Sunday, May 11, 2008

Anime — Wevangeliwon 1.01 : You are (not) alone

The original TV series was one that I had heard about as required viewing, one of the must-watch classics of Japanese giant robot anime, long before it was available on DVD and before I had the technology on tap to get sucked into the anime/fansub scene. As such it was the second thing I picked up, after Dirty Pair Flash, and it sort of became a way of life for a while.

I haven't blogged a real review of the original series, because I put together a fan site instead. As a series that was director Hideaki Anno's art-therapy for depression, it is full of characters who are themselves psychologically damaged in one fashion or another. If you see yourself in any of them it can be very raw experience -- for me, it was Asuka, aspects of whose plight touched upon areas I had thought were thirty years exorcised and buried -- and hence the whole series becomes something of a mirror to the viewer.

Now, over a decade later, a remake in movie form, with the first part covering 6 out of 26 TV episodes in about 2/3 the time.

It clearly shows that this is done with more money and technology (as the shots of Ramiel, the no longer just octahedral angel, show), but less time -- the school sequences are compressed. But while some things stay the same -- Misato's photo -- others change, for reasons yet to be revealed, if for any reason beyond "it looks cool" -- the streets where Shinji sees the apparition of Rei are now years overgrown, rather than just-now evacuated; and the sea that has flooded parts of Japan is now red.

One of the lures of the original series is that it told a lot of the tale by implication -- you have to piece the bigger picture together from what the characters say to each other, or just how they react. After just retelling the first quarter or so of the tale, the movie ends with a big reveal that came near the end of the series, and then a whole bunch of entirely new material -- including a preview of the next movie that is 80% entirely new material inconsistent with the series (and more akin to bad fan-fics -- who is this Mari, the new girl in glasses, anyway?).

Oh yea, that title "Wevangeliwon" -- well, the kana used in the movie title to spell the foreign word have changed, dragging in two obsolete characters normally romanized as "we" and "wo".

Of course it's a must-watch, but more because of the original than from its own merits.

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