OK not really, but I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Since it’s been out for almost a year now, I’m not even gonna bother warning about spoilers or have a summary laid down before I start.
Evangelion 2.22 had everything I could have asked from a sequel. Hideaki Anno lived up to his promise of delivering a much better story. The movie started off with the new character Mari Makinami for the explosive opening setpiece. Her role in the movie was somewhat minimal, but important enough to advance the plot forward; a nice addition to the story, without being too obtrusive. In fact, for a while I was a bit worried that she might cut into Asuka’s screen time.
Probably the biggest change and miraculous addition to Evangelion movies is the change in Asuka’s character. She is a good girl (omgwtf?!). Don’t get me wrong though, she’s still pompous and keeps her “better than thou” attitude going on for a while once she enters Tokyo. However, after the Eighth Angel fight, she comes to her senses and realises how important teamwork is. As the movie progresses and she interacts more with Shinji and Rei, we come to know and understand a rather mature Asuka, who has already accepted her complicated past, and doesn’t fall down to the emo depths of self loathing. And so it came as a great shock that one of the most important, and universally hated, character from Evangelion was killed half way into the movie. Asuka’s death was certainly sad, especially after she had become just a good girl. Damn this cruel world!
And that’s probably the fate of Earth, unless Shinji and Rei….survive? Apart from that, the movie kept up an extremely nice pace. Hints of SEELE’s “master plans” were shown whenever it was necessary for the plot to advance, and the ‘Human Instrumentality Project’ details were kept to minimum, with mysterious references made here and there. All the psychological craziness was kept for the end. I guess it made sense what Shinji was trying to do, and how he accomplishes it is certainly more plausible than the bullshit that started going on in the anime.
Apart from Shinji and Rei, it was nice to see Misato and Kaji’s characters develop so well. None of them had any emotional breakdowns in the movie. In fact, they helped the young ones understand the responsibilities and complexities of adult life; guiding them, instead of whining with them. Heck, I don’t even hate Gendo! Yes, he’s usually cruel to his son, but he takes out the time to acknowledge Shinji’s brave actions (for once!). Indeed, when he allows the Dummy Plug to take control of Unit 01, his actions were quite understandable. He may still end up being a bad guy, but for now at least, he’s looking out for those around him. With cold logic, of course.
Every new character in the movie had a badass intro, but nothing beats Kaworu’s descend to Earth and plunging the Lance of Longinus through Unit 01 to stop the Third Impact. He was another irritating character in the anime who was transformed into somebody likeable in the movie. In that his dialogues were short and insightful, and his appearance was always kept to a minimum.
The animation was extremely top notch, better than the first movie of course, especially during the battle sequences with each Angel. The music really played well to the mood. During school and at the aquarium field trip, it was a pleasant melody that evokes happiness. I was quite intrigued by the song they played during Asuka’s death scene as it felt out of place at first, but made sense towards the end. Best of all were the epic orchestral scores during the final battle sequences, especially when Mari decides to go berserk with Unit 02.
All said and done, this is the best anime movie I’ve seen since Evangelion 1.11 last year. The animation and background music was absolutely astounding, but best of all were the characters and how they developed over the course of the movie. Even Utada Hikaru’s PLANiTb Acoustica mix of Beautiful World was as mesmerising as the original. The only thing I can complaint about is the ending preview. They really shouldn’t have shown her there. It would have been such a nice surprise for the third movie, but otherwise, cannot wait for Evangelion: 3.0 Quickening!