I would strongly suggest not attempting to read this all at once, madness is sure to follow. It is meant as a coherent brain-dump: my take on different aspects of the film rather than fluid prose. Intrinsic knowledge of the original series, Death:Rebirth, End of Evangelion, the first Rebuild film You Are (Not) Alone and ancillary materials surrounding franchise is assumed. Because this is the last one I'll write, it has to be epic. Epic enough for sub-navigation:
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.
Asuka still looks like a stick figure that someone has added comedy breasts to
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.
Tokyo Magnitude is the antithesis of most modern anime: sedate, unglossy and resolutely contained within the present time period. A premise concerning the terrifyingly plausible event of a high magnitude earthquake in urban Tokyo, it follows the journey of a young brother and sister - Yuuki and Mirai - and their chance meeting with courier Mari; miles from home this is their quest to reach their respective families. A bildungsroman veiled as a disaster series, the protagonist Mirai is taken from bratty and misanthropic to tolerating and finally, embracing.
beyond mediocrity - it transforms the blandly coloured drama into an emotive barrage
It would have been easy for the series to cast a bleak and unforgiving picture of humanity during a time of strife, but whether through slavish optimism or a cultural stubbornness, this is a story about people: at its best when meandering. The cast collides with friend and stranger alike, chance meetings that rarely last more than an episode but carefully craft and evolve Mirai's character from the bluntly cynical figure she starts out as. It is this endorsement of mankind which creates a rare empathy with nearly everyone introduced from the tirelessly working old man who lost his grandchildren to one of Mirai's classmates, bereaved by the loss of a parent. It is also this which enforces the near glacial pace that is the series biggest weakness.
When Studio bones attaches itself to an anime, it is a mark of quality that transcends genre. Not one of bones's back catalogue can be claimed to be substandard in either animation quality or production. Common occurrences like a first episode budget-burn or compromising fidelity for fluidity so common to serialised TV anime are non-existent for a bones' creation. So it's with continued admiration and a sense of joy that one can approach Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 safe in the knowledge of bones's place at the pinnacle of production.
one can imagine this is uncomfortable viewing for residents of Tokyo
Beginning with stark sepia scenes of a ruined Tokyo, this tells the - currently fictional - story of a severe earthquake striking the Tokyo metropolis area. Focusing on the trials of Mirai and Yuuki as they try to find their way home, the first three episodes of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 are absolutely superb and are a masterclass in characterisation. Opening in rain drenched twilight then rolling back 24 hours, Mirai is portrayed as a typical urban youth: fractious, jaded and proud. Miles from their prototypical suburban home when the disaster hits, Mirai must first search tearfully for Yuuki but not before meeting the bike courier Mari; with Yuuki successfully located, the trio take flight from Odaiba and start the long journey back to their homes. Following such luminaries as Eden of the East with a diminutive 11 episodes, there is ample time to explore the meticulously researched devastation as well as forge the protagonists.
Evangelion occupies a very special place in my heart: I watched the series on VHS in 1997 when I was fourteen and - without hyperbole - it was a life changing experience. A series that was smart and brutally obtuse and flitted from Jungian psychology to religious dogma was revelatory for me at the time and it questioned a lot of what I had not yet fully formed questions about; so as well as being gob-smackingly awesome, it changed who I was and consequently who I am. For those reasons I am utterly fanatical about the franchise and concept. Like a delusional lover I put up with a lot of the nonsense that GAINAX throws: I own the original series on twelve VHS tapes which I upgraded to DVD when they were first released, then upgraded them to the Platinum DVDs; I did manage to stay away from the deluge of tat that has been continuously released but it's fair to say my own lot of Evangelion merchandise is not insignificant. In what is a truly savvy move, just as patience for the constant re-releases was beginning to wane news came of the Rebuild project.
If 1.0 was meant to prime the fans for what was to come, 2.0 detonates with magnum force.
Not just a fresh coat of paint but a fresh take - that was the promise at least. It was hard to get excited, especially when there was also word of a live action Hollywood adaptation bolstered by some mightily uninspiring concept art - the only promise being that WETA are on the case. Regardless, the news came out over a year before the first Rebuild release so there was plenty of time to build up my scepticism. The first movie, "Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone" released in 2007, deserves a post of its own and the number of pages I've devoted to notes and thoughts and theories bordering on absurd. The second movie, "Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance" released just this summer is easy to write about because I have not yet had a chance to analyse and unpick it as I am wont to do. For want of a better description, this is a review rather than an unravelling.