Neon Genesis Evangelion - Platinum: 02 Review
Nothing seems to go right for Shinji; first he’s thrust into battle, piloting a mech-assault beast that he doesn’t understand, then he’s forced to live under the same roof as Misato, who isn’t exactly the tidiest of hosts. What’s more he’s yet to get to know his fellow NERV pilot Rei, who has just recovered from a terrible accident, and now he’s got to contend with the new girl in town - Asuka. It’s enough to get on anyone’s NERVes.
When we last left Shinji he was in the midst of a battle as his Eva unit went up against another Angel attack, and he wasn’t exactly doing too well. Volume 2 picks up immediately where the first volume left off. Shortly after Shinji gets through his fight he’s placed into another undesirable situation, whereby he must team up with Rei and take out a fortress like Angel that’s begun to drill into NERV headquarters. This presents the first in a series of further character relations that take up much of this volume. Shinji, being a little lost in all of this, tries to find solace in those around him. Rei intrigues him although she’s something of an enigma. Here he presses her a little for information, to which she reciprocates in the only way she knows how to. At this stage very little is known about her past, certainly nothing that she’d care to share anyway. She’s an automaton who needs permission just to smile at someone, but there’s something about her that allows Shinji to come out of his shell and stop moping around for just a moment. While both characters are decidedly different they seem to share an unrivalled connection that sees them being able to work in sync with one another, which is all the more vital to the success of the Eva units’ everyday missions, and more importantly for the prevention of a world disaster.
One of the more interesting relationships so far in the series is that shared by Shinji and Misato because of their work and home differences. When at home Shinji can’t stand her early morning drinking and slob-like ways, talking mean about her behind her back; whilst at work, however, he sees a totally different side to her - a commanding and respected officer who might not be so bad after all. When they must work together to prevent a nuclear fuelled robot from crushing everything that stands in its way Shinji ends up warming to her more than he ever has done. But just as he thinks she’s beginning to show some promise she goes back to her usual ways once they arrive home. His friends meanwhile are envious that he gets to live with such a beautiful woman, and they tell him in not so many words that he should be grateful for it and stop being such a stick in the mud.
Soon enough NERV calls into action its “Second Child”, pilot of Evangelion Unit-02 Asuka Langley Sohryu. When a pacific fleet transports the young German pilot across the ocean with her Eva, Shinji, his friends Toji and Aida and Misato join them for introductions. Accompanying Asuka is Kaji, who just so happens to be an old flame of Misato’s, which naturally spurs on a few awkward moments. But as the sole focus Asuka is introduced as a heady, impatient and gung-ho young woman who lets vanity get the better of her. It’s not long before an Angel attack sees her jump into action (quite literally) as she takes Eva-02 out to play hopscotch with a bunch of expensive cruisers. She also drags Shinji along with her and soon enough it becomes apparent that they don’t exactly work well as a team. While she won’t admit it Asuka is jealous of Shinji’s ability to have suddenly been able to sync with his Eva, which doesn’t seem likely to her because he comes across as a wimp. Regardless she must learn to get along with him, and soon enough the pair are ordered to live together with Misato and go through a training regime that should have them being able to work as one. Asuka eventually meets Rei, gaining little response from her and thus making the new trio’s job of connecting a tad more difficult.
Elsewhere in the volume we begin to see certain storylines open up. The Second Impact is discussed briefly, while Shinji learns that he’s at NERV to prevent the third from ever happening, the one that will wipe out the human race. As a result he starts to brush up on his knowledge because until now the Eva and NERV’s operation has eluded him. But there are some things he doesn’t know, those which involve government conspiracies. We see how unknown parties begin to dabble in exercises that threaten NERV’s position as defence leaders, due to the fact that far too much money is being pumped into their operation. But it goes deeper still as we also witness Shinji’s father Gendo working toward a plan that involves Angel embryos. This of course leaves viewers scratching their heads for now, in addition to Misato and Asuka’s conversation which lets us know that Misato knows everything about everyone working at NERV.
Episode: 06 Rei II
Shinji is left to recover after his disastrous confrontation with the fifth Angel. Meanwhile Misato puts into effect Operation Yashima, ordering a nationwide blackout so that the country’s energy source can be put to use on a prototype weapon designed to pierce the shell of Angel invaders. In order for this to work Shinji and Rei must work together in sync through their Eva units.
