Movie Review: Evangerion shin gekijôban: Ha (Evangelion 2.0: You Can [Not] Advance) (2009)

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Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from Miles’s harddrive.

About two years ago we decided to finally get into Neon Genesis Evangelion. As an anime fan it’s hard not to hear about it all the time because it’s one of the bigger series. We started with the new(ish) movie, part one of a tetralogy that condenses and somewhat re-writes the whole series. Then we started watching the actual show, but it turns out it’s just ok and we got bored with the super annoying main character. AND SO we decided to just watch the movies. Whatever, you guys. Whatever. The second film in the tetralogy, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, continues this inscrutable story of whiny teenagers who pilot huge semi-organic mechs in a fight against “Angels”, who are huge monster things that attack Earth all the time. Everything is confusing but it’s really pretty. And my favorite character arrives! Well, second-favorite, after the penguin roommate obviously.

Seriously, I never know what the fuck is going on in this series but that’s part of what makes it so interesting. The greater world is weird and broken and complicated, and the larger story is only hinted at as the pieces gradually come together. The combination of Christian religious imagery and surreal military technology is bizarre but effective, and I really do love watching these robots fight. The animation is lovely, with bright colors and truly creative design, though the exploitative ladyparts factor is as high as most other anime that isn’t made by Studio Ghibli. I also liked seeing the scope and general ramifications of this future expanded upon, since the films’ overall narrative approach is more personal and at first there wasn’t much focus on the politics surrounding the Eva pilots. The greater story slowly builds on itself and now I’m actually pretty excited for the next movie since it looks like it will have to be much grander in its storytelling.

As usual, protagonist Shinji is an annoying crybaby who doesn’t really have much going on, personality-wise, but luckily he’s surrounded by characters who are actually interesting. Rei continues to be a weird blank space and basically someone’s sexy daydream, but she shows some guts toward the end. And Misato is still funny and cool and (mostly) in command. The best part is obviously newcomer Asuka, an extremely confident prodigy who doesn’t really know how to interact with people. She’s funny in her bluntness but also sympathetic in her lack of social understanding or experience. She’s mean, but I like her as a character. Plus she’s a really good pilot!

I don’t have much else to say, I guess, and I know this is impossible for anyone who doesn’t already know about Neon Genesis Evangelion. But yeah pretty good movie, definitely an improvement on the first one, and I look forward to the third film where the stakes are higher and different subplots will hopefully come together in a way that makes some kind of sense. Maybe?

4/5

Pair This Movie With: I mean it’s part of a series so it kind of has to be the first one or the third one (which just came out in the US).

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