This is (not) delayed any more!
So Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo is finally hitting shops here in the UK, roughly four years since it appeared in Japanese cinemas and over two years after it was originally scheduled to be released. So after all that waiting, is it worth it? Well, let’s get back to that at the end and instead run down the story and features first, shall we?
3.33 is set a full 14 years after 2.22, Shinji, our lovably naive protagonist, has been unconscious and sealed away during this time, not knowing that his attempt to save his friend / love interest Rei Ayanami at the end of the last film caused the “Third Impact”, another apocalyptic event that, although partly aborted, still caused more damage to both Earth and what was left of its population. Shinji soon finds out that the people who looked after him in the past are now his enemies, with the previously fun Misato Katsuragi now being rather cold and humourless (though I should probably commend her for retaining a sense of humour after the first apocalypse she lived through…) and Asuka Shikinami… well, being pretty much the same but with an eye patch. They call themselves WILLE, and exist to stop what is left of NERV and more specifically Shinji’s father, from destroying all life on Earth in order to start anew. They strap a device around Shinji’s neck that would explode if he were to step inside an Eva unit, making sure he doesn’t nearly cause the end of all life again.
Shinji is “saved” from his predicament by Rei and taken to the old NERV HQ where his father tells him that he’ll be piloting a new Eva unit with kind, smiley grey-haired pilot Kaworu. Shinji is hesitant at first but is put at ease by Kaworu, who invites him to play a piano duet with him, an activity that Shinji begins to love, the two forming a real close friendship. It’s also during this time that Shinji finds out about what he caused 14 years ago, his mother is sort of alive and in the control centre of the 01 Eva unit, and to top it all off, Rei is actually one of many clones of his mother and therefore is not really prime girlfriend material… and, you know, the horrible acts of his father etc. You’d think I’ve just talked about the whole film, but actually that’s only about half of it, I won’t spoil the rest.
The blu-ray comes with a warning of sorts before getting to the title screen, saying in no uncertain terms that the English dub may differ from the previous two films due to Studio Khara wanting to rewrite the dub so it was closer to the actual Japanese script. This was one of the major reasons for the long delay, but before watching this film I watched the previous two films dubbed and saw no real difference between the three. I’m sure if you watched all of them with the dub but the Japanese track’s subtitles you’d probably see the third is closer, but if you were worried that it might have done damage to the English continuity, then rest at ease.
Both voice casts are fine, the English dub I feel makes Shinji a bit more irritating than lovable, but I think that’s just because in English, at least to our native ears, insecure and shy is hard to pull off without sound whiny. It’s still a fine dub though, and the Japanese voice cast is good too. You can’t go wrong no matter which flavour you like.
It goes without saying that the visuals are still amazing. It may not have as many jaw-dropping sequences as the previous film, but it still a highly detailed and seamless blend of tradition animation and CGI. The musical score is also fine, nothing you’ll be humming in you head the next day, but they soundtrack does its job with emotional and dramatic scenes.
That all brings us to the big question: after all these years, should you buy Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo? You’ve probably heard a lot of negative things about it; some of which is justified and can be summed up in two points.
One, the film has the unfortunate position of following on from Evangelion 2.22, a film that nailed the balance of story, action and drama, and had some stand out set pieces and visuals that would be pretty much impossible to top, even with the same team behind the sequel. The second reason is that this is part three of a four part story, it exists pretty much entirely to set the story off towards the big finale, and therefore feels inconclusive and lacking in big moments. With the old adage of all stories having a beginning, middle and end, it feels like 1.11 was the beginning, 2.22 was the middle and that this is the first half of the end, not a complete experience with a clear goal like the other two. It’s actually becoming quite common for big film franchises to split the last part of the story into a Part 1 and Part 2, often creating the same problem when you just watch the first one.
There is still plenty to like about 3.33 beyond the visuals. The relationship between Shinji and Kaworu is particularly well written and played out. It only took about 40 minutes, but I completely brought into Shinji’s complete trust and love for him, and that they truly did become good friends, possibly even deeper than that. In a series that’s all about beating naïve Shinji down whenever he starts to get hope, this is one of the times I don’t blame him for cheering up, despite being in a post-post-apocalyptic world. That’s another thing worth mentioning, moving the story ahead 14 years and having what little was left of humanity whittled down further and what few cities they had left being destroyed certainly gave you a sense of everything being on the edge of complete destruction. The people at WILLE, a rag tag crew most of whom had to be trained on the go due to so few people being left, was particularly compelling, even if it did all but kill a fun character from the past two films.
So there we have it. If you loved the first two films, you’ll like this, but it was also leave you wanting to see the big ending, an ending that hasn’t even gone into production yet, let alone reaching Japanese screens and certainly many years off from arriving on our shores. If you haven’t seen the first two then I wouldn’t bother waiting around for the boxset of all four, that’s for sure! The first two films on Blu-ray are under £10 brand new now, you could do far, far worse than watching these films over three days, just be prepared to join the rest of us in have to wait a long time for the actual ending.
Evangelion 3.33 is still a visual treat and has a few interesting reveals, but it’s holding off on the big moments for the final installment.