Platinum Booklets – Episode Commentaries 01-06

Originated from evamonkey.com (5/9/13)

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EPISODE:01 Angel Attack
Aired October 4, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Hideaki Anno / Storyboards: Masayuki, Hideaki Anno / Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki / Chief Animator: Shunji Suzuki / Assistant Character Designers: Yoshitoh Asari, Seiji Kio, Yuh Imakake

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the first TV series that GAINAX and Hideaki Anno of Wings of Honneamise, Aim for the Top! and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water fame had announced in 5 years. The best members of GAINAX at the time came together for Episodes One and Two. They made some episodes that definitely lived up to the expectation of fans.

Episode One shows Shinji Ikari coming to New Tokyo-3 up to him getting aboard the artificial human Evangelion Unit-01 after some complications and standing in front of the Angel. The overwhelmingly realistic battle between the U.N. military and the Angel, the fascinatin character of Misato Katsuragi, who is both cool and candid, the launch scene had mecha fans roaring, and the special effects used for things like the painstakingly detailed monitor screen provide for a lot to see. With the distinctive turns of phrases in the dialogue, it is overflowing with the eccentricity unique toEvangelion, and yet, it also has the strong flavor of the orthodox school of robot and hero stories.

One of the captivating points of Evangelion is that it presents numerous mysteries during the show. At the beginning, we are shown a scene with a group of high-rises sunk into the ocean, and this is due to the unprecedented catastrophic calamity called Second Impact, but it is not discussed in the show until Episode Three. In addition, the true identity of the Angels and the L.C.L. are not revealed until the end of the series.

Reunited with Shinji for the first time in 3 years, the executive commander of NERV, Gendo Ikari, orders him to get on the Eva and out into the field on the spot. And faced with Eva Unit-00 and Rei Ayanami, he repeats over and over, “I Mustn’t run away,” as if he is trying to convince himself of it. “Communicating with others” is a vital theme of Evangelion and depicting how Shinji interacts with those around him is part of the story ofEvangelion. The revealing of why Gendo treats Shinji so coldly is left to Episode Twenty-Six, “My True Heart For You,” which was released theatrically.

When Shinji comes to New Tokyo-3, he sees a girl that seems to be Rei Ayanami for just an instant. Considering how she is injured and wrapped up in bandages, when he later meets her in NERV Headquarters, the natural assumption would be to think that this was a phantom vision. But in Episode 26, “My True Heart For You,” a different possibility is suggested. The girl that appeared for just one cut in this scene may be the Rei Ayanami who is “the existence that gazes upon man.”

 

EPISODE:02 The Beast
Aired October 11, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Yoji Enoto, Hideaki Anno / Storyboards: Masayuki, Hideaki Anno / Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki / Chief Animator: Yuh Honda / Assistant Character Designers: Yoshitoh Asari, Seiji Kio

This episode acts as a second part to Episode One, but it is set up in an elaborate way, where the story begins several days later from where Episode One left off, depicting the continuation of the battle between the Angel and Unit-01 in flashback scenes.   Numerous new mysteries are presented in this episode as well such as the existance of the Human Instrumentality Project and the organic-looking bare face of Unit-01 underneath the cranial armor that Shinji saw.  What the AT field really is will not be revealed until the end of the series, either.

Continuing their work from Episode One, the director Hideaki Anno, and the assistant director Masayuki, handle the storyboards.  Masayuki is an animator whose name has become well-known through his powerful work on shows such as Sasuga no Sarutobi, and he is an essential staff member to any work by Director Anno.  In Neon Genesis Evangelion, he handled a large number of the episodes that focused on mecha action.  In Episode Two, there are many tricky scene compositions the reflect Director Anno and his unique style.  For the combat between Unit-01 and the Third Angel in Part B, the chief animator, Yuh Honda, and GAINAX’s young ace, Yoh Yoshinari, handled the key animation.  The action, oozing showmanship, is splendid.  The key animation around the scene where Misato is drinking beer in her apartment and suggests that Shinji take a bath is handled by Shinya Hasegawa, who also worked on the animation of the opening sequence.

Shinji was supposed to live by himself, but instead, Misato takes him in and the two begin their life together in her apartment.  In order to try to close the gap between her and him, Misato acts silly around Shinji and as if in response to that, Shinji acts exaggeratedly surprised by the presence of Pen Pen, the hot spring penguin.  Seeing Shinji’s true intentions in his actions, Misato says to herself, “Maybe I’m the one who’s transparent.”  It is a most Eva-like depiction concerning “communication.”  In the preview, the idea of her taking Shinji in is clearly stated as “Misato’s arrogance.”  The sense with which they coolly capture such events is also part of the appeal of Evangelion.

Incidentally, in Episode One and Two, Misato effectively says, “You’re a boy, aren’t you?” to Shinji three times.  This is very interesting when considered alongside the existence of people like the seemingly patriarchal Gendo or Toji, who appears in Episode Three.  Is Eva trying to say that men should act like men, or is it questioning that value?

