Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death/Rebirth

Either you are a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion or you aren't. The rabid fans still, ten years after the show left the airwaves, collect posters and soundtracks and rumors about how the show might possibly be continued. Those of us who aren't fans who've seen the show might have been entertained, but we're strangely curious about why Eva has gotten so much attention. Sure, it's good, but it's not even close to the best anime ever made...groundbreaking, perhaps, but also unconscionably dull in many places and far too obtuse for its own good. Where you fall on this spectrum may determine whether or not you must own Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death/Rebirth. When it was first released, it had a purpose, but now, it's almost nothing more than a curiosity.

Because of the material involved, this is one of the only shows where I really don't need to give a full synopsis. Death is, simply, a quick retelling of the events of the series up to episode 24. It is framed by the children of Evangelion preparing for a recital, which is new footage, as well as a number of sequences that make more plain what was happening in the series and reveal a couple of minor mysteries. The second half, Rebirth, is nothing more than the first 20 minutes or so of the movie The End of Evangelion -- no variations, no temporary footage, just the same material you can find on the disc of that film.

What makes this disc superfluous is that all the extra footage (save for the recital prep) appears in the extended, restored editions of Evangelion now available on the market. For me, it was useful in a certain sense, since I had seen the original edition that ADV Films released some time ago that does not include the extra footage. The additional scenes do clarify some things, but they certainly are not essential, and for anyone buying the newer discs, you've already seen them. Since it's also more interested in discussing the plot of the show than focusing upon the action sequences, it also isn't something I'd recommend for those wanting to relive the best moments of Evangelion. Meanwhile, Rebirth stands as a useless extra. It made sense when it was originally released in Japan while The End of Evangelion was still being finished, but now it's pointless.

Is there any point in owning this disc at all? If you don't want to spend the money on the new editions of Evangelion, then sure, why not? You get almost all the extra footage here. But even then, the mysteries revealed are slight at best. And Rebirth ends at a critical moment that makes it nothing more than a teaser. If you are a die-hard Evangelion otaku, even then I'd recommend it only as a rental until you're aware of what little you get for a premium price. But for the rest of us, especially those who have the latest editions of the TV series, it's not worth it.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death/Rebirth -- violence, brief nudity, sexual situations, profanity -- C-