EVANGELION 2.0 Korean Release
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie.
EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE (Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Ha, 2009), the latest chapter of the “Rebuild of Evangelion” tetralogy, will be theatrically released in Korea starting December 3.
The “Rebuild of Evangelion” is a series of new projects for the Evangelion franchise, conceived by creator Hideaki Anno himself. He established a separate company called Khara Co., Ltd. to focus on the projects, but have kept working with much of the staff from Gainax, the company which launched the original TV animated series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION (Shin Seiki Evangelion, 1995). The core of the “Rebuild of Evangelion” project is four newly-produced animated features: EVANGELION 1.0: YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE (Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Jo, 2007), EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE, EVANGELION 3.0: Q (Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Q) and the currently untitled fourth feature.
EVANGELION 1.0, which was first released in Japan on September 1, 2007, was basically a retelling of episodes 1 to 6 of the original TV series. However, the producers did not use a single cel of the original animation. Instead, they created new footage based on the original cels, many of which were combined with computer-generated images. There were many subtle or drastic changes from the original plot, so the finished product ended up with something that went well with the word ‘new’. It caused considerable expectation and debate in the fandom and consequently, more than a decade after the original TV series’ debut, EVANGELION 1.0 became another successful entry in the franchise. In its first week of release, EVANGELION 1.0 landed on the 1st place of the Japanese box office chart, scoring 280 million yen (about 3.5 million USD) from 85 screens, which was a surprising result considering it was hardly a wide release. It stayed for 8 consecutive weeks in the top ten and its final box office score was 2 billion yen (about 23 million USD). Also, EVANGELION 1.0 was mostly well-received critically.
In Korea, EVANGELION 1.0 was first screened on October 12, 2007, as the closing film of the 12th Busan International Film Festival. It also marked the international premiere of the film. Tickets to the Busan screening sold out in only 26 minutes as fans who were eager to see the film crowded onto the festival website. Until then, no EVANGELION feature films were released theatrically in Korea, so for fans it was a very precious opportunity.
Fortunately for Eva fans in Korea, EVANGELION 1.0 was generally released on January 24, 2008, retitlted EVANGELION: SUH (‘suh’ is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese letter ‘序’, which, in Japan, is pronounced ‘jo’). The film was exclusively released to 16 theaters of CGV, a multiplex chain owned by CJ Group and one of three major theater chains in Korea. The final number of admissions was 73,516, which was hardly a big hit. However, considering the facts that it was a limited release and box office results of Japanese animated features had been quite low for years in Korea, it was accepted as a surprising result. The DVD was released on May 30, 2008.
EVANGELION 2.0, the second entry of the “Rebuild of Evangelion” series, is a recreation of episodes 8 to 19 of the original TV series. One of the many changes made for this feature was the addition of new characters and machines, notably a female pilot called Makinami Mari Illustrious (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto) and her new Eva Provisional Unit 05.
As the previous feature was commercially successful, EVANGELION 2.0 was given a wider release with a screen count of 120. It was released on June 27, 2009 in Japan after several postponements from the originally announced release date of January 2008. Its box office score the first weekend was 500 million yen (about 5.8 million USD), nearly double that of EVANGELION 1.0. It stayed for 2 consecutive weeks at no. 1 and for 6 weeks in the top 10. By the end of summer, EVANGELION 2.0 had earned 3.8 billion yen (about 44 million USD).
In contrast to EVANGELION 1.0, EVANGELION 2.0 was not given a festival presentation in Korea. Rather, it was suddenly announced in mid-October that 2.0 would be theatrically released in December, retitled EVANGELION: PA. Prior to the official announcement, there had been constant rumors about 2.0 being released in Korea late this year, as well as talk about why it did not receive more prominent presentation like 1.0. One rumor widely circulated in fandom was that the Korean importer was hesitant about bringing 2.0 to Korea because of the lower than expected box office results of 1.0. The licensing fees were reportedly quite expensive for 1.0, so the distributor did not receive much of profit from it.
Instead of a festival run, Korean importer EIN’s M&M showed EVANGELION 2.0 to eagerly awaiting fans with two special advance screenings between November 24 and 25. Tickets for each show cost 16,000 Korean won (13.78 USD) which was double the usual cost of 8,000 won (6.89 USD). Fans who bought a ticket received a limited edition ‘premium package’ consisting of a poster, a set of stills, booklet, a NERV-themed envelope for the ticket, a pair of bookmarks and a mug. One show that took place at Megabox Cineplex COEX on November 24 sold out in 19 minutes after the booking started, proving ardent fan interest in Korea. During the last weekend of November, some cinemas showed a special double feature presentation of both EVANGELION 1.0 and 2.0.
The initial theater number of EVANGELION 2.0 has been increased from 16 to 27 and this time, theaters other than CGV chain will also show the feature. Though still a limited release, it is expected that EVANGELION 2.0 may appeal to a broader audience.
EVANGELION 2.0 (CAPSULE) REVIEW
The original subtitle of EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE is ‘HA’, which is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese letter ‘破’ (in Korea, it reads ‘pa’). It stands for one of the three basic elements of composition of ‘gagaku’, a form of traditional Asian music. The first element is ‘jo’ (序, ‘suh’ in Korean), meaning ‘beginning’, which became the subtitle for the first feature. The second is ‘ha’, meaning ‘break’ or ‘smash’ and the third is ‘kyu’ (急, ‘geup’ in Korean), meaning ‘rapid’ or ‘urgent’, which will be the subtitle of the upcoming EVANGELION 3.0: Q. The word ‘破’ sometimes combined with another word ‘壞’ (reads ‘kai’ in Japanese and ‘goe’ in Korean) and forms a new word ‘破壞’, meaning ‘destruction’.
In EVANGELION 2.0, the Evangelion saga is literally, utterly, destroyed. The original plot has been completely reconstructed and some of the characters, whom we have known for 14 years, behave differently. And the entire footage of the feature has been newly drawn, meaning EVANGELION 2.0 is, in fact, a whole new work of imagination. The producers chose to destroy the existing work to create something we have never seen— or even expected— before.
That, in my opinion, will make the audience move. The difference is so drastic that anyone who sees EVANGELION 2.0 will experience both surprise and confusion. I cannot reveal any single, tiny element of the plot, direction, character description… anything, because sometimes even the slightest one could be a major spoiler. It’s that different and exceptional. Some will love the new approach and some won’t embrace it. But we all know that the most interesting point of Eva is, and always has been, that it does not force singular interpretation. See for yourself. Love it or hate it. But I can tell you one absolute: This visually striking animated feature will BLOW YOU AWAY.
For more information on “Rebuild of Evangelion” please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- Japanese Movies at American Film Market 2008
- Japan Film Festival- Los Angeles: April 10-26
- English Dub of EVANGELION: 1.0 YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE to Premiere at Anime Expo
- EVANGELION: 1.0 YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE Press Notes