Neon Genesis Evangelion-Death & Rebirth (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Active Subtitle Track-Mokuji Interactive
|Year Of Production||1997|
|Running Time||107:22 (Case: 103)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (18:57)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.70:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during credits|
Has it really only been just on a year since I reviewed the last of the episode collections of Neon Genesis Evangelion? Man it seems longer than that! Those that were in for the long haul with the episodes of one of the most successful anime series of all time will remember that the series ended on a very enigmatic note with all sorts of existential connotations thrown around in the at-times bizarre last two episodes. Well, it seems that I was not the only confused bugger around and there was a degree of dissatisfaction with the way the series ended in a lot of minds. Which means of course that there was a real easy shoe-in for some form of movie to produce a more satisfying (read easier to understand or less bizarre) ending to the whole apocalyptic deal, as well as to make a few more dollars out of the series. That film was End Of Evangelion, which is coming soon to Region 4 DVD. Brilliant marketeers that they are, Gainax, the company responsible for the series, decided that another film would be made that would also be released theatrically, to act as a bridge between the television series and the final apocalyptic vision of End Of Evangelion. That bridging film is the subject of our review: Neon Genesis Evangelion - Death & Rebirth.
Death was obviously a recurring theme of the series and thus is the focus of the re-examination of the television series presented here. Basically, Death & Rebirth starts with a sixty nine minute recap of the first twenty four episodes of the series (the Death bit). This brings together most of the key plot points of the original series with some new animation bridging some of the points to make everything a little clearer and more logical. The presentation takes the form of a look at four key characters of the series: Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley and Kaworu Nagisa. They are introduced in the context of a string quartet gathering at the school auditorium for a rehearsal of the old chestnut Pachelbel's Canon. This might sound a tad esoteric but the context has some meaning, even if I might struggle at times to understand it. This recap basically brings anyone needing a reminder right up to scratch as far as what happened in the television series. Once we are all up-to-date, we have a four and a half minute bridge to digest the recap before we head off into Rebirth, which is basically a thirty minute introduction to the film End Of Evangelion. Indeed, Rebirth is little more than an extended teaser for the later film, and does get rehashed in that film, too, which really is fine for that is what this film is supposed to do - introduce the later film. The broad story is that with the Evangelion programme having progressed as far as self-awareness for the Eva units, the Instrumentality Project of SEELE is thrown into gear. They intend to bring about Third Impact and a bold new beginning for mankind - basically by wiping it out and going with Eva units instead. Unfortunately, this will not involve NERV and by government decree NERV is under attack from human forces for a change. The aim is to kill everyone involved and capture the remaining Eva units. All there is to stop them are the underarmed and under (combat) trained NERV personnel, one catatonic Eva pilot and one don't-wannabe Eva pilot. Rebirth is basically filling in some of the more confusing aspects of Shinji Ikari's descent into madness, whilst also setting up another, more "acceptable" ending in End Of Evangelion. This is important to remember, for Death & Rebirth does end in something of an abrupt way itself.
Obviously much of the animation in Death is lifted straight from the original television series, with the new animation being done in similar styles so as to provide continuity to the show. All the animation for Rebirth is new, but in order to provide that continuity is also done in similar styles to the television series. The overall result is very good and it is hard to know where the new stuff is from a purely technical point of view.
I fully understand why a new ending to the series was required, for I was one of the masses that probably had some problems trying to resolve the original series ending. As a means to getting to that new ending, Neon Genesis Evangelion - Death & Rebirth does its job very well indeed. Even if you are not a fan of the original series, there is enough recapping here to at least give you a reasonable shot of understanding where the series headed. However, this still remains one very much for the fans. I just hope that End Of Evangelion is not too far away.
First things first - much of the animation in Death is lifted directly from the original television series episodes and exhibits much the same sort of issues as those. This is not an major problem as fans would be well used to the standard, and it is still good enough not to be an issue with those not familiar with the original material. The other issue is of course that in order to present a widescreen image for theatrical release, the original animation has been matted to an aspect ratio of 1.70:1. This is rather obvious in some shots where heads are chopped well and truly both top and bottom. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.
Overall this does seem to be a slighter smoother looking transfer than the original television series. The black line detail seems to be a little more solid despite the obvious aliasing at times. Detail is about as good as we can expect from this sort of animated material, whilst shadow detail is obviously a non-issue. There was nothing in the way of serious grain in the transfer and the transfer is generally quite clear. There did not appear to be any low level noise issues at all.
The colours seem a little better, too, and the quality remains high with some nice, steady, well saturated and nicely vibrant colours. There was nothing in the way of oversaturation here at all, apart from some very well saturated images in the closing credits of Death almost tending towards oversaturation.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts are pretty much confined to the consistent but relatively minor aliasing (such as at 19:58, 47:11 and 74:41). If you choose to play back the programme at a slightly slower speed than intended, you might well see the issues that interlacing can create, especially noticeable around 74:45. There are no really noticeable film artefacts in the transfer. There is one major issue with the transfer though: almost all the way through the film there is a noticeable lightening of the film down the right hand side of the image. This appears as a thin white line on my setup, although the extent of overscan on other setups might well hide the problem. Unfortunately, I could not hide from it and by the end of the film it was rather annoying.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 18:57. Since I had to resort to digging out my old player to find the change, suffice to say that it is pretty good and does not disrupt the programme at all.
