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Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo 2011: Full Report
C2E2 - Day 3

by Bamboo Dong,

The last day of C2E2 yielded two very amazing things—a last minute opportunity to shop in the exhibit hall—and a special screening of Evangelion 2.0 – You Can (Not) Advance, the second installment of the Evangelion movie tetralogy. Although the program guide stated that the film would be introduced by Spike Spencer, he didn't appear until after the screening for the Q&A. The film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 29 by Funimation.

Evangelion 2.0 screening

I will say this upfront—Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorite anime series of all time. Top three, easily. So much so that I have purchased the series at least three times. Apparently I was not the only huge Eva fan in the audience.

For anyone who's seen the first movie (You Are (Not) Alone), you'll remember that the first movie is an almost shot-for-shot remake of the first six episodes of the series. (Attendees who hadn't seen the movie by the time the weekend rolled around got a chance on Friday, when it was screened early in the afternoon.) It's shiny and updated, but the material is the same, and watching the reboot of those episodes is like returning to that old worn-out spot on the couch—it's comforting, and it's familiar.

The second movie is not like that at all.

It's hard to tell what was more exciting—watching Anno flip viewers on their ear, or listening to the audience whooping and hollering. Dedicated fans of the series will remember that Shini's Walkman perpetually cycled between tracks 25 and 26. When his Walkman hit track 27, the crowd reaction was insane. Some started cheering, others recoiled in fear. But at that moment, the audience was alive, and until the bitter, gut-wrenching end, the excitement in the room was palpable. If there were any people in the room who had never seen Evangelion before, they became instant fans.

As someone who's been going to anime conventions for a decade, some of my favorite memories have been the ones from ten years ago, when I was a wide-eyed fan watching the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs for the first time, or spending countless hours in screening rooms with my anime club friends. Over the years, I've seen screening rooms dwindle in numbers, as the internet has made anime a lot more accessible.

For the first time in years, being in that screening room for Evangelion 2.0 reminded me of what it was like being with other anime fans, watching something for the first time. It's a great experience, and I never would've guessed it would take a comic book convention to remind me of it.

Closing thoughts

Comic book conventions have a very different vibe from anime conventions. The audience is older, there's less screaming, and there are a lot more Stormtroopers walking around. But lest anyone be concerned, there is also a ton of stuff to do. I don't think I've ever met an anime fan who didn't also take at least a passing interest in science fiction movies and TV, so even if that person has no opinion on the DC vs. I Marvel debate (Marvel, all the way), they can still check out the other entertainment panels.

This being my first C2E2, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I walked away satisfied. I got to spend time in a beautiful city, I got to argue with people on the bus who the best X-Men was, and I got to see a movie that completely sucked the breath right out of my chest. And I ate pizza three times. The show had a great atmosphere, and I recommend it to anyone who wants an excuse to check out the Windy City.

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