Evangelion 1.11 Is Way Better Than I Remember

With just under two weeks until the release of the newest Evangelion movie, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, we are taking a look back at the previous films in the Rebuild of Evangelion series.

When I talked about my history with Evangelion a week or so back, I mentioned my dislike for the first of these movies, Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone. Ever since I saw the film for the first time, I felt it was just a prettied up, shot-for-shot compilation of the first six episodes of the series. Moreover, it was an abridged one to boot, with the movie a full 31 minutes shorter than the same section in the series. So I couldn't understand why anyone would watch the movie when they could just watch the series instead. Sure it would look a little worse, but you would get a more developed story.

After I wrote that article, however, fans were eager to point out that I had missed the subtle differences between the film and series -- and that these differences have major, world-changing implications for the series as a whole. While I had watched You Are (Not) Alone only a few months back, it had been several years since I watched the series. Moreover, I had never watched either the series or You Are (Not) Alone with the specific intent of comparing the two. So perhaps there was something I had missed all those years ago when I first formed my opinion. There was only one thing to do. This past weekend I sat down to do something I had never done before, watch both the first six episodes of the series and the film back to back.

The first thing I noticed upon starting the series was how good it looks, even to this day. While You Are (Not) Alone does look clearer and more detailed (especially in the backgrounds), it is also far darker -- so dark, in fact, that entire portions of the movie were unwatchable until I turned off all the lights and drew the curtains. This is not bad, per se, but it is odd how many scenes that happen in the day in the series happen at night in the film.

Besides the colour palate, I was surprised to see how many other changes there were. For the sake of a tighter narrative, many of the scenes are re-ordered, removing the series' mixed chronology moments. In addition, many lines were tweaked slightly as a means of exposition and the pace of many conversations has been sped up -- completely removing the common, awkward dead air of the series.

In the story itself, the world is far worse off, with the seas red and the majority of sea life killed off. The series shows the opposite, with sea life recovering. Pen Pen the penguin is called a new species in the series while in the movie he's called one of the last of the old species. Moreover, the human world is shown in a far more dilapidated state in the film, with the older cities falling into disrepair and the destroyed cities being left in ruins.

But what perhaps affected the story the most are the things that were cut entirely -- especially as it pertains to Shinji as a character. The most striking is Eva 01's hand not moving on its own to protect Shinji from a falling ceiling like it did in the series. This changes the scene -- and Shinji's motivations -- drastically as Shinji now gets into the Eva for the first time to protect the injured Rei with no expectation of help from the Eva itself.

Many other cuts also serve to make Shinji a stronger character. The vast majority of his whining lines have been removed, making it more about the character struggling to find meaning in his life rather than simply complaining about it. Also cut is the vast majority of his time spent running away from his responsibility/emotional pain (which took a full episode in the series). Instead, he makes the choice to return to Nerv moments before they pick him up; and when Misato tells him to leave if he doesn't like his situation, he doesn't even consider it. While I have little doubt that most of these cuts were done for time rather than any kind of authorial intent, they serve to make Shinji a stronger person while still preserving his internal conflict.

This new Shinji is made even stronger by his portrayal in the final part of the film, which is actually the only part longer than the episode on which it is based. He is hurt far more by the 6th Angel than in the series and is naturally hesitant to enter into combat again -- this time running away from physical pain on top of the pressures of having to protect the city alone. Yet after being shown what is truly at stake (the fate of all life on earth), he overcomes his fear and gets back into the Eva. Even when shot again in the subsequent battle, he refuses to give up. But as Rei protects him from a third shot and takes on the full brunt of the physical pain herself, Shinji learns, that despite what he had believed, he is not alone -- not in pain nor responsibility.

Some additions not related to the main cast serve to add mystery like: "Why is the outline of a dead angel on a hill before the angels have even arrived?" or "Why is Kaoru chillin' on the moon -- and why does he already know who Shinji is?" Others add foreshadowing (like the discussion about the dummy plug) or a look into Shinji's mind (the new train car scenes).

In the end, after doing a direct comparison, I found that I enjoyed Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone far more than I expected. In fact, truth be told, I found it more enjoyable than the first six episodes of the series. It looks better, is better paced, and better defines Shinji's physical and emotional struggles. Moreover, Shinji comes out of it a much more likable (and therefore identifiable) character. Upon my first watch of the film, I complained about there being any cuts at all, but for the most part, these cuts were just of exposition or long silences -- neither particularly necessary for the story. If there was anything that I felt was done better in the series, it was the handling of Shinji's middle school life, from him being a class celebrity (as an Eva pilot) to his friendship with Toji and Keisuke. Regardless, the next time I sit down to marathon Evangelion, I plan to skip the first six episodes and watch Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone instead.

Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 9, 2010, in the United States.

Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo will be released in Japanese theatres on November 17, 2012.


    Seems weird to me you remembered it any other way. It explained things better, cut the crap and made Shinji a bit more likable.

    Two was a pretty big departure while still keeping elements. I'm glad in 2 things were explained more/explained at all, like seelee and nerv not really getting along and the second impact in general is actually explained a bit. I also liked the bit where shinji was at the graveyard with his dad asking for pictures of his mother and his dad admitted to destroying them all- weird right? wait no - foreshadowing! Something the original really did not do well.

    Seeing the trailer for 3 > http://youtu.be/tKiw0mrsH4A
    Looks like it will be an even bigger departure from the original, but that's alright.

    Let's hope 4 isn't a bunch of live action cam footage of someone walking around town with the pilots talking about their feelings for 40minutes.

    Last edited 07/11/12 7:15 pm

      I agree, the Rebuild movies are so far at least a far better written, more consistent and better animated version of the original. Something that's very hard to do with remakes generally.

      I'm most surprised that Richard missed a lot of the subtle elements. It sounds like he's seen Evangelion before a few times, and the strong hinting that the movies may take place somehow after the events of the original series in a sort of Groundhog Day sequence is pretty interesting. Especially as an explanation for why the characters seem to be stronger and actually work through some of their emotional hangups a bit, especially in the second film.

    It's hard to discuss a lot about number one, since it's number two that rattles things up.

    The music, though. Gotta love the music. For instance, the scene where everything shuts down for the sixth angel. Evangelion always has the perfect music to suit the scene (or sometimes the perfect inappropriate music for the scene)

      Shiro Sagisu's score for both the current films has been nothing short of incredible.

    Did these films remove all the cringe worthy fan service littered throughout the original series?

    Can't believe I originally watched the whole thing with my Mum back in the 90's!

      Nope, it's all still there, and likely more severe than before. It's still put to good use in this franchise, as opposed to most other series out there, especially newer ones, where it's just titillation.

      If anything, it ramps it up to uncomfortable levels. There's a particular scene in 2.0, for example, that is so voyeuristic and lingers so long that it made me incredibly self-conscious. I like to think of it as Anno turning the concept of fan service on its head, effectively as a big 'f*ck you' to the people who generally clamour for it (as the entire End of Evangelion film effectively was).

        But why would he do that? If that's what fans want, why would his objective be to annoy them?

        Isn't it a good idea to try and give your audience what they want?

        But what scene are you talking about? I watched the film last week and I found most scenes funny. There was nothing uncomfortable there for me.

          Because the relationship between author and audience is complex and multi-faceted, and what the people want is not necessarily what is right/best. Anno was effectively goaded into making End of Evangelion by the sheer amount of fan hate mail he was sent (which is actually shown in the film itself).

          The way I interpreted it was that Anno responded to the constant clamouring for more fan service, and its fa├žade of innocuous pervy fun, with a fairly confronting level of detail in a lingering crotch shot (which I strongly suspect was shortened for the DVD/Blu-ray release). If it doesn't make the audience uncomfortable I guess that's saying something about them.

          Hideo Kojima did basically the same thing with the final three quarters of Metal Gear Solid 2 (ie denying the fans exactly what he knew they wanted).

            Don't get me started on Hideo Kojima! Sooo many cutscenes!

            And I really, really hated end of evangelion. But I still can't remember the shot you're talking about. I guess different things make different people uncomfortable. The thing I don't like about japanese fan service is that sometimes it's based on really young girls. But I put it down to a cultural difference.

            I know if I made a film in Australia that had lots of lingering shots on a 14 year old boobs and butt, in underwear, that people would be pretty uncomfortable.

    I'm so excited for the next film!

    Evangelion has been my all time favourite show since I first watched it over a decade ago.
    It's the only series I have watched several dozen times and picked up on something new each time.

    What has me intrigued about these movies is that while they appear to be a departure or a spinoff to the series at face value, there are so many hints that the events in the films may actually be happening "after" the events of the series and if this is indeed the case, I'll probably lose my sh-- and cry happy tears for weeks. My body is ready for the next two films!!

    Last edited 07/11/12 8:08 pm

      I know exactly what you are insinuating/talking about and I don't think so, lol.

        I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss. The nature of End of Evangelion, coupled with the sheer amount of hints in the Rebuild series leaves it very much open. At this point, only if something in the next two films completely dismisses it do I think anyone could rule out that interpretation.

