Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: Blu-ray: $34.98 US; DVD: $29.98 US
Running Time: 112 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
You Will (Definitely) Become A Fan.
Speaking as a Neon Genesis Evangelion fan like everyone else in our office, the new rebuild version – as we saw from Evangelion: 1.11 – makes for a new way to enjoy this classic and a perfect way to introduce newcomers to it as well. The story continues in this second film in the series called Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance and believe us this is one you seriously do not want to miss if you have been following this series.
In the introductory film, we were introduced to Shinji Ikari, a boy destined to pilot the Eva Unit-01 for NERV and the Commander who happens to be his father, and an unusual girl named Rei Ayanami who pilots an Eva for other reasons. Together, the fight off hostile life forms known as Angels and together both Shinji and Rei managed to save New Tokyo-3 from total destruction and thus becoming heroes. As we find out in Evangelion: 2.22, though, there are some changes coming up for Shinji.
When we see Shinji, he is tending to his mother’s grave with his father by his side. Sure, their relationship is still strained but the fact that he took some time to join his son in visiting the grave of the woman they both loved says that maybe there is hope for these two. In fact, at one point during a mission, Shinji’s father even offers the boy some praise … even if said praise is just a simple “good job.” Still, this is enough to satisfy Shinji.
However, it is the new people in Shinji’s life that adds some new dimension to the series such as Mari, a Euro Branch Eva unit pilot we see in the opening of the film. Unlike Shinji or Rei, Mari is excited about being an Eva pilot to the point that she cheerfully sings a little song before lifting off and taking down an Angel. It is clear by watching her in combat that she is a great pilot, indeed. Then there’s Ryoji Kaji, a Chief Inspector that has come to the city … to the annoyance of Misato Katsuragi who has a long history with Ryoji.
We also meet a cute young girl who is something of a hotshot pilot that comes to join the Shinji and Rei. She is Captain Asuka Langely Shikinami is considered the pride of the Euro Air Force even at her young age and she flaunts that fact often. Neon Genesis Evangelion fans will definitely remember her, although her personality is quite different from the series. Here, Shinji rubs her the wrong way immediately but even then she’s a lot less of a brat than the way she was in the series and here she doesn’t even give Ryoji a second glance, which is just only slightly disappointing to me since I loved watching her faun all over the guy in the TV series.
To Shinji’s discomfort, Asuka comes to stay with him and Misato and very quickly, she becomes a part of Shinji’s life. She even tags along when Shinji and his classmate friends that includes Rei accompany him to a field trip to a marine preserve. Asuka suddenly finds herself slightly jealous of the way Shinji tries to make Rei more comfortable and that irritation continues somewhat throughout the film and leads to a memorable scene between the two in an elevator.
Meanwhile, Shinji’s father, Gendou Ikari, heads to a moon base where he looks in on the construction of the Evangelion Mark 06 as well as obtains a new pilot support system called the Dummy System that may be the key to controlling an Eva without a pilot aboard. It is through Gendou that we learn more about the Human Instrumentality Project that has interesting religious connotations. Then there’s the organization called Seele and who exactly is that mysterious white-haired stranger?
Evangelion: 2.22 doesn’t answer these questions but it does make the relationships between Shinji and the other supporting cast all the more interesting. Most especially is his relationship with Rei that seems to be evolving to the point that they both try to get closer to each another. At one point, Rei even decides to throw a dinner party for everyone but her real agenda is for Shinji and his father to sit and have a meal together. Interestingly enough, we even find out why Gendou is overprotective of Rei.
Unfortunately, when Asuka decides to be test pilot for an American-made Eva unit, the darn thing suddenly turns on Asuka to the point that its bestial form makes Gendou to classify it as an Angel. Sending Shinji to defeat it, the boy realizes who is still inside and tragically, it leads to Gendou activating the Dummy System. The results are horrific but the scene comes off as heartbreakingly beautiful at the same time.
It is because of his refusal to take down a friend; Shinji is at odds with his father and prepares to walk out on him and the entire NERV operation. However, an event occurs that sets in motion some surprising developments. As Mari joins the fray and shows an ability to push her Eva into a controlled version of the beast form that affected Asuka, things will get very interesting from here.
While the first release served as a perfect introduction to the Evangelion story, this second film feels bigger and better now that we know the characters and just a little more about NERV and the other organization that is connected to the Eva units. The battles are still exciting; the humor is still charming and the characters very likeable. And, yes, there’s fan service for those who care about that sort of thing but – above all – the animation and direction style make this rebuild look amazing.
Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance is powerfully engrossing and an exhilarating second chapter in this already remarkable saga. I highly recommend watching this series in the Blu-ray format since it offers the best possible picture and sound that makes this an even more cinematic experience thanks to its gorgeous animation and beautiful score. We are already looking forward to the next film in this series.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Having helped save New Tokyo-3 from a powerful Angel with the help of fellow Eva pilot, Rei, Shinji finds himself trying to re-connect with his distant father. However, with a new pilot joining them and a mystery girl who seems to love being an Eva pilot, Shinji finds himself facing another crisis that puts him at odds with his father and his future as a pilot. Yet, in the end, an event occurs that might have him back in the pilot’s seat for a very different reason.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The rebuild was definitely made for the HD generation and it proves that anime can go from impressive to drool-worthy when it comes to the Blu-ray version of the film. If you thought the original looked good, you will find that this rebuild is a visual feast for the eyes.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
Once again, the voice actors for both the original Japanese and the English dub are at the very top of their game and pull off some brilliant performances whether it’s Megumi Ogata or Spike Spencer voicing Shinji. Then there’s the origin score by Shiro Sagisu that is breathtakingly beautiful and yes, the sound effects do deserve a Dolby sound system hooked up and cranked up loud.
There are more than enough extra features crammed into the single Blu-ray disc that includes all the official trailers and TV spots and some trailers for other FUNimation releases. There’s also a nifty 20-page guidebook included as well with cool facts, character introductions, glossary of terms and some behind-the-scenes design notes.
Then there’s the Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02 feature that gives us a look at the changes from a design standpoint and then there are four omitted scenes (all in rough storyboard form with the Japanese voice cast) with a cute scene with Misato and Ryoji and another one that shows us that Rei really doesn’t care about the little things in life. Then there’s the U.S. Cast Commentary feature that has ADR Director Mike McFarland chatting (in 15 minute intervals) with several crew and cast members like Spike Spencer, Brina Palencia (Rei), Trina Nishimura (Mari), John Swasey (Gendou), Tiffany Grant (Asuka) and a few others is definitely worth a listen.
Evangelion: 2.22 is a spectacular work of art that will not only be appreciated by long-time Evangelion fans but also anyone who loves animated features with an ambitious story to tell. At times exhilarating and meaningful, it’s this second feature film that will turn you into an Evangelion fan if you aren’t already one after the first film.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment