On October 4, 1995, a little known anime name Neon Genesis Evangelion hit the airwaves on TV Tokyo in Japan. Since then, this post-apocalyptic story of a young boy’s traumatic battle against the Angels that threaten to bring about the second end of the world has been viewed by millions of fans the world over, and has no doubt acted as the gateway anime for many fans the world over. It’s also one of the few anime that can say it has been released on just about every modern-day video media in many different collection sets including the set that we’ll be covering today. So lets break it down, shall we? I’m Josh, and this is my review of the Neon Genesis Evangelion Complete Series Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray set.
Now, full disclosure—this is my own copy of Evangelion, not a promotional copy. I’m coming from this as someone who put down his own coinage and bought it himself, so there’s absolutely no bias here. I’m also coming from a position of someone who has owned Evangelion several times over–the original Perfect Collection DVD’s, the Platinum Edition DVD’s, the Funimation Movie releases, and the Manga Entertainment releases of the two movies. The things I do for this franchise.
First things first, lets break down this packaging. This is the mid-level Collector’s Edition set (the black one with red “Emergency” hexagon accents) which is not as bare-bones as the “Complete Series” Blu-Ray Set, but it doesn’t contain all the bells and whistles that the “Ultimate Edition” has. And for me, that’s just fine. While the “Ultimate Edition” has loads of artwork and even a 156-page artbook included with special cases for the disks, I REALLY don’t need all that. It’s just going to collect dust on the shelf. And let’s be real, a lot of the artwork that’s included has probably been online for public consumption for the last 20 years or more. Inside, we get a 40-page companion booklet/artbook and 8 art cards, which is the same artwork that you’ve no doubt seen on the covers of the Platinum Edition DVD’s. The disks themselves are dark blue and come in Evangelion themed cases with the Unit-01 case containing the Netflix dub, and the Unit-02 case containing the ADV Dub. Speaking of….
The ADV Dub (The one that includes Spike Spencer, Tiffany Grant and Amanda Winn-Lee as Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, respectively) is available on either the “Ultimate Edition” or the “Limited Collector’s Edition.” The “Complete Series” set ONLY contains the new Netflix dub (Casey Mongillo, Stephanie McKeon and Ryan Bartley). Honestly, while I appreciate the fact that they included the ADV dub, I get a little twitch in my eye though when I see the ADV Dub classified as a “Bonus” Dub. Umm, no. This is the ORIGINAL, dub guys. The FIRST and ONLY for over 20 years. And trust me, there are plenty of Evangelion fans out there who wouldn’t give this set a second look if you didn’t include the original actors. And I also think it’s messed up that you must buy one of the top two tiers in order to get the “Classic” dub. Why not make it available to EVERYONE? Also, if this matters to you, “Fly Me to the Moon” is not available on any of the sets; instead we get the melancholy “Rei I” piano track over the Japanese credits. I know guys, I know…
As for what we get for the money? We get the original 26-episode series, cleaned up and remastered for Blu-Ray. For those old school fans out there, this is the same as the old Platinum Release Collections that came out back in the day. You also get Evangelion: Death (TRUE)2 (Also known as Evangelion: Death and Rebirth) and The End of Evangelion. If you’re looking for the “Decimal Movies,” then you gotta hit up Funimation and Amazon Prime Video, my dudes, cause that ain’t available here. You also get a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff from Japan like TV commercials, Japanese Cast Auditions, Trailers and animatics. Sadly, what you don’t get with any version is a soundtrack. Take away the 40 page artbook and give me one disk with all the music (Minus “Fly Me to the Moon” of course) and I’ll be happy. We also don’t get any commentary tracks either in English or Japanese, which is a PRODIGIOUS disappointment, especially when you consider that the old school Platinum DVD’s had commentary tracks on just about every disk from the ADR crew featuring the ADR Director Matt Greenfield and other actors and members of the production crew. Maybe it’s just me, but I love stuff like commentary tracks playing while I’m watching a movie or an anime. Let’s hear from the people who played these roles.
