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on March 2, 2007
For those turning to this film to answer all the questions that the last two episodes of the Evangelion (NGE) series didn't answer, I suggest you look elsewhere. If anything, this film will provide you with precious few answers but a multitude of new questions. For those wanting a highly provocative, thought-provoking, intelligent and most poignant conclusion to the NGE series, then have no fear. I will try to explain some of the more perplexing elements in this film, without giving too much away, as well giving my thoughts and opinions at the same time.

The film is structured to be the final two episodes of the series. So the first half, Ep. 25 "Air/Love is Destructive" is concurrent with the series episode 25 "The World Ending/Do You Love Me?". The second half, Ep. 26. "My Purest Heart for You/One More Final: I Need You" is concurrent with the series episode 26 "The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World/Take Care of Yourself."

Much like the NGE series, the End of Evangelion (EoE) weaves a complex story where images and dialogue are closely related to the philosophy and symbolism. These themes are played out through the psychology of each characters' own mind. It is essentially a microcosm of the entire series. The opening scenes before the "Air" title card of Ep. 25 of Shinji overlooking the ruins of the city, and then entering Asuka's hospital room and, (I'll leave it there) set the mood and atmosphere. Showing effectively and very disturbingly that this is NOT going to be an easy film. As the first half roars out of the gates at breakneck speed, we see the hostile takeover of Nerv by the Seele organization and each Nerv member's desperate attempt to hold it at bay.

We also see the mental states that the two main Eva pilots - Shinji and Asuka - have been reduced too. Shinji is severely depressed after killing the last angel, Kaworu, whom he had formed a close bond with. Asuka is in the same mental boat as Shinji as she sits at the bottom of the lake in her Eva, which she feels she can't pilot anymore. What's interesting is the paths that have driven these two characters to this point. The ideas of finding one's self-worth (examined perfectly in the final two series episodes), and what happens to a person when that is taken away.

At the same time Seele is trying to initiate their plans for Third Impact using Unit-01 and the downright creepy looking Mass-Produced Eva Series, Gendo has his own plans involving Rei and Lilith. As Asuka, (with a little help and inspiration from her Mama) rages an extremely violent battle with the Evil Evas, Gendo takes Rei down to Lilith. He does this to unite the souls and bodies of Adam and Lilith only to find his scorned lover, Ritsuko there. It's interesting that two of the most shocking and violent scenes (the Asuka/Eva battle and the Gendo/Ritsuko confrontation) are played out to Bach's beautiful "Air". The infusion of the music in this film is truly brilliant and a major reason why many scenes are so effective.

However, this is the point in the film where most people will start to become completely lost. Without a really good understanding of the NGE story (and perhaps even with one), it's hard not to. It's very difficult to make the extremely complex simple, however I'll try without many spoilers.

Suffice it to say that Seele were trying to initiate Third Impact and reduce humankind back to its original form - the Primordial Soup of Life where all souls and beings are one. Gendo had different plans and just wanted to see his 'dead' wife, Yui again. Neither Seele's or Gendo's plans go exactly as they were meant to. Unit-01, along with Shinji, ends up becoming the Tree of Life, and the ark in which all souls are ushered through and into Lilith's Egg. Understanding the idea that in NGE, humans - Lilim, as we're called - were born from Lilith, and Rei is essentially Lilith helps make this clearer. What's happening near this point is 3rd Impact is occurring because of the Unit-01 and the Mass Produced Eva encounter. This returns the Geo-Front (the sphere like cavern where Nerv HQ sits) to its original form, the Egg of Lilith (we see this during the "Eye"-like explosion). After the Giant Rei/Lilith forms, Shinji is essentially given reign over the future of the human race by Rei/Lilith herself.

At this point, the tempo of the film slows to a crawl and the most surreal images and scenes begin creeping in. Even the most seemingly simple scenes such as a young Shinji playing in a sandbox with a swing, mountains, and a setting sun in the background is just rife with symbolism (hint: try to relate everything in this scene with something in the show, be it scenes, characters, or themes). Here, the psychological interplay between the main characters is crucial, as Shinji's wishes are played out in the real world. When he feels that everyone has deserted him and essentially says 'everyone can just die' is when the Instrumentality and joining of all souls through Lilith really begins.

