The previous two Rebuild of Evangelion movies, Evangelion: 1.1 You Are (Not) Alone and Evangelion: 2.2 You Can (Not) Advance, may have introduced several new story elements, and even some new characters, but both were essentially condensed retellings of the first half of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series that aired in the late 90s. The third film, Evangelion: 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo, however is something very different that seemingly abandons the original storyline completely in an attempt to tell a radically altered ending to the Evangelion tale fans have grown to love.
Beginning with a significant time jump that sets the events of this film well beyond the timeline of the original series, Evangelion: 3.33 follows the main protagonist, Shinji, as he awakens from a form of suspended animation that he was put into as a result of events at the end of Evangelion 2.22.
On the surface, everything that follows appears to be much darker than the original storyline, with character relationships being slightly altered and a significant portion of the human population having been wiped out. When given more time to process all of the plot points (that are fired at the viewer at such a high speed that repeat viewings are highly recommended if not completely necessary to fully understand everything that’s mentioned onscreen) though, it becomes apparent that many of the characters have been given a second chance to succeed where in the original anime series, they failed.
Misato and Ritsuko, rather than losing their friendship and being assassinated, have not only been given a chance to properly rebel against NERV and live to tell the tale but have also formed an elite strike force which they are actively using to take it down. Likewise, Asuka appears much more empowered than her original version and this iteration of Rei seems poised to move well beyond the limits of the character’s role in the anime series as well.
It’s as if all of the characters had been allowed to live past the events of the anime series’ finale and continue to grow and evolve. Actually, that’s almost exactly what has happened.
The result of these changes is a storyline that’s much more compelling to watch. While Gendo Ikari appeared to be the mastermind of some grand scheme that no one had a chance in Hell of stopping in the old series, with Evangelion: 3.33’s new direction, the audience is given two teams of heroes who could both genuinely save the world by the end of the fourth and final film, Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0.
It’s a surprisingly upbeat takeaway from a film that’s full of tragedy and seemingly pessimistic undertones but, as fans of Evangelion know, this is exactly the sort of storytelling that this franchise does best.
Blu-ray and Special Features
The home releases of the previous two new Evangelion films featured some of the best visuals and sound design seen in recent animated productions and Evangelion: 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo is no different.
The 5.1 English and Japanese audio options on this Blu-ray makes fantastic use of the surround audio channels during the numerous action sequences and also work extremely well in creating appropriate atmosphere in the film’s quieter moments. The expertly crafted visuals are also done justice with the 1080p High Definition video presentation with good colour balance and no sign of artificial sharpening or aliasing. Evangelion: 3.33 looks and sounds fine on a basic TV setup but viewers with a top-end TV and surround sound system will really get to experience this blockbuster the way it was meant to be seen.
With a film as complex and nuanced as Evangelion: 3.33, it’s a shame there aren’t any audio commentaries or special features included with the Blu-ray to help explain a lot of the plot elements that will be missed by the average viewer. What is included however are numerous trailers and TV spots for the film’s initial release in theatres, some montages showing the different stages of animation, and a mini-booklet featuring character designs and information on the blending of CGI and traditional animation in the end product. The booklet is very well made and has some great images, it’s just a shame that it lacks any information that could have provided better insight into the differences between this film series and the original series, and what the, kind of, ambiguous goals of each character are.
Did You Know?
Each of the new Evangelion movies has been given different titles at one time or another. During their theatrical releases both in Japan and abroad, the first three films were called, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, and Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo but when they were released on DVD and Blu-ray, they received new titles.
The first film was released on DVD in Japan as Evangelion: 1.01 You Are (Not) Alone and included a variety of reanimated and adjusted shots. Some of the audio was also re-balanced. About a year later, the film was released on DVD (again) and Blu-ray as Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone. This version contained all of the re-edited shots from the previous release as well as around three minutes of extra footage.
The second and third films also received slight re-edits and new animation for their home video releases and were renamed as Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance and Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo respectively. Interestingly, the fourth and final film is currently going by the name, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0. It’s unclear what this current title means but it could hint at some sort of universal reset that would reboot the timeline (as hinted at in 3:33). Of course, it could just be a funky title for funky title’s sake.
Who Should Watch Evangelion: 3.33?
While Evangelion: 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo is very much a film about giant robots and monsters fighting each other, like the Evangelion TV series and movies that have come before it, it also places a heavy focus on interpersonal relationships, religious references, and complex plot and character motivations that are barely mentioned on screen and left up to the viewer to interpret and figure out in conversation and intense internet researching afterwards. The film’s complexities will, without a doubt, confuse younger viewer but there are also several instances of mature sexual themes and high level violence that make it inappropriate for them as well.
Young adults and up are best suited for this film and those that have seen at least the two previous films and fully comprehend the whole deal with Adam and Lilith will get the most out of it.
Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo is a first class animated feature film that should be on everyone’s must-watch list. The film is admittedly confusing for anyone who has yet to see the two previous Evangelion films but for those who have, Evangelion: 3.33 will prove to be both an audio and visual treat that further expands this new take on the popular anime franchise’s world and leaves fans on the edge of their seats waiting for the epic conclusion in the final film, Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0.