Spoiler-Free Review: Evangelion 3.0 You Can (not) Redo

Of the entire Harry Potter series, in terms of both movies and books, I absolutely hated Order of the Phoenix. It was one of those stories that could summed up in a sentence or two in its entirety without losing any bit of detail to the story (The Ministry of Magic doesn’t believe Voldemort’s back until Harry and co. fight him on the Ministry’s turf where Sirius dies). Sure, technically stuff happens (I think all but the most avant-garde of works hold this common thread), but when it comes to the grander scheme, it was pretty obvious that it was only used as a stepping stone to get the meat of the series’ latter half.

A similar thing can be said about Evangelion 3.0: You Can (not) Redo, but for some reason I thought it was a solid enough addition to the franchise that I didn’t mind it.

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DVD Purchasing 101: FLCL

It’s no secret that next to manga, the second thing you’re likely to find on my shelves is DVDs.

While some may find it hard to wrap their minds around, DVDs have come a long way in the time they’ve been dominating the markets, and in some cases are even considered something more along the lines of a collectible rather than something merely for home video release purposes.

That said, the actual process of DVD-purchasing has become that much more difficult. With releases and re-releases for certain series only inevitable, consumers must become well aware of the current changes during the release process, from release date, to box art, to everything else between, before, and after. But that’s what makes it fun.

Let’s take for instance the release of FLCL. For those not in the know, FLCL (or Fooly Cooly if you want to be fancy) is a 6 episode original video animation essentially telling a coming-of-age story in the most indirect and confusing way possible. Because of such, the series received quite the amount of talk back when it originally aired and has become something of a cult hit in the mere 11 years it’s been in existence.

Initially released to DVD in the states in 2003 with a complete series set released in 2007, the releases soon became out of print—understandably so, considering how the anime industry is especially suffering thanks to the internet granting access to torrents and the like for free. This is where things get interesting for DVD enthusiasts.

For a series as popular as FLCL, it was only a matter of time for another company to pick up the license for the series with a re-release soon following. And with the price of the out-of-print copies being sold with three-digit price tags, you can guarantee that I wasn’t the only one playing the waiting game.

With North American anime distributors dropping like flies, I think everyone was anticipating Funimation, one of the few surviving companies English-speaking countries could refer to for their anime needs was basically expected to pick up FLCL sooner or later. The especially eager fans would park it in front of their computers, continually refreshing their amazon.com searches for the show, hoping a new listing would pop up eventually. And as expected, January 6, 2010, Funimation announced that they’ve “acquired home entertainment and digital rights to the six OVA sci-fi comedy anime series “FLCL” from Production I.G.” Now all that was left was a release date.

For a while, the announcement was the only clue that a new release of the series would be coming. Well… that and a splash page with a stock image from the series and some text declaring a release in 2010. Something of a rule of thumb when it comes to home video releases, though: release dates are never set in stone. As days turned to weeks and eventually months, December 2010 came and there were no listings on any online retail sites for the new release at all. The optimistic like to think release date delays are to ensure that the release itself is the best it can be—crammed to the brim with special features and the like; the pessimists like to think it’s nothing more than a marketing strategy, building up more hype and anticipation for when the series eventually does get a release. Either way, the waiting game continues.

Oddly enough, with only a handful of solid information actually provided for the release, I always find it interesting how fans get so hyped over the series’ release regardless. As such, I can only imagine just how extra-hyped people get when the inevitable happens and the surge of release information arrives. Funimation is no stranger to this and as of the seventh of this month, a trailer for FLCL was uploaded to their YouTube channel, making way for that much more discussion building up to its release next month, picking at practically every aspect of the trailer if only to kill time before actually picking up the release once it’s out.

One thing I’ve always found annoying when it came to re-release trailers is the sort of backwards hype given to the series. While it was true that Evangelion added to FLCL’s original hype back in the day, I always find it strange when companies tack on their more recent projects when “reverse-hyping” their old projects. The same thing happened when Toy Story 1 and 2 were coming back to theaters, with Pixar hyping it up by bringing up their later titles like Monster’s Inc. and Finding Nemo. As good as those titles were, I always feel like I’m being lied to when newer things are being used to hype older things. Something tells me there’s room for a Justin Bieber / Kurt Cobain stab in here, but I’d rather not.

Next up when putting the “anal” in “overanalyzing trailers” is the audience clearly being pandered to. While some trailers are able to directly take from the series it’s hyping, without taking any kind of new direction to it (I guess you can consider the series itself already pandering to a certain audience, but I won’t go into that) there are other instances where I can’t help but think I’m being pandered to in the most negative way possible. Taking out any of the footage from the series itself, the trailer is made up of bold text put to neon colors literally flashing in and out of the screen. And while neon colors may have meant something else ten years ago, I can’t help but think Funimation is hyping the series as something for, ugh… hipsters. Sure, the level of pandering isn’t as bad as say the online trailers for Toy Story 3 with their auto-tuned version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but that doesn’t mean I’ve gagged slightly less after the trailer’s finished.

But what most people will get out of these kinds of trailers is without a doubt the release’s cover art. Sure, you may already be sold on the product itself, but wouldn’t you actually like to see what you’re gonna be putting on your shelf? Here’s where a couple kinks in the whole “home release process” come into place, though. Even with something as solid as a release trailer, things like cover art are far from finalized. Heck, not even a full week since the trailer’s been released, signs of new box art have already popped up on amazon.com’s listings, which bring me to my next point.

With online retailer listings also come your basic release specs. Although your basic info on special features, run time and the like are also not necessarily set in stone, that doesn’t stop fans from picking at every bit of new information they can find. Is the aspect ratio maintained from before? Is it actually worth getting a Blu-Ray release for a series never animated for such? Does the run time include special features along with the episodes? Such are the basic questions that must be asked for a proper purchase to be made.

One tidbit of info that nearly all consumers out there who don’t wipe their fanny with $100 bills will consider is the price for the release itself. As a general rule of thumb, the maximum I’d expect a release to be will come out to about $2 per episode in the release, and even then that’s pretty pricey. But when it comes to something like an OVA, FLCL in this case only totaling at 6 episodes total, would it really be worth hocking over more than $12 for a re-release? Some factors besides individual episode cost I consider are: box art, special features, and (most importantly!) personal enjoyment of the series… also known as its replay value. Personally, for something as enjoyable and out-there as FLCL, I’m willing to pay something around the lines of $20. And, of course, amazon.com being the demi-god it is has slashed the price of the DVD from its $40 retail to the predicted $20. Sweetness.

But wait, there’s more! Before I’m actually willing to put down the pre-order price for this thing, the most important thing I’ve got to do now is compare it to its previous release. The chances of me actually getting my mitts on the original 2007 American release are less than likely, but regardless, comparisons must be made. So far, specs indicate the new release will only contain one disc for all 6 episodes (reasonable), while the old release had four discs, two episodes for the first three discs, and a handful of bonus features on the final one (a bit excessive, especially considering the special features are nothing but music from the show and a bit of dub-bloopers as far as google research has told me). Second up would have to be comparing the packaging: it should be safe to assume that like most of Funimation’s recent releases, FLCL will be in a standard DVD package, with a slipcover for the case at the most. Meanwhile, the 2007 release went over the top, with the discs in a digipack (+10 presentability, -10 shelf space) which may or may not be a pro depending on your sense of packaging taste.

So that’s pretty much it. After the pros and cons have been done, a purchase is made, I thoroughly watch every bit of whatever I just got before putting it on the shelf and the process repeats itself. This probably explains why I’m severely lacking in textbook money right now.

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