Case Number 05965: Small Claims Court


ADV Films // 1995 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // January 13th, 2005

The Charge

"This is a greater punishment than we deserve." -- Fuyutsuki

The Case

Episodes 1 through 10 of Neon Genesis Evangelion are packed with events and themes, but they feel relatively cohesive in tone and approach. This volume of the Platinum Collection takes us into rougher territory and tells a tale more fractured. The episodes don't feel unified as in previous volumes; they jump around the map. This gives us the distinct impression that Neon Genesis Evangelion is eroding from under our feet, leaving us unsettled and casting about for truth.

The previous reviews of Neon Genesis Evangelion -- Platinum Collection (Volume 1) and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Collection (Volume 2) will give you an idea of how I perceive the video and sound quality for this incarnation of the series. Volume Three is as good as the previous volumes in terms of sonic mayhem and visual delight. In fact, I was struck anew by how glossy and clear the series looks. Colors are not rock solid, but they are generally even and stable. The lines are crisp. The series looks great this way.

The extras in this volume lean heavily toward technical discussion of the audio remix. The booklet created for this volume opens with an overview of the remix process, which sets the stage for the two main special features. The first is an interview with the sound editors, who go into great detail about the hows, whats, and whys of the remix process. As far as technical discussions go, this one is relatively entertaining. Let's be honest: Anime is a domain of geekdom, and we geeks like to hear other geeks talk about how they did cool stuff. Less compelling is the commentary track by the same sound engineer, which repeats the same information in slightly different form.

Perhaps it was because of the increased visibility of the remix process in the extras, but I kept discovering new effects and background voices in the mix. The previous volumes probably had such additions, but I really noticed them this time. Some of the new voices lend an increased sense of urgency to the action, while at least one seemed cumbersome. The bottom line is that the mix sounds really good.

Additional extras include written summaries of the episodes in the booklet, which gives deep insight into the social and biblical underpinnings of the series. There is an audio commentary by the perennially perky Tiffany Grant and her boy toy Spike. This one was more entertaining than the first solo commentary by Greenfield, but less entertaining than the one where the ladies got together on "Asuka Strikes!" The most interesting thing I learned was that Ritsuko's funky blouse is a wetsuit. Little details like this increase my admiration for the complexity of the series. Beware, however, because the extras in this volume lay bare the upcoming events. Spoilers both massive and small are everywhere in the extras.

Volume Three of the Perfect Collection contained episodes 9, 10, and 11. By comparison, Volume Three of the Platinum Collection begins with episode 11 and goes through episode 14. Already, we've gotten a better ratio of episodes per DVD (granted, at a higher price point). The real question is, do you love the series enough to shell out thirty bucks per volume? Anime is expensive, and this show is among the elite.

This brings us to the episodes themselves. As usual, the discussions below contain series-wide spoilers.

* "The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still"
This is the last "innocent" episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, before the darkness of the series is brought home to the viewer. The EVA pilots, Misato, and the rest retain their established façades of personality and purpose. Good and bad are still relatively distinct. For first-time viewers, or repeat viewers who are holding the impending darkness at arm's length, this is the last episode that gives us a tenuous sense of equanimity.

We see the familiar NERV personnel in unfamiliar circumstances: doing laundry, taking the train to work, living as people instead of stoic com operators or brilliant scientists. This normalcy is to establish that NERV personnel are regular people who need clean clothes and a way to get into work in the morning. These people depend on technology, and technology depends on power.

But there is no power. An angel is attacking.

The actual battle in this episode is dramatic enough, with a nice display of teamwork and sacrifice, but it isn't particularly involved. Ready, aim, fire...see ya, Matarael. The real thrust of this episode is twofold: How adaptable is NERV in the face of a power outage? How are the First, Second, and Third Childs getting along?

