I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

When I was in high school, the first time I ever really felt like I fit in was when my friends Elliot Mayo, Dave Rogers, and Ken Jepsen invited me to something they liked to call Eva Fest. They had reserved the youth building at Sunshine Community Church, which was made easier by the fact that Elliot's dad was the minister there. They had set up rows of couches and invited enough friends to fill every single seat. And most importantly, they had invested in cases of Sobe beverages, Power, Energy and Wisdom, drinks that we were obsessed with back then. (Elliot once stacked his Sobe bottles in his high school locker. I don't remember which was the greater accomplishment: the Great Wall of Sobe, or the fact that he rigged his locker so that music played whenever he opened it.) We sat down that afternoon and watched every episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

I was not into anime back then, but I was certainly into having friends and spending time with them. The first couple of episodes of Eva were a little too deep for me, and the storytelling method seemed a lot different from the sorts of television shows that I usually watched. I learned back then that anime is not marketed just toward children the way that animation is in "the West." Since then, we've caught up. We now have Adult Swim, which features all kinds of adult oriented animated programming. But I digress.

I really got hooked about the time that Asuka was introduced into the series. There was something sexy and fun about this character, and I loved how the addition of Asuka changed the dynamic of how the main characters acted around one another. My favorite episode was where Shinji and Asuka trained to operate in synch in order to defeat one of the Angels. It was good for a little while after this, but then the entire story seemed to fall apart. There were rumors that the creator had experienced a mental breakdown. Maybe it was because of stress. Maybe it was because of a death in the family. I've heard a whole lot of stories about this, but I haven't had confirmation from a single one. Because of the strange downward spiral at the end of Eva, the creator decided to do a series of rebuilds for the series in the form of full-length animated movies. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone is the first of these rebuilds.

Though the story of 1.0 only covers the Neon Genesis Evangelion story prior to the advent of Asuka, I felt great pleasure watching it. It breathed a lot of new life into Eva and I felt really happy to watch it. As great as it was, I've been told that with the sequel they pull a Spider-man. Let me back up for a minute to explain what a Spider-man is, because it is not only a boy who was bit by a radioactive spider, be he Peter Parker or Miles Morales. (I have a lot of love for MiMo!) When Sam Raimi made the movie Spider-man in 2002, it was one of the best superhero films that had ever been released and it practically gave the superhero film market completely from DC to Marvel. But in 2004 Sam Raimi set out to make an even better Spider-man. He wanted the worst scene in Spider-man 2 to look better than the best scene in Spider-man, and from my recollection of watching those films half a decade or so ago, he succeeded. Regarding Evangelion, I've been told that Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance absolutely blows 1.0 out of the water.

While you're watching 1.0, I'll be watching 2.0, and then when you're watching 2.0, I'll be hoping and wishing that 3.0 is capable of exiting development hell in a timely manner and making both of its predecessors look like the work of chumps.

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