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This review is from: Neon Genesis Evangelion - Resurrection (Director's Cut, Episodes 21-23) (DVD)
I suppose, since I bought this DVD as soon as it became available that I have finally become a true Eva-Otaku. After all, I already own the DVD set and the films. Somehow, though, I've never thought of myself as one. I find Evangelion a fascinating artistic effort, one that manages to cross cultural lines even as it creates something uniquely Japanese. But I haven't memorized the scripts yet. But in absorbing this new DVD I discovered that I'm still not tired of watching the episodes.
A lot of director's cuts really are just collections of deleted material pasted back on. With some frequency, the cuts were made for a valid reason. On occasion, the cuts were made to accomplish something arbitrary (to get a better rating or meet a length requirement). That is the case here. These episodes represent a return to Hideaki Anno's original concept for the series and provide considerable insight into the confusions of the first US release.
Episode 21 has been filled out considerably, providing a better picture of the progression that led to the birth of the Evangelions and the inception of NERV. While most of the information can be gleaned elsewhere, this makes the story gel for the view. You will immediately become aware that you are watching a redubbed Japanese product, not a re-localized cut (which is what the original release was. This creates a bit of visual confusion until you adjust, but actually presents considerable new information, as many of the subtitles are different or new.
Unfortunately, is also becomes apparent that the entire production has been redubbed and John Swasey has replaced Tristan MacAvery as Gendo Akari. While it isn't Swasey's fault, the acting lacks the edge of the first release, and sometimes the dubbing proceeds on blindly, paying no attention to changes in the subtitles or the Japanese. Minor annoyances when you consider the improved clarity of the episodes.
Episode 22 is the first indication that something major has happened. The material reintroduced to the episode focuses on Asuka's development as a character. Introductory material about he has been added, and the fight scene where she suffers a breakdown and failure has been significantly changed. Anno makes much use of echoing images in the series, but what we discover is that the released cut greatly reduced his artistic contribution. With al this restored the story leaps to life as it never had before.
Episode 23 continues in this vein. Although the changes are not so dramatic as in 22, Rei's fight scene has also been expanded internally, some material has also been deleted including a bit of brief nudity that also refocuses the intense of another scene. In fact, many of the cuts originally made in both 22 and 23 were made to diffuse some of the latent sexuality of the invasions of both Asuka's and Rei's psyche's. In retrospect, this is a surprising discovery, since Evangelion has always been aimed at a young adult audience, and there is nothing particularly offensive in the new versions.
Both versions of the episodes are provided so save popping DVD's in and out. The only additional material is a 15-minute marketing interview about the Evangelion live action film that raises as many misgivings as it does interest.
If the remaining episodes in the director's cut series are as changed as these were then this is required viewing. Hideaki Anno's work opens up layers of Evangelion that previously were obscure tot he viewer, especially the English language viewer. I would recommend tracking them down even if you are only a casual watcher of anime. If you have become an Eva-Otaku then ownership is both required and a delight.