Thanks to your (your!) heartfelt response and overwhelming critical praise for the last feature in the series, we at Colony Drop have decided to press forward with this brave exploration of the most terrible failings of the Japtoon industry. Today, the topic of discussion will be last decade’s most influential Japanimation, and why it doesn’t deserve your money.
Let’s not bother debating the merits of Evangelion itself: the debate has been going since the show first aired, and it’s proven pointless. Even the brilliant Colony Drop Opinion Makers don’t exactly see eye to eye with each other on the franchise. For the record, this author regards it a very interesting failure.
Of course, I’m talking about a failure to satisfy me. Evangelion was not a failure at making its creators some fat cash. Barring the apocalypse, Eva will probably still be a dominant brand twenty years down the line. If you could outfit and furnish an entire neighborhood of homes with the crap that the Gundam merchandise machine generates, you could probably do the same with Eva stuff for at least a solid city block. But even the merchandise machine generates something of some value, even if it’s yet another plastic reproduction of the EVA-01 or Rei and Asuka, those evergreens of moe, dressed up in increasingly stupid nerd-fetish costumes. Somebody at least worked on those trinkets. What you shouldn’t be paying money for is Evangelion itself.
The TV series was released twice on DVD in Japan for the usual half-a-grand king’s ransom both times around, and here in the States ADV Films repackages and resells the series about every nine months to the point where you can throw a twenty into the air at an anime convention and an old, unwanted and obsolete Eva box set will fall into your arms. On the other hand, Studio Khara has taken a look back at that past and decided that: a) their movie remake of Evangelion wasn’t just right, and b) previous releases hadn’t been quite greedy enough.
When the Evangelion 1.0 movie came out on video, it came out as “Evangelion 1.01.” As the title implies, the upgrade is very minor, with a number of here-and-there fixes and touch-ups to video and audio quality. This would have been reasonable enough, but a year later Eva 1.11, a remaster with, get this, three minutes of extra footage, proceeded to insult the Japanese DVD-buying public. The film’s US distributor, Funimation, has openly warned the public that they intend to follow the same double-dip pattern as the Japanese releases, putting the old theatrical release in theaters this summer, releasing the already-obsolete 1.01 to the public this Fall and waiting until next Spring to grace the Region 1-buying public with the up-to-date 1.11, a full year after the Japanese and video pirates everywhere. This all by the same people who wonder why the anime video market is doing so badly.
Of course, when a release is this dumb it’s probably best to look back and wonder if the Japanese rights holders–in this case, Khara themselves–had something to do with it. In this case, you’d probably be right! Khara milked its country’s nerds by having them pay a high price for incomplete material, so why not ours? Eva, like our last subject, has always demonstrated a certain disdain for its easily exploited fan base, as it is the autobiography of a self-loathing geek, but things like this still manage to impress with the intensity of contempt for the buyer.
(Does Evangelion hate anime fans more or less than Colony Drop does? The answer to this question is for you, dear reader, to decide.)
When the average geek sits down to buy Evangelion, it takes a bit of time to sort through the various releases and find the best course of action, and the brazen money-grubbing release style of the movies is only going to make things more difficult. But the best answer is simpler than you might think: don’t pay for Evangelion at all. Honestly, why bother? Go ahead, buy the TV series: they’re just gonna put it out on Blu-Ray, and they’ll put out a better version on BD after that. And there’s no guarantee that 1.11 is actually the definitive release of Eva 1.0; in five years maybe there’ll be two or three other versions. The only thing that’s certain is if you buy into Evangelion, Hideaki Anno is going to find a way to screw you over.
And you shouldn’t enable him! If Hideaki Anno is Shinji, then the loyal, merch-buying fan who stays current with every single Eva release is the guy that even Shinji can bully. Do you want to be that guy? In the end, you know, even Shinji realized he had to pull himself out of his idiot teenage self-hating stupor. A lot of guys go around arguing with each other about the true meaning of Evangelion, but I’ll tell you what the moral of the story is: “stop buying Evangelion or you’ll end up like this kid, but worse.”
Besides, what happens if Anno decides he wants to buy the life-size Gundam statue in Odaiba so he can cry under it every night? You realize he’s going to come to your door with a bundle of copies of the limited-to-500,000-copies first printing of Evangelion 1.31: Look Forward to Next (Week’s) Release of Evangelion 1.314, right? And as you sit there, with your wrist affixed to the preorder bonus Misato’s Tits Mouse Pad, it’s going to be Anno up there in the cockpit of the Gundam, pounding away at a real live flesh-and-blood hooker–who he’s paid to scream “is this Federation suit some kind of MONSTER?!”–while he snorts lines of coke off the replica Project V operating manual on her back.
And it’s going to be your fault. Congratulations.