Long time readers of this site know of my obsession with a certain Japanese cultural phenomenon: the anime epic called Evangelion. It is to anime what Tiger Woods is to the game of golf. Evangelion, in terms of visuals, story, theme and depth is head and shoulders above pretty much any other offering in the history of animation, Japanese or otherwise. In fact, since viewing the full original series and three resulting movies, all other anime products seem worthless to me. (This is not entirely true, as the films of Hayao Miyazaki exist in a universe of their own, and cannot be compared to other anime products.) To be more accurate, within the stereotypical anime subclass of “giant robot” TV shows, Evangelion is superlative and sublime art.
Evangelion has permeated much of modern Asian popular culture. Its characters are instantly recognizable and heavily fetishized. The mysterious, emotionally-stunted (and under-aged!) character of Rei Ayanami is perhaps the most sexually fetishized character in anime history. Here’s one of several hundred fan-made posters of her… and one of the less lascivious ones:
I have previously reported on the slowly evolving live-action Evangelion project, which promises to be a disappointing, watered-down, Americanized version of a uniquely Japanese phenomenon.
But now comes news that the ultimate re-telling of the Evangelion epic has come to pass. See, the original series ran out of money before its two final shows were produced. As a result, the grande finale –viewed religiously by millions of Japanese and subsequently millions of foreigners– was a bizarre episode featuring a 13 year old boy sitting in a chair, being psychoanalyzed. Evangelion overall was unique for scenes lasting many minutes, featuring nothing more than silent characters riding in an elevator: Japanese minimalism at its most extreme. The extent to which this minimalism is an artistic expression, and not just a cost-saving measure, remains unknown.
Now that Evangelion has garnered worldwide attention, its quixotic creator Hieaki Anno has garnered the funds to re-tell the story the way he had originally intended, re-using much of the original footage, but making the epic a little less obscure and inaccessible for the uninitiated. Anno calls this new project, the Rebuild of Evangelion.
The first movie is already out in Japan, and it’s uncertain whether it will ever come to North American theatres. But reviews are universally outstanding, and the pre-teen fanboy inside of me is all giddy at the prospects of seeing this film, which I suspect to be a genuine anime masterpiece.
Check out this trailer for the rebuild. I don’t know if it’s genuine or fan-made. But in either case, it’s got my attention: