NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: DEATH AND REBIRTH (1997)

 

Format:  69-minute featurette (Death) followed by a 4½ minute intermission and

               25-minute preview of End of Evangelion (Rebirth), all presented as one movie

 

Rating: PG-13 (AC, GV) for Death, R (N, AC, AL, GV) for Rebirth

 

American Production: Manga Video/Gaijin Studios

 

Japanese Production: GAINAX/Production I.G.

 

Grading

Death

Rebirth

Premise:

B

A-

Story:

A

A-

Writing:

A

A-

Character Design:

A-

A-

Mecha Design:

A

A

Animation:

B

B

Artistic Merits:

B+

B+

English Dub:

A

A

Musical Score:

A

B+

Opener:

n/a

n/a

Closer:

A

n/a

 

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

n/a

Action Content:

n/a

A

Drama Content:

A-

A

 

 

 

DVD Presentation:

         A-

DVD Extras:

         A

 

 

 

OVERALL:

A-

A-

 

NOTE: This review assumes that you have watched the original series. If you have not, you might not want to proceed further!

 

Synopsis - Death

      A thematic review of Neon Genesis Evangelion through Episode 24 set against the framework of preparations for a string quartet performance of a Bach concerto by the Eva pilots. Mixed in are altered perspectives on some scenes and a few minutes of new footage. Most significant among these are a scene detailing Second Impact and the moments leading up to it, a conversation between Fuyutski and Yui Ikari which implies that Fuyutski had more than a passing interest in Yui, and a Rei-eye view of her first death (from Episode 21).

 

The Long View – Death

      Most of the “new” clips added for Death are actually scenes that were deleted or not finished, and so some of them appear on the Director’s Cut version of NGE Episodes 21-23 (available only in Japan at this time). Many of the clips taken from the original series have been rescored and redubbed, and in a few cases have entirely different scripting. Other scenes give alternate perspectives, such as a scene of Rei and Shinji talking in a hospital room that shows them from a distance rather than from their alternating perspectives. The whole package provides some valuable additional insight, so Death is certainly worth a view even if you don’t need the summary to be reminded of what has transpired. The framing device is an interesting touch, and whether or not this string quarter performance is a hypothetical situation or was an unaired scene from one of the later episodes is a cause for great speculation among Evangelion fans. The musical score that spawns from it is excellent.

      The original series and Death/Rebirth were dubbed five years apart, but all of the voice actors in the key roles are back. Some of the significant supporting roles – such as Fuyutski and the main NERV techs – have been replaced, apparently because the original performers were not available. One interesting change is Amanda Winn Lee, who voices Rei, also picking up the role of Shinji’s mother Yui. (This change does, of course, make perfect sense if you’ve figured out Rei’s secrets by this point.) She also co-directed, co-produced, and wrote the script for the dubbed version of both Death and Rebirth.

      The closer for Death also deserves special mention. Though it may seem like a static scene, the sun slowly sets as the credits roll and the string concerto plays. A neat effect! Also note the perspective of the closer, for Rebirth opens with the same scene but from a reverse perspective. (A nice, subtle touch in its own right.)

 

Synopsis – Rebirth

      The first 25 minutes of Episode 25’ from End of Evangelion, it picks up the story right after the events in Episode 24 of the original series: the final Angel has been defeated, Asuka is still out of it, Shinji is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and SEELE is less than pleased that their efforts to regain control of NERV and the Human Instrumentality Project have been thwarted. They aren’t about to let NERV Director Gendo Ikari subsume their direction of the next stage in human evolution, so they set out to reassert their will the hard way. When a computer-based attack on NERV fails, they send in elite military forces – essentially making mankind the 18th Angel. All hope is not lost, though, because all the key NERV personnel survive the first wave, and Asuka finally comes out of her funk in a big way. And then the Eva production line models arrive. . . and the story cuts off. You have to watch End of Evangelion to learn the rest.

 

The Long View - Rebirth

      Rebirth entirely replaces Episodes 25 and 26, offering the beginning to the new ending demanded by fans. It is as well-done as any of the series episodes and easily continues the spirit, storytelling, and action that made the original Evangelion what it is. It is far, far more graphic than any of the series episodes, however. See the End of Evangelion review for further details.

 

The Long View – Both

      Between the added clues gleaned from Death, the new revelations in Rebirth, and what is provided in the included encyclopedic entries, it is finally possibly to start piecing the entirety of the Evangelion picture together. There are some startling revelations to be had here, even if you think you’ve already figured out most of it.

 

DVD Extras

      Take a minute or two to watch the main menu screen at some point while playing the DVD. It is interesting. So many weighty extras are included with Death/Rebirth that, in a highly unusual move, they are encoded on the back side of the DVD. (Normally in such cases the extras are encoded on a second DVD so that appropriate artwork can be put on the opposite side.) These extras include:

·       Audio Commentary – Featuring Amanda Winn Lee, co-director and co-producer Jason Lee, and Taleisen Jaffe, who provides “additional voices” on Death/Rebirth and other project support. This is the most interesting and informative such feature I’ve ever heard for anime, as it provides substantive additional insights on the story and meaning of Evangelion as well as extensive behind-the-scenes information on the translation and production of Death/Rebirth. I highly recommend giving it a chance.

·      Magi Archives – An extensive encyclopedic reference divided into four categories. Take time to read these entries, because you can get details from them that are difficult or impossible to extrapolate from the series itself.

·      Mokuji Interactive – This unique feature (I’ve never seen it on any other anime DVD) links the viewer to relevant Magi Archives entries while watching Death and Rebirth. The options pop up in a bar on the bottom of the screen as you’re watching, and if selected they take you to the appropriate entry while the action is paused. The feature could use some refinement (the references aren’t always timely) but is a great option nonetheless.

·       Photo gallery

·       Preview of End of Evangelion

·       Death and Rebirth trailers

·       Company trailers

·      Company DVD catalog (a rare feature in recent years, includes briefs on 26 titles from Manga)

 

Links

The Evangelion Otaku Page - http://www.evaotaku.com/index2.html

- Provides several references not available elsewhere, including translated versions of the Red Cross Book and other supplementary material released by GAINAX, translated scripts, Director’s Cut details, and alternative scripts.

 

NERV Headquarters - http://www.nervheadquarters.com/

- A solid (if poorly-edited) collection of information on many Evangelion-related topics

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Shinji Ikari (3rd Child)

Spike Spencer

Rei Ayanami (1st Child),

 Yui Ikari*, Pen-Pen

Amanda Winn Lee

Asuka Langley Soryu (2nd Child)

Tiffany Grant

Misato Katsuragi

Allison Keith

Ritsuko Ikagi

Sue Ulu

Gendo Ikari

Tristan MacAvery

Fuyutsuki*

Michael Ross

Ryoji Kaji

Aaron Krohn

Maya Ibuki*

Amy Seely

Makoto Hyuga*

Keith Burgess

Shigeru Aoba

Jason Lee

Toji Suzuhara (4th Child)*

Brett Weaver

Kensuke Aida

Kurt Stoll

Hikari Horaki (Class Rep)*

Kimberly Yates

Chairman Keel*

Tom Booker

Dr. Akagi (Ritsuko’s mother)

Laura Chapman

 

            * - indicates a role whose voice actor has changed from the original series.

 

 

 

Home   |   Anime Reviews   |    Manga Reviews   |   References   |   Links   |  Bibliography