          I bet they'll never give a definitive answer either way, but do nothing to completely rule out the possibility, thus creating another decade of forum debate and theorycrafting.

          It's just fanboy logic and hoping though, it's highly unlikely. It's not really logical from the events in the end of evangelion either, people are just bending what happened to try to fit their hopes.

            Logic is scarce enough in Evangelion that most of it is invariably going to come from the fans.

        Feel free to point out anything to dismiss the possibility. I love theorycrafting Evangelion so if you have refutes I'd actually enjoy hearing them.

        I personally find the red oceans, dead angel at the start, Kaoru's veiled words of familiarity towards Shinji as well as a host of other things somewhat compelling arguments toward the idea of the films taking place after the events of "End of Evangelion" imo.

        EDIT: If that came across dismissive, it wasn't intentional, I was sincere about wanting to hear conflicting theories.

        Last edited 07/11/12 8:34 pm

          im all for awesome epic layers of story telling in media. however the most compelling piece of evidence that the movies are simply a face value retelling, is money.

          the series was never given that much funding, and actually ran out of money near the end (hence the text heavy episode). since that time it became crazy popular, selling loads of merch and licensing itself out. which is why the movies were commissioned, to capitalize on the success.

          now imagine being the creator, being limited so much by the circumstances of the original series. and then to get another crack at it, with a much higher budget to finally make a anime that was fully capable of displaying his vision.

          the movies are the true work, a bit like the blu ray starwarses, except not terrible.

            Agreed, but the idea of a cyclical reality was already so enmeshed in the original Evangelion (SPOILERS: which actually ends with Shinji recreating the precise reality he was apparently so keen to get away from) that it can do both at the same time.

            Think of it a bit like the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The reboot was both a retelling and a retconing sequel to the original.

              He does not re-create reality, he simply chooses for the human instrumentality project not to occur - after most people have died already from it. Asuka and him become Adam and Eve. There is absolutely no evidence any one else is alive, or that he set reality back in time and is reliving it or anything of that pile of mumbo jumbo.

                I can't remember the exact wording, but there's a part that suggests anyone else who chooses to return will also do so in time, just as Shinji and Asuka did. Besides, I was speaking more of the original TV series ending, which happens simultaneously/internally with the more literal portrayal in End of Evangelion.

                  From my interpretation I don't think anyone but Shinji had a choice. Shinji in his eva became a god and I figured asuka survived because she was the only other person also in an eva. That's just all my interpretation though.

            I understand your point. Though I feel that just because the films have been made to capitalize on success and indeed the series wasn't the "true work" as you put it, doesn't mean the "story" isn't cohesive across both films. They're both Hideaki Anno's story and it's not like he isn't inclined to linking his two works together.

            Indeed I would almost say it's intended to be this way as a throw back to the original series and a homage to people who actually invest as much time to search for these things in the plot, not to mention Anno simply being creative. The series alone was incredibly intrinsic, and as Shjack has stated, cyclical reality is a prevalent part of Evangelion.

            I mean, if they JUST wanted money, they could have simply created the films as an abridged yet polished version of the series and likely still made the box office (Evangelion 1.0 sold out like hotcakes and was positively regarded so far as I've heard.). Yet here we are, with copious subtle and blatant references to a world reminiscent of the state it was left in during the end of Evangelion. Put simply, if all you're after is money, why go to the effort of linking so many pieces together? The red oceans alone is a huge pointer, let alone the fact that Kaoru pretty much blatantly says he knows shinji and prevents his ascension at the end of 2.0.

            Then again, you could be right and, like alot of times before with Eva fans, I could just be looking waaaaaaay too much into the subtext to find links never meant to be drawn. haha

            Last edited 07/11/12 10:59 pm

              i definitely see your point, and there could be a little bit of both going on, like in BSG which shjack mentioned. I'm just reminded about all the other movies and games and tv shows where the audience has given it way too much thought, and came up with explanations that the creators never considered. sometimes the theories are actually better then the original intention. Matrix, Mass Effect, Lost, etc.

    URGH!!!! Need Evangelion 3.0 now!! Its been such a massive wait, im salivating at the thought of finally seeing it.

    Wow Totally forgot that 3.0 is coming so soon. Darn, now it feels like lightyears away TT^TT

    I just want to say Shinji's dad is still a completely massive douchebag.

    Seriously, he's just despicable.

    I'm enjoying the movies, but I'm worried it'll take a big turn towards crapola in the next 2. I couldn't stand end of evangelion.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now