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Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 1, 2011 by  



“Evangelion 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” is fantastic!  I was awestruck from beginning to end and I have no doubt in my mind that this title will rank high in my top 5 anime on Blu-ray releases for 2011.  This anime film is AWESOME!  I absolutely loved every minute of it!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © KHARA INC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance

DURATION: 112 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9),English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 6.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: NTV/FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: March 29, 2011

 

Originally Created by Hideaki Anno

Chief Director: Hideaki Anno

Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki, Masayuki

Co-Director: Kobun Shizuno

Screenplay by Hideaki Anno

Storyboard by Shinji Higuchi and Tomoki Kyoda

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Tatsuya Kushida

Chief Animation Director: Shunji Suzuki

Mechanical Design: Ikuto Yamashita

Director of Photography: Toru Fukushi

Executive Producer: Toshimichi Ootsuki

Animation Production by GAINAX

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kotono Mitsuishi/Allison Keith as Misato Katsuragi

Megumi Hayashibara/Brina Palencia as Rei Ayanami

Megumi Ogata/Spike Spencer as Shinji Ikari

Yuko Miyamura/Tiffany Grant as Asuka Langley Shikinami

Maaya Sakamoto/Trina Nishimura as Mari Makinami

Akira Ishida/Jerry Jewell as Kaworu Nagisa

Fumihiko Tachiki/John Swasey as Gendou Ikari

Motomu Kiyokawa/Kent Williams as Kouzou Fuyutsuki

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Ritsuko Akagi

Hiro Yuuki as Makoto Hyuuga

Megumi Hayashibara/Monica Rial/Stephanie Young as Pen Pen and Yui Ikari

Mugihito/Bell Jenkins as Keel Lorentz

Takehito Koyasu/Phil Parsons as Shigero Aoba

Tetsuya Iwanaga/Greg Ayres as Kensuke Aida

Tomokazu Seki/Justin Cook as Touji Suzuhara

In the earliest battles against the monstrous Angels, young Eva pilots Shinji and Rei were forced to carry humanity’s hopes on their shoulders. Now, with the deadly onslaught of the Angels escalating and the apocalyptic Third Impact looming, Shinji and Rei find their burden shared by two new Eva pilots, the fiery Asuka and the mysterious Mari. Maneuvering their enormous Eva machines into combat, the four young souls fight desperately to save mankind from the heavens – but will they be able to save themselves?

“Evangelion 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” is fantastic!  I was awestruck from beginning to end and I have no doubt in my mind that this title will rank high in my top 5 anime on Blu-ray releases for 2011.  This anime film is AWESOME!  I absolutely loved every minute of it!  Highly recommended!

In 2006, Japanese fans and anime fans of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” received exciting news that in the Summer of 2007, the first of four Evangelion films based on the anime television series would be released in theaters. According to news reports, Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno watched the series from beginning to end and wanted to fix up a lot of questions and debates that fans had over the television series and most importantly, incorporate today’s new CG technology for the film versions. Even furthering the excitement is that the original crew and cast have signed on to work on the new film.

The first film did tremendously well and what made things much more exciting for the promotion of the second film is the introduction of a new Evangelion pilot named Mari Illustrious Makinami, the confident pilot of the Provisional Evangelion Unit-05 and also a teaser for Unit-06.  The full trailer was released on April 2, 2009 and fans of the series and films had a chance to see a dark Eva, Mari, a new Eva-02 design, new designs of Angels and more.

So, with mass promotion in Japan, “Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” was released in Japan on June 27, 2009 and similar to the first film, was #1 in the box office earning over $40 million (US) in Japan and also received a US theatrical release in January 2011.

With many Americans waiting for “Evangelion 1.11” Blu-ray release, suffice to say, the film was released with a very short run at limited theaters and made over $100,000 and was screened at the anime convention Anime Expo in 2009 with great fanfare.

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” opens with the new Evangelion pilot, Mari Illustrious Makinami who pilots the Provisional Unit-05 and is trying to destroy the skeleton of the Third Angel which is attacking NERV’s arctic Bethany Base and manages to do so by self-destructing her own unit and barely escaping.

As Shinji and his father Gendo visit their dead mother, Yui’s grave, the new Unit-02 has arrived to the base and we are introduced to its abrasive, confident pilot, Asuka Langley Shikinami.  Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Ryoji Kaji delivers an object in a suitcase to Gendo known as the “Key of Nebuchadnezzar”.

