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[ café reviews ]

A frightened Shinji pilots an EVA for the first time.


Shinseiki Evangelion
(Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Episode 1: Shito Shyurai
(Angel Attack)

Copyright: 1995 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: Anno Hideaki Director: Anno Hideaki Producers: Yamamura Atsuko (TV Tokyo) Sugiyama Yutaka Character Design: Sadamoto Yoshiyuki English Version Executive Producer: John Ledford (A.D.V. Films) Translation by: Kimrua Kuni

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

Fifteen years ago, the Angels attacked the Earth, leading to the formation of the super-secret organisation known as NERV. Now, the Angels are back, devastating Tokyo 3, and the combined UN conventional forces are unable to stop them. Even their ultimate weapon, the high-yield N2 mine, manages to merely slow down the creature. This time, NERV has a new means to combat the Angels -- Evangelion, a new type of piloted cyborg. But the pilot of EVA-00 (the prototype) has been critically injured in her previous attempts to synchronise with it. Now, a new pilot has been located -- Ikari Shinji, the son of the leader of the Evangelion Project. Can he synchronise with the new EVA-01 unit in time to stop the Angel's destructive attack? Can he learn to use the EVA technology in time? Is he even willing to try?

[ capsule review ]

We normally don't like to talk about the programs we're going to review until we both have had a chance to watch them, but the expression on Jane's face when she handed me the first tape of this series was enough to convince me: Get the subbed version -- fast! This could only mean one of three things: 1) The voice acting was excreably bad, 2) The story is terrible, or 3) both 1) and 2). Well, not quite...

Frankly, Shinji's voice isn't all that bad -- in fact, I thought the voice itself suited the character, though his acting ability was very, very limited. (I found the opposite with the subbed version -- yes, I did buy it the same day Jane gave me the dub -- Ogata Megumi's voice -- yes, female -- didn't quite suit the character, but the acting itself is very good.) As for the rest of the English-speaking actors -- well, let's just say that there are several potential candidates for the Raspberry Awards... The translations in the sub (and dub) are fairly accurate, but here again the subtle nuances of the Japanese language are sometimes completely lost in the translation, making the English dialogue awkward, and at times hokey. (Is "hokey" a word?) While we're on the topic of translations -- I wonder if GAINAX really meant to have the title read "Neo" rather than "Neon."

Animation is average for a TV serial, with some interesting creature and mecha designs -- the series will probably appeal to the younger crowd in that respect. But when you get beyond the neato stuff, things really start to fall apart... I was very disappointed with the premise of the story itself -- unknown aliens are out to destroy mankind for no apparent reason, and only a young kid equipped with the latest and greatest untested piece of hardware can save the world. Of course, the poor kid doesn't know this... Where have we seen this scenario before? Characterisations are lifted right out of any number of other animé shows. The opening theme is fairly mainstream but catchy; the end theme sounds like a something from the Latin-American singer/songwriter Anna Caram, and the incidental music sounds like something that GAINAX had in its library stock -- the melodramatic solo sax that's playing while Misato and Ritsuko try to convince Shinji to have a go in the EVA-01 unit could have been lifted from GunBuster. Originality is something I've come to expect from GAINAX; the only original item I see here is that Evangelion cyborgs are tethered to an external power source... Hopefully there series will pull up its socks; if not, perhaps the Angels would be so kind as to cut the power cables, let the EVA-01's internal batteries run down and shorten the series for us... - AN

(Dubbed Version) Someone shoot me now puhleeze! Unfortunately since we only have the dubbed version for the first volume, I can't say much about the original story. However, in the dubbed version, there are some definite problems with continuity especially in this first episode (I have heard a rumour that the North American release was edited but am not positive). We're left going "huh?" several times as we try to follow the story. Unfortunately, it's not all that easy. While watching this episode, you're wondering why was Ikari Shinji sent for (what's special about him that he'd have a chance to synchronize with Eva 1?) and why on earth is he acting like such a wimpy cry baby (he's sort of a male version of Noriko from GunBuster)? That along with some other continuity and plot questions really make you wonder about this show. However, there's enough of a feeling of a story that comes through despite non-idiomatic dialogue that you are wondering just what really is going on and that maybe the story is actually a decent one. The dubbed version's voice acting was just *awful* and the first time I watched it I was cringing within minutes of the opening scenes. There is a lot of overacting, underacting, and just plain bad acting that it's enough to make your head spin. The music is fairly decent, with an all too catchy opening theme and the rest is fairly decent as well. The animation is fairly decent with some very distinctive bits which are typical of Gainax. This is the first series being put out by Gainax after they went bankrupt and is supposed to be their redemption. Only time will tell how well this goes. Hopefully though, we'll be able to find a copy of the subtitled version of this first volume to properly judge the actual story compared to what we can figure out from the dubbed version. Thankfully, the remaining tapes we have are all subtitled for this series, so hopefully the voice acting won't be so bad, and there will be continuity in the story line itself. Shall see... - JYN

(Subbed Version) Interesting. The differences between the sub-titled and dubbed versions aren't *really* all that different except for the difference in voice acting. The sub is much better than the dub in that respect. However, where there was a feeling of a story in the dubbed version, in the sub we see that there really isn't much of a story present in this first episode. It appears that there is lots to be learned about Shinji's past amongst other things which will help explain matters. I think what made the story difficult to follow in the dubbed version was primarily due to the extremely literal translation that was done. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad translation, just extremely literal so you lose much of the intent or the cultural subcontext. These are places where the translations should be a bit looser in order not to confuse the audience with odd sounding dialogue. I do have a bone to pick with AD Vision about their dialogue before Shinji pilots Eva-01; specifically the "you must confront your father" bit. I'm sorry but it sounded like a terrible spin-off of the dialogue in Star Wars Return of the Jedi I just about gagged. Thankfully in the sub-titled version the translation was much more literal and they skipped most of the hokey script writing that happened in the dubbed version for that scene. Does the subtitled version make more sense than the dubbed version? If you understand Japanese then definitely, unfortunately it's not a heck of a lot better as a story though. - JYN

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/A 1 star 1 star
Direction: N/A 2 stars 2 stars
Acting: N/A 4 stars 1 star
Animation: N/A 3 stars 3 stars
Music: N/A 3 stars 3 stars
Translation: N/A 3 stars N/R
Overall Rating: N/A 2 stars 1 star

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