Neon Genesis Evangelion-The End of Evangelion (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (46:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (384Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (384Kb/s)
Japanese dts 6.1 ES Discrete (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (160Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.75:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I was mildly interested in anime for quite a while — I can remember watching Battle Angel Alita and a number of other titles quite a while ago on SBS, and enjoying them. But the series that really caught my attention, and piqued a much stronger interest, was Neon Genesis Evangelion. I remember watching two episodes in a row on a Saturday evening, then waiting impatiently for next Saturday for the next two. The series proved unexpectedly popular, so much so that SBS was forced to re-run it from the beginning immediately after it finished (I suspect this did not break their hearts).
Like many viewers, however, I found the last two episodes confusing and unsatisfying. I did not join in the massive outcry on the subject, but many others did. Apparently the creator even received death threats! So great did the uproar become that the show's creator (director, writer...) Anno Hideaki promised an alternate ending. That's what we have here: The End of Evangelion is a replacement for the last two episodes of the series. It even has title pages inserted to mark the starts of episode 25 (called Air) and episode 26 (called My Purest Heart for You), and credits at the end of each episode, but otherwise it runs more like a movie than two episodes. The earlier release, Death and Rebirth, is like a summary of the first 24 episodes, preparing the way for this disc — if you saw the original series, you don't really need to watch that disc before watching this one, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
If you have not watched the entire series, you might care to jump to the Transfer Quality section now, because I can't say anything more without mentioning some spoiler material from the series. I'll try to cover the worst with spoiler tags.
The original series started off reasonably tame, and got more and more harrowing as it proceeded. This disc starts at an even higher level of tension, anxiety, and stress. Remember, at this point in the series Shinji is (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) almost paralysed with indecision, Asuka is (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) catatonic, the (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) original Rei has (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) martyred herself, the new Rei is behaving very strangely, Ritsuko is (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) in a cell, Misato is (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) tortured by what happened to Kaji, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) all seventeen Angels have been destroyed, and NERV seems to have won, sort of. So it is fitting that the pitch is set high, but it gets higher. There are some very violent things that happen, but I cannot go into detail without destroying it. One thing I will say is that this new ending gives some time to all of the characters we came to know, and is much more satisfying in that way than the original. I certainly prefer this ending.
The background to this whole series is a mixture of Christian belief, cabalistic magic and genetics, with the occasional dash of sex. Fortunately the commentary explains some of it, particularly the references to the Tree of Life, and some of the complex patterns and designs that appear on the screen at some of the crucial moments — let it wash over you the first time you watch the film, then listen to the commentary to get some of the background, then watch the film again. Yes, it will probably take at least that many watchings to get a decent grasp of what's happening — if that puts you off, then I strongly recommend giving this disc a miss.
Don't get the wrong impression though — this disc can be appreciated, albeit superficially, on the first viewing. There is real catharsis in seeing Asuka (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) awaken from her catatonia and do battle with other EVAs; this sequence has some of the best EVA action in the entire series, and it feels good to see her so happy in fighting. There are strong moments for most of the main characters — even the three control room folks (Aoba, Hyuga and Maya Ibuki) get their chance at glory. I think this is what makes this ending so much more satisfying. We get a chance to see all these familiar characters again, and we get some closure.
It has been suggested that this alternate ending is Anno Hideaki's revenge on those who didn't like his original ending. It is alleged that he deliberately filled it with mysterious images and cryptic details so that DVD owners could freeze-frame and single step through it, and argue at great length over the significance and meaning of every tiny thing. This theory is mentioned (in somewhat coarser terms!) in the commentary, and it does seem to have some validity. Certainly there are some ambiguous moments, and plenty of details which should give rise to lengthy discussions. Things like presenting the Japanese credits in what looks like a DNA spiral, for example, will keep discussions running.
The original series was mostly rated PG, with almost no nudity, little in the way of strong language, and fairly constrained violence. That's not the case for this disc. More than one person I know was a little shocked by one of the earliest sequences (not by the nudity, but by Shinji's behaviour in reaction). This disc is rated M, and that's fairly generous — I think they could have justified an MA rating. I would not recommend showing this disc to younger teens or children. There is more than a little sex, some strong language, and a lot of violence, and not all of it is giant robots — people die, and not pleasantly (it is not gratuitous; it is all justified by the storyline).
This transfer is presented in a measured aspect ratio of 1.75:1 (the case says 1.85:1) but it is not 16x9 enhanced. That's a dreadful shame. This disc deserves 16x9 enhancement, and it would help with some of the problems.