In Evangelion, there is an English episode title, separate from the Japanese episode title, which is displayed in the eyecatch at the beginning of Part B.  In Episode Two, it is “The Beast.”  Is this “Beast” referring to the Angel or Eva Unit-01, which went out of control, or the impulse to destroy hidden within Shinji?

 

EPISODE:03 A Transfer
Aired October 18, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Akio Satsukawa, Hideaki Anno / Storyboards: Kazuya Tsurumaki, Hiroyuki Ishido / Director: Hiroyuki Ishido / Chief Animator: Nobuhiro Hosoi / Assistant Character Designers: Yoshitoh Asari, Kazuya Tsurumaki

Episode Three is set up to be part one of two with Episode Four. This episode depicts Shinji, who tends to be rather introverted, being bewildered by his new surroundings and yet taking the first step towards communicating with others. In Episode Three, New Tokyo-3 No.1 Middle School that Shinji attends is one of the places where action takes place and his classmates, Toji Suzuhara, Kensuke Aida, and the class representative, Hikari Horaki, appear.

Toji, who consciously behaves like a man, and Kensuke, who has his own world of his hobby concerning all things military and who also knows how to get on in the world, are very contrasting characters compared to Shinji. The names of these two characters are taken from the main characters in Ryu Murakami’s The Fascism of Love and Illusions, which provides no small amount of inspiration for Director Anno.

Many truths are revealed in this episode, such as Unit-01’s capabilities and weapons, the defense system of New Tokyo-3, and the truth about the Second Impact. Also, pay attention to the morning variety show voice that can be heard off the screen in the morning scene at the beginning. The story of how a giant meteor strike caused the Second Impact that the old instructor is telling during class is not the whole truth. The following information is brought up in Episode Seven. Also, Misato’s dialogue reveals that the Angel that appeared in this episode is the Fourth Angel. This is the second Angel that has appeared during the series. So did the Second Angel appear 15 years ago and the First Angel appear even before that, or what?  The mysteries increase.

As opposed to Unit-01’s first battle being at night, Unit-01’s second battle develops under the blue sky. There are also many memorable images here, such as the cut that has the silhouette view of Unit-01 frozen in place where it had delivered the finishing blow to the Angel, or the special effects movie-like scene compositions, like the cut where the Fourth Angel flies right by a lighthouse and the cut with the birdhouse standing in front of the fallen Unit-01.

In this episode, Ritsuko talks about the “hedgehog’s dilemma,” which is a psychology term that originates from Schopenhauer’s fable, and it expresses the complications and ambivalence that arises as people seek the psychological distance to maintain between each other. This is where the English episode title “Hedgehog’s Dilemma” for Episode Four “Rain, Escape, and Afterwards” comes from. In addition, what Misato says in this same scene allows us to see what her thoughts on communicating are at this time, so that is also very interesting.

 

EPISODE:04 Hedgehog’s Dilemma
Aired October 25, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Akio Satsukawa / Storyboards: Kiichi Jinme / Director: Tsuyoshi Kaga / Chief Animator: Satoshi Shigeta

Episode Four depicts the wanderings of Shinji, who has run away from Misato and NERV. Shinji and Misato hurt each other with their thorns as they try to get closer, and yet even then, they need one another. The relationship between these two is indeed just like the “hedgehog’s dilemma” that Ritsuko had mentioned in Episode Three. There is no battle with an Angel and it largely stays away from addressing any of the mysteries, but when considered from a thematic perspective, this is truly Eva-like drama.

In actuality, this episode was once omitted in terms of the series composition and it was planned that what is now Episode Five would come after Episode Three. But as production progressed, staff members voiced their opinion that perhaps there was a need to depict Shinji’s relationship with the people around him after Episode Three, and thus, this episode was made, greatly changing the contents from what had originally been conceived. Because of this, the script for this episode written after the script for Episode Five had already been finalized. This is the one and only episode of all the TV and movie episodes in which Director Anno did not have a direct hand in the plot and script.

In terms of performance, the highlight has got to be the final cut at the train station where Shinji and Misato gaze at each other. This cut, which has absolutely no dialogue or movement, lasts roughly 50 seconds. It is a silence that would normally be inconceivably long, but it depicts Shinji’s feelings in finding it difficult to express himself in words. Incidentally, the ballad playing during this scene is “Bay side love story –from Tokyo-.” And the song playing before that, when Shinji hits Toji, is “FACE.” Both are songs sung by Masami Okui.

Kiichi Jinme, who did the storyboards, is the pen-name that Junichi Satoh, famous for his work on such shows as Sailor Moon, uses when he works on robot anime. Even after this episode, for Evangelion, he continued to work on episodes that contain very few combat scenes and focus on drama instead. Akio Satsukawa is a scriptwriter who has worked on such projects as the live movie Stroller of Attics. For GAINAX fans, his exquisite film editing work on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is also unforgettable. And in Episodes Three and Four, fans can also enjoy their fill of the dialogue that he worked into the episodes.

