Evangelion 2.22 picks up where Evangelion 1.0 leaves off…but not with another rehashed scene from the original series. Thankfully 2.0 has very few of those compared to the first film. You Can (Not) Advance kept me…dare I say?…riveted.
Like Eva 1.0 You Can (Not) Advance continues the story from the original series, only it does it properly. Most of this OVA is new stuff: new scenes, characters, and designs. Shinji even stops his wrist cutting and acts more normally. His father, Gendo, also displays his human side. Gendo severely lacked any type of humanity in the original series. Here, he is a father who is forced to choose between those he cares about and the greater good.
Eva 2.22 grabs you by the throat by opening with a spectacular fight between Mari Makinami (a new character) and the remains of the Third Angel. The pace of the film continues at a comfortable cadanance of robot fighting and character interaction. The fights only get heavier. The red head Asuka Shikinami joins the crew – adding some interesting tension between Shinji, Rei and herself. Characterization, despite the limited time frame, feels better done than in the original.
I think that is because Shinji isn’t wrist slitting as often.
The main story line involving NERV and SEELE still requires heavy lifting in the believability department. It tries too hard to be deep as it draws in more religious elements. Shinji, Rei, and Asuka are where Eva 2.22 is at it’s best. Their interactions (thanks to Rei being more talkative than in the original) did more to keep me interested than the fights or the unwieldy storyline. I prefer a few more relating scenes to the fights, as grand as they are.
The animation looks more modern and smoother while still keeping the same feel as the original. The mecha fights between the Evas and the Angels are computer animated and blend better than in Eva 1.0. No computer screen or commander/staff action montages here. There are only detailed, crisp movements. The music is an excellent complement. It really heightens the mood appropriately.
Evangelion 2.22 takes the series in a good direction. Despite the time limitations, the story flows better than the original and the characters are more believable. Shinji isn’t anywhere near as irritating. The sexuality of the series startles me consider the characters’ ages, but it makes the damaged characters feel more vulnerable and human as well. It is nice to see them joke, get embarassed, and cry. The humor feels natural and helps shove back the darkness. The unrelenting depression of the first series just turned me off to it.
I find myself looking forward to the next installment of the series. The Rebuild of Evangelion has turned a series I considered overrated and repugnant into something I am enjoying.