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Enter Gorgeous, Outlandish Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone

Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno co-directs the first in a planned tetralogy that reboots (and spiffs up with gorgeously soft-lit 3-D CGI) his beloved mid-'90s anime series, which was seminal enough to earn over $1.4 billion in revenue and, perhaps more tellingly, has been referenced by Homer Simpson. Set in Japan's last surviving city, Tokyo-3, this apocalyptic action-drama focuses on the key players within NERV, a paramilitary force armed with piloted war machines ("mecha" to you anime novices) that protect their retractable metropolis by battling giant monsters called Angels. In the first 10 minutes, naïve high-schooler Shinji is summoned by his long-estranged father, wanders into a firefight, gets rescued by a flirty field commander, survives a bomb from inside a flipping car, and faces an ultimatum from NERV's grand poobah (yep, dad): suit up in a prototype mecha, or civilization will be lost. This is mighty perplexing nerd kibble, its highfalutin' philosophical and psychological banter way too outlandish to seriously engage. Yet as a visceral experience, it's entrancing, especially during Shinji's fight sequences, when his anxieties are cruelly exacerbated by having his body and mind symbiotically bonded to his father's combat toy.


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