Tag: Evangelion

Top 5 Anime of 2011

luckystar01.jpeg2011 turned out to be an interesting year. It seems the moe craze is starting to dimmish a bit with a few notable failures; Yuru Yuri I’m looking in your direction; but overall 2011 turned into a pretty good, especially for Funimation with them pushing out two of the titles on this list on top of their exceptionally successful FLCL rerelease.

The titles on my list paint 2011 as a year where Japan returned to attempt reaching a western audience, where an auteur director came of age, where artistic exploration reached a new pinnacle, where sweet and simple narratives play with our emotions, and where Japan proves they are still capable of creating some of the finest Science Fiction in the world.

Each of the titles on the list represent different reasons why I’m an anime fan. The chief reason among them being how much depth the medium has to offer. The qualifying rules are simple, a series had to have finished airing in 2011 and a film has to have been released on DVD or screened in the United States at some point in 2011. Now, on to the list!

5. Tiger & Bunny



Tiger & Bunny stands apart from other Japanese attempts at superhero stories because it relies so much on the characters. They are beautifully drawn and full of life, so much that I desperately await more stories set in the universe. Tiger & Bunny has the potential to be the new gateway drug for the next generation of Anime fans just as Cowboy Bebop was for my generation. It has themes that appeal to a western audience but enough anime tropes to prepare an unsuspecting audience before jumping into the vast world of the medium.

Above all else Tiger & Bunny could keep me on the edge of my seat with excitement though the majority of the final arc and allow me to build a strong enough emotional connection with the characters to have me break down in tears. For an action show to do both of those things elevates it above the majority in its genre.

4. Summer Wars



Mamoru Hosoda made a huge affect the industry with his film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.” Summer Wars represents the first time Hosoda directs an original script and it definitely shows off the level of creativity of which he is capable. The imagery is stunning from the rich and full virtual world of OZ to the subtle beauty of rural Japan. The narrative pits old world family values against the need to be connected through a digital world and the stark difference between how the two worlds look aids the theme in profound ways.

The greatest achievement of Summer Wars is Hosoda’s handling of characters. The family depicted in the film easily contains two dozen members and yet with a few short scenes the audience feels as if they understand the make up of the family, and the character of even the most minor players. This is done by relating universal experiences and allowing the audience to fill in gaps with their own experiences. Truly, a magnificent style to immerse the audience in your world.

3. Puella Magi Madoka Magica



In an attempt to describe Madoka Magica I called it “The Dark Knight of magical girl shows” and indeed I believe that it took a genre that had been traditionally for young girls and transformed it with gritty realism and dark characters that left the idea of escapism normally associated with Magical Girl shows far behind, instead turning the idea of “Magical Girl” into a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. This isn’t the first show to turn Magical Girl tropes upside down but it certainly did it in a lasting and profound way.

The greatest achievement of this show is the direction of Akiyuki Shinbo as he weaved his fantastic cut out art style into the show which gave a stark contrast between the evil witches and Ume Aoki’s adorable character designs. The dark shadow filled world he crafts work to create the sinister undertone that drives Madoka Magica forward as it slowly destroys the emotional stability of the audience.

2. Usagi Drop



I can’t stop talking about how much I love this show. Compared to all the other shows on the list it might seem like nothing special. The animation is simple and the story is almost nonexistent, being a slice of life drama. So how can it compete with shows that have innovative animation and narrative techniques? With pure heart. The show is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen and it handles it’s subject, a single guy taking in a little girl, with sincere realism. The characters are so beautifully and realistically constructed that one cannot help falling in love with all of them, even the annoying bratty kid who befriends Rin.

Usagi Drop is a beautiful, universal narrative which succeeds because of how honest and true it is executed. It transcends the medium and is a product that shows a universal human experience no matter what age or disposition from which the viewer approaches.

1. Evangelion 2.22



Evangelion 2.22 took the number one spot late and pretty much by default. It wasn’t until I was compiling the list and went over my rules that I realized that Evangelion 2.22 qualified, and that’s why it wasn’t on last year’s list even though the first time I saw it was in 2010.

Evangelion 2.22 is an amazing accomplishment chiefly because it takes it’s source material, the Evangelion television series, and improves on it. There are few anime series that come close to the complexity of narrative and depth of character development that the television series accomplishes and this film comes to much the same place using much tighter and complete character arcs. Not only is the structure of the narrative better but the visuals and action are perhaps some of the greatest ever seen in Japanese Animation. The style of the opening fight with Evangelion Unit 2 accomplishes what took the television series needed twenty minutes for in seconds. The intensity of the final battle with Zeruel seeds doubt into the audience as to what the outcome will be, and this is a remake of a much loved series! Hideaki Anno has improved on his own masterpiece and there is no question that Evangelion 2.22 takes the top spot for Anime released in 2011.

As always, I look forward to what next year will bring. Another year, another fantastic list of shows to represent the medium. I hope you enjoy.


Correction: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was not Hosoda’s first film. I know Digimon exists, I just temporarily forgot about it. 

The Evolution of Evangelion

Having both ADV Evangelion DVD releases, the original and the platinum release, I wanted to go back and look at how large of  a change the new films really are. It has been years since I’ve watched the original raw series so watching it after seeing the Blu-Ray version of Evangelion 1.11 was almost painful.


