Review: Evangelion - 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance / Cert: 15 / Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki / Screenplay: Hideaki Anno / Starring: Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Yûko Miyamura, Maaya Sakamoto, 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.
Humanity’s war against the alien Angels continues. Attacks intensify, mysterious plans are hinted at and shadowy figures begin to make their move. All the while Eva pilot Shinji struggles to accept his place in the world, along with justification for the cost of what he is required to do in order to protect it.
After the comparatively small-scale introduction of You Are (Not) Alone, You Can (Not) Advance expands the scope of Evangelion, giving us greater comprehension of the apocalyptic world the characters inhabit. The true cost of the war was something never properly highlighted in the first film, but this time around we get a greater feel for it. It’s one thing for worldwide devastation to be briefly described in dialogue, but quite another to see mass graveyards for bodies never recovered, survivor’s guilt becoming as painful as the death of loved ones. With so much already lost, you have to wonder if anyone has a sense of purpose greater than simple survival. A view from orbit shows us the still-visible concentric shockwaves of the Second Impact covering about a fifth of the earth’s surface, daring us to ask what could possibly have happened to cause such devastation. Millions of people were killed, the sea turned red and much of the planet’s wildlife was utterly and irrevocably wiped out.
New characters introduced include two new Eva pilots: Asuka Shikinami, an obnoxious and arrogant American who becomes more sympathetic as the film progresses; and Mari Makinami, an enigmatic British girl who appears to be slightly mad. With this increased number, the point is further driven home that while the Eva pilots are utilising state of the art military technology to battle alien abominations, they are also just teenagers; kids with everyday problems and worries and insecurities that the adults seem to forget cannot just be pushed aside.
The religious undertones of the story – previously little more than basic Christian iconography – now begin to become more prominent. With references to a mysterious object named the Key of Nebuchadnezzar, the Dead Sea Scrolls Apocrypha and the possibility of apotheosis seen as an ultimate goal, various branches of spirituality are the driving force for many of the characters, their ultimate intentions nevertheless still remaining veiled.
The physical appearance of the Angels has become even more esoteric, and the film’s animation is at its most vibrant and inventive as the Evas battle them. Choral chanting used in battle sequences continues the religious themes, but in a jarring departure, one of the film’s most grisly sequences – the terrifying power of an Eva unleashed without inhibition seen in all its grotesque glory – is soundtracked with a breezy children’s song, the juxtaposition rendering it all the more horrific. As the operation of an Eva is a symbiosis of the power of a machine and the compassion of a person, removing the latter to attain greater destructive force is symbolic of attempting to win a conflict at the cost of sacrificing humanity.
One final point: if you are coming to the film for the first time, be aware that the mother of all cliffhangers on which it ends is craftily averted in a post-credits scene, and sets up further mysteries and revelations for the next instalment.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10