ADV Films // 2003 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // March 23rd, 2004
"You need the future." -- Kaworu
Okay, now I am angry. As I noted in my review of the first installment in this two-disc "Director's Cut" of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I expressed some reservations in advance about this disc. In Japan, Studio Gainax only actually did "director's cuts" of episodes 21 through 24. Here in America, ADV tried to match the three-per-disc release pattern of the American Eva DVDs by putting only episodes 21 through 23 together, along with the original cuts and an interview with the WETA designers in charge of the live-action Eva movie now in pre-production.
So what new goodies can you expect on this second volume of the Neon Genesis Evangelion Director's Cut? Less than three minutes of new footage, the most important of which is a scene that more clearly establishes the relationship between the Fifth Child, the cryptic Kaworu, and the SEELE conspiracy that opposes Gendo Ikari's plans to control the upcoming apocalypse.
Yep, that's it. Sure, the episodes are nicely remastered. And there are a couple of additional shots added to episode 24, all fairly minor in importance. Yes, ADV finally drops the English intertitles on the impenetrable final two episodes in favor of the original Japanese intertitles -- although that is really not "new" but a correction of an earlier aesthetic blunder on their part.
But the promised "behind the scenes" glimpse at the live-action movie consists of an art gallery of pictures we have already seen on the previous disc, which were played over the WETA interview. Here, just pictures and music. And nothing new is added to the notorious final two episodes. This may be particularly frustrating to newcomers to the series who may take longer to glean that Hideaki Anno's low-budget solution to the problem of the apocalypse (undertaken primarily because the studio ran out of money by this point) is to play out Final Judgment inside the characters' heads. These two maddeningly opaque episodes must be seen alongside End of Evangelion (the outside events that take place simultaneously with these interior monologues). Thus we see both sides of the final fate of humanity.
Still, as genuinely original and brilliant as the climax of Evangelion still is, I find myself frustrated by -- and liable to penalize ADV for -- the mercenary packaging of this "director's cut." This is a mean disservice to fans who have already purchased the complete series: an additional $60 for these two discs with little new to show for the price. Newcomers who might pick up the boxed set first will also find themselves feeling cheated, as they will feel pressured to replace the existing volumes 7 and 8 with these improved discs. We sometimes complain here at DVD Verdict about the habit some studios have of double-dipping discs, and now you can see why.
As huge a fan as I am of this series (and my other reviews of Evangelion make this abundantly clear), and as deeply as I respect Hideaki Anno's work here (even if he is milking it a little), I am disappointed in ADV for not making these new versions more worthwhile to the fans who have stuck by this series.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Original Versions of Episodes
* Clean Opening and Closing
* Art Gallery for Live Action Movie