Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Evangelion 1.0

So, Friday night (the 14th) I got to go with three friends (hi Stan. hi Monte. hi Ben) up to Seattle to see an anime film at The Grand Illusion, the University District's micro-theatre. It's pretty rare that I get to see anime in a theatre -- I think the last time was when Miyazaki's PONYO came out -- and even rarer to get to see it with the original Japanese voice-actors, as in this case.

This was a good event in several ways. First, I like the U-district and don't get up there that often (about once a month or so, maybe a little more often), and then it's usually straight to Suzzallo-Allen (returning books, doing research among the stacks, working on the laptop in the grand Reading Room w. the stained-glass windows) -- last time's brief side-trip to the Univ. Bkstre reminded me how long it'd been since I'd been there as well. I also enjoyed the company, and conversation, and our stroll around the area between dinner and the movie. The restaurant (Pam's) was a discovery; I've never had Trinidadian food before and, while it's higher-carb than I wd have liked, it's also v. good stuff. I'd heard of pigeon peas before but never seen, much less eaten, them: they remind me of crowder peas, though darker and a little smaller. Plus, of course, it'll be easy to remember a restaurant with the same name as my sister (who runs her own restaurant in Waskom, Texas).

The main event, of course, was the show itself: EVANGELION 1.0: YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE. I'd heard about this, of course, when it came out a few years ago [2007], but not paid much attention because I'd been under the misapprehension that it was a re-release of the first few episodes of the 1995 tv series packaged together as a movie (shades of MAN FROM UNCLE!). And, while I liked the original well enough, I never bought into the line that it was the greatest anime of all time,* though it did play a big role in the big upswing of anime in the late '90s and early '00s. Still, it'd be nice to see it all cleaned up, and there was always a chance they'd cut down on the angst and whining in the edit.

Well, it turns out this is less a clean-up than a remake of the original -- the first of four, which between them will retell the whole story of the series. Don't know what the whole set of films will be like: this one at least follows the original closely for the most part, but speeds things up to concentrate on the story, rather than the main character's woe-is-me's that form so much of the original. They've also improve the look-and-feel a lot, and made small but significant changes throughout, which open up some interesting possibilities for what'll happen down the line.

So, my ultimate verdict is thumb's up: this improves upon the original while still staying close enough to it that if you haven't watched the series in a while (like me) you won't even notice most of the differences, other than a general impression that the art looks better and the story moves more quickly (both a good thing in this case). I'll be looking forward to the second installment, EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE [2009], which we're planning on seeing, same bat-channel, same bat-time, this coming Friday, Angels willing & the creek don't rise.** I hope they complete the whole set, though I'm concerned that Anno will flake out at some point -- after all, he had three tries to finish the original story and blew it all three times: in the final two episodes of the original series, in the single-episode ova that followed, and in the END OF EVANGELION film that followed that. Some folks are great at keeping the balls in the air but haven't the ghost of an idea how to catch them at the end of the act. But at least, like Blake's 7, they had the courage of their convection not to choose an easy ending. We'll see if they do better this time around -- I hope.

--John R.
current audiobook: none, having just finished THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS
current book: Le Guin's CHEEK & JOWL
newest book to arrive: see tomorrow's post.

*for my money, it's not even the best work of its director or studio (Hideaki Anno of Gainax): that'd be HIS & HER CIRCUMSTANCES

**why yes, we did get three more flood warnings -- two Stage Two and one Stage Three -- both by e-mail and via early morning automated phone calls over the weekend. Driving along the Green River in Kent between the 'fishing hole' and strawberry farm is quite a sight, with the river only a foot or two below the level of the road. Glad it's higher on this side, what with the levee and sandbags and all.

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