The image is rather variable, and a lot of that's intentional. There are some sections that are obviously intentionally grainy (the sandcastle sequence, for example), and that grain makes the image soft. There are other parts that are not intentionally soft, like the closing English credits, which are soft enough to be a strain to read. Some stretches, like the opening section in hospital room 303, are deliberately over-lit so the background is glowing white, and the image is softer as a result — this seems to have been done for effect, creating the sterility of the hospital, but it does soften the image. There are scenes that are sharper, but the picture is never razor sharp. The level of grain varies, from minimal to fairly strong. Shadow detail is not a consideration in animation. There appears to be some low-level noise during the Japanese credit sequence that appears between Episodes 25 and 26 — possibly due to the compositing.
The colour looks a tiny bit faded in appearance — it looks just like the whole series in this regard. There are no colour-related artefacts. There are lots of glows, but they are deliberate, and not an unintended artefact.
There are no film artefacts, which is very good. There is some aliasing, varying from mild to a bit nasty (mostly not too bad), but the dot crawl on the black edges of the characters is rather nasty, too. There's no significant moire, and no apparent MPEG artefacting.
There are two sets of subtitles in English - the first set only subtitles signs (useful when you're listening to the English dub), and the second are full subtitles (for those listening to the Japanese dub who don't speak Japanese). The subtitles are yellow with fine black outlining. They are easy to read and seem well-timed, although they don't line up with the English dub (which is not uncommon).
The disc is single-sided (with a nice simple label) and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 46:52, exactly between Episodes 25 and 26 — there is no better place for it.
The Region 1 disc offers six versions of the soundtrack: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 (with THX EX), and dts es 6.1 in both English and Japanese. This Region 4 disc had to drop some of those, for reasons of space — they chose to drop the 2.0 and 6.1 English soundtracks, and these were reasonable choices, I think. I listened to the dts es Japanese, the English, and the commentary soundtracks.
The English dialogue is clear and comprehensible (well, there are some spots where the techno-babble gets thick, but the words are still audible). The Japanese sounds clear, but I cannot assess comprehension. The language matches the mouth movements fairly accurately. There's a moment where Gendo's mouth moves and there's no sound, but that's intentional, and not an error (it is the same in every soundtrack).
The music is excellent, and an important part of the show. The original NGE theme is not featured (shame — I really liked it). This score is by Sagisu Shiro.
The surrounds and subwoofer get plenty of stuff to do with the 5.1 and 6.1 soundtracks. There's not a whole heap for the rear centre channel, but you'll notice it get some use if you have one. There is an incredible sequence of surround sound where you get bombarded by voices from all directions — marvellous.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is nicely animated, with sound, mostly music. The menu design is different from the Region 1 disc, but I think I prefer the Region 4.
This commentary features Amanda Winn Lee (writer of the English script, producer, director of the English dub, voice of Rei Ayanami, Yui Ikari, and Pen-Pen), Jason Lee (her husband, co-producer of English dub, voice of Shigeru Aoba), and Taliesin Jaffe (anime enthusiast, cameo voices, including the Scottish accented member of Seele). It is a very interesting commentary, reflecting a combination of fan and crew. They speculate on the motivation of Anno Hideaki, amongst other things. They discuss the accuracy of the translation — apparently three translators were employed, and they went to extreme lengths to ensure accuracy — there are points where they explain decisions they made in the translation, and some of the points that caused controversy.
The commentary team are clearly enjoying themselves, making this interesting listening. They also explain a number of the more mysterious moments, which is one of the reasons I strongly recommend listening to this. It is quite clear that they went to considerable lengths researching this project.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc appears to be double-sided (that's one strike against it already!). The first side is fundamentally the same as the disc we have in Region 4. Both are 1.85:1, without 16x9 enhancement. When you turn the R1 disc over, at least on my systems, there's nothing — it's not even recognised as a DVD. Maybe this is a single-sided disc, but with a ring label like a double-sided disc — that rates as a really dumb idea, in my book.
The Region 1 disc is missing:
The Region 4 disc is missing:
You may hear that the R1 starts with some footage that is not present on the R4. This is a half-truth. What happens is that the first trailer for End of Evangelion (present in subtitled form on the R4 disc) is shown (without subtitles) before the opening credits on the R1 — that's hardly "extra footage"...
I can't tell you which is better — both have advantages.
This is a more satisfying conclusion to one of the most important anime series.
The video quality is good, but it is a crime that it is not 16x9 enhanced!
The audio quality is awesome, far better than the series ever was.
The extras are few, but the commentary is excellent.
|DVD||Sony DVP-NS905V, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|