As for Shinji and Asuka, their first meeting doesn’t go quite well as Asuka kicks Shinji and looks at him as a weakling who only got his position because he’s the son of Gendo.  Asuka ends up moving in with Misato Katsuragi and Shiji Ikari (along with Pen Pen the Penguin) and takes up Shinji’s room.   While Shinji tries to be much more open to Asuka, she can’t stand being near him.

Meanwhile, Shinji, Rei, Asuka and Shinji’s two high school friends try to socialize and have fun.  Together they visit a research aquarium which tries to maintain and resuscitate ocean ecosystems lost in the Second Impact.  But as everyone tries to become used to their social life at school and with each other, all three Evangelions are called into battle to engage on the Eight Angel and a test for Shinji, Asuka and Rei to work as a team and they suffer major damages.  Unfortunatel, SEELE has declared that the Unit-00 has served its purpose and no longer needs to be repaired.

As for Gendo, he and Fuyutsuki visit the Tabgha Base to view SEELE’s progress on the creation of Evangelion Mark.06 and they see the mysterious Kawaoru Nagisa sitting on its finger.

As things seem to be quiet and no new attacks are happening, Rei really wants to bring Shinji and his father together.  At first Gendo tells Rei that he is too busy but he see’s Yui telling him to be there for his son and he agrees.  So, Rei with the help of Misato begin to invite people to the dinner party.

On the day of the dinner party, it is learned that Evangelion Unit-04 and NERV’s U.S. branch are destroyed while testing an experimental engine, meanwhile the U.S. government has completed Unit-03 has has sent it to Tokyo.  Because of the “Vatican Treaty” which allows countries to possess only three functioning Evangelions at at a time, the Unit-02 is sealed away.  Rei is chosen to pilot the new Eva but Asuka offers to do it as Rei can host the dinner party.

As Asuka pilots the Unit-03, upon activation, something goes wrong and it is revealed that the Unit has been possessed by the Ninth Angel and unfortunately, with Asuka inside, Shinji must pilot his EVA and destroy it.  But Shinji is unwilling to have Asuka’s blood in his hands and his father gives him a direct order which Shinji is unwilling to do.  So, Gendo gives the order to activate the dummy system and Shinji would no longer have access to control the EVA.  We then see the EVA fighting on its own as it destroys the Ninth Angel and Shinji cries and screams of how his father can use him in such a way.  Shinji’s EVA ends up crushing Asuka’s entry plug and we see Shinji, disgusted by his father and NERV’s actions, quitting NERV.

While Asuka survives but is deeply wounded and fears that she may have been contaminated by an Angel and with Shinji gone, the Tenth Angel comes to attack.  But unfortunately, without Shinji, the Unit-01 refuses to activate the dummy system and thus, the new pilot Mari ends up hijacking Unit-02 to fight the Tenth Angel on her own.

Who will live?  Who will die? Will Shinji be the same after what happened?

VIDEO:

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” is featured in 1080p High Definition. I had the opportunity to compare the Blu-ray to the 2.22 DVD release from FUNimation Entertainment from last fall and I can tell you right now that this Blu-ray looks fantastic. Detail is much more apparent and the vibrancy of the colors of the film literally pop onscreen. The CG animation is top notch and overall, Gainax definitely went all out in creating a fantastic anime full of detail, vibrant colors and staying faithful to the anime series but making sure everything is updated and looks amazing.

But I will say that while the majority of the film featured animation perfection, right when the film begins as we are introduced to Maki, that scene displays some banding.  And while the scene is not long at all, that was the only scene where I found anything that can be deemed as negative by videophiles.  I saw no artifacts, black levels were great and colors were vibrant.  But the animation and just the newer footage just looks incredible.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 6.1 English and Japanese lossless soundtrack and there is good use of all channels. From hearing the music and main character vocal coming from the center and front channels, you will then hear the loudspeakers through the surround channels and then the rear surround channels carry audio that is different. For example, in one scene in which Shinji screaming out of his Eva, you hear the main characters and vocals through the center and front channels, loud speakers and musical instruments on the surround and on the rear surround channel, you hear Shinji screaming in agony behind you.

There is so much action and destruction featured in this second film that there is good use of LFE.  Personally, the lossless audio is just phenomenal, how it is so immersive and envelops the soundscape from all directions was fantastic. And I am so happy to find out that the Japanese audio track is lossless as well. Something that fans have wanted from anime on Blu-ray!