What's important to note is Shinji's thoughts after his 'choice' has been made. The place he escapes to - the world of Instrumentality where all souls are one - and his questioning of this choice and all his choices is what we see here. More than just his questioning of the choice, we also hear him questioning the meaning of reality and dreams. This is not just random philosophical ramblings. It's a study of a character's, as well as the creator's, thoughts and feelings. Shinji holds all of humanity's future in his hands or, more accurately, his own mind. When you consider how psychologically scarred Shinji is, the idea that he can completely shape the future of Earth and all of humankind is what makes this so interesting.

Once he is allowed to be in the world he escapes to, he's faced with another choice of whether to stay or come back. As he discusses these things with Rei and Kaworu (Lilith and Adam), we hear his final choice and reasons why. The ending of EoE, titled "One More Final: I Need You" is rightfully confusing to almost everyone who sees it. However, it's also the perfect note to end the series with. Not only does it leave us as uncertain as the characters are about the future, but it also expresses the frustration and realization of Shinji's choice and the culmination of all the struggles that has lead them there.

This film is simply a divine marvel. Much like the series it has to be watched multiple times for one to uncover all of its hidden layers and meanings. But it doesn't lose its ability to invoke emotions and thoughts even after several viewings. There are scenes of immense power and drama in the film - many that match the best of most films I've seen. But I think it's the quiet moments that make this film so moving and memorable. The Sandbox scene is one I've mentioned. Another is the live action shots with the monologue and Bach's magnificent "Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude" (Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring) playing along on piano with it. Even more subtle moments, such as Shinji's SDAT (walkman type) player out of batteries (more significant than many would think), and Gendo's broken glasses in Rei's place. With the vivid beginning of Instrumentality played out to the appropriate sad-song-with-a-pop-beat "Komm Susser Tod" (Come Sweet Death), it's these scenes that never fail to give me chills.

There's a great quote that goes something like "A truly wise man always has more questions than answers." This is a series and film that asks more questions than it provides answers. What it tries to do is make you think about those questions, rather than provide an easily digestible story. Some may call the story incoherent and disjointed, but what many don't realize is that the deep psychological and philosophical leanings behind the show are inextricably linked with the storyline itself. So to distinguish one from the other is impossible without realizing how the two intertwine and effect the other. If you merely try to breakdown the sci-fi storyline, then you will be confused by much of it. This is because the story is so big and so encompassing that many finer details can't be uncovered without diving deep into the inner workings of the series.

In the end, I can only speak for myself when I say NGE did a superlative job of doing everything a great work of art should do. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it gave me chills on more than one occasion.... but most of all it made me THINK. Anyone who wants to enjoy this show as just a meaningless work of science fiction can do so, but will be baffled as they're crushed by the multiple layers of extra contextual meanings. So, if you want to understand NGE, you have to not only pay close attention to the small details within the show (small scenes from many episodes back play a role in the film), you have to really open your mind up to the ideas being presented, and how they effect the story.

However, taken as a film, and the conclusion to the NGE series, End of Evangelion is a staggering achievement and powerful last testament to what is, in my opinion, the greatest visual series of all time.

*DVD NOTES:

