Hideaki Anno’s long-running anime series Evangelion ends with EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME in only the way that Anno could have ended it. GKIDS has produced an amazing 4K UHD Collector’s Edition.
Evangelion embedded itself into the fabric of pop culture with many of the biggest speculative fiction entries into pop culture of recent memory have taken form Hideaki Anno’s amazing series. Taken from my original review of the Complete Series Box Set released by Shout Factory / GKIDS in November of 2021:
The influence of Neon Genesis Evangelion has on popular culture cannot be understated. Not just in Japan where it literally saved a floundering Anime industry but worldwide. Its reach is as diverse as The Wachowskis, Rick and Morty, Guillermo Del Toro, Gravity Falls, and even as recently as the Disney+ Animated Series What If … ? (the episode “What If Tony Stark Never Became Ironman”, you’ll see…), Kong vs Godzilla (the iconic Battleship fight was lifted almost frame for frame from Episode 8).
Anno’s series defies the conventions of science fiction as it melds theology, existential crisis, Japan’s own history with war and post-war occupation, and so much more in a package that feels both antithetical to everything we know about anime and also very much in line with the anime’s clichés and troupes. Which brings us to the end of Evangelion. Which has been years in the making. So much so, EVANGELION:3.0 has had multiple iterations and updates to its final form in the very appropriately titled EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME.
Warding off the destruction of humanity and earth not once, nor twice, not even three times but now a fourth attempt at ending the world. But is it? What is interesting about EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME is how much time Anno’s film devotes to the characters. Running at 155 minutes the film is as epic and deeply rooted in Evangelion lore as a fan of the series would want it to be. Though one could watch this on its own as a standalone piece, it only works slightly as that. It would be as though someone watched the last two episodes of Game of Thrones or the last four episodes of Break Bad. Yes, you’ll enjoy the cinematicality of it all, but you will lose the hard-earned story payoffs by doing so.
Part of the joys of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME is how much time is spent with the characters we’ve come to know and love in the series. Unlike the other films within the Rebuild of Evangelion series, this feels like both a definitive end and also strangely a new beginning for the series. One will have to watch the film to understand but needless to say that yes, Shinji Ikari, the troubled cursed young EVA pilot gets some sort of peace after a long war that has seen him lose so many. Yes, both Asuka and Rei (this iteration of Rei) are given their just due in the film as well. Asuka, a fan favorite because of her crass nature, is also given a fitting end to her story. Rei feels like the one that is more of an afterthought though much of her story has been told throughout the series and here, as a fan would know, where do you go with her? Credit Anno for finding some emotional heft and punch for something that we’ve seen played out before but just differently here.
Anno spending his time rebooting Godzilla, Ultraman and Kamen Rider has taken everything that his time in Live Action filmmaking and applied it here. EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME delivers on the promise of not just an ending for the series but the complex and beautifully constructed action set pieces that are one of the high-water marks of the series (which seems redundant to say as everything in the series is a high watermark for Anime of this ilk in general). From the Opening Saving of Paris, scene to the final 30-minute Attack of Eva 1 vs Eva 13 – the geography, shot composition, emotional weight, editing, and musical accompaniment are the very best of what Anno and Animation House Studio Khara have ever done. The Animation is refined in a way that will even impress those who come to expect the very best from the writer/director and the Evangelion series as a whole.
EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME is a fitting ending to a long-running series. One that leaves the tiniest of cracks open for the possibility of a new life. Maybe in Live Action with how the film ends. Not to give one hope but the possibility of a SHIN EVANGELION live-action film, after seeing Anno’s work in live-action, is almost too good to not think is a possibility. For now, though, we will leave it as is, a wonderful, thrilling, piece of muscular filmmaking. One that any fan of Anime or the series will not soon forget.
The 4K UHD edition of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME is one of the very best 4K for animation that this reviewer has seen. Having reviewed on multiple monitors (LG 27UL850-W and a Sony XBRZ9D85) and a projector (EPSON Ultra LS500) to test how the transfer handled each and remarkably the image’s quality remained consistently sharp, colorful, and dynamic in each case. The HDR on the disc does make the image a tad darker, which is the case often with HDR component, but the benefit is the contrast levels are simply luminous in a way that makes this digitally produced animated feature feel like it is being projected on the cleanest newest, fresh out of the lab 35mm print or dare I say IMAX (which the film was designed to be viewed in). Shout Factory/GKIDS’ work on image for animation is always next-level good but here it’s revelatory in just how clean, refined, and exceptional the transfer is.