As for the dubbing, both soundtracks are well-done and it’s great that FUNimation used the majority of the original cast for the film.  While I do feel that the Japanese soundtrack is able to capture the more desperate emotions quite well, the English voice actors did a wonderful job in this release as well.  Personally, it all comes to preference and whichever lossless soundtrack that you choose, they are both excellent.

As for subtitles, the subtitles on the Blu-ray are in English only.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” contains the following special features:

  • US Cast Commentary – I found this audio commentary to be fantastic.  Similar to what ADR Director Mike McFarland did with the “Fullmetal Alchemist” film and giving 10-15 minutes for each voice actor, he does the same with this audio commentary as we hear voice talent (even some we haven’t heard from for awhile) to talk about the characters, the changes and difference from the original TV series from the films.  Very insightful and fun to listen to (AFTER) you watched the movie as there are some spoilers.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion 2.02 – (22:22) A montage of pre-production sketches, renders and final renders.
  • “I Would Give You Anything Scene (Noguchi ver.) – (4:58) This segment features a different singer it appears for the song “Tsubasa wo Kudasai”.  It’s actually much better but I think the director wanted a voice that was not so polished and capturing more of a raw singing vocal for that scene.
  • Omitted Scenes – A total of four omitted scenes.
  • Original Trailer – (1:22) The original theatrical trailer for “Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance”.
  • Train Channel Spot – (:14) Another teaser trailer for “Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance”.
  • Japanese TV Spots – (1:38) TV spots for “Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance”.
  • Blu-ray and DVD – TV Spot Type A (:17), TV Spot Type B (:17), Promotion Reel (1:57)
  • FUNimation Entertainment Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” comes with a special, embossed slip over case cover (with open flap).

When I first heard that the rebuild of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” would take place and that these new films would be based on the television series, I wasn’t so surprised because the series is so popular that it would definitely generate an extreme amount of money for GAINAX. But one thing that I was not looking forward and what drove me crazy about the TV series was the character of Shinji Ikari. Back in the mid-90’s, I can easily remember how his whining really tested my patience and looking back, he was such an anti-hero, mainly because he was “emo” most of the time. Always negative, always in a bit of depression and funk as he always felt people didn’t care about him (and yes, I know that Hideaki Anno was clinically depressed when he was creating this film and parts of show was based on his depression) but it did get on my nerves at the time.

But here we are 15 years later and here I am watching “Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” and loving every minute of it.

Yes, Shinji still whines but its more tolerable in the film version.  Changes were made to make him slightly less whiny and more courageous.  The film is structured a bit differently from the anime TV series and somehow, the pacing is much easier to take for the viewer with the film version and felt that the screenplay for the first film, the quality of the animation and artistic backgrounds and the music all worked together fantastically.  I found myself happy and content with this sequel and even enjoyed it much more than the first film (which was awesome) and  I look forward to seeing how Anno and the GAINAX crew tweaks the next film.

I was quite amazed to see the number of changes that were implemented in the second film.  To see the new character Maki, to see the new designs for the EVA units and Angels and to see changes in the storyline (including Asuka’s last name), not to say that the storyline was completely redone but there were significant changes and I will say how much I loved the storyline for this second film and the changes that were done over the TV series.  I’m sure purists will have problems with the changes but seriously, I love where the film is going and how things are structured.  Also, the animation and voice acting is absolutely wonderful!

As for the Blu-ray release, this release was just fantastic. Not entirely perfect as there is slight banding but for the majority of the film, picture quality was awesome and I love the 6.1 lossless soundtrack.  The soundtrack was much better this time around for both vocal tracks and I loved how the channels, including the surround, rear surround and LFE were used for this film.  As for special features, they are short but the biggest addition was the commentary track and it was good thinking by ADR director Mike McFarland to interview as many voice talent as possible.  I really enjoyed the commentary track.

Fifteen years later, it was definitely great to see Evangelion sporting newer animation, CG, artwork and a solid screenplay and soundtrack. But most importantly, done in the way that the director Hideaki Anno had wanted and so far, the majority of fans have been supportive of the storyline thus far. And after I watched this second film, I can tell you that I loved every minute of it! The action, the drama is still intact. Things may be a little different but still, fans of the original series will definitely enjoy this film release.

“Evangelion: 2.22 – You Can (Not) Advance” will surprise you.  It will excite you.  And I have no doubt that the majority of EVA fans will find this second film intriguing and awesome!

This is a must-buy EVA release!  Highly recommended!

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