Those considering whether to buy just the EoE or the EoE/Death & Rebirth 2-pack, I suggest you go with the EoE unless you don't own the director's cuts of the last several episodes (available in the Platinum Collection). 'Death' is mostly a muddled re-crap of the entire series, while 'Rebirth' is merely the first 30 minutes of EoE. Death also doesn't contain remastered visuals or audio like the Platinum Collection does, so you'll be getting a low quality re-cap at that. Death really doesn't even work as an introduction to NGE, because most everyone not aquainted with previous episodes would be confused by the structure of the recap. The only thing worthwile in 'Death' is something called "The Magi Archives" which provides great information about key people, places, events, and thing in the series. This is very helpful to those who feel completely lost by all the jargon in the series and will help clear some things up, even if it won't answer any of the bigger questions. So just stick with EoE unless you feel the need for completeness to get Death & Rebirth as well.
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on November 22, 2002
Fans of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" will most likely want to get this DVD though it is not needed. The "Death" part of this movie is a recap of the first 24 episodes of the TV series. Only the bare highlights are given in order to cram that much information into such a short amount of time that I don't think this would be helpful to those who have not already watched the series. However, the recap can be helpful to possibly answer a couple of questions or bring a small amount of clarity to what you've seen before. Some of the animation has been redone to make it better and some previously unseen footage from the show has been placed here.
The second part of the movie is called "Rebirth" and is simply the first part of "End of Evangelion" movie. So in a way, it's almost a waste and certainly is a tease of what's coming up.
There are two big reasons to own this DVD. First, fans of the series will want it to fill out their collection. Second (and the biggest reason) is the audio commentary from the director of the English dub (and English voice of Rei) as well as Jason Lee and one other guy involved in anime. Since they worked a long time getting the translation right, they are very familiar with the story and what is going on. So they are able to provide insights into the story as well as pointing out things you might miss. Jason Lee is very helpful since he knows a ton about Catholic dogma/beliefs/stories (which is the basis for the "Christian" themes in this movie) as well as other mythos. His comments help a ton in explaining things.
The original Japanese audio is included as well as English subtitles if you need that. There are other extras as well, but I haven't taken the time to examine them all.
Bottom line: Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great series, but this DVD is not a required purchase. However, I am happy with this DVD.
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on June 27, 2005
From the reviews ot his I have read, most people think this is just Death & Rebirth, which makes since because Amazon labeled it Neon Genesis Evangelion - Death & Rebirth (Special Edition). Well this is NOT just Death & Rebirth. It is a boxed set that also comes with End of Evangelion, as well as a postcard and mouse pad.

Sure, D&R wan't that great, but EoE was a masterpiece, plain and simple. I already own both, but I'm gonna buy this anyway, because I want the mouse pad.
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on March 22, 2006
This review is intended for the Neon Genesis Death and Rebirth/ The End of Evangelion two-pak edition.

First of all, Death and Rebirth is probably not enjoyable to anyone already familiar with the series.However, it is useful to someone who needs a crash-course on the Eva storyline history, which must be known in some detail to appreciate End of Evangelion.

The End of Evangelion, movie #2 in this pak, is rather extraordinary- for better or for worse. The 1st portion of the movie is a fine example of animation in terms of how beautifully the battles of the movie are depicted. The human drama is very real as well; a certain character experiences sudden joy and victory- and then meets brutal, tragic defeat.

The 2nd portion of the movie becomes visually chaotic as the minds of individuals become united as one through a scifi-esque process called Instrumentality. The imagery is as strange as the idea itself, and they require a bit of examination- but, just as a minor tip, the final scene takes place on Earth after Instrumentality fails, and the person next to Shinji is the REAL Asuka (this has been cleared up by the studio behind the movie, and I believe it is something the viewer must understand to fully appreciate the moment).

On a final note, the ending of this unique story is somewhat inconclusive. All we know for sure is that Instrumentality failed, and at least 2 of the main characters have returned to a now (at least partially) damaged Earth. Here is the director's reasoning: "With Evangelion, we are trying to get people to think independently. We will never supply all the answers for you." Love it or hate it, that is the spirit of Evangelion.

P.S. The commentary of this movie is TERRIBLE. None of the individuals giving the commentary show any respect for the movie, and they discuss long-disproven theories about the final scene. Take my word for it: IGNORE THE COMMENTARY ENTIRELY.
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on May 8, 2006
Take an established genre, with strong cultural meaning, and turn it on its head. Then add a ghostly, dream-like quality and some of the most powerful, resonant imagery you can imagine. Mix in ancient mysteries and classic myths of unfiltered religion. Then tie up all the loose ends with characters you have grown to understand and love. Then end the world.

Its Anno's love letter to humanity and also his middle finger to convention. Its is one of the most important pieces of animation ever made and one of the most important pieces of art created in the last twenty years.

That being said, its sort of useless unless you've watched the series, subtitled and well translated. Its also sort of useless if you do not watch it with a caring, keen eye and an open mind. Dont expect to understand it conventionally. Its the punchline in a joke that you may never get.

Also, the american "direction" is absolutely nightmarish and the new translation questionable. Listening to the "director" commentary is like listening to some horrible person misinterperet your family photo albums. Amanda Winn Lee is simply not capable of acting, directing or producing something of this magantude, despite her gumption or opinions on the matter. do not, i repeat DO NOT watch this series or the film dubbed.