The most noticeable element of this image from the original ADV release is the lack of detail on Evangelion Unit 01. The face detail is kind of blurred together and is difficult to make out. The mountain that Shinji landed on also lacks detail.


The image quality of the remastered platinum edition is much darker. It helps the Evangelion to stand out more but the rib cage of the Angel, barely seen in the original version, is now completely hidden.  Unit 01 is much crisper and specific details stand out much more. The foreground trees, although still lacking much detail, are drawn better. The mountains in the background show no change and the shrine near the Evangelion’s arm is much easier to see in this version. The remaster seemed to focus on making the image crisper even if details were going to be lost.

How does the new movie stand up to the remastered original?


This is the same exact scene that Anno attempted to animate fifteen years ago but using the massive budget and some modern techniques the scene appears completely different. The rib cage is back and prominent. The  mountains in the background and trees in the foreground are drawn with specific detail. The Evangelion itself suffers no loss of detail even with the distance and at the strange angle.

If anyone reading this hasn’t picked up Evangelion 1.11 yet… get to it. THAT is what you’re missing.


Evangelion 1.11 screenshot captured by http://autaku.com

Review: Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance



Picking up where the first film left off the angels are laying an aggressive offensive against the forces of Nerv. In order to make Nerv’s defenses more powerful the Japanese branch receives ace Pilot Asuka Langley Shikinami. But with each Angel attack draining the resources of the planet three Evangelions may not be enough to stop the angels from their ultimate goal, Earth’s total destruction.

Hideaki Anno’s Evangelion is an iconic anime series that shook the entire world when it was released back in 1995. Now, fifteen years later, Evangelion’s modern reboot has the potential of doing exactly the same thing. But can this condensed version of the classic series stand up to the hype?

eva_2-22_008 I avoided reviewing Evangelion 1.11 because there wasn’t much to say about the movie except that it was the same material with much better animation and being a massive Evangelion fan I felt my review would have been biased. But being that this film takes Evangelion and attempts to reinvent it I felt more comfortable approaching it as a new entity. 

After watching the first movie I came into this one believing that I wasn’t going to see much new material. I’ve been hearing the fact that this movie strays drastically away from the original since it opened in Japan last year. But, when compared to the first Evangelion movie, changing anything could be considered a “massive change.”

eva_2-22_062That isn’t the case. Where the first film’s beginning is a shot for shot remake of the television series to capture the feeling that this is Evangelion, You Can (Not) Advance starts off with completely new material as if to tell the audience that this experience is going to be something completely new. That opening scene showed so much new that it blew any thought in my mind that this film would simply be a remake of the television series. The HD animation is stunning, it takes place in a different NERV base with a never-before-seen commander, it features a new Evangelion unit using a combat mode never before seen, it introduces Mari Illustrious Makinami the film’s new character, and it features a fight with a redesigned Angel. There was no better way they could have started the film.

eva_2-22_066 The film constantly moves back and forth between classic scenes and new material which shows how much Anno has improved as a director and animator over the past fifteen years. The new scenes serve to shake up and reinvent the classic story. One scene in the movie shows the beginning of the day in Tokyo-3 and presents the city as a fusion of nature and technology. With only thirty seconds of animation he shows the city that was awe-inspiring in You Are (Not) Alone as a place that people take for granted, a place where people live out their lives normally. Those beautiful scenes of daily life and the stunningly animated and choreographed battle scenes make Evangelion 2.22 a visual treat.

The largest improvement in You Can (Not) Advance from You Are (Not) Alone is the pacing. The first Evangelion remake at times felt like a chopped up rehash of the original. Anno was able to get rid of that feeling by not only altering the story but by creating new enemies, the addition of the new character, and other visual elements that enabled this film to distance itself from the source material but still maintain the core elements of the original.

The biggest challenge in taking ten episodes of a television series and turning it into a two hour movie are eva_2-22_140 the characters. It was hard to believe the Anno could fit the entire story into the film and develop the characters as well as he did in the original. But again Anno proves his ability by deeply fleshing out the characters with a subtle grace that the original lacked. In fact, some of the choices he made in the film helped to understand the characters much better. The television series relied on a slow reveal to develop the characters and establish their flaws. Due to the limitation of time Anno leaves the character flaws out in the open instead of covering them up and digging for them. Because of that fact the film enables the audience to identify and sympathize  with the characters far more than the original series did. The unfortunate result of this is that the minor characters of the series are ignored left to serve only as background imagery and noise. The friendships Shinji developed in the first film are shown briefly but never eva_2-22_132in any real depth. The audience is left to take those relationships as static fact as characters they came to know in the first film simply hang around uselessly.

Hideaki Anno has done something that is rarely pulled off well in media. He has taken his original property and updated it to modern version while keeping the spirit of the original alive. Not only that, but he improved on his creation as well by eliminating non-crucial elements of the plot to build a tighter, more well-crafted story with powerful characters, and breath-taking animation. This film is an improvement of an already classic piece of Japanese animation.


  • Main characters are well deeply developed, especially in comparison to the source material.
  • Animation is breath-taking. Everything from battle scenes to the elements of daily life are well crafted pieces of art.
  • Pacing is much improved from the original Evangelion film, which at times could feel like a chopped up re-hash of the television series.


  • Minor characters are almost entirely ignored, even characters that played a large role in You Are (Not) Alone.


Screenshots captured by http://autaku.com/