Review: Evangelion – 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone / Cert: 12 / Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki / Screenplay: Hideaki Anno / Starring: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Fumihiko Tachiki / Release Date: TBC
Scotland Loves Anime is an annual festival, which takes place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, showcasing the new and the classic while celebrating all the weird, wild and wonderful worlds that Japanese anime has to offer.
In the near future, after a global cataclysm known at the Second Impact, gargantuan creatures called Angels have begun descending upon the world. In the fortress city of Tokyo-3, the headquarters of the NERV organisation, combat mecha named Evas have been constructed to battle the monstrosities, as standard artillery has little to no effect on them.
The story follows Shinji Ikari as he is summoned to NERV by his father Gendo, the organisation’s Supreme Commander, to become a pilot for EVA Unit-01 as he is one of a few who meet unspecified criteria for being capable of doing so. Slowly, he begins to learn the reality behind the assaults, while sinister and unseen forces plot in the shadows.
You Are (Not) Alone is the first instalment of the as-yet unfinished Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy, a remake of '90s anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Although mecha have been a staple of anime for decades, it was only with the recent release of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim that that the average filmgoer gained at least a passing familiarity with them, and in this film it can be truly seen just how much of a debt that blockbuster owes to anime.
The story assumes no familiarity with Neon Genesis (indeed, one of the reasons for the films’ production was to simplify the overly complicated saga) and while no time is wasted in launching into the action, a great many scenes are spent developing the characters rather than racing to the next fight sequence. Through Shinji’s experiences as an Eva pilot and trying to readjust to his uprooted life, in particular his relationships with vibrant and lively guardian Misato and introverted EVA Unit-00 pilot Rei, the human side of the conflict is given just as much prominence. Shinji is plunged in introspection regarding his place in the world, and given the lack of appreciation received for what he puts himself through; he questions why he should even bother in the first place.
Small touches drive home the sheer scale and power of the Evas, such as an ejected shell from its assault rifle falling to crush a car, while Unit-01 going “berserk” during a fight strongly implies they are not entirely mechanical. The wildly inconsistent natures of the Angels – one is vaguely humanoid, another like some chimeric hybrid of a woodlouse and a lobster, and a third is a shapeshifting crystalline octahedron – renders them all the more eldritch and enigmatic, and deepens your desire to know more about them.
The film asks far more questions than it answers. What was the Second Impact? What makes the Eva pilots special? Where do the Angels come from? What do they want? How are the Evas created? But as the opening instalment of a series this is to be expected, and more detail will no doubt be given in the subsequent films.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10