In the tradition of ridiculously titled anime films comes Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. The 1.0 means that we’re seeing a rebooted version of the original TV series ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, but this isn’t like Batman Begins or The Incredible Hulk. It is a redrawn, condensed version of the first section of the original show.
I have no idea why anyone would want to make this film, nor who its target audience would be. The majority of the MIFF 08 crowd seemed to be big fans, but the film doesn’t actually feature anything new for them, merely an edited version of the tale they’ve already seen. I never saw more than one episode of the TV show, which you’d think would make me the perfect audience member, but unfortunately the film doesn’t explain half of what’s going on – it assumes its audience is savvy with the story. So we have a double bind – it’s too much of what the fans have seen before, and not enough for those new to the concept.
As I understand, the film only features a couple of new scenes, the rest are all echoes of ones from the show. The animation is pretty poor for a cinema-released anime, and all too often resorts to minutes of still frames with the characters barely moving. There are a couple of sequences that astonish – one of the ‘angels’ attacking Tokyo is a masterpiece of visual and sound design, but overall this is the sort of animation one would expect on television, not the big screen.
For those who don’t know, Evangelion is a mech movie – hence gigantic robots decimating Tokyo whilst their pilots scream, strain and sweat their way through the battles. I have since had the story explained to me, but for a newcomer it makes little sense. A series of giant, city-destroying angels are descending on Tokyo and it’s up to young Shinji (Megumi Ogata) to stop them in his giant Eva robot. There’s a bit of backstory involving his absent father, and some inadvertently disturbing themes concerning child slave labour, but there isn’t much more story to go around… although there is a penguin that lives in his apartment, for some reason.
But here’s the strange thing: this film is actually bizarrely entertaining. Now, I find Japan’s obsession with the levelling of cities rather upsetting, but there are some thrills to be had from giant mechs beating the shit out of each other. Our cinema was belting the film out at full volume, and one can’t deny that the sound design is awesome. There are also some surprisingly emotional moments throughout these fights, even if they spring out of nowhere.
It seems to be a pretty flawed project, failing on most levels, but one can’t deny that it’s kinda fun.Rating: