flat, while she is in the shower provides us with some conventional Anime humour that almost seems incongruous against the introspective, philosophical and symbolic heaviness of the saga’s overall tone yet the dynamics of the characters saves it from such a fate.

It’s not just some of the characters who have undergone some subtle changes since the TV series, the deadly Angels are given new designs making them even more menacing and dangerous. In the film’s climactic battle, the Tenth Angel survives an onslaught from Rei and consumes her Unit-00 Eva after biting its head off then undergoes an unexpected metamorphosis into a bizarre naked female humanoid creature!

On the Eva front, Mari’s Unit-05 differs from the typical Eva design, less humanoid and sporting wheels at the end of its limbs, with a lance and pincer for weapons, while we get a glimpse at the “Evangelion Mark.06.” as spied upon by Gendo and Kozo Fuyutsuki during a secretive trip to the Moonbase which may or may not fit into the secret plan they appear to be hatching.

Being an ostensible rehash of familiar material made the previous film You Are (Not) Alone feel merely functional; in contrast, the originality and freshness of the material in You Can (Not) Advance not only puts it streets ahead of its predecessor but acts as the beginning of the real main course of the saga and not another entrée. Production wise there is nothing to complain about – the animation and visuals appear to be a notch more stunning this time around.

Other studios need to pay close attention to how the mix of 2D and CGI images should be done as the marriage here is flawless. It is also quite miraculous as to how a film with such vibrant and often garish colours can be so dark and quite melancholic, but the same can be said about the contrast between the energy and verve of some of the characters and the sadness they carry inside themselves – Asuka being a prime example.

One has to wonder what if Hideaki Anno had all these ideas and developments in mind when creating the original Evangelion series back in 1995, just how much better would the show have been? Then again now that technology has caught up with his vision would this reboot still be a viable concern to suit the DVD/Blu Ray age?

Either way, the end result we have before us is a sublime piece of work and this particular instalment is essential viewing for anyone calling themselves an Evangelion fan. Enjoy and remember why this franchise has become one of the most important and influential titles in the Anime universe.

Oh and don’t forget to keep watching after the end credits for the film’s true conclusion and a preview for the next instalment Evangelion 3.33 – Q: Quickening (which either disturbingly or pleasantly promises more fan service. Hmmm…)!

 
Extras:

English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital w/ English Subtitles

 

Commentary With The English Dub Cast

Rebuild of Evangelion: 2.02

DVD & Blu Ray Spots

Japanese TV Spots

Omitted Scenes

“I Would Give You Anything” Scene – Noguchi Version

Train Channel Spot

20 Page Booklet (Collector’s Edition only)

 

Ratings –  *****

Man In Black

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