Evangelion: Should they have left it alone?

One of my biggest peeves in today’s anime world is the constant remaking of classic anime simply for the use of profits and merchandise.  Sure, it revives the spirit of the anime and it certainly helps attract more fans, but should some anime be left alone so that people can truly appreciate the masterpiece that was first created long ago?  The artwork of previous generations goes essentially to waste when a group of people remake a movie/series so that new people look to the remake versions rather than the ones that made them famous.  Anyways, I want to talk about Evangelion, and I want to hear what you guys think about the series, the movies, and the remakes of it.

‘Rei Ayanami’ – old yet beautiful artwork

Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably one of the most popular and well-known anime from a long time ago.  Before Pokemon, Shinji and his friends were going insane, kicking ass, and making plot directions completely convoluted with the director’s weird Biblical interpretations.  It first started in 1995 when I was only three years old (you can guess my age) and it was probably my true first exposure to anime.  Since then, it has aired in over 40 different countries on over 30 different television networks.  As further defined by Wikipedia, Evangelion is “an apocalyptic mecha action series which revolves around the efforts by the paramilitary organization Nerv to fight monstrous beings called Angels, primarily using giant mecha called Evangelions which are piloted by select teenagers, one of whom is the primary protagonist.   Events in the series refer to Judeo-Christian symbols from the Book of Genesis and Biblical apocrypha among others. Later episodes shift focus to psychoanalysis of the main characters, who display various emotional problems and mental illnesses; the nature of existence and reality are questioned in a way that lets Evangelion be characterized as “postmodern fantasy”. Hideaki Anno, the director of the anime series, suffered from clinical depression prior to creating the series, and the psychological aspects of the show are based on the director’s own experiences with overcoming this illness.”  Twelve years later, we find ourselves looking at the theatrical releases of remakes of the original series.

The original, lovable, insane crew of the anime series.

The plot change – okay, the first remake was honestly good.  The clearly showed the same plot but with much better graphics and more events.  Perhaps my favorite and the most well-known ‘upgrades’ was the Fifth Angel (the floating blue prism).  In the original series, it maintained its cube form and simply shot lasers out of its vortex.  Literally, it looked like beams of light just being drawn from the floating shape.  In the remake, the Fifth Angel would change shapes into various offensive and defensive positions that honestly looked very cool and its lasers would be generated based the shape-design.  And when Shinji shoots through it, we can clearly see that it implodes from the inside and bleeds, whereas the series made it look like Shinji poked a hole in an entirely mechanical machine.  I was hoping that the second remake would do that same but instead we get new characters, new directions, and new interpretations of old familiar characters.  Mari Makinami and new Evas really pissed me off.  Couldn’t we just say that this was a different direction of the plot?  There was no epic sea battle, there was no epic twin Angel-core battles, and there certainly was no excitement between the confrontations of Asuka, Shinji, and Rei.   And how did we get from the Fifth Angel all the way to the Third Impact in 108 minutes?  The new plot was way too rushed and it destroyed the original feel we had for the classics.    And seriously, EVA 08?  Eight?  Remember when Evangelion had basically three pilots?  It was a good movie no doubt, but controversial as a remake.

You, ma’am, have ruined my anime

But it deserves credits – as said by Otaku2.com, it ” is an absolute visual feast. Truly, Studio Khara and directors Tsurumaki Kazuya and Anno Hideaki have done an amazing job. Every individual frame is a work of art, a complete composition full of symbolism, and the dense frames work together to create breathtakingly fluid motion. The action is blistering, the carnage visceral and the scenes of destruction epic and terrifying. Some standout examples are the opening scene where Mari chases and battles an Angel at high speed inside the corridors of her base, the showdown between Unit 01 and 03 and the climatic confrontation with the fourteenth Angel,  Zeruel. With these visuals, the music is a real let down.”  Yes, Otaku2 does have a good point.  Many of you think that I am potentially am bashing a good work, but I am simply questioning the motif of a “remake”.  Yes, some of us may not like it for what it does to the old series, but we have to admit that it attracts new anime fans and it brings some fresh air to us old-timers.  The better artwork means better graphics which means more realistic characters.  Plus, there seems to be more of a romantic feel in this movie mainly betwen Shinji X Asuka but it later switches to Shinji X Rei at the end (although Rei is a clone…)

So much cuter than the older series’ Asuka

So what are your thoughts?  Did they do the right thing remaking the series?  Or was it just a scam for more money while butchering the classic series?  Your choice, your call.

9 Responses to “Evangelion: Should they have left it alone?”

  1. 1 March 2010 at 12:32 am

    As much as the old classic Eva TV series is famous and respected, newer fans simply aren’t as interested in old stuff. The movie remakes are excellent ways to spark their interest, which may lead them to want to check out the old series (or at least buy other Eva merchandise). I personally think it was a good idea to keep this already classic 15 year-old franchise going besides just with merchandise. It introduces the next generation of fans to the show, and although not all of them may be interested in the old series, I’m sure many of them will like the movies enough to watch the episodes just to see what they missed.