Episode: 07 A Human Work
Shinji learns a little about Second Impact and the purpose of the Eva units. At a conference party Misato and Dr. Ritsuko are involved in a debate concerning NERV’s future. They’re soon subjected to witness the activation of a nuclear powered robot that threatens to end NERV’s expensive operation. However, the robot goes berserk and is heading toward a populated city. Misato and Shinji must race and put an end to it before a meltdown occurs.
Episode: 08 Asuka Strikes!
Misato, Shinji and his friends make their way to a fleet that is carrying the new prototype Eva-02. Here they meet its pilot Asuka Langley Sohryu, shortly before the sixth Angel attacks. Now Shinji must partner up with Asuka as she makes her stunning debut.
Episode: 09 Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!
When Asuka and Shinji fail to destroy the seventh Angel, after witnessing it split into two halves, they’re ordered to undergo an extreme training regime that will require them to work in perfect unison if they ever hope to defeat it.
Episode: 10 Magma Diver
Shinji, Rei and Asuka are given a little time off to relax and study at a NERV center. Soon the eighth Angel is discovered to be lying dormant in an embryonic state at the bottom of Mt. Asama. The Eva-02 is fitted with necessary protection, while Asuka must get ready to pilot it and head a thousand feet deep into the mountain’s molten core.
The second volume in ADV’s platinum collection is presented in the same fashion as the first: a regular amaray case featuring some lovely artwork, this time of Rei, housed in a shiny silver slip-case. Accompanying this is another wonderful, glossy, full-colour booklet that offers episode commentaries, stills, and introduction to the opening sequence and profiles for the sixth, seventh and eighth Angels.
As with the first volume:
ADV have been lucky enough (or rich enough) to acquire the newly restored Japanese masters, which present the series in a way it has never been seen, reportedly surpassing the quality of those originally broadcast in 1995. This is how all remastered anime should look. Like the extensive work put into their Robotech releases ADV present a series that looks nothing short of stunning, even for its age and original hand painted artwork. Looking at the series in a time where the likes of Studio GONZO continually impress with their updated techniques, Neon Genesis Evangelion still looks amazing. The budget shows and the animation is often beautiful. This is all complimented with a lovingly restored print that shows little in the way of dust and dirt, although a tiny amount of edge enhancement is present. Still, the colours are exuberant and detail is amazing. Considering the age of the series and its naturally inherent look and what has been done to make it look as best as it possibly can, this gets almost perfect marks. A top notch effort, one that I wish could be made for more shows. I must point out though that this is an NTSC – PAL conversion.
Presented in 5.1 Surround, both the Japanese and English audio tracks present a rich amount of spatial effects, that impress from its opening, but it is when we hear the cries of the Eva unit, the sound of battle rifles blazing or the extremely emotional vocals of its main cast that the series really comes alive. This is an ear blowing experience that is up there with the best and thankfully the problems from before appear to have bee rectified.
Optional English subtitles provided, being well times and free from error.
Audio Commentary with Tiffany Grant (Asuka) and Allison Shipp (Misato)
As to be expected there is nothing to learn in terms of the show’s genesis, production and so on. Grant and Shipp fondly recall the recording sessions back in 1997 and provide their personal opinions on their respective characters. It’s nice that they don’t spoil any of the series, even mentioning that there are bound to be those who haven’t yet seen it. For fans of the dub it’s a welcome addition the release.
Clean opening and closing credits are also present, along with an animatic for episode 9. The animatic is much worn and consists of line art and many cels in various stages of colour. It runs for twenty minutes and proves to be a nice addition for hard core fans. ADV previews for Fist of the North Star, Chrono Crusade, Gad Guard, Last Exile and Gravion rounds off the disc.
The second volume of Neon Geneses Evangelion does little to give away answers, it in fact it only goes on to raise more questions. On the other hand the character interactions, humour and action sequences are exuberantly staged, even if the Eva battles manage to neatly tie themselves up through timely coincidence or otherwise. There’s plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep things lively, which makes the third volume something to look forward to.