EVANGELION 1.0: YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE
(Evangelion Shin-geki Jo Ban)
I was at a distinct disadvantage in watching Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone in a theatrical setting, having not seen any of the previous works in the series. Even though it is a reboot of the franchise, Evangelion 1.0 is made with a good many references and assumptions based on the pre-existing storyline. In other words, it is a film that is made for the fanbase who are familiar with the material, not as a work designed to invite new people into the world. The effect is akin to sitting down halfway through the middle of the film and trying to work out what is going on from that. You Are (Not) Alone, for instance, opens with the world apparently devastated, the NERV agency well established and human cities hiding beneath the ground to emerge into the daylight again when all is clear. What is missing in all of this is an explanation of the background. It is not ever made clear what caused this devastation you gradually work out that it is to do with the Angels but nothing is ever directly mentioned. For that matter, it is not even clarified as to what the Angels are for some part of the film, I sat in confusion as to whether these were meant to be angels in the heavenly sense or if this was a term being used to refer to alien entities. I gather the latter as the film never deigns to explain anything at all about what the Angels are. The reasons why young Shinji is chosen to pilot the Evangelion and the complicated relationship with his absent father are not very clear either.
This need not be a problem, but I also found it hard to get into Evangelion 1.0 on its own terms. There is not much to the plot and when there are not the action scenes to keep the film going, proceedings tend to slow right down. There are various scenes with the young hero Shinjis relationships with the two women of the show but neither of these are particularly exciting. There is one scene where he gets out of the shower and sees a penguin and stands around talking to Misato before realizing he is naked; another where he enters Reis apartment and contrives to fall on top of her after she emerges from the shower naked. Quite how this obsession with placing the hero into embarrassing unclothed situations with the opposite sex advances the plot is not clear at all. Later in the show, we get several scenes where Shinji is adamant about not getting back into the Evangelion and is eventually persuaded back by Rei. These make for a good character arc but are brought out too late in the game and with not nearly enough time devoted to them.
Certainly, Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone can be enjoyed on the level of pure spectacle, as is always the case with all good anime. There is a good opening scene with the NERV missiles fighting back against the angel, destroying half the city in the process. Or scenes where Rei goes amok in her Eva, smashing about in a laboratory, before ejecting in a slim pod; or the emergence of the cities again from safety beneath the ground. However, the best parts of the film are the massive climactic combat scenes between the pyramid-shaped Angel and Shinji and Rei in their power suits, wielding a vast weapon that unites all the electricity in Japan as the Angel melts entire mountains with its energy.
Subsequent to this, director Hideaki Anno branched out into live-action with Shin Godzilla/Godzilla: Resurgence (2016).
Trailer here (Japanese language no subs):-