In the year 2015, more than a decade has passed since the catastrophic event known as Second Impact befell mankind. During this time of recovery, a select few learned of beings known as the Angels—colossal malevolent entities with the intention of triggering the Third Impact and wiping out the rest of humanity.
Called into the city of Tokyo-3 by his father Gendou Ikari, teenager Shinji is thrust headlong into humanity's struggle. Separated from Gendou since the death of his mother, Shinji presumes that his father wishes to repair their shattered familial bonds; instead, he discovers that he was brought to pilot a giant machine capable of fighting the Angels, Evangelion Unit-01. Forced to battle against wave after wave of mankind's greatest threat, the young boy finds himself caught in the middle of a plan that could affect the future of humanity forever.
I love "Death and Rebirth", I really do. In my mind, it's probably the least flawed segment in the Evangelion franchise. But I guess I know why people are rating it so low.
There are two reason people tend to give this movie a low score. The first reason is that this movie is split cleanly into two halves, and the first half, named "Death", is essentially a recap. I think most people just aren't as patient as I am and loathe recaps in general. "Death" deserves mention though, because they're probably the most well done recaps I've ever watched. It's not just scenes from the
Evangelion series edited together, there is a considerable amount new footage and narration added in that combine to make the events that happened in the series a lot clearer (though there is still a good deal I didn't understand by the time I finished it). The edit is done extremely cleverly, retelling the story from several personal perspectives, all revolving around the theme of Shinji, Rei, Asuka and Kaworu turning up to the auditorium for a rehearsal of Pachebel's "Kanon in D-dur". I love the rendition that piece along with others such one of Bach's cello preludes. The classical music is used throughout the "Death" segment to great effect, lending it a certain elegance that the series, often riddled with cliches, sometimes lacked. This isn't the only improvement either. Since the recaps cherry picked key moments from the series really well, and got rid of most of the less interesting angel-of-the-week padding, it's not only easier to connect the dots in the story, but also gives "Death" a greater intensity and urgency when compared against the series. It's through this that I caught a glimpse of the greatness that people often go on about when they talk about Evangelion.
The second reason people hated this is because of the second half, "Rebirth". And no, it's not because "Rebirth" itself is crap, not by any stretch of the imagination. The reason people hate it is because "Rebirth" is repeated in its entirety by the follow up movie, "End of Evangelion", which kind of reduces "Death and Rebirth" to nothing more than a recap movie. But to be fair, since "Death and Rebirth" came before "End of Evangelion", I think it make sense that the latter should be one that gets the heavier penalisation for repeating what's already been shown in the former. The segment in question itself is excellent. Though it lasts less than half an hour, it's a very compelling watch with sky high production values. It really sets up the "End of Evangelion" movie in style, ending on a scene that made me want to continue on to the final movie immediately.
There really isn't anything majorly wrong with "Death and Rebirth", the few complaints I have are all rather minor. For one, some of the words that flash up on screen during "Death" disappears far too quickly and I couldn't read a lot of them - what's the point of having it at all if they're so hard to read? For another, at the start of "Rebirth", Shinji does something pretty f*cked up that I feel isn't really consistent with his cowardly character, so I chalked that scene down to something that's there for shock value more than anything else. Finally, there's the intermission. Yeah, that's right, this movie even has its own built in intermission. In a way, I didn't mind the idea itself. But considering the intermission lasts not one but TWO songs, and comes after the 5min+ ending credits of "Death"... that totals up to about ten minutes of doing nothing (although the ending credits of "Death" does have "Kanon D-dur" as backing music, so I didn't mind it so much")! It's all a bit too much really.
If you haven't seen the series, there is no point at all in watching this. Prior to "End of Evangelion" coming out, watching "Death and Rebirth" after the series made perfect sense - I believe it was released a year or two after the series (though don't quote me on this), and so the first half served as a nice condensed reminder (with bonus new footage) of what happened in the series while the second half wets the appetite for the finale. "Death and Rebirth" served its purpose as a bridge perfectly back then, but with "End of Evangelion" eliminating the need to watch the second part entirely, is this still worth watching just for the (admittedly beefed up) recaps? Well, it really depends on you. If you're a hardcore fan of the franchise, or if like me, you want to watch these kind of things for completeness, then yes. If there's only one recap that you'll ever watch, then make it this one.
Death and Rebirth is a two-hour long movie that consists of two halves -- Death and Rebirth, each about an hour long. Rebirth will not be covered in this review, as its footage was expanded on and included in The End of Evangelion. It was produced by Production IG (famous for their work on the Ghost in the Shell series and xxxHOLIC) and Gainax (famous for their work on His and Her Circumstances and FLCL), and directed by Hideaki Anno (famous for his work on the original Gunbuster OVA and His and Her Circumstances). It was released on March 15th, 1997, and
has been licensed Stateside by Manga Entertainment, and was originally released on July 30th, 2002.
So, what we're left with is Death -- which is more or less the entire series in an hour-long recap with minimal new footage, and lots of flashing text, like we saw more in the second half of Evangelion.
Do I think this was worth it? Having just finished the series and gone onto this, I found that I didn't really need a complete recap of the series, as Death covered the most important events from the series, most of which were pretty memorable anyways.
