Reviewby Paul Fargo,
Neon Genesis Evangelion
DVD 7: Director's Cut: Resurrection
When ADV first released Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 0:7, the three episodes contained within were pulled from the original television run of the series. The unfortunate result being that they lacked several minutes of "director's cut" footage that was inserted into the Japanese video and DVD releases. After over two years with the original TV cut, ADV has finally acquired the much touted missing footage and re-released Collection 0:7 as Neon Genesis Evangelion Director's Cut: Resurrection. While the added and revised scenes won't provide any stunning new revelations, they still give fans a deeper look at this modern classic, and present an Evangelion closer to the vision of director and creator Hideaki Anno.
Being the penultimate volume to the series, the episodes contained in Resurrection lay deep within Evangelion's darker, more psychological realm. As NERV becomes increasingly desperate and driven to accomplish its shady agendas, the people directly tied to the organization slip deeper and deeper into despair and hopelessness. Amidst the emotional suffering, revelations concerning NERV's past and many of its secrets begin to emerge, throwing the cast even further into a state of confusion. The female EVA pilots, Asuka and Rei, perhaps suffer the most in this volume, as their pasts and reasons for piloting the organic machines return to haunt them, hurling both into a downward spiral unmatched until the series' controversial conclusion. In finally giving the audience a taste of what truly lies beneath, Anno sets a genuinely bleak and tragic tone for Evangelion's finale, ensuring that those willing to follow his pessimistic vision will stay glued to their seats until the series reaches its final destination.
Of course, furthering Anno's vision is the reason the director's cut footage exists, and that footage is the reason Resurrection was released in the first place. Adding about five to ten minutes to each episode's running time, the new footage doesn't provide any staggering revelations on its own, but instead serves to emphasize and clarify points that weren't explored to their fullest in the original television run of the series. Character development is expanded, some of the more vital scenes are extended, and the show is given a generally improved and streamlined feel. Alongside the new scenes, there are also several minutes of redone animation for existing scenes, which serves to cover up moments of previously off-model and poor quality work. Again, it's nothing Evangelion couldn't live without, but it certainly creates an improved viewing experience.
While the animation may have been redrawn in some spots however, fans expecting the digital remastering treatment for Resurrection will be rather disappointed. For the most part, the episodes contained on this disc look as faded and aged as they did in ADV's original DVD release. Of course, being the exact same episodes from Collection 0:7, the actual animation remains much the same, as well. Not exactly the cream of the crop in terms of production, but good for a TV series on a tight budget; the long camera pans and effective use of static shots helped Gainax to make the more action-packed moments of the series as crisp and fluid as possible. A nice touch on ADV's part for this release is the complete removal of digital text overlays that had plagued the VHS and even DVD releases of the series, with the company opting instead to simply subtitle the text where necessary. It's basically the same product as before, but with a few nice touch-ups here and there.
Like the animation, the music and voice acting remain much the same as the original release. Shirou Sagisu's effective mix of original pieces and classical music is very much intact, as are the series' opening theme and the various versions of "Fly Me to the Moon" that serve to close each episode. The only major sound difference that may be immediately discernable is the inclusion of a few new sound effects, primarily during combat sequences. The Japanese voice cast remains the same, providing stellar performances all around, with the English dub being pulled mostly from the acceptable (but not quite outstanding) Collection 0:7 release. For the new director's cut scenes, however, more dub voicework had to be provided. While these extra bits of dialogue blend nicely with the original dub, the obvious downside is that they're similarly as unimpressive as the rest of the English audio track.
Packaging remains similar in style to the original DVD releases. The back and spine are virtually identical to the original case art, with the cover art featuring a darkened image of EVA-02 and the insert featuring a severely cropped image of Rei Ayanami. The menu is also done in the same style as the first Eva discs, made up to look like the terminal of NERV's Magi computer system. For comparison to the new cuts, the original versions of the three episodes are on the disc as well. They are pulled straight from the old VHS masters, and as a result are riddled with the hideous text overlays that were mostly done away with even on the first Collection 0:7 disc. Extras are mostly very basic, providing the standard trailers and creditless opening and closing animation. Two bonuses that will really catch most people's attention, though, are the original broadcast versions of Resurrection's episodes, as well as an interview with Weta Workshop concerning the live action Evangelion movie. The interview with Weta is rather telling in that the team working on the project are clearly familiar with the series and provide some interesting ideas, but they make it clear that the project is very much in the concept stages and quite far from actual production.
Though it doesn't provide any stunning new revelations or radically affect the show itself, the director's cut of Evangelion presented in Resurrection does provide a refined view of this modern classic more in line with what director Anno originally had in mind. In fleshing out the characters and the thoughts going through their screwed up little heads, Gainax and Anno have provided quite a treat for fans of the series, as well as a more polished ride for first-timers new to the bleak, psychological realm of Evangelion. It won't do anything to sway the ones who never liked it, but those who already view the franchise favorably should definitely make space on their DVD shelf for this one.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : A+
Story : A
Animation : B+
Art : A-
Music : A
+ Refined re-release of one of the most groundbreaking anime in recent history.
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