The technology angle is clever. Gendo, Misato, and the rest of NERV do things the old-fashioned way in a pleasing display of human effort. They manually load the entry plugs into the EVAs by ropes and pulleys. They use candles to see. They engage the hydraulic lifts by hacking apart the oil lines with a hatchet. Meanwhile, the three pilots act like rabbits in a spotlight until they figure out what to do.

Which brings us to my favorite aspect of this episode, the interpersonal dynamic between the three pilots. The relationship has always been brittle, but in this episode it gets downright nasty. Asuka's need to be right and in control nearly gets them all killed, and she still refuses to learn from the mistake or admit her own culpability. Instead, she calls Rei a "self-righteous bitch." Her merciless teasing of Shinji turns into a barrage of nasty insults. Shinji is wishy-washy in the face of this while Rei leads them to NERV. The tension between the three pilots is the first sign that things may not turn out okay in the land of Evangelions.

It isn't the most gripping episode of the lot, but "The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still" is full of memorable moments and laced with that feeling of unreality that accompanies major power outages. Throw in the first signs of true malice from the major characters, and you have a capable transition into Neon Genesis Evangelion's dark core.
Grade: A-

* "She said, 'Don't make others suffer for your personal hatred'"
The opening of this episode is so moving, and so violently apocalyptic, that it stuns me every time I see it. The scenes that show the aftermath of the Second Impact are effective enough to actually cause us to rethink the "end of the world" cliché. Hideaki Anno doesn't tell us, he shows us; the images of staggering survivors juxtaposed against unfathomable wreckage are hard to get out of your mind. The impact was great enough that it could be seen from the moon. If this scene had been in a live-action movie, it would have cost millions of dollars to produce.

After ensnaring us with this powerful hook, the episode continues its onslaught of dark imagery. Misato gets promoted and Shinji gets praised for his synch ratios, but secretly neither is pleased. Their conversation about twisted familial relationships and the burden of accolades feels real in its despondency. Later, Misato hatches a reckless plan and asks the three pilots to fill out their last wills and testaments. Ritsuko barrels right past snippy on her way to hateful, tearing into Misato with cruel words. Gendo takes a sightseeing tour to the site of the Second Impact. The episode is a barrel of laughs.

Yet this is truly what the whole series is about. Up until this point we've only felt the undercurrent of fear. "She said, 'Don't make others suffer for your personal hatred'" brings the stakes home in such convincing fashion that we're prepared for almost anything that comes later.
Grade: A+

* "Lilliputian Hitcher"
My day job is programming bioinformatic scripts, so I can't think of this episode as anything other than "the hacker episode." In fact, watching it reminds me very much of going to work, only without the giant robots and mercenaries from God hell-bent on destroying mankind.

In a way that is a good thing, because it means this episode has verisimilitude. Unlike the execrable hacking scenes from movies like Hackers, Neon Genesis Evangelion has a modicum of credibility. Granted, the credibility is on the metaphorical side. The 11th angel is a viral computer -- a literal computer virus. It infects NERV and tries to wrest control of the MAGI. Ritsuko rises to the occasion, using literal back doors into central processing unit. In yet another literal use of computer metaphor, the CPU is the brain of Ritsuko's mother. Ritsuko plugs electrodes into the gray matter and belts out a countervirus to save NERV's computers. The result is a gruesome techie ghost story.

In addition to the ludicrously cool computer war, there is the matter of Ritsuko's bitter hatred for her mother, or Ritsuko's almost scary facility with secret access to the computers that control NERV, or other such trains of thought. If you really ponder this episode, you'll reach very unpleasant conclusions. I've always found Ritsuko one of the most compelling characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion; this episode goes a long way toward establishing her oddly inviting blend of cold-hearted cruelty and breezy competence.

The "race against a computer virus" plot builds in a palpable tension that will put you on the edge of your seat. At the same time, everyone knows what will happen almost from the start. "Lilliputian Hitcher" sets a tense pace, but there isn't much actual tension. The dramatic impact is diminished by inevitability.

