Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 98 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: January 19, 2010

Now this is the right way to rebuild a classic.

For those who had the opportunity to see it on the big screen in very select movie theaters around the United States, Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone was quite a thrill for Neon Genesis Evangelion fans. As a dedicated and loyal fan of the series, I was lucky enough to attend the first show with a large number of fans and anime enthusiasts. For those of you who missed it, don’t worry because FUNimation brings us You Are (Not) Alone on DVD and yes, Evangelion fans, you will not be disappointed.

Billed as a “rebuild,” Evangelion 1.01 is, essentially, the first six episodes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series repackaged with better animation that retains its hand-drawn feel and mixed with digitally enhanced CG effects that don’t take away from the animation itself. The original story is there and so are the characters so if you were looking for something completely new you are in for a disappointment. Then again, considering the fact that the original is a bona fide anime classic, you won’t be complaining very much.

The story takes place in the not-to-distant future where the city has been nearly decimated by invaders called Angels that are here to wipe out humanity as we know it. Luckily, the United Nations has formed a government agency called NERV to combat the threat using experimental mechs that must be piloted by the right individual called Evangeline (or Eva) units. On the day an Angel attacks, a young High school student named Shinji Ikari is saved by a beautiful older woman named Misato Katsuragi who knows Shinji’s father.

As fate would have it, Shinji’s father just so happens to be in charge of the Eva units and wants his son to pilot the unit known as Eva Unit-01. In fact, he insists that Shinji is the only person who can pilot the giant robot despite the fact that the boy doesn’t know the first thing about piloting something as unusual as Eva Unit-01. Yet when his father threatens to replace him with a young, beautiful and very injured girl, Shinji puts aside his fear and insecurity and jumps into the strange water-filled cockpit and faces off against the attacking Angel. With Misato guiding him via communicator, Shinji not only defeats the Angel but also unlocks its hidden power that makes the unit seem like it has come to life.

So begins Shinji’s career as the Eva Unit-01’s pilot but despite the fact that he’s able to operate his robotic mech he’s still a scared boy who suddenly feels like he has no choice but to live out the role his father planned for him. Living with Misato doesn’t make things easier and, to top it all off, he is bullied in school and his father still doesn’t seem to want to warm up to him. While he questions himself, Shinji sees that the beautiful young girl who happens to be in her class is the same injured girl that his father wanted to pilot the Eva Unit-01. She is Rei Ayanami who Shinji’s father is overprotective of since he brought her into the project.

The truth is that the fate of the world rests in Shinji and Rei’s shoulders and while one of them seems to accept this fact the other just doesn’t have the motivation or the courage to face the massive enemy threat. While classmates begin to understand the stress of being the country, hell, the world’s savior, his real source of inspiration comes from Rei as they go up against a powerful Angel together in an exciting final battle.

The movie essentially takes some of the more exciting parts of the series and, as a result, feels downright exciting down to the very end. As this is the first movie in what is to be told in two parts (Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance being the upcoming sequel ), the film does have that sense of things are definitely going to get a lot better in the upcoming chapters.

In the end, Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone does feel like an epic in the making and it’s the perfect introduction to anyone who missed out on Neon Genesis Evangelion or those who always wanted to revisit it in a new way. For my money, the movie works and thus fans of the classic will certainly not be disappointed, although those looking for a whole new experience will not find what they’re looking for in this one. Still, this is a good movie you will not want to miss.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
A young boy named Shinji Ikari becomes the unlikely pilot of an experimental mech called the Eva Unit-01 for a U.N. sanctioned organization called NERV in a distant future version of Japan. Going up against dangerous invaders looking to wipe out the human race, Shinji must come to terms with the fact the he was born to pilot Unit 01.

VIDEO QUALITY: A-
The animation has definitely been improved and the backgrounds and action will not fail to knock your socks off just as it did on the big screen. Even the CG effects work well in this series.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The English dub is actually handled well but you will be watching this one in its original Japanese format. The original score by Sagisu Shiro is back and that’s Ok because it’s an amazing score.

EXTRAS: D
Sadly, the extras on the DVD are just a few trailers and includes a brief leaflet with some background on the theatrical release. There’s a cool little preview of the sequel, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance at the end of the credits, though.

OVERALL: B+
Evangelion 1.01: You Are (Not) Alone is a stylish, exciting and acceptable “rebuild” of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s first few episodes crammed into one awesome movie. While a part of me wishes that the story was changed just enough to be an interesting new take on the classic, another part of me is relieved that they didn’t mess with what worked the first time around. One thing is for sure, you will definitely be looking forward to the sequel.

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