So finally, after 9 months of the movie being out and me generally avoiding the spoilers (or ignoring them), I got to watch Evangelion 2.0 in full cinematic glory.
First off, the story is finally diverging from the TV series and generally I like this new direction.
Shinji is lot more hot-blooded this time round. I was expecting to go “fuck yeah, Asuka” for the movie, but it was pretty much “fuck yeah, Shinji” a lot more. The parts when he faced off the Eighth and the Tenth Angels was more from Gurren Lagann than Evangelion. Seriously, I went like “Is this really Shinji?!” a lot of times in the movie. Overall, I think his character’s really changed for the best and while it’s weird to say this, but Neo-Shinji really earns my respect for his actions.
Oh god, Asuka’s new test plugsuit!
This version of Asuka is a lot more… tragic compared to the TV series. She’s still the same obstinate person from the TV series, but she opens up a lot more this time round. There was two really tender scenes in the movie, firstly when Asuka has a sleepless night and crawls beside Shinji, and one more while she was talking to Misato about how she always thought being alone was fine, but ever since meeting the others, she started thinking that being with others can be nice as well. I almost cried a bit then. Maybe it’s also the lack of screentime as well, but Rebuild Asuka also comes off a little less overbearing as well. Too bad she’s the unlucky Unit 03 test pilot this time :(.
Rebuild Rei is possibly the most extreme change of characterization so far, with her starting to develop real emotions for Shinji and actually taking action to “make him feel warm and fuzzy”. Man, that elevator faceoff between Asuka and Rei was pretty legendary as well. I was like “oh wow, is this Rei?!”. Plus, she’s actually smiling a lot more now! Probably a huge change for Rei fans to take in. And Shinji x Rei fans are probably going to talk about the final 30 mins of the movie for years to come.
New character Mari, very convincingly voiced by Maaya Sakamoto (she has the best English of the whole Japanese cast!!), is truly a force-of-nature on her own. An attention stealer at every scenes she appear, she has feral quality to her that makes even certain doom seem like casual everyday life for her. But thankfully, she never steals the thunder out of from the old cast, which was something I was hoping not to happen. Still, she is different and unique enough that she does deserve a place in the Evangelion pilot roster.
Overall, the new character dynamics makes them a lot more “human” than previously, especially Asuka with her. I really like this version of Asuka, as she is more honest to herself. Rei is finally starting to have a real character of her own, instead of being the idealized doll of the series. Mari is proves to be an interesting addition to the whole series and we have yet to see her true role in the big picture. Finally, Shinji is pretty much turning in to Simon, a good or bad change depending on how you like the original series.
Other aspects of the movie I’d like to mention out is the technical quality. While the first movie had a lot recycled scenes from the TV series, 2.0 is where the new vision of Evangelion truly shines through. The Angels look extremely amazing, awe-inspiring yet threatening at the same time. The Eighth and the Ninth was truly visual eyecandy, not to mention 8th was done in by a Inazuma Kick homage by Asuka. Tokyo 3 is a less sterile city as well, thanks to the addition of the scenes that show how daily life around the city is like. While minor, it makes the city feel more alive and adds to the “ugh, ouch” scenes where parts of the city is destroyed. Oh and the part where Kaji brings the gang out for a trip to a Marine Life Restoration Center also makes the world of Eva feel very post-apocalyptic as well.
Another is the accompaniment music pieces chosen for two important scenes of the movie. Firstly, Kyou no Hi ha Sayonara played during the destruction of Unit 03 was truly a mindfuck. On the other hand, Tsubasa wo Kudasai was a profound choice for the climax of the movie. On one hand, it was pretty awesome, on another hand, I felt it was rather LOLRANDOM. I had thought it was a weird the OST had those tracks in it, but now… yeah, I can see why.
I’d really like to rewatch the whole thing again, but the epic cockblocking censorship of the local screening copies don’t really make it worth it. Well, the Blu-Ray’s coming out in 2 months time! That’s an acceptable waiting time. Hoping to get an Asuka scene for the filmstrip this time.