Animation Insider

Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance
June 1st, 2011 11:14 AM by Eric Surrell

Anime Review

Title: Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance

Distributor: FUNimation Ent.
Genre(s): fantasy, sci-fi
Age Rating: 13+

Runtime: 112 minutes
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 03/29/2011

Neon Genesis Evangelion NGE 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance (NGE 2.22) is the second of four "Rebuild of Evangelion" movies which depict a re-imaging of the Eva universe and events therein. Unlike the first entry, NGE 1.11, the second movie takes a stark departure from the original series. New characters arrive, and events happen much differently than in either the manga or the anime.

Depending on how these events are perceived by the viewer, these changes could make the show better or worse. I found many of the changes welcome as they allowed greater room for development in the main characters and a quicker plot progression. Filler, thankfully, is all but nonexistent.

At the halfway point of this tetralogy, Shinji has defeated angels, built friendships, and is even developing an interest in the taciturn pilot, Rei. Despite this, he suffers from depression as he ponders his place in the world. Amidst these musings, he deals with the attack of more angels, the feelings of hatred he holds toward his father, and the arrival of another, more confident Eva pilot named Asuka. Throw in underlying conflicts between Nerv and Seele, what the true purpose of the Evas is, and whether or not Shinji will actually grow up, and it becomes obvious there is a lot to see in this show.

The story is solid and manages to retain the feeling that people are trying to live normal lives in the face of their possible extinction. The sensation that we are on our last legs is rarely seen in general as Shinji, Rei, Misato, and everyone else lives their lives in a vast, reconstructed city of Tokyo 2. However, the destruction becomes apparent when the fight against the Angels happens in the derelict, abandoned parts of old Tokyo. As a result, viewers find although mankind has managed to carve out an existence, it is a much smaller existence than it once was.

Despite the new and old versions of this anime having a great deal of action, it is, without a doubt, the characters that drive the show. In NGE 2.22, Shinji (played by Spike Spencer) makes startling developmental changes, moving from the puppet he almost was to fighting for what he wants. Rei (Brina Palencia) is also a more animated character. While still seemingly emotionless in many ways, Hideaki Anno, the show's writer and director, provides little details of Rei's deeper drives. She coerces Gendo Ikari into agreeing to have dinner with Shinji, and even learns to cook for the event. Moments like these make the lasting impression of NGE 2.22 much deeper than that of the original series.

Speaking of characters, NGE 2.22 introduces a never-before-seen character named Mari (Trina Nishimura). Though her background is very hazy, she is an Eva pilot and on a secret mission of some kind. Asuka (Tiffany Grant) makes a triumphant return only to become a non-character for the duration of this quarter.

The former is much appreciated as a new character with hidden motives is always welcome, but the arrival and sudden dismissal of Asuka was shocking and depressing, especially considering how integral she was to the original Evangelion.

There is no doubt that she will make a return, it's just a matter of how and when.

As the second quarter of an ongoing series, NGE 2.22 manages to tell a decent self-contained story that leads into the larger narrative.

The battle between Nerv and Seele is shown, several characters develop into very different people than they were originally, and new elements are introduced. It appears that Hideaki Anno is truly pulling out the stops in an effort to make this the Evangelion he wanted it to be.

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