There's not really a lot to say about anything besides that, as you've pretty much seen it before this if you've watched the series.
All in all, if you don't have the time to watch the entire series, then yes, this is worth a watch. But if you have seen the series, it's a waste of your time.
NGE: Death and Rebirth should have been titled NGE: Completely Unnecessary Series Recap For Purpose of Make Profit From Guys with Ayanami Waifu Pillows.
I have seen a lot of shameful "cash ins" in my years as an anime fan, but I have seen very few examples that were quite this blatant in picking the pockets of a loyal fandom. This movie was supposedly made in order to get fans PUMPED UP (read in Hans and Franz voice) for End of Evangelion, which promised to remake the final 2 episodes of the original series that so angered Japanese fans in 1996. However, this was completely unnecessary
since the people that were already Eva fans were really excited to see a new ending, and I can assure you this movie didn't create any new Eva fans. Did Anno owe a large sum of money to the Yakuza!?
This movie is divided into 2 parts with the largest part being an overly crammed re-telling of the first 24 episodes and the smaller part being a glorified teaser of End of Eva. Remember when EA pissed off Mass Effect fans with the shitty original ending of Mass Effect 3? Even fucking EA had the dignity to make a better ending fixing some of the original plot holes and release it for free as a DLC. If Mass Effect were made by Gainax, they would promise fans to make a new game that was just a "fixed" ending for Mass Effect 3, but the new ending would end up being shittier than the original ending. Death and Rebirth is like a 40$ Mass Effect DLC entirely consisting of pasted together cutscenes from the first 3 Mass Effect games in order to make fans excited for a new shitty ending! When EA has THAT much more dignity than you...that ain't good. To drive home this point, Gainax even got in legal trouble because one of the studio executives tried to evade taxes on the massive profits made by this movie. Those sons of bitches are so greedy that they rob their own devoted fans, then try to avoid paying taxes on the money that they stole!
Why did I rate this a 5 then? The art and animation is actually very well done. In addition, Death and Rebirth has a lovely classical music soundtrack that is both calming and majestic. Also this isn't technically the the worst Eva cash in ever made. Only the worst directly made by Anno himself. The worst would probably be the innumerable Eva dating sims that seem to sell like hotcakes in Japan. That type of creepy otaku merchandise actually makes enough money that it is the real reason that Eva is still getting reboots and rebuilds. This isn't something Eva fanboys want to admit, but it is true. Eva isn't deeper than Serial Experiments Lain or better than Cowboy Bebop, but unlike those it keeps trucking on because creepy guys in their 30s REALLY want to bang a certain blue haired 15 year old. It kind of makes me sad to be an Eva fan.
When it comes to Eva, people are mostly divided into the zealous 2deep4you fanboys and the vitriol spewing Eva bashers. I occupy a middle ground and whereas I recognize the kinks and flaws of the series, I generally appreciate its contribution to anime culture and Anno's efforts to explore psychoanalysis and heroically battle his own clinical depression through the medium of art. Unfortunately, I just can't defend Death and Rebirth. Unlike the original series or End of Eva, this movie wasn't an example of Anno daring to bare his problems, his sorrow, his soul to us and break the conventions of shonen anime storytelling. Death and Rebirth is nothing but a shallow attempt to gouge some cash and betray all those otaku and hikikomori that idolized Anno.
"Your greed sickens me!" - Ayn Rand to Studio Gainax
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth is essentially a 2 hour recap of both the 26 episode Neon Genesis Evangelion series and The End of Evangelion.
The issue that I had while watching this despite it being a recap is that it felt almost hollow in how the story and other coexisting elements were conveyed to the viewer. The story seemed incredibly rushed, and there was hardly any focus at all on the character's psychological struggles as there is in the series, which is in itself a large part of Evangelion. The lack of character development coupled with the chronological displacement of clips made Death &
Rebirth very difficult to follow, and left the viewer to come to their own conclusions with help from flashing text that appears throughout the movie.
Death & Rebirth leaves out a vast amount of core elements that should be present (especially in a recap), near the point of being unbearable to watch. It goes as far to include characters that you would have no idea of who they were unless you weren't new to the franchise.
It is highly recommended that this should not be chosen to be your first installment in the series to view, as it leaves you with little to no understanding of the plot and characters when it is viewed as a standalone piece. To get the most out of Evangelion, I suggest that you watch the 26 episode series and The End of Evangelion before watching Death & Rebirth, as this movie is more or less meant to be reflected on by the viewer after watching them to better understand the overall story of Evangelion.
The 2 hour time frame simply can't do a complex story such as Evangelion's justice. Go watch the Neon Genesis Evangelion series as well as The End of Evangelion to get the fullest experience of this wonderful story, because Death & Rebirth falls flat on it's face in attempts to do so. It's still worth a watch for people interested in the complexity and depth of the story, but beyond that, don't expect anything extraordinary.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably one of the most polarizing anime series in existence. It's an intricate work with some strong symbolism which few people properly understand. Let's take a deeper look at what it borrows from religion and esoteric mysticism.