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[ café reviews ]

Ikari Yui, Shinji's mother


Shinseiki Evangelion
(Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Episode 21: The Birth of NERV / He Was Aware That He Was a Child

Copyright: 1996 TV Tokyo / GAINAX / NAS (Japan), 1997 AD Vision (North America)
Length: 30 minutes
Rating: Contains Violence and Mature Situations, Parental Guidance Suggested
Format: Subtitled/Dubbed (VHS)

Screenplay: Satsukawa Akio, Anno Hideaki Director: Hiroyuki Ishido Producers: Kobayashi Noriko (TV Tokyo) Sugiyama Yutaka Character Design: Sadamoto Yoshiyuki English Version Executive Producer: John Ledford (A.D.V. Films) Translation by: Kimura Kuni

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

The disappearance of Professor Fuyutsuki has put suspicion squarely on one person: Ryogi Kaji. NERV, aware of the relationship between Kaji and Misato, has taken her under custody while conducting their investigation. The real perpetrators are SEELE, led by the chairman himself, Keel Lorenz. Concerned about Gendo's own personal agenda, SEELE has requested Fuyutsuki's cooperation in determining Gendo's true motives...

In a series of flashbacks through the eyes of the various players, the past is revealed: the formation of NERV, Gendo's past relationships with Yui (Shinji's mother), Fuyutsuki, and even Akagi Naoko -- Ritsuko's mother.

[ capsule review ]

Prof. Fuyutsuki meets a brash, young Rokubungi Gendo

Akagi Naoko, Ritusko's mother

The skeletal framework of man's latest creation: Evangelion Unit 00

Young Ikari Shinji about to witness the activation of EVA-00

A young, precocious Ayanmi Rei... but not Ayanami Rei...

Ryoji Kaji patiently awaits his final rendevous

One thing that Evangelion does very well is introduce interpersonal relationships. I say 'introduce', since Shinseiki Evangelion only touches the surfaces of relationships, and doesn't really delve beyond. This series yields such information most reluctantly, and in ways that border on frustrating. Misato's past, her first meeting with both Kaji and Ritsuko, and most importantly, confirmation of what we already suspected about Ayanami Rei: she's not a singular unique entity. Even with this information, these characters remain largely two-dimensional, and personalisations tend to be rather superficial. There's a lot of groundwork that's been laid out here, and this series seems long enough to explore some of these character relationships in depth.

This episode marks the beginning of the end, and something that's most common in Japanese tragedies: deaths. Usually, the deaths of almost all the secondary characters until only the primary ones are left. We'll see if this holds true for this series; no doubt that Anno is also a fan of the traditional Japanese-style trajedy. There are some intense emotional scenes, which are both highly effective and annoyingly cliché. If this statement seems contradictory... well, you decide: The final scene in which Misato receives her final good-bye telephone message from Kaji is very contrived and situationally convenient, but the conviction Kotono Mitsuishi was able to convey through her tears was most effective. And Shinji's reaction to all this? You be the judge.

There's some very nice background music in this episode as well; most of which is available on the first soundtrack CD. (For those of you who are interested in the CD's, be warned about the 3rd soundtrack compilation. There are enough different versions of 'Fly Me to the Moon' on the disc to cause permenant brain damage.) Perhaps my favourite aspect of this one episode is the effective use of flashbacks. In many shows I've seen, flashbacks are thrown in so awkwardly, that they interfere with the flow of the program. Not so here. In this case, the direction is very tight, and the quick cuts to various scenes are skillfully interwoven with the main storyline that the viewer receives the background information, without getting confused in timelines. Overall, it's very well done.
- AN, 98.05.10

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/R 3 stars N/R
Direction: N/R 5 stars N/R
Acting: N/R 4 stars N/R
Animation: N/R 3 stars N/R
Music: N/R 4 stars N/R
Translation: N/A 4 stars
Overall Rating: N/R 4 stars N/R

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