Death & Rebirth
, the bizarre ending of the television series Neon Genesis Evangelion
(1995), pleased no one, including creator Hideaki Anno. Shortly after it aired, Anno began remaking the final episodes as an OAV and then decided to release them as a theatrical feature. At the climax of the series, Shinji met and destroyed Kaoru, who was both the Fifth Child and 17th Angel--then collapsed into schizophrenia. Death
retraces these events through clips, many of them set to new dialogue performed by the same English cast as the series. Rebirth
depicts the aftermath of Shinji's victory over the final Angel: Seele attacks NERV headquarters as part of their plot to advance human evolution. The feature ends as inconclusively as the series, with Rei in limbo beside Dr. Ikari, the traumatized Shinji nearly catatonic, and a reawakened Asuka fighting Seele. It sets up the final film, The End of Evangelion
. Unrated; suitable for ages 14 and up: Violence, brief nudity, profanity.
Anno brought his watershed epic to its conclusion in the final installment, End of Evangelion. It begins where the series ended: with the Angels defeated, the sinister cabal SEELE attacks NERV headquarters to seize the Evas and realize their plan for humanity. Misato and Ritsuko fight from inside while Asuka decimates a new Eva series. But when Rei merges with Lilith, and Shinji seems to fuse with Unit 01, the final traces of a coherent storyline dissolve into a protracted collage of fantastic images, played against discussions involving Rei, Shinji, Asuka, and Kaoru. Anno's dazzling apocalyptic vision forms a weird but oddly logical finale that ultimately means whatever the viewer chooses to read into it. This unrated feature, suitable for ages 17 and older, contains considerable violence, profanity, grotesque imagery, and sexual situations.
Extras in this set include a gallery of still artwork, short biographies of the main characters, descriptions of the Angels and Evas, and a glossary of terms used in the series. In the voice-over commentary, Amanda Winn Lee (producer-director of the English dub and the voice of Rei Ayanami), co-producer Jason C. Lee and "anime enthusiast" Taliesin Jaffe make a lot of dumb jokes that suggest a lack of respect for both Anno's work and the audience. --Charles Solomon