With all the paranoia we encounter regarding terrorism and Armageddon foretold by Mayans, we (as Americans) live in a pretty safe world. When things do happen, we panic and have no idea what to do or where to turn. Imagine a world so utterly opposite of this: a world where you go about your daily life and when stuff happens, you calmly and orderly make your way to protective shelters because doing so is as much a part of your daily routine as breathing. Welcome back to the world of Tokyo-3; the world after Second Impact. Welcome back to Evas and Angels tearing each other apart, a world where it is pretty obvious why “You Can (Not) Advance.” This is the second installment of the movie adaptation of one of the most highly praised anime of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion.  If you are among the millions who have enjoyed the original manga and/or anime, you will be happy to know that there are still some surprises in this film. There are deviations from the original which give a fresh spin on things. If you still have no clue what the phenomenon of Evangelion is about, then you need to get to store immediately and at the very least pick up Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone. Go now, we’ll be here when you get back.

Your favorite purple monstrosity is back in full digital glory. Not Barney, Not Grimmace and not even Prince. Shinji Ikari and Evangelion Unit 01 pair up once again and they are doing things a little bit differently than you might remember.For one, Shinji has a backbone, which is a welcome change to all the whining he did in the original. Asuka’s family name has changed from Soryu to Shikinami. Rei displays more emotion, which makes her relationship with Shinji oh so much more creepy. Some of the pivotal fights have changed as well, but I will leave out the details so as not to spoil. For those new to this story, know that the end of man is upon our heroes. First and Second Impact are years behind our story and the first wiped out more than half of the world’s population. Each of the Angels represent what would be the next dominant form of life on Earth and thus each Angel has a goal of wiping out the remnants of mankind. The only hope for a human future is the Human Instrumentality Project, which takes the form of the Evangelion series. They look like robots, and the huge power cables attached to them would really convince you of such but the Evas are giant humans, down to the fact that each one has an implanted human soul. Is it any wonder that the fluid that interfaces pilot with Eva (LCL) smells like blood? Everything about this story is made to freak you out. Many of the elements are derived from the real world Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and various myths and legends. Perhaps the most horrifying of which is that the Eva are able to wield the Lance of Longinus. Clueless? Longinus is the name of the soldier that pierced Jesus’ side as he hung from the cross. This became an item Hitler wanted to find because legend holds that this spear, covered with the blood of Jesus was capable of piercing any armor and in Evangelion, that is exactly what it does. It’s pretty freaky stuff, and that is what makes it great.

(spoiler) The music makes this scene that much more disturbing. @[6:30] is the clincher.

Music is a bit of a big deal in Evangelion. In the original anime, the closing credits ran to 26 differently sung versions of the Bart Howard classic “In Other Words,” aka “Fly Me To The Moon.” When you finish watching the first episode of Evangelion for the first time and you hear that, it blows your mind. Evangelion is all about getting in your head and disturbing you and the music just helps it achieve that goal. Shinji listens to his walkman every chance he gets and when he is sleeping, you get to hear some of his favorite opera pieces.The classic battle music is back which always signifies that a new angel is attacking and then you have the lullaby that starts @[4:15] in the above movie. You just have to stop when you hear that music and see what is accompanying it on screen. You have to think to yourself that there is something really wrong with the people that are behind this story.

Yes, one of the supporting characters is a beer drinking Emperor Penguin named Pen-Pen. With all that we have covered so far, why are you questioning anything at this point? The human characters however are perhaps the most disturbing aspect of all. Let’s start from the top: there is Gendo Ikari, the leader of NERV, cannot let go of his dead wife and doesn’t seem to give a crap about his son Shinji – you know, the little kid who saves the world every other day. Shinji does every thing he can just to one day gain the respect and love of said father; Did I mention that he once beat off to a girl in a hospital bed and yes, he came on her. Misato Katsuragi, Shinji’s friend/roommate/commanding officer has some daddy issues of her own. Her dad was so wrapped up in his work that he never paid attention to her as a child but then he lost his life in order to save hers during Second Impact. Yeah, she clings to men a little:

Just a little (she’s almost twice his age)

Ritsuko Akagi, the medical officer of NERV, lives in the shadow of her dead mother. Never quite able to live up to her mother’s accomplishments – even the computer that is based off of her mother’s personality traits does not respect her. She also clings to men a little – men that don’t really want her but use her because she’s there. There’s Rei Ayanami, whose relationship with either of the Ikaris is creepy no matter how you look at it. She has a tendency to throw her life away because of her knowledge of what she is and very few people even care. And then there is lovely Asuka Langley Soryu (I like her original name better). Asuka likes to be alone because she fears intimacy. Who could blame her? As a child, the person she loved most and was closest to (her mom) went insane and killed herself in front of her. Did I mention that this story is messed up?

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QUICK SIDE NOTE: That is the scar Second Impact left on the Earth. That used to be Antarctica.

I will not get a chance to hear the English vocal cast of this movie until the blu-ray release at the end of March, but that is OK because even though I am partial to the English cast the Japanese voices are fantastic. Shinji is about the only exception because in Japanese he does not sound like enough of a little bitch for my tastes. Asuka is as brash and rude as ever and Rei is passive and oddly peaceful, which always made her the weirdest of the bunch. Anime purists will almost always dump on the English voice cast of a movie, but unless they changed from the voices used in Evangelion 1.0, I doubt many will have any issue.

Considering that Evangelion 1.0 seemed like mostly just a recap of the first half of the Evangelion TV series, I was very happy to see that the second film tried to add story elements not seen before and do things a bit differently. The YouTube scene posted above was supposed to happen a totally different way with a different person in the infected Eva. The brutality of Unit 01 was supposed to be part of a totally different fight but I see why they chose to change things. It is a setup for the final film in the trilogy. If 3.0 even mildly sticks to the script of “The End of Evangelion” storyline then fans are in for some intense and insane fighting. I cannot wait to watch this movie again in HD. I definitely recommend you do the same but watch the first movie and the series if possible. Evangelion is a wild and disturbing story and you definitely should not miss it.