#1 Faithful artstyle
10 years is a long time. Especially in the context of an artistic medium that is constantly developing new trends. That’s why I am generally anxious when it comes to remakes. All too often have I seen anime be “updated” by simply changing the artstyle to whatever is currently popular. A fate that the Rebuild of Evangelion movies fortunately avoid.
While they certainly feel more modern than the TV anime of the mid-90s, the look of the Rebuild movies is undeniable faithful. They employ more CGI and other modern tricks, but design-wise it feels very much like the original series. Characters, environments, the monsters, and of course the EVA units themselves all capture their original appeals.
It truly succeeds at marrying the old with the new. Retro anime in a modern coat.
#2 Diverging storyline
While initially seeming like a remake of the original, the story of Rebuild of Evangelion soon begins to divert. Little events play out differently than in the anime and brand new characters are introduced. By the end of the second movie, the plot has completely derailed. It has gone off into an all-new direction entirely, which is… fascinating.
Having recently rewatched Neon Genesis Evangelion for my review, I wasn’t exactly desperate to have the same story retold to me again. Rather than being a strange remake, Rebuild ends up feeling more like an expansion on the original series. It takes the same core ideas and initial setup, but uses it to explore new ideas entirely.
#3 Everything is even more fucked
Something I really enjoyed in Neon Genesis Evangelion was how astronomically high the stakes were. Humanity was teetering on the edge of complete annihilation. In Rebuild of Evangelion, everything is somehow even more terrible.
Over the course of the story, the situation deteriorates far beyond any worst case scenario you could imagine. Humanity, the planet, everything is screwed over even more than before. What few survivors remain barely even pretend that they might still have a shot at saving themselves. Main characters die off, desperate plans end up falling short, and selfish betrayals threaten to bring about the end of everything.
It’s not just the climate or humanity that are having a hard time. By movies 3 and 4, reality itself is falling apart. Gravity and time are suspended randomly around the world. Walls of indistinct geometry just exist all over the place. Everything is so red. The 4th movie especially is a mindfuck of surrealism. Humanity is making a desperate final stand, even as the fundamental laws of the world are falling apart around them. It’s awesome to watch unfold.
#4 Enhanced character development
I have to be careful in my descriptions here. The characters and plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion had always been amazing, but also felt incomplete in many ways. Or rather, like there was untapped potential in their backstories and development. I still prefer the original series with End of Evangelion, but Rebuild adds to the characters in ways that I ended up appreciating a lot.
It already helps that most will go into Rebuild of Evangelion with a pre-existing understanding of the characters. The movies do reiterate somewhat on who these people are, but soon moves on to developing them further. This is most notable, again, in movies 3 and 4. Since these have entirely diverted from the anime’s original storyline and also underwent a timeskip, during which familiar characters changed a lot.
As a result, I felt like I got a much broader understanding of characters like Asuka, Misato, and Gendo. Characters that I was always invested in, whose original stories felt like they left off too early. With the addition of Rebuild of Evangelion, their arcs feel much more well-rounded. Particularly for Gendo, who in the movies gets far more room to act out his plans. Compare and contrast that to the original series, where Gendo is this threatening enigma for 24 episodes that then just kinda vanishes from the plot without achieving much.
Special mention also has to go to my boy Kaworu. It has always baffled me how major of an influence Kaworu had on the plot of Evangelion, even though he’s only there for 1 episode. His presence is so minimal, yet so impactful. The movie expands on this even more and, in doing so, better explores the relationship between him and Shinji.
#5 Less awkwardness
Neon Genesis Evangelion was only an apocalyptic mecha action series with roots in mythology and psychology some of the time. At other times, it was an awkward romcom where everyone seemingly had sexual tension with everyone else.
Kaji and Gendo were casually inseminating the entire female staff of NERV, while Shinji juggled with teenage hormones as he grew closer to his female co-pilots. People are to this day bickering about whether Misato’s flirtatious behavior towards Shinji makes her a pedophile. It illustrates how the series’ weirder moments have come to haunt its legacy.
Eliminating this aspect of the show entirely would be overkill, but Rebuild of Evangelion does tone it down a lot. The sex life of the characters is a lot less prevalent, especially after the first movie. The few fanservice moments and sexually-tinted happenings that remain feel much more natural, making their inclusion far less distracting.
More like this…
Dark Souls: Reality falls apart as the world nears its end.
Diebuster: Apocalyptic sci-fi action series.
Madoka Magica: Surreal philosophical anime with high-stakes action.