But no manner of nerdy american translation can ruin the raw genius at work in this film. Anno can still be felt and heard, and the quality of the images sure beats your best friend's cousin's fan-subbed bootleg. Take two weeks, watch the series, fall in love. Then take a night, turn out the lights, watch this film, get your heart beautifully broken.
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on June 4, 2002
First released to Japanese movie theaters in 1997, Death & Rebirth is a double feature summarizing the Evangelion TV series and preparing viewers for the End of Evangelion. Evangelion: Death is a 45 minute long collection of footage from the first 24 Evangelion TV episodes, expanded by a small amount of new footage, that introduces the Evangelion characters and the themes and characterizations that surround them. The 27 minute long Evangelion: Rebirth is the beginning of an alternate, more action oriented conclusion to the Eva TV series that begins directly after the conclusion of TV episode 24 and disregards original TV episodes 25 & 26.
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on October 3, 2002
Death is a very quick recap of the series. I didn't really care for this half of the movie. I can watch the series over and over again and still be completely captivated by it. I thought the "Death" recap was too fast and distant. I was actually quite bored by it and found it very hard to sit through it.
Rebirth is the first 30 minutes or so of the movie. When I ordered this I wasn't sure or not if this footage was also included on the End of Evangelion DVD or not.
*The entire "Rebirth" section on this disc is also on the End of Evangelion DVD.*
Before I received my copy of End of Evangeion I was extremely impressed with the "Rebirth" part of this movie. I also loved the special features. Now that I have the End of Evangelion DVD I'm pretty sure this disc will never find it's way back in my DVD player.
If you are on a tight budget and you already have or have seen the eva series this dvd is pretty pointless now that End of Evangelion has been released. If you are a collector you should definatly get it to help complete your collection and you will probably enjoy the special features.
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Ever since I started watching anime (which has not been all that long), I have been curious about some of the big series. Like the nearly infinite number of Gundam's, the Lodoss series, and, of course, Evangelion. The latter has such universal popularity that I finally decided to try it. Put off by the price of the episodes I was attracted to this DVD, because of its two features, 'Death' was a recap of the series, and 'Rebirth' would provide some insight into its ending and meaning.
As usual, I was being optimistic. My first viewing of 'Death' left me feeling that I had just experienced one of those shorts that were titled '26,000 Years of Art in 60 Seconds.' It does indeed recap the high points of the series, but as a crazed rollercoaster ride - with flashbacks. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. However, I felt that I had watched something incredibly momentous yet utterly inexplicable. Certainly, Evangelion is quite a bit more than the sci-fi, kid-in-a-robot series that I thought it was. In fact, it deals with a surprising breadth of issues. From emotional trauma to the future evolution of the human race.
What I did not realize until I read some reviews is that 'Rebirth' is actually the starting episode of 'The End of Evangelion.' As such, I was unprepared for an apocalyptic vision of the attack on NERV headquarters, complete with the new EVA circling above like vultures. The action and emotional pitch are intense, really a step beyond most of the films I had seen before. Lacking any guideposts though, I found it difficult to piece together the story behind the action. And, as in the companion piece, creator Hideaki Anno shows no mercy to the viewer.
However, the DVD includes an entire encyclopedia of Evangelion knowledge called the 'Mokuji Interactive Feature.' This ingeniously flashes the names of people and things that I might want to know about, and provides a great deal of background data about them. Another useful tool was an excellent running commentary on 'Rebirth' by Amanda Winn Lee (the English language Director) and friends. I'm not a great fan of commentaries, but this was excellent, and pointed out many things I would otherwise have missed.
What this DVD did was whet my appetite and draw me into the Evangelion world. It impressed me with both the fine artwork and characters that are far more than cardboard heroes. It convinced me that I wanted to see the rest of 'The End of Evangelion' and all the previous episodes as well. So for me this DVD was a great success, although I will tell anyone who asks that they would be a lot less confused if they just broke down and bought the series DVD's. This production is probably better suited to those who are already fans of the series and are willing to keep freezing the action to examine the plentiful little details.
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One of the most popular Japanese animation's of all time, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is given star treatment from Manga Entertainment who own the rights of the first half to the conclusion of the series.
