Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coming To Terms With Evangelion 2.22

Well, I guess it's time to post about something I swore I wasn't going to. After two mildly diverging posts regarding this film via Anime Diet( Here & Here) , I guess it had made a much bigger impact on me than I had initially imagined. And it isn't for lack of trying that the second installment of Gainax/Khara's big-budget redux/sequel to the Shin Seiki Evangelion saga came off to me as something of a disappointment. But upon catching this again in all of its Blu-ray glory this week, it is perhaps more about running into what this film is by form, rather than what I was hoping it would have been as a feature. And in this manner, I rather enjoyed it much more this time than any time prior. And it is perhaps due to the fact that I am finally coming around to what it is, rather than some kind of imagined ideal. Especially considering that there was indeed a time when a Hollywood-produced live action version was in the planning stages.

And with this thought in mind, I can now see that what has happened is something quite possibly BETTER than anything that could come out of a large english-language production. (consider - AKIRA..) So what has happened here, is that Anno/Tsurumaki have beat Hollywood at their own game and fashioned a brilliant response to what could have been, as well as a reasoned response to the original classic series and films without tarnishing any of the legacy that made this property what it is. To now consider that this is a splashy, loud actioner with a reverence to what has come before makes it a heartening project when considering what it could have also been; a cold, forced rehash of the series made only for venture capital reasons.

And seeing as how in many ways with it's relentless easter egging, and scattered visual & thematic clues, what we have is a piece that functions less as a complete, coherent narrative, and more of an exploration of this apocalyptic tale from a looped perspective. With our leads unknowingly in a position of "doing it all over again", we are privy to a sort of spiritual growth of sorts. It works not unlike when a celebrated musician does a revitalized, mature version of an old favorite. The notes have a taste for the familiar, but the keys have changed, offering another emotional dimension that wasn't there prior. This is where 2.22 works for me personally. As a testament to the story and characters that have gone on to icon status with their broken, flawed personalities, and conflicting motives, to see them take new turns, and exhibit parts of themselves that the original scenario denied them is a welcome feeling. And this is done in a way that in no manner feels as if it's some kind of "apology for past sins", but rather an affirmation that these parts of Shinji, Rei, & Asuka were always there, the chance just never before revealed themselves.It is here that the films work as moving new twists in the mythos, and supercede the jumbled, and often rushed narrative which is likely what would have happened in a much less satisfying fashion in an american version.

So yes, this is an incredibly commercial, "actionized" take on what was a much more drawn out, pessimistic tale the first time around. But this was the Anno of the 1990s, with all the pain and sadness that came with it. So for better or worse, this could very well be the famed anime director's way of signalling the anime/manga creators of the future to continue creating more personally-driven works within a commercial medium. That it is in fact possible to inspire weighty discussion with an art form that has recently fallen into disarray. Goodness willing that even more new and original creations will come to fruition after the wholly new Eva films come out with an entirely unprecedented new finale. If these films can build upon the legacy of such a classic series, and thereby inspire a healing Japan's need for newness, then maybe these films are a completely necessary means of revealing a new identity.

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