"Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo" had a one-night only showing at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park location here in Houston on Friday, January 10. The film is currently still playing at Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park.
"Neon Genesis Evangelion" is an anime from the late 90s that combined subtle religious undertones and murderous mecha in an apocalyptic setting that was utterly jawdropping on one hand, but moderately bewildering on the other. The last two episodes of the series were rushed into production and lacked in quality, so two films were developed, "Death & Rebirth" and "The End of Evangelion," to try to end the series properly. A tetralogy film series meant as a reboot for the television series known as the Rebuild of Evangelion began in 2007 (released in the USA in 2009) with "Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone" and continued with "Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance" nearly two years later. The wait between the second and third films was nearly three years, but finally "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo" is making its way through the states.
"You Are (Not) Alone" and "You Can (Not) Advance" were mostly a retelling of the television series with updated animation blending the latest computer generated special effects with traditional animation other than the introduction of a new character named Mari Illustrious Makinami in "Evangelion 2.0." "Evangelion 3.0" erupts as soon as it begins with Asuka rescuing Shinji from Unit-01 as Mari lazily backs her up. After Shinji is rescued, a collar is slapped on him that is set to detonate if he ever decides to pilot an EVA again. A new organization called WILLE has come together to destroy NERV and the Evangelions. Misato Katsuragi is now the captain of a flying battleship called Wunder and is the head of WILLE along with Ritsuko Akagi. To make matters worse, 14 years have passed but the EVA pilots can no longer age. After discovering what happened to Rei, the truth of Third Impact is revealed once Shinji meets Kaworu Nagisa. The fate of the world rests with Shinji Ikari and the limits of his fragile mentality is stretched to its limits in "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo."
This is the first film that is entirely new material in the Rebuild of Evangelion series and it practically turns your brains inside out of what you know about the series. The series tends to take pride in being intentionally muddy in meaning since its symbolism can be taken several different ways, but the first 20 minutes or so of "Evangelion 3.0" are more confusing than you can probably expect. It's as if your brain can't properly process and digest what you're witnessing. The animation is absolutely fantastic and completely gorgeous, but if someone was to walk in and ask what was going on all you could say in response would be, "pretty colors." Being familiar with the rest of the series helps you comprehend a bit more, but you still feel somewhat blind.
What's unraveled in the film is completely devastating and warps the Shinji character to an all new level. It gives the entire series new meaning and it'll be interesting to see how well it's received by fans; old and new. It's a bold direction that took a lot of guts just to pull the trigger on and follow through with and is absolutely appreciated on a personal level. How often do creators of popular films and television series get to return to their projects more than a decade after the fact, shake up what's become a worldwide phenomenon, and give that project new meaning?
The superb amalgamation of CG and crisp animation along with plenty of extremely violent mecha battles resulting in chaotic bloodshed and mesmerizing destruction is enough to entice just about any anime fan, but "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo" takes a lot of risks that may not sit well with gestating fans of the anime. However, it's a new enough direction to make this film absolutely mandatory viewing for a long running franchise. As a fan, "Evangelion: 3.0" is the film you've been wanting this series to take for a long, long time. It's not often you stumble onto a reboot that not only covers what you've already seen, but offers a completely new second half. The original series set the standard for innovative anime series and "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo" feels like the first revolutionary step towards the absolute apocalyptic and brain warping ecstasy "Evangelion" fans have been anticipating.