Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Evangelion 2.22

Back in June, I walked into Evangelion 2.22 hyper-skeptical and left completely blown away by how much of a cinematic wonder it turned out to be.  And not just by itself, but also as the proverbial compass for the direction that this majestic vessel will set sail in once the third and fourth movies come 'round. 

What makes Evangelion 2.22, and consequently the entire Rebuild project, such an improvement on the original series?  Well, the narrative tweaks, of course.  Having a plan in mind for where the story is going to go as well as a manageable budget is unsurprisingly crucial to crafting a good series. And it really seems that this Rebuild project has a route charted out well in advance seeing as every single change the movies have made to the established storyline has been for the better.  Aside from that, however, Eva 2.22's success boils down to the ingenious incorporation of something I refer to as the Gurren Lagann factor.

I call it the Gurren Lagann factor, but it's really just an extreme case of injecting a little accessibility into the formula.  I've got to hand it to Gainax for choosing not to ignore and/or squander the tremendous impact their bushy-tailed, bootstrapping behemoth had on the genre in 2007.

I've always felt that Evangelion was a series chock-full of so much philosophical and allegorical glut that the best parts of the series often go ignored.  No one remembers how awesome the episodic clashes with the unique and terrifying Angels were when all of it is overshadowed by controversial Mind Rape sequences, both in-universe and beyond the fourth wall.  Those pulse-pounding Angel skirmishes were the very epitome of what made the giant mecha genre so great and compelling in the first place.

Mari.  Born of Clay.  Base Breaker extraordinaire.  Either she's superfluous and distracting or hot and badass.  I fall squarely into the latter category.

 With Evangelion 2.22, it seems that rather than replacing the philosophical humdrum that the franchise is so well known for, Gainax decided to slip in some good 'ol Gurren Lagann GAR alongside its notorious linchpin, like adding a sprig of Bohemian freshness to garnish the otherwise off-puttingly exotic dish of LCL soup.

I'm of course referring to the epic climax where Shinji defies not only fate, but the f*cking canon itself by rescuing Rei from the clutches of the movie's ultimate Angel through sheer-minded badassery alone.  The whole scene is so damn cool and exhilarating that it balances out the symbolic sh*tstorm of the century that immediately follows and sets the stage for the next movie. 

Everybody wins.  Viewers looking for nothing more than a good time will get their Gurren Lagann-high while Eva-vets can chow down on the veritable buffet of brain-food that made the franchise a household name to begin with.  So yes, it seems that mixing a cruel and unpleasant deconstruction of a genre with an adrenalized reconstruction results in one of the gobsmackingly glorious combinations since peanut butter and chocolate. 

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