When I say star treatment, Manga Entertainment delivers because this is perhaps one of the most beautiful anime on DVD at this time. Not only is it packed with special features galore (which is surely lacking in anime DVD's), it also features a Mokuji Interactive feature for the seasoned Evangelion fans eager to know more about the series. Also, it features an awesome menu screen that makes you just want to kick back and just watch. Beautifully designed!
Before I go on to the special features, a little background on this film. In 1997, Gainax released "Death & Rebirth" which are two films and the first half of the conclusion to "Neon Genesis Evangelion" (the second and final conclusion is the "The End of Evangelion" film).
Originally, fans were not to happy with the final episodes of Evangelion and the truth is, how can a series like Eva be completed in a 30-minute episode. Thus, "Death & Rebirth" was first released.
The first half of the film starts out with "Death"; an orchestrated retelling of episodes 1 through 24 which includes new animated sequences and insight into the personal worlds of the characters conceived by the series' director Hideki Anno.
The second half of the film is "Rebirth"; where we see an alternate vision of episode 25 of the original series. In this version, SEELE (the secret international organization behind the development of both the Evangelion project and the Human Complementation Project) is concerned about how the projects' director, Ikari Gendo, is proceeding. Convinced that Gendo is implementing his own plans, they decide to wrest control of the projects, capture EVA Unit-01 and to undertake a full-scale invasion of Central Dogma and to literally destroy NERV using the nine-production model Evangelions.
For followers of the television series, the films are a must and "Death & Rebirth" is a wonderful first half which many Evangelion fans will be proud of.
But even more, Evangelion fans will be proud of the DVD. This DVD should set a high standard for anime DVD's with simply the most beautiful menu I have ever seen on an anime DVD and also packed with features which include, the English and Japanese trailers for the film, audio commentary by the English language director and voice actress of Rei Ayanami, Amanda Win Lee. An indepth index of characters, Angels, Evas and Terms, photo gallery, the End of Evangelion preview and much more.
The DVD is featured in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound (English only) and is in letterbox format. The film sounds beautiful with its awesome soundtrack and action scenes. The Japanese stereo track is available as well as English subtitles for dialogue and on-screen text.
As for those who worry that their favorite English dub actors may be different with this Manga Entertainment release, they shouldn't because all key roles in the English language version of "Death and Rebirth" are reprised by the voice-actors from the "Neon Genesis Evangelion" series.
The true gem is the Mokuji Interactive Feature which allows the viewer to select from an on-screen, chapter specific index of Eva-related terms, character descriptions and other valuable information while viewing the film.
This DVD in our mind is worthy of an A+ and should set a standard in showing the anime industry how anime DVD's should be. A beautiful film and a high quality DVD. Highly recommended!
THE MOVIE: A+
THE DVD EXTRAS: A+
THE DVD OVERALL: A+
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on June 3, 2002
Neon Genesis Evangelion is by far one of the best anime series ever made. The movie Death and Rebirth is nothing short of breathtaking for fans of the series for those whom have never seen it it is confusing and bizare. The focus of the first movie death is a recap of key scenes, which have been reanimated using theater quality cell designs, of the series as well as a few scenes which were never in the series such as a monolog from Gendo and Keel the two conspirators, or how Asuka tries to seduce Kaji on the way to Tokyo 3. This is true eye candy for fans and it is essential for those whom have not seen the entire series.
The second movie Rebirth takes place after episode 24. The sevententh angel now is dead and the orginization known as Seele moves to bring about the biblical armagedon they have been planning "Third Impact". The young boy Shinji must over come his self loathing and hatered of the world as Tokyo 3 and the HQ of NERV come under attack by the UN and SEELE's new Evangelion units. The young piolet Asuka also must over come her own self distructive thoughts and the angst of her past in order to piolt her Evangelion. This film is beautifully animated and the music is incredible. Rebirth is by far the most violent of the three Evangelion films and the characters do not always act as they did in the series. The epic battle Unit 2 wages against the Evangelions of SEELE is by far one of the most breathtaking scenes in the movie. As are the presonal confrontations of the whole cast. This is a film for those whom like both action and a unforgettable story. For those whom were dissapointed with the ending of the series this is the way the series was ment to end, yet you will need to wait a little longer for "Neon Genesis Evangelion: End" to find out the conclusion to the cliffhanger ending of Rebirth. WARNING "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth" contains scenes of Graphic Violence, Gore, Language, Nudity, Sexuality, and Strong Thematic Elements. Recommend viewing age is 17+ only!
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