oh yes, you want this

evangelion penguinGod’s in his heaven.  All’s right with the world.

I am not a fan of director’s cuts and the related phenomena of special editions and extended versions.  Sometimes director’s cuts are vastly superior to the original commercial version of the movie.  Sometimes the studio has a failure of nerve and wrecks a film and the better movie is the one the director would have made without the intervention of weak-kneed philistines (Blade Runner, the first director’s cut, springs to mind).  But usually…well, usually, stuff was left out of the finished product for a reason.  Peter Jackson is a competent director and he worked some magic with Lord of the Rings but adding another 500 hours to the running time of the trilogy does not make them better movies. Aliens was not improved by adding in a 2o minute explanation of how Newt came to be hiding out in a bug infested space station.   And although those of us willing to fork over good money for the director’s unfiltered vision sometimes get a far superior movie,  we usually end up with Greedo shooting first.

With CGI now ubiquitous a new trend has developed, that of “rebuilding” to take advantage of advances in technology and to port the new version to Blu-ray.  It’s particularly prevalent in anime, since rebuilding is merely a matter of going back to the the old animations and updating them.  Rebuilds are done for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it’s because the original came out before the manga was complete, so the anime is redone to more closely adhere to the books (as in the excellent Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood).  Sometimes it’s because canonical works were done 10 or 20 or more years ago and they have found a new audience that expects better graphics  (Akira, Ghost in the ShellDragonball Z, hell they even rebuilt Astro Boy).  Although sometimes the rebuilds just add a little footage and spruce up the images, sometimes the changes are profound.   Story lines are changed, characters are added or deleted, new subs/dubs are created, new music is added, and different elements of the original story are highlighted.   Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

A friend got me the new Blu-ray Evangelion 1.11 rebuild as an early birthday present.  And oh boy, does it work.  It is amazing.  The film basically comprises the first six episodes of the original Evangelion and as near as my poor memory can recall, it is reasonably faithful to the original.   There are significant improvements to the graphics, lighting, and plot progression (not least because this version removes the need to watch the opening and closing credits six times).   The lighting changes and some redrawing makes some of the scenes more claustrophobic and intense and the storytelling is tighter.  There are significant changes to the Evas and  some of the Angels and to the battles, and most of the ladies have bigger…tracts of land…than I recall.  (This site has lots of good screenshots from the old and the new versions.)   I did miss the original opening and closing songs but the new soundtrack is very good.   I watched it in Japanese this time and (as usual) the characters are totally different in their native language.  This is particularly true for Shinji, who was nearly intolerable in English.  For some reason his totally appropriate fear and confusion and panic and anger don’t come off as cry-baby whingeing in Japanese.

A total of four movies are planned; the second one has already been released in Japan and introduces a new Eva pilot.  I have read that the first three films will follow the original anime reasonably closely but that the fourth will provide a different ending (I’ve actually lost count of how many endings there are for Evangelion, LOL).    This is definitely one of those occasions where the rebuild, reboot, special edition, extended version, dance remix, director’s cut, whatever you want to call it, was worth doing, worth the wait, and worth the money.   If Eva 1.11 is anything to go by, you will want to put the next ones on your wish list naow.   Misato promises more fan service in the next installment and we’d hate to miss that, wouldn’t we?

Now if Funimation would just market a Nerv coffee cup…

Score:  W00t!!

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~ by gun street girl on June 9, 2010.

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