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Reviewby Theron Martin, Mar 28th 2005
Neon Genesis Evangelion
DVD 4: Platinum Edition
Kaji continues to investigate the deeper secrets of NERV, while others take care of more personal business that often leads to awkward outcomes. Later, the 12th Angel attacks, absorbing a newly-emboldened Shinji into itself! NERV races against time to find a way to extract Unit-01 and Shinji, while Shinji finds himself examining his own inner motivations. Later still a catastrophic accident eliminates the second branch of NERV in the Nevada desert, where Unit-04 was undergoing testing. Unit-03 is shipped to Tokyo in the wake of the incident, requiring the Fourth Child to be activated. And his identity is a surprise to most. . .
This volume, which covers episodes 15-17, includes only one conflict with an Angel (albeit a very novel one), so action is sparse even though dramatic tension isn't. These episodes instead concentrate heavily on character and plot development, especially the relationships between various characters. A smattering of underlying NERV secrets—some of them startling—are revealed, but nowhere near enough information is available at this point to even make a guess as to what they ultimately mean. Amongst character developments, we get a full dose of Misato's insecurities and Shinji's ongoing internal dialogue. It is also becoming clear that Asuka may have some serious issues which are going to be real trouble for her later on. Lesser characters Toji and Hikari also get some attention, and even Rei is starting to show signs that she may be capable of more emotion that she's shown so far, though she understands poorly what she's feeling. Ultimately the purpose of these episodes, and all the developments in them, is to position all the key players and set up circumstances to exploit during the intense end run of the series. Even something as seemingly innocuous as Asuka's interesting way to kill time takes on greater meaning when one looks back after seeing the later episodes. For those who haven't already seen the rest of the series, a piece of advice: nothing that happens in these episodes is coincidence. Even the smallest details matter.
Most of my comments about the artistry, technical merits, music, and value of the Platinum edition for this volume are identical to those in my review for Platinum 3 so I will not repeat them here. I will add that episode 16 is the first time that NGE's unique brand of introspection, complete with the “train scenes,” is used. We also get the first major samples of the “flash” scenes that permeate the later episodes and movies. Both are characteristics which were, to my knowledge, unique to NGE at the time of its creation.
On the English dub front the voice acting continues to be very strong, with Allison Keith turning in a stand-out performance as Misato in episode 15 and Spike Spencer doing top-rate work as Shinji in episode 16. Otherwise, see my comments for the Platinum 3 review.
The extras one again include clean opener and closer and extensive liner notes which replace the original bio files. Also included in the liner notes are the regular (and very insightful) episode commentaries, a description of the process used for footage renewal, a breakdown of all the different versions of “Fly Me To The Moon” used in the episode closer, and the first part of the comprehensive Evangelion glossary—but, fair warning, this glossary contains some spoilers for later episodes. The commentary track this time is for episode 15 and features Tiffany Grant (Asuka) and Matt Greenfield (the English dub director). It is less insightful than the ones in the previous volume, but Tiffany Grant is always interesting to listen to on a commentary track. Unique extras on the disc include an “animatic” version of episode 15 and a featurette called “That Little Red-Haired Girl,” where Tiffany Grant proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is Asuka's #1 fan as well as her English voice actress.
With volume 4, NGE continues to increase the quality of its storytelling while introducing to mecha degrees of character study that the typically action-oriented genre had never seen before. The assorted mysteries of the series accumulate further as it sets up for the powerhouse final three volumes. If you've enjoyed the ride so far, stay tuned: the best is on its way.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : A-
+ Continued superb English voice work
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