On the other hand, we do get to see the EVA pilots naked. Well, almost; they are silhouetted against glass doors. Nonetheless, the image of Shinji walking down a long hallway with his naked coworkers on either side gets right to the heart of Neon Genesis Evangelion's male fantasy element.
Grade: B+

* "Weaving a Story"
If you've watched all of the episodes up to this point, you've already taken quite a journey. Shinji's innocence shattered as he confronts death in battle while sitting in the cockpit of an alien behemoth. The friends, fears, and foibles of high school life. Brutal fathers. Misato, Rei, and Asuka. Blackouts, power surges, explosions, and earthquakes. Betrayal. Espionage. Secret plans for humanity. The Apocalypse.

Well, get ready, because Neon Genesis Evangelion is just warming up. The revelations, backstabbings, desecrations, and rug pullings are just over the horizon. It is time to take stock, summarize what we have learned and endured thus far.

Right on cue, "Weaving a Story" does that for us. Were this a sitcom, "Weaving a Story" would be the flashback episode. But as flashback episodes go, this one is potent. The ultra-secret SEELE syndicate is reviewing what it knows about the events to this point. Like a twisted vacation slide show, we see the previous episodes condensed into talking points. Each slide is laden with information, both old and new. As events congeal in our minds, we learn new and disturbing tidbits. It is like watching the past through a kaleidoscope.

As the information dump continues, we hear snippets of conversation. SEELE threatens to assassinate Gendo for treason. Gendo, nonplussed, considers his own manipulative goals. If you suspected that devious machinations were underfoot, now you know for sure.

On another front, we learn that Rei and Shinji can switch EVAs if needed. When Rei sits in Shinji's cockpit, she smells his blood and experiences his EVA's ruminations about her. She sits in the cockpit and, melded with Unit-01, ponders herself from the outside. A million Reis stand in line while Shinki/Unit-01/Rei wonders what Rei is, who God is, what the nature of consciousness and existence are. If this sounds weird in writing, Neon Genesis Evangelion viewers know that the experience is even weirder. This is the path that future episodes will take: dark ruminations on life, death, depression, humanity, God, and futility. Anno has us hooked by this point, and he unleashes upon us the most fractured, elemental thoughts in his despondent brain.

The episode ends with an upswing of action when Shinji sits in Rei's cockpit, smells her blood and synchs with the traces of her thoughts. It drives him instantly mad, and Unit-00 begins pelting the walls of NERV with hammer blows in an attempt to crush Ritsuko. As in all things Evangelion, these actions are ambiguous.

This episode is an information dump, albeit a twisted one. Anno seems to be confirming our past knowledge, but he twists it and splinters it until we second-guess everything. It is not precisely enjoyable; in fact, it seems like a cruel joke. In addition, if you are a subtitle elitist this episode will be downright painful. Events and images flash before us, with reams of written notes on the slides. In addition to the copious written material, terse conversations puncture the air like gunfire. Subtitles stack on top of subtitles until the screen is a blur of words. Given the confusing structure of the episode and the fine voice acting by the English language cast, "Weaving a Story" practically demands that you watch it with the dub.
Grade: C+

There you have it -- Volume Three. It contains one of the best episodes in the series, which by extension makes it one of the best episodes in all of anime. On the other hand, it contains the first truly weak episode of the series in the rehashed "Weaving a Story." With a slight hit in episode-per-DVD value but a slight uptick in extra quality, Volume Three is hit or miss. Even the misses in this series are worth watching, though, so don't stop now if you've been collecting this new edition.

Review content copyright © 2005 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 93

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)

* English
* English (Signs only)

Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* 12-Page Profile Booklet
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* The English Remix Process
* Commentary by Tiffany Grant and Spike Spencer on "The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still"
* Commentary by Matt Greenfield and Wade Shemwell on "Lilliputian Hitcher"

* IMDb

* DVD Verdict Review of Platinum Collection Vol. 1

* DVD Verdict Review of Collection 0:3

* DVD Verdict Review of Platinum Collection Vol. 2