  2. 1 March 2010 at 12:35 am

    I don’t think it can be quite as binary a question as “was it right to remake it”. On the one hand, GAINAX likely did remake it to get more money, there is only so much merchandising tat that can be put out before some substance needs to be there. On the other hand though, the original Evangelion series wasn’t perfect, long static shots, confusing story (even with the additional scenes added to 21+), contentious ending etc. I’ve heard tell that animators are usually happy when the shortcuts they take in making a series aren’t noticed, so the opportunity to remake them with the budget and talent a series deserves is likely a boon for them. So at the moment, the Rebuild series straddles the line between those two opposites, and so far it seems to be doing pretty well.

    I don’t really understand the hate Mari has so far engendered, both Asuka and Rei’s motivations and characters have changed (note the lift scene from 2.0) and Mari fills the void left behind and then some. She also serves the new direction the films are going in showing the disparity and secrecy between the different NERV organisations under SEELE – something Kaworu of the series didn’t really manage.

    To address some of your points, it’s not like there wasn’t an EVA 08 in the series, it was just one of the mass produced ones and if Anno had been in a healthier mental place, we likely wouldn’t have had the angel of the week nonsense the first half of the series was characterised by. I would also strongly contest Otaku2’s comment on the music, Shiro Sagisu put together a stunning score for the two movies, stand out tracks like Angel of Doom, Carnage, The Final Decision We All Must Take and In My Spirit are stirring orchestral wonders, far from the derivative score of the series.

    Like you touched on though, the movies also aren’t perfect. The characters aren’t given a lot of room to breathe; 1.0 is good in that it focuses on only three or four core characters, 2.0 deluges the viewer with five or six new ones while trying to maintain the balance. Mostly it works, but favourites like Asuka suffer, her mental breakdown (if indeed it’s coming at all) is definitely more blatant, as are her’s and Rei’s feelings for Shinji.

    Overall, I’m for the remakes. They stand well on their own as well as within the canon of Eva and as long as the quality is maintained for the final three, I can only see them being viewed favourably.

  3. 1 March 2010 at 1:29 am

    Remakes are certainly controversial things. It can be mixed especially for those who saw the originals and are judging it in their minds. In some cases they are valuable such as with Full Metal Alchemist which definitely needed it. Of course remakes can go bad as I know a few games where the remakes didn’t live up to the originals.

    I’m not sure about making big changes to the originals like is being done here. Still can’t really judge it until I’ve actually seen it. But it was a shock to hear how much they’ve done differently with the plot of the second one. You know they had to change some things to cut out stuff and save time. Yet have to wonder how this will work out in the end.

    I don’t think it was a bad idea to remake the series. Add nicer visuals while telling the story to a new audience isn’t bad. I definitely enjoyed the first remake since the story was nice and it looked great. Though I do think it was just a way to milk even more money out of this franchise.

  4. 1 March 2010 at 3:56 am

    I think you might as well ask if the Star Wars Trilogy updates were necessary. There seems to be a constant in every fandom. If you remake something, you damn well better keep everything “just so”, and any real attempts at exploring new directions or making changes are met with resistance. People feel betrayed because you’ve messed with their precious work. In the case of my example, the people that hate the updated Trilogy are largely people who saw the original work, perhaps even in theaters. The people who love it are those who had their first exposure to Star Wars through that.

    It’s the same thing here. People who saw the original Evangelion and loved it will likely resist the changes, while people who haven’t will likely embrace it. Personally, I appreciate the opportunity that Anno is getting to re-imagine the series and present it how he might well have envisioned it from the start.

  5. 6 zz
    2 March 2010 at 1:37 am

    should just redo the whole 24 episodes ( i think XD) seriesespeo18 onward the budget ran low and
    the ending was not fitting for the greatness of the series. Plus they should animate evangelic days =D

  6. 7 Yorichigo
    2 March 2010 at 4:26 am

    Never saw Evengelion lol xD

  7. 9 silver
    7 June 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I enjoyed watching both.

    Imho Rebuild is more full of awesome. It’s less wangsty, has better animation, and a marvelous soundtrack! And therefore makes for a better show. Not to mention, it’s still sort of keeping most of the original “Evangelion spirit”. Doesn’t feel like watching something else.

    And speaking of Mari Makinami, she made my day. It’s clearly she’s not all right in the head and she’s fun to watch wrecking every evangelion she gets her hands on while being on ecstatic pain. just can’t see enough of her fighting 🙂

    I try to not think too much about why they are remaking it, how the two are similar/different etc. The old series is one thing. And the rebuild is another. Not taking into consideration Kaworu’s hints about the rebuild being in a way a continuation of the series + End.

    But anyway, I want to say is that both should be seen as separate stories for now, and each appreciated to its true value. Comparing them too much just takes away the fun.

    Besides, a remake with no changes would be boring, wouldn’t it?!

    >>newer fans simply aren’t as interested in old stuff

    Not me. I always watch animu oldest first, no matter what (and 99.99% of the time it’s worth it). I’m new to this stuff anyway, for like 2 years or so, and saw evangelion only last year. And I could say I’m pretty much a fan of every series I ever watched, but Evangelion is one of my top favorites.

    All the best.

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