 

EPISODE:05  Rei I
Aired November 1, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Akio Satsukawa, Hideaki Anno / Storyboards: Kiichi Jinme / Director: Keiichi Sugiyama / Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuku / Chief Animator: Shunji Suzuki / Assistant Character Designer: Seiji Kio

Just as the English episode titles “Rei I” and “Rei II” suggest, the spotlight is on Rei Ayanami, the pilot of Unit-01, in Episodes Five and Six. Episode Five skillfully depicts Shinji, who becomes interested in Rei and tries to get closer to her and her subtly wavering emotions.

Rei Ayanami is a girl who does not try to display her emotions for the most part. She does not even bat her eye when someone her own age of the opposite sex sees her naked, but with matters concerning Gendo alone, she shows some stirring of emotions. The successful activation experiment of Unit-00 is likely due to the fact that she brought the pair of glasses, which symbolizes the bond between him and her, into the entry plug with her. The failure of Unit-00’s activation experiment 22 days ago was caused by her psychological instability. Ritsuko has some idea of what might have been the reason for that, but she denies it, saying, “No, that can’t be.” Was the reason she thought of something to do with the connection between Unit-00 and Rei or possibly something to do with Gendo?

The housing development that Rei lives in is in the older parts of town of New Tokyo-3. The area is scheduled to be redeveloped and the building on the other side of the road has already been demolished. There is a lot of attention to detail concerning the depiction of her living space. There are numerous advertisements left stuck in her door, and the entrance has countless tracks where she has gone inside without taking her shoes off. According to the premise, on the chest in the room are medical books on such topics as psychology and genetics. Rei apparently reads these intently, and they are marked with tags.

In the first half of Part A, Shinji and Misato visit a simple facility built on top of the Fourth Angel that was defeated in Episode Three. When seen from directly above, it is roughly the same shape as the Angel’s silhouette, and under the four prefab buildings in the center is the body, and there are flagella under the two to the left and three to the right. Next to this prefab facility is the white outline of the position Unit-01 fell in from the flight with the Fourth Angel, just as if it were some sort of car accident. This realistic depiction is very much like Evangelion.

The storyboards were done by Kiichi Jinme, a.k.a. Junichi Satoh, the same as for Episode Four. Rei’s girlishly delighted look when Gendo appears and the comedy during the dinner scene where Misato pours curry into her ramen are distinctively Jinme’s storyboard style. The eccentric way the cuts were split up when Shinji visits Rei’s apartment was also memorable. Shunji Suzuki’s animation work is also clear, and the quality of the visuals is also high. The trio of Satsukawa, Jinme and Suzuki later also worked on Episodes Fifteen and Twenty-One, which both focus on the drama.

 

Episode:06 Rei II
Aired November 8, Heisei 7 (1995)

Script: Akio Satsukawa, Hideaki Anno / Storyboards: Masayuki / Director: Hiroyuki Ishido / Chief Animator: Nobuhiro Hosoi / Assistant Character Designer: Rei Yumeno

This is the climax in the early part of the series, depicting NERV bringing all of its forces to bear in “Operation Yashima” to annihilate the Fifth Angel. Using lots of captions to create a war movie feel or a documentary feel is one of Hideaki Anno’s fortes, which hasn’t been seen since Aim for the Top! The bold idea of gathering all the electrical power of Japan for the operation is also very GAINAX. With regards to the depiction of the mecha, their sheer mass and level of intricate detail are awe inspiring. This is also the first time Unit-00 is participating in an operation, making it full of highlights.

The existence of the AT field, which drastically reduces the effectiveness of normal weaponry, is what makes the Angels seem well nigh invincible, but the Eva have the ability to neutralize those AT fields. In point of fact, in the fights against the Third and Fourth Angels, Unit-01 secured victories against them by carrying out close quarter physical combat. However, the Fifth Angel has a particle beam that makes approaching it impossible, which rules out neutralizing the AT field. Thus, a strategy was laid out to destroy it by sniping it from super-long range, outside of its firing range. This is “Operation Yashima.” Instead of neutralizing the AT Field, the plan is to use a positron cannon with enormous output gathering all the electrical power of Japan to pierce through it.

The name “Operation Yashima” is a reference to when Yoichi Nasuno shoots the fan with his bow from atop his horse on the beach in the “Battle at Yashima” in the first year of Bunji (1185). That’s Chief of Operations Katsuragi for you, quite the intellectual. In addition, “Yashima” written differently is also the old name for Japan. Thus, the name also contains a reference to the operation gathering electrical power from all of Japan.

The SSDF Laboratory where Misato requisitioned the prototype self-propelled positron cannon is actually short for Strategic Self-Defence Force Technology Laboratory. The Strategic Self-Defence Force is an organisation directly under the Ministry of Defense, which was formed in 2003 when the Chinese and Vietnamese had a military confrontation over the Nansa Islands. It is JSSDF for short, and this acronym can also be found on the positron rifle, which was remodelled off the self-propelled positron cannon.

There were many versions of the ending song, “Fly Me To The Moon,” while the show was on air, but for this release, there is a different version being used for every episode. For Episodes Five and Six, they are “Rei #5” Version and “Rei #6” Version for both the on-air and this release. The singer is Megumi Hayashibara, the voice actress of Rei Ayanami.