Editor's note: Chase Emory, a super audiophile and super geek mate of mine, sent me this article over a month ago. Nathan, who can't multitask, was busy taking amazing photos of amazing things, and put off publishing. So, timely it this article is not. Editor's apologies to all Evangelion fans, and especially to Chase.
Last year on December 1st at precisely 5:02 PM, JST announced a thing that every anime fan over the age of 20 or so has been waiting for since the dawn of Blu-ray. That thing was that Neon Genesis Evangelion was hitting Blu-Ray in August of the following year.
I think every fan of anime has a history with Evangelion. My own began back in the summer of 2001. I was in middle school, grade 7 or 8 to be precise. That was the year that I discovered what I like to call “real” anime, which isn't that Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh! shit made for jittery Saturday morning kids.
I've got to thank Fox Kids for releasing another great mid 90s anime called The Vision of Escaflowne. It was a horrible: brutally cut in order to tailor it to children. It even tanked because of the cuts. But I was hooked. I had to find a way to watch Escaflowne in its entirety, uncut and untouched. That's how I discovered the rather large market of “real” anime.
Evangelion was the third real anime I ever saw. I can still vividly remember the ritual of "going into town" with my father (we lived in the sticks throughout my childhood) so I could wander around the Tanasbourne shopping center in Hillsboro Oregon. My dad worked. I snuck off to Warehouse, a vast music/movie store that sold both new and used stuff. They had an anime section whose top shelf was loaded with a complete Evangelion DVD set. It was in a giant black box, with the reflective red Evangelion head on one side and the NERV logo on the other. It had all of the previously released discs in full sized DVD cases, which is what made it so large. I said snuck off, because anime was not cheap, and me spending my money on anime didn't keep my parents in good humour. But I had to have that box, 120 dollars or no. The very next day I spent the entire day watching every episode of that show. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the tv screen. When my parents came home from work, I hurridly turned it off the main television. They couldn't know about my purchase. I stole away to the upstairs TV to finish the last few episodes. In subsequent trips into town I purchased both of the follow up movies to the series, Death and Rebirth, and The End of Evangelion.
Since then, I have watched Evangelion more times that I can remember. It's my most-watched TV show, ever. In the Summer after my Junior year of highschool I even re-bought the show. ADV re-released a “Platinum Set” which was based on the Renewal DVDs, and were gloriously remastered with better quality video and better surround sound. They came in a thinpack with a chipboard box. This time, I bought them at Best Buy's anime section for 70 bucks.
For all its staggering faults in both pacing and production, Evangelion is a momumental achievement in television that has been captivating audiences around the world since the Fall of 1995.
You might be wondering why a show from 1995 deserves hi-def Blu Ray treatment. You're not alone. The thing is that anime during this time period was all still drawn and painted by hand, and all of the cells were animated and filmed with real cameras. The amount of detail that can be extracted is limited by the film and camera techniques used to capture it. And back in 2010, a monumental effort to remaster Evangelion started at Sony PCL. Studio Khara knew that nothing short of perfection would be accepted. This wasn’t other shows. This wasn't any old Blu-ray. This was Evangelion. Naturally, Sony PCL had to acquire new equipment and develop new capture techniques. Evangelion's Blu Ray release had to be perfect.
The whole process was run down in an article in the Japanese magazine, Newtype. It was translated by a good friend of mine, @ultimatemegax. Sony spent over a year just doing colour correction to the film and remastering the audio to create a lossless version of the surround mix created for the Renewal DVDs. So much work was done that they spent years longer than any other anime restoration project. It was an historic undertaking.
In 2011, I began importing Anime from Japan. I have waited patiently for this Blu-ray. I promised myself then that as soon as it was announced and up on Amazon Japan I would jump in with my preorder. Done.
Now to the important question: does it live up to my extremely lofty, anime-loving, videophile expectations? Oh yes. With all of my heart I can say that it is literally everything I expected for the Blu Ray release of one of my very favourite TV shows ever. If you consider yourself to be a hardcore Evangelion fan I would highly recommend you import this Blu Ray box, not only is the packaging beautiful, and of a quality that you just do not see in America and elsewhere, but you will be purchasing a piece of Anime history. It is worth every penny of the roughly 240 dollars it cost, even if it is the third time!
Evangelion Blu-ray box set (Japanese)