One of the highlights for me at the Reel Anime Festival in 2010 was Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, the exhilarating second part in the new theatrical version of the landmark anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Since that time, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the next part. And now, thanks to the good people at Madman who have decided to run the Reel Anime Festival again this year instead of 2014 (as it has traditionally been run every 2 years), the long wait for the chance to see Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo on the big screen is finally over.
Like Evangelion 2.0, 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo is another spectacular thrill ride that truly deserves to be experienced on the big screen. It opens with Asuka and Mari carrying out a dangerous mission to retrieve Shinji and Eva Unit 01. And this opening sequence really showcases the brilliance of the film’s animation, which continues throughout the film. The 2D/3D visuals and rich colour palette are amazing to look at, while the design and fluidity of the action scenes are simply flawless. The music by composer Shiro Sagisu helps fill the film with feelings and emotions. The edge-of-the-seat final showdown is easily one of the best film climaxes in recent years.
As the story unfolds, audiences find out what has happened to the main characters and the world they live in. Unfortunately, the film is actually let down by the story that it tries to tell. The new direction that director Hideaki Anno decides to take the film’s story is bold and not entirely convincing, with a number of plot holes and breakdown in continuity if you look at the 3 films together. The interesting new plot lines introduced in the previous film are not explored further, and have in some ways been made irrelevant by what happens in the third film. Many of the beloved characters are turned into one-dimensional supporting cast, while the interesting young love triangle between Shinji, Rei and Azuka is sadly no longer in existence. Loyal fans of all things Evangelion will no doubt pick up on many of these issues and many may find them frustrating.
While I found my experience of watching Evangelion 3.0 not quite as satisfactory as I had with the 1.0 and 2.0, there is no doubt still an incredible lot to be enjoyed here. The fact that the action scenes in 3.0 manage to outshine those in the second film is in itself an achievement. Even though the story here feels a bit confusing on first viewing, I am hoping that repeat viewing and the upcoming release of the fourth and final film in the series will help make sense of everything and allow it to all fit together into the amazing whole that we have all been wishing for.
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo is screening in cinemas around Australia right now as part of the REEL ANIME 2013 festival: see the official site for details!