There are just the two subtitle options on the DVD, being English Titling and English. The English Titling just gives the names of places and translates the Japanese text that occasionally crops up during the film. The English subtitles give full dubtitles as well as the titling for the Japanese text. The dubtitles are actually pretty good
There are three soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (flagged as an English soundtrack on my player!) and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack in its entirety, as much of the English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack as I could suffer and extensively sampled the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It has to be said that the lack of a Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is somewhat disappointing and would have been well worth hearing if the English effort is anything to go by.
All three soundtracks are very good and apart from the opening section of Death which is quite densely layered on the Japanese soundtrack, everything is clear and easy to understand (well, at least if you can understand Japanese I suppose). There does not appear to be any significant audio sync issues with the transfer, other than those directly related to the fact that it is animation after all.
The music score for the film comes from Sagisu Shiro, presumably the same person who did the television series despite the slight spelling difference - and the reversal of the names compared to the credit on the series DVDs. Of course, not everything is his work as there are plenty of instances of the Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Symphony No.9 tossed into the film, along with excerpts from pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Pachelbel. All-in-all, the music is quite well used, albeit repetitively, in the film.
There is little to say about the Japanese soundtrack, which is presumably how most people will choose to watch the film. Clean and open, it has no obvious problems and is thoroughly bland. It is a very decent but hardly noteworthy effort.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack easily demonstrates what is lacking in the Japanese soundtrack - body, and plenty of it. With good use of the surround channels, especially the front ones, there is much more presence and feeling in the English soundtrack. The result is a distinctly more enjoyable soundtrack to listen to, with some reasonable dynamic range to it. The subwoofer gets only moderate usage, but it is more than enough to support the more dynamic sections of the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is actually a quite imaginative package even if the execution here and there could perhaps have been a little better.
Something less annoying than the series DVDs in general, with some decent audio and animation enhancement. Does the job required well enough without any annoying little traits to overcome.
Aside from the fact that it starts off on a bad note with Amanda Winn-Lee saying she was the director/writer of the film (she meant to say she was the director/writer of the English dub I think), this is one of those annoying commentaries where things swing from good to bad - often in the same sentence. The bad is the self-indulgent approach to the film that does little to add anything meaningful to proceedings. Far too often descending into the cloying praises of the voice actors on a regular basis (dumb question but if they weren't any good, would they have been chosen for the film?), it gets at times annoying enough to switch the bloody thing off. But then they suddenly get the plot back and actually divulge stuff that does enhance the film experience - most especially when they actually start making mention of the biblical references and the like. Most of the time, the levity is maintained at a high level, which is in contrast to the film itself. Basically, this will fall into the category of one you will love or one that you will hate - there will be little middle ground here.
This is arguably the best extra on the DVD. Select this and the film will play back with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and at various points during the film (at the start of each chapter basically) a selection box will appear which you can select to get more information about the available topics. Most of the topics are items relative to the current chapter. The only issue I have is that the selection box is rather large and is placed right over the film: I would have thought that something just a tad less intrusive could have been thought of. Not something we have seen often yet in Region 4 and definitely something that would be worthwhile pursuing more frequently.
These comprise a Death & Rebirth trailer (3:30), an End Of Evangelion preview trailer (1:29) and the Original Evangelion Series trailer (2:44). Death & Rebirth is a little poor technically and exhibits oversaturation at times. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is not 16x9 enhanced and has a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It does not have any subtitles and features some incomplete bits from the film. The End Of Evangelion preview trailer is much better technically, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is also not 16x9 enhanced and comes with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The original series trailer is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio and has a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
A collection of fifteen stills, mainly from the film.
An impressive collection of notes about various aspects of Neon Genesis Evangelion, divided into four main subsections: Personnel, Central Dogma, Heaven's Messengers and The E Project. Whilst it is all text, they are quite comprehensive and certainly if you need to know about just about anything or anyone in the series, this is the place to head.
Otherwise known as Madman Propaganda, this comprises trailers for Vampire Hunter D, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Armitage - Dual Matrix, Gundam Wing and Blood - The Last Vampire. Aside from Akira, which is quite old looking and suffering from film artefacts, the quality is pretty good throughout. The presentations are variously 1.85: and 1.33:1, all of which are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
From the reviews found it would seem that the Region 1 version is a dual sided DVD, but apart from a web link and a Manga Entertainment catalogue, there is nothing significantly different between it and the Region 4 release.
I am somewhat ambivalent regarding this release but for people who have not previously indulged in the series, this might well be a useful place to start rather than finish. Whilst the technical quality is not terrific by general standards, it certainly is slightly better than the television series DVDs. As a teaser for the anticipated End Of Evangelion, it is a very decent way of waiting.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|