The second volume of the NGE Platinum Edition has now arrived at last, with an impressive total of five more complete episodes. Chances are that if you are reading this review you probably know the general synopsis of the series inside-out so giving a detailed description of the story so far is probably quite pointless. Suffice to say, this instalment includes the battle with the fifth Angel, the arrival of the Second Child and Eva Unit 02 in Japan and ends with the fight against the eighth Angel in the fiery magma of Mount Asama. This is probably the most light-hearted and playful section of the series, in which the introduction of Ryoji Kaji and Unit 02’s pilot Asuka Langley Sorhyu giving an increased pitch of action and drama. A succession of Angel attacks gives ample opportunity for the awe-inspiring Evas and their teenage pilots to leap into action, and more of the conspiracy/mystery aspects are added. The addition of Asuka is probably the highlight: her colourful and forceful personality breathes life into the story and makes for great teen comedy/drama moments involving the shy and withdrawn Shinji. However, there is no different footage in this version than in the original DVD release which means Platinum 02 relies heavily on the presentation and extra features to justify choosing it over the editions currently available.
Picture, audio and extras
As with the first volume, the picture and audio have been completely remastered, resulting in a brilliant picture quality and 5.1 surround sound. The colours are noticeably improved, with the action scenes benefiting especially from the extra attention; for example, the Magma Diver episode in which Asuka finds herself taking Unit 02 into a pool of molten lava is improved considerably. A reddish murk in which the viewer had to struggle to make out what was going on is now a dramatic and much more vibrant-looking battle sequence in which the embryonic Angel is depicted in all its terrifying glory. Even with a 2.0 stereo sound system the audio is brighter and packs more of a punch, whether it’s in the heat of an Angel battle or a more restrained moment of one-to-one dialogue. For those fortunate enough to own a surround sound system, both the Japanese and English dubs are mixed in 5.1 surround.
While the original DVD release included several character info pages, Platinum 02 instead offers a commentary for Episode 8 courtesy of Tiffany Grant and Alison Shipp (the VAs for Asuka and Misato in the English dub) and animatics for the entirety of episode 9. Because each volume’s commentary track features different people the result is bound to be a mixed bag. In this case it consists mostly of friendly chat and banter but there are quite a few interesting anecdotes. The animatics are a little less appealing however – a whole episode’s worth of grainy raw footage and animated storyboards without any sort of dialogue takes patience to sit through for its entirety. Another glossy inlay booklet is included, showing numerous screen shots and detailed information on the Angels and the episodes themselves. Like its predecessor the package is rounded off by a clear and tastefully laid-out DVD menu and silver-effect slipcase, this time featuring a moody shot of Rei Ayanami.
The second disc in the Platinum edition maintains the standards set by the first with the picture, audio and packaging making it by far the most attractive version for new and die-hard fans alike. The episodes’ duration is still the same and the extra features are still unremarkable so less enthusiastic or wealthy buyers might want to go for the lower priced regular edition instead.