Tonight’s entertainment is a double feature of Neon Genesis Evangelion theatrical remakes. Why am I excited about remakes? What the fuck is an Evangelion in the first place? Did I mention that I’ve already seen them? THIS MAKES NO SENSE (I’m sure you’re mentally yelling). Good. You’re in the right mind frame for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
First off, Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime. It’s a giant robot anime. That’s also potentially the most reductive way to look at the franchise. Evangelion is as much a giant robot anime as World War Z was about people killing zombies. Yes, that’s the setting, but the layers go far deeper than that.
Evangelion came into my life at the age of 14. My friend and I went to our local hobby store to get the first DVD of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. They were sold out, but the owner told us to grab Evangelion, that it was popular. We grumbled at took what we could get, cursing the owner behind his back. Any hesitation was immediately forgotten once we watched the first DVD. We were hooked and needed more. In retrospect, it was the perfect age and time for me. The blessing/curse of puberty was growth and when you’re stuck in a bonfire of questioning everything around you, there’s nothing quite like throwing some gasoline on top to accelerate the process. The central characters of Evangelion are 14, which meant I could connect that much easier with their lives (aside from the whole piloting giant robot things). Frankly if meme culture was more widespread at the time, you all would’ve heard of it.
Evangelion follows Shinji Ikari, who’s been brought back to Neo-Tokyo at the behest of his father, a shadowy figure inside an organisation of equally inscrutable intent. He’s thrust into that typical teenage position of having to pilot a giant robot (in this case, an Evangelion) to defend the earth from otherworldly beings looking to annihilate humanity. I say thrust into, because nothing about his actions involve willingness. He’s coerced by a father who doesn’t so much love him as needs him. He repeatedly refuses the call to action and has trouble connecting with others. He’s a nice kid, but shy and impossibly insecure. So, most teenagers.
There’s ton of action with innovative, beautiful monsters. There’s a lot of harem/cheesecake stuff that directly appealed to a 14 year old boy in the throes of said puberty. At some stage though, the veil peels away to form an intensely metaphysical and philosophical text that questions the role of responsibility, identity, connection and what it means to be a sentient being. Essentially my first encounter with mindfuck film. Also some long and pointless scenes created solely because of budgetary inhibition. Some elevator rides take a long time, maaan.
Tonight’s double feature involves the 2007 and 2009 remakes of an eventual four part film reboot. I’ve seen them on the small screen, but there are some gorgeous action scenes and visuals that just beg to be seen on the silver screen. I figure it’s a chance to revisit something that was important to me at a time when I placed excessive meaning on inconsequential things. It might be nice to remember how that felt.
And hopefully in that cinema, I am not alone.