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Rebuild

Last year, Hideaki Anno – creator of Shinseiki Evangelion – officially announced a project known as Rebuild of Evangelion, a coproduction of Gainax and Anno's own Studio Khara.  The project is a retelling of the original story with all new animation, new characters, and an entirely new ending, to be released as four, feature-length films.  The goal is to make it more accessible and to fix the problems that arose with the original project as a result of budgeting and other, industrial pressures (to say nothing about rumors of mental health problems).  It's easy to be skeptical, and at one point I made a comment to the effect of beating a dead horse with an over-milked cow, but the preview material I've seen so far makes me hopeful.

Earlier this month, the first of four films was released in Japan, taking the number one place at the Japanese box office.  Written and directed by Anno himself, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone more or less covers the first six episodes of the original series, but with gorgeous, new animation and a soundtrack featuring Utada Hikaru.  The first preview material I saw was a music video on this page including the new theme song, "Beautiful World," and clips from the film.  That page also includes a sample of Hikki's rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon" and her "Kiss & Cry" song played to clips from Katsuhiro Ôtomo's FREEDOM.

The music and animation are impressive, but what hits me the most is the emotion it evokes.  Evangelion was always a fairly cerebral experience, but most of the emotion in the series and the films was an expression of trauma; there were few of those heartfelt subtleties one would expect from real people.  For a quick example of what I mean about the new films, here are some pictures from the official website:


Those shots of Shinji and Rei actually show hints of personality – Shinji's bemused smirk, Rei's genuine surprise – and that's something that was too scarce in the original run of the series.  If you were looking for that sort of thing, it was there, but by and large, the characters played their roles as archetypes more than as people.

For more sneak peeks, including the trailer for 2.0 (using Hikki's "Fly Me to the Moon"), there are a number of videos uploaded to YouTube.  I'm excited to see this as soon as it's available.  It could have been a complete failure, but so far it's looking good.  The first film played with standing-room only in Tokyo theatres and was met with applause.

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