As for the show itself? Well, it’s Evangelion. What more can I say? It’s one of the most brilliant shows in the modern anime era. Everyone knows the story; 2015, extraterrestrial beings known as angels are attacking the earth and threaten to bring about the end of all mankind. Three teenagers of questionable mental stability are picked to “become a legend” and take the fight to the angels by using the synthetic lifeform mecha known as the Evangelion. Shenanigans ensue. It’s probably one of the most well known shows around, and I’m not even going to get into doing a deep dive on the series…at least not yet anyway. Evangelion veteran Tiffany Grant once said “There’s a lot of different interpretations, and they’re all true!” And truth be told, she’s right. Evangelion has been interpreted and re-interpreted and RE-RE interpreted over the course of the last twenty years, with each frame and shot of the movie being picked apart and explained in great detail, and now that the series and movies have been bumped up to High Definition, even more conversations and discussions are waiting to be had in the forum that is the anime fandom.
Visually, the show looks good when bumped up to HD. While yes, it’s still at 4:3 aspect ratio (black bars on both sides of the picture), the visuals still looks great. I’m not one of those fans that gets into pixel density and color saturation—I leave that up to forum surfers and YouTube personalities who have more money than sense. I’m just saying, on my little Insigna TV, this looks REALLY sharp. With regards to audio, this sounds AMAZING. Again, I’m no audiophile—I can’t tell you about 5.1 Dolby Surround vs Regular Surround, nor will I talk about the mids and the highs and lows. That’s above my paygrade and I ain’t getting paid (REALLY need to talk to TWWK about that). But I know what my ears tell me, and my ears tell me this sounds SO much richer and fuller than the original DVD audio. “Cruel Angel Thesis” never sounded so crisp and clear.
With regards to the dub…or DUBS in this case, I can honestly say you will be well serviced regardless of which one you decide to go with. The new Netflix dub is right on par with the original ADV dub. Yes, there are quite a few line changes here and there, and naturally it is jarring to hear if you’re used to the original crew–but the old adage of “you don’t miss what you never had” applies here. If you’re brand new to the Evangelion series, then you’ll get just as much pleasure and enjoyment out of the new dub that you would out of the original ADV one.
All that being said, the question now is should you buy this? Well, here’s how I see it:
If you’re a newcomer who is curious about the Evangelion mythos, have no clue or even care who Spike Spencer, Tiffany Grant and Amanda Winn-Lee are, and the only thing you know about “Fly Me To The Moon” is that it was a Frank Sinatra song…then no. You should not buy this. This box set is not for you, my dude. Just go to Walmart and buy the $40 Complete Collection, and if you like what you see and are curious about this ADV Dub, then go ahead and step up to one of the high tier bundles.
If you’re an old school Evangelion fan who still has their old Platinum Edition DVD’s, can name all the actors who ever played Kaworu Nagisa in both English and Japanese*, and don’t mind spending under 200 bucks for a series that you already own…then yes, I think you should get this…just gently curb your expectations. This is the definitive Evangelion set that gives you the entire series and early movies in one fell swoop with the only thing missing being the witty commentary tracks and “Fly Me to the Moon.” If you can get by without those aspects, then you’ll be prodigious.
This is the set you’ve been waiting for. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but at the end of the day, you can’t really beat it. Now get in the robot and get to the store.
And now, because no conversation is complete without it, and because what better representation of Beneath the Tangles could there be, I present to you the Glory Gospel Singers with their earth shattering rendition of “Cruel Angel Thesis”.
*Kyle Sturdivant, Aaron Krohn, Greg Ayres, Jerry Jewell, Daman Mills & Clifford Chapin. Shoutout to my old friend on Twitter @ChrisGary92 who IMMEDIATELY posted this when I asked about it. Great person to follow!