They include the following;
Note: All special features reside on Disc Three
- Rebuild Of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11
- [Current EVANGELION]
- Message For Kinro
- Message For ANN
- Stage Greetings
- Promotional Reels
- TV Spots
These special features in true Evangelion fashion are set up uniquely. The third disc (Blu-Ray) is divided into three Sections and Subsections. Any Evangelion fan with smile at the naming conventions we’ve come to know and love so well. Note all trailers and promotional materials are in Japanese with English subtitles.
Note: This is a breakdown of the Trailers and TV Spots used to promote the various versions of EVANGELION:3.0. Each of the selectable sections allows you to skip trailers with your Next and Back Chapter Stop Button on your remote.
Teaser 1 // Teaser 2 // Teaser 2.5 // Tear 2’ // Teaser 3
Trailer // Trailer Updated // Trailer Updated 2 // Trailer Updated 3
Additional Trailer (2:56)
Additional Trailer A // Additional Trailer B
TV SPOT (1:59)
15sec A // 15sec A Updated // 15sec A Updated – Kinro :2.22 // 15sec A Updated – Kinro :3.33 // 15sec A Updated 2 // 15sec A Now Showing // 15sec B
:3.333 – Trailer Updated (0:37)
:3.333 – Trailer Updated // :3.333 – Trailer Updated 2 // :3.333 – Trailer Updated 3
Promotion Reel for SNS (2:27)
Character Promotional Reel (2:06) – a quick reel showcasing the characters new and old appearing in EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME made to promote the IMAX / 4D release of the film. In Japanese with English Subtitles.
[Current EVANGELION] (1:34)
Message for Kinro (1:32) – quick messages to the fans of the series from voice actors Megumi Ogata (Shinji Ikari), Megumi Hayashibara, and Kotono Mistuishi (Misato Katsuragi). In Japanese with English Subtitles.
Message for ANN (29:41) – what appears to be a podcast/audio interviews with Voice Actors Maaya Sakamoto, Kotono Mitsuishi, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Fumihiko Tachiki, Motomu Kiyokawa, Tomokazu Seki, Tetsuya Iwanaga, Junko Iwao, Miyuki Sawashiro, and Koichi Yamadera each are given around 3 – 5 minutes to share their thoughts and excitement and emotions of the ending of the long-running series with this the final chapter. The interviews run on a black screen with white text. In Japanese with English Subtitles.
Stage Greetings (17:30) – a press conference for the film in its EVANGELION:3.0+10 THRICE UPON A TIME iteration featuring comments by “executive” director Anno, director Kazuya Tsurumaki, director Mahiro Maeda, and voice actor Megumi Ogata (Shinji Ikari) who is moderating the conference. The group discusses the success of the film and various other talking points like difficulties of the production, the technological challenges, the way they approached the film with Anno’s added experience with live action that he hadn’t with the last Evangelion film, and how they created the animation, and much more. In Japanese with English Subtitles.
:1.11, :2.22, :3.33 – Trailer for 4D (0:31)
Rebuild of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 (16:02) – this featurette looks at the various stages of the animation process. Set to the score of the film and without much context the featurette shows some of the most visually stunning set pieces in the various stages of the animation process. Using animatics, behind-the-scenes photos and video, rough animation, pencil tests, CG comps, pre-viz, and much more to create a look at the painstaking animation process from beginning to end. Even without commentary this featurette does a great job with its split screen, screen wipes, and crossfades at showing us the work from inception to completion. What will surprise many is just how much hand-drawn animation is present in the work for a film as stunningly robust in its almost psychedelic imagery.
EVANGELION:3.0(-46H) 5.1ch (10:42) – this short focuses on the story of the Kitakami, an Eva pilot, how Asuka saved her, her life post-third wave, and why she wanted to kill Shinji. Some of this material was integrated into the feature film but much of it was not. Japanese with English Subtitles.
EVANGELION:3.0(-46H) 2.0ch (10:42) – the very same short as above, the only difference is the fact this isn’t in 5.1 surround.
EVANGELION:3.0(-120min) 5.1ch (6:59) – this short told in magna drawing is about the undefined, in the film at least, relationship between Mari and Asuka as Mari tries to convince her to go on the mission with her. Japanese with English Subtitles.
EVANGELION:3.0(-120min) 2.0ch (6:59) – the very same short as above, the only difference is the fact this isn’t in 5.1 surround.
:3.0+1.11 – TV SPOT (0:17)
:3.0+1.11 – Promotional Reel (2:47) – more of a wordless tone poem that gives one an idea of the style, Evangelion fans will appreciate.
The Final Thought
GKIDS have outdone themselves with this excellent 4K UHD edition of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME the edition like the movie+ is a befitting end to a wonderfully elliptical series. Highest Possible Recommendations!