I wasn't expecting the Evangelion 2.22 BluRay to land on my doorstep for another few days but CDJapan surprised me once again with a swift and superbly packaged delivery. Dropping everything I was holding at the time and making noises akin to a monkey crossed with a teenage girl, I tore open the parcel, slit the cellophane and gingerly picked apart the glorious packaging. The textured case and CDJapan extra were the first things to stand out, however only when I disassembled the fold-away casing was it that I remembered the first press film strip extra that had been included. In my ardour the strip looked under-exposed, but I had no patience for the overly complex, jauntily folding holder, there were disks to be put in drives.
Powering up the receiver and cranking up the volume to levels which would no doubt raise my neighbours' ire, I dropped the disk into the Playstation 3 and prayed that the "Region Free" label on the product page held true and I didn't have to furiously assemble a media centre PC with a different region player. As everything spun up I dashed around the house frantically stripping myself of my work clothes, closing curtains and doors as I went, ensconcing myself in a compartmentalised environment for the film's nearly two hour duration. Soda on standby and Studio Khara logo on screen, I begun what I had waited almost an entire year for.
This was not my first viewing of the movie, it was not even my second: having seen the cinematic version three times, once with subtitles courtesy of the GFT, it was the first time I had seen it in the comfort of my own home with full surround sound and without the trials of other people present. Dispensing with the obvious, the picture is superb and the audio utterly sublime: the former sees rainbows and detritus, hands and explosions all rendered with glorious detail and motion; the latter picks up every footfall, every random technician's techno-babble and every guttural roar. It is a faultless presentation and there has no doubt been significant time and expense poured into, for now, making this the most comprehensive edition of the movie.
The film itself is mostly unchanged from the theatrical version - the difference between 1.0 and 1.11 was more pronounced due to the addition of copious texturing scenes, tempering the non-stop rollercoaster that it initially suffered from. 2.0 on the other hand was already competent and is in better lock-step with a standard three-act film format, that the climax featuring two angels in succession is a master stroke whereas the non-event that id Asuka's opening after Mari's stunning debut is a similarly wise move for a running narrative that badly needed some breathing room. The added scenes come mostly as padding for some of the slower-scenes: a new introductory scene with Kaji after Asuka's introduction where he and Shinji converse briefly as well as an extensive scene after Rei's jaunt to Central Dogma which gifts Misato with some screen time - well, her legs anyway - and a slow panning shot of one of the Evangelion units being repaired. Every other scene is, from memory at least, unchanged apart from the inevitable art tweaks which includes both Asuka's and Mistao's mobile phone façades changed - obviously to be more in-line with marketing opportunities.
It is difficult to describe how the two hours of the movie passed for me when it is mostly a blur of gleeful clapping and edge of the seat anticipation. Even my spotty Japanese language experience wasn't enough to distract me during the lengthier blocks of dialogue. Certain elements did stand out more this time than they had before, either through addition or vigilance - elements such as the space-suits Fuyutsuki and Gendou wear bearing an uncanny resemblance to the suits in another GAINAX epic, Wings of Honneamise; or how immediately after Unit 01's dummy-plug induced bite, Asuka can be heard to scream just as Shinji's drowns it out. Other aspects noted in previous viewings became clearer such as my prevailing theory that the films represent a full time loop (or more) after the events in the series; how four Angels are seen during the second impact, mirroring the four lances and echoed by the four circles Kaworu is seen standing before in 3.0's preview; how Asuka still looks like a stick figure that someone has added comedy breasts to; how Hideaki Anno obviously didn't have his religious fix sated before, name-dropping Akaron, Styx and Nebuchadnezzar while relegating iconography like the Sephirot to a marine sanctuary rather than Gendou's office floor and ceiling.
Speaking of which, after the film had concluded, Utada Hikaru's Beautiful World still hanging in my ears, I scrutinised the film strip I had assumed was either under-exposed or too dark for me to see. Neither was the case and the scene I had been gifted with was a long shot of Gendou's office which meant four frames of almost total darkness, bisected by a strip of light with a speck where Gendou's head is. I shrugged and dropped it back in the holder; key scenes may be fetching a high price but my position as a slavish Evangelion fan has not waned. I often times wonder what incites this fervour within my towards Evangelion, but have come to realise that it is the one series which cuts through any cynicism or misgivings I may have, and it is a rare media indeed that can do that.