I remember when a close friend of mine let me borrow Neon Genesis Evangelion on VHS back in the late 90s where it took me in all sorts of directions. I loved the giant EVA mechas and Angel creatures, and the drama that was going on with the main cast. Now this acclaimed series makes its debut on Blu-ray thanks to GKIDS, Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Complete Series is here for long time fans and newcomers to enjoy in high-definition.
Without going too deep into the plot and giving anything away, it takes place in 2015 where a nearly destroyed Japan has created an underground city called Tokyo-3 that’s constantly under attack by the giant “Angels”, monstrous creatures who are trying to bring about the end of all humankind.
Thankfully some people have found a way to fight back against these beings using giant mech-like weapons called EVAs. The catch is that only select teenagers born in the year 2000 can pilot them, which brings us to our young hero Shinji Ikari, whose father just so happens to be in charge of the people fighting the Angels. Sadly, things between Shinji and his dad haven’t been the best, and it’s clearly taken a toll on his mental well-being, which needs to be clean and clear in order to fully utilize an EVA unit.
There’s also some other young pilots to aid Shinji, namely two ladies named Asuka and Rei who display extraordinary abilities using their EVA units. Will Shinji ever be able to pilot one, make peace with his father, and overcome mental and emotional challenges? Those are just some of the things this series’ asks and then some while pulling many a viewer in and keeping them there until its insane conclusion.
To say anymore would ruin the intense mindscrew this series is and is known for. Many people for many years have been divisive on what exactly is this series about and how it ends. That’s why it’s for the best to check it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions. As if that wasn’t enough, we now have the Neon Genesis reboot films to add even more zaniness to the pile.
Speaking of films, this collection from GKIDS not only includes the 26 episode series, but the two follow-up films Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion as well. While the series is intense enough, these two films crank things up to new heights and present some of the most insane mind-bending material I’ve ever seen.
This doesn’t come as a surprise though, as famed creator and director Hideaki Anno is known for dealing with numerous mental health issues such as depression and more that he clearly took out on this series and the films, and by golly it shows and then some. GKIDS did a great job with the high-definition transfer as the show looks as clean as it can without losing its original film grain look. The audio is also great as the famed music and soundtrack come in nicely.
Sadly there’s some issues when it comes to the audio depending on which version of this collection you have. The standard one I was sent features the original Japanese dub and the recent Netflix English redub and subtitles that may throw off old school fans with the changes they’ve made. If you want the classic AD Vision dub and subtitles, you’ll have to pick up the near $200 Collector’s Edition.
Also I know a lot of fans (myself included) will be upset to know that the famed “Fly Me To The Moon” ending song is missing as well, most likely do to licensing issues. Thankfully even the standard version has a ton of special features for you to go over when you’re ready. There’s interviews, animatics, storyboards, behind the scenes footage and more that’ll keep you busy for five hours or so.
Despite the issues fans are sure to have with the standard release, it’s still nice to finally see Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Complete Series in high-definition. It’s one of the most acclaimed and divisive anime franchises out there for a reason, and it should be experienced by anyone willing to have their minds blown and then some.