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  Directed by
  Starring
    None Listed
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Audio commentary - by English voice-over team
  • Cast/crew biographies - text-based character biogs
  • Production notes - notes on technical terms, history of context
  • Interactive game - not so much a game, more a context-based glossary
  • Dolby Digital trailer - Trailers of original TV series and of this DVD and of its successor, End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Death & Rebirth

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 143 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Neon Genesis Evangelion:Death and Rebirth is the first of a pair of DVDs which bring the long Evangelion series to its close.

This special 1997 production was made, it's been reported, because the Japanese creators of this acclaimed television anime series were dissatisfied with the way the original television series had reached its conclusion.

They were dissatisfied, and so were many of the original viewers. Evangelion had always been a tad pretentious in its portentous solemnity, but in a pleasing way. Then the series went berserk in its attempts to reach a profundity it could not quite explain. This is a satisfying attempt to retell the ending of the Evangelion tale.

At least half of Death & Rebirth is told through flashbacks to the original series, and although much of first half of Death would be incomprehensible to first-time Evangelion viewers, it is by its conclusion a more immediately comprehensible tale than we'd been given originally. And, in the ultimate recommendation, it does make this viewer want to get to the nearest DVD rental outlet without delay to grab a copy of the final DVD in the series, The End of Evangelion.

Now, all the above will mean nothing to someone who has not previously shared in the Evangelion saga, and I would not recommend viewing this DVD without first renting one or several of the DVDs carrying the original television series. This will be worth the effort. For even if you have a passing interest only in anime, you will be rewarded by sharing in a universe where the battle between strange life-forces and machines is only a minor part of the tale - where the reaching out of people for each other, the difficulty of understanding, the loneliness and isolation of the human condition is the underlying story the creators are seeking to tell.

  Video
Contract

The DVD gives us two episodes, and in the first episode particularly, there is a lot of cannibalisation going on from early episodes of the television series. The film quality varies quite a bit, but that in fact seems to add to the veracity of the overall experience - in the same way that a documentary of the past can gain authenticity from the poor state of the source material!

  Audio
Contract

The newly-created Dolby Digital 5.1 English track (even previously animated segments have new sound) has great punchiness and spatial sense, but you really shouldn't go past the two-channel Japanese audio track, which gives you everything any anime lover needs. The third choice gives us a running commentary between the English language director Amanda Winn Lee (who was also the English voice of key character Rei), co-producer of the English version Jason Lee, and anime enthusiast and another member of the voice-over team, Taliesin Jaffe. Their comments are apposite and they come up with a lot of diverting material; the only hassle is Amanda Winn Lee's irrititatingly constant and often inane laughter. Well, that's anime folk for you.....

  Extras
Contract

Although the special features do not include any great innovations, they do carry very detailed text bases of characters, technical terms, the history underlying the series' premises and so forth. These are a model of their kind - genuinely informative and filling in a lot of the supplemental information which the elusive style of the series itself leaves you only guessing at. An example - it explains far more clearly than the series itself just how the strange, withdrawn character Rei was created, and just how many times she has been forced to die, before having to be reborn for the sake of humanity's greater destiny. The notes give details of the characteristics of each of the 17 Angels the Evangelions have been created to battle with - and the characteristics of the strangest, most dangerous Angel of them all, the 18th.

These text-based sections on characters, technical terms, and history of the conflict between Angels and humanity, are illuminating and thorough. They are compulsory reading, even for people who feel the Evangelion series is part of their universe.

There is also a Mokuji interactive feature, a system to let the viewer have instant access to the most useful of character, story and technical notes during the running of the feature.

Other features include a photo gallery, and Madman propaganda (their very honest term for other feature previews)

  Overall  
Contract

This Madman manga DVD is a model of its kind, both in the clarity of its image, the choice of language tracks, and in the information its special features divulge.

The flashback narrative structure employed for much of the first of these two episodes will convey meaning only to those viewers already familiar with Neon Genesis Evangelion. But with that proviso out of the way, we can relax and say that this is a tremendously well constructed part of the Evangelion cycle. But remember - if a newcomer, rent or buy the earlier episodes first.


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      And I quote...
    "...this now is adult anime at its best."
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A330
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
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