Bye-bye, Evangelion

Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time closes the book for good on Shinji Ikari’s story, one of anime’s most iconic characters. The fourth and final installment in the theatrical remake of Hideaki Anno’s mecha anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion (a television anime which began in 1995) pays off almost thirty years later in a dazzling theatrical blockbuster. Set soon after the events of Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo in the third so-called Rebuild film, it’s a spectacular and appropriate conclusion to anime’s grandest, most intricate saga.

Starting with the legendary 1990’s television series, a manga, and now seven feature films in total, Neon Genesis Evangelion is incredibly popular in Japan. It’s a mega-franchise there on par with such giants as Star Wars and Studio Ghibli. The Blu-ray set for Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time was Japan’s number one-selling disc for the year, dwarfing even films such as the new Super Mario Bros. Movie. There’s a credible argument to be made it’s the most influential anime ever on the genre as a whole.

Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time feels like a bittersweet goodbye from series creator Hideaki Anno

Having almost triggered the fourth impact, Shinji along with fellow compatriots Asuka, Shikinami, and Rei recover in Village 3, a small settlement of surviving humans. Shinji wallows in complete shellshock, barely functioning, while the others become more comfortable in civilian life waiting for their next chance. Hope and tragedy lay in their futures.

Misato and her anti-NERV group Wille arrive at Paris in the hope of saving the city, relying on Mari’s improved EVA Unit 8. Everything leads up to a desperate final attack by our heroes on NERV’s headquarters in humanity’s last bid stopping Gendo Ikari’s plans for the Human Instrumentality Project. It’s EVAs versus Angels one last time as Anno gives us his third different “finale” to Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The bizarre mythology and dense lore all remain, though the film can be enjoyed on a superficial surface level with its superb mecha warfare looking flashier than ever before. A hyper-cut, somewhat haphazard recap of the first three Rebuild movies running over four minutes precedes Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time. But you’ll be dazed and lost if you haven’t seen Evangelion before. It would be like seeing Return of the Jedi before watching Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back.

The original movie ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion has been pondered for years, overlaid with a confusing and often dense religious symbolism courtesy of Anno which practically demands hours of outside study. Everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to alien visitors play a part, leading to countless debates and arguments in the fandom. Far beyond the scope of this review, I’m not sure Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time clarifies those weighty themes. This time they are pushed to the side in a simplified, almost streamlined manner by Anno.

Fans waited long and hard for this final chapter in Shinji Ikari’s tale as the third Rebuild film was released in 2012. Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time took nearly a decade to come out, delayed thanks to the COVID pandemic. It’s an epic, satisfying end which wouldn’t make a lick of sense to anyone who hasn’t seen the entire Rebuild film series and immersed themselves in the franchise’s extensive backstory.

Years in the making, they spared no dime making this final movie in a slightly new twist on anime’s most famous finish. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Anno layers his brutal action with gripping character development from old favorites and just enough fan service.

While one can argue the original End of Evangelion film was an anime masterpiece that stands alone, there’s no doubting Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time is in another league in terms of modern animation and music. Blending state-of-the-art CGI (if we’re only talking Japanese productions) and traditional animation, the level of polish and craftsmanship from its gigantic budget and years of tinkering produce stunning action with giant Mecha robots. There’s also a fantastic soundtrack with perfectly chosen songs, maybe the best ever done in anime history.

Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time feels like a bittersweet goodbye from series creator Hideaki Anno with a bit of nostalgia looking backwards at his beloved franchise. Equal parts happy and sad. That’s okay, as Anno has gained that right after all these years. The Rebuild films may never fully capture the heart of anime fans like the original series but they will assuredly remain a prominent fixture for younger fans and new generations forever.

Video

The final chapter of Evangelion is a visual powerhouse, an animation tour de force by Anno’s Studio Khara helmed by veterans from prior Rebuild films. Years have gone into polishing the film, far beyond the scope and means of your standard anime production.

The 2021 blockbuster sees its final, definitive iteration in a gorgeous 4K UHD presentation put out by GKIDS with slightly tweaked and improved animation since its theatrical showing. Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time differs compared to the movie’s initial IMAX premiere (3.0+1.0) and its two-year exclusive run on Amazon Prime Streaming (3.0+1.01). Handled by Sony’s PCL staff, the anime film uses RS+ software for upscaling its 4K video with amazing results.

The pristine animation’s blend of advanced CGI and traditional animation takes a huge leap in terms of color saturation and line rendering, maybe the most ambitious anime project ever conceived. Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time’s video quality makes earlier entries in the franchise look antiquated by comparison, achieving a new standard in the genre and on home video.

Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time runs a complete 155 minutes, encoded in flawless HEVC on a triple-layer UHD by Sony PCL. The 2.39:1 presentation is packed with eye candy. Character designs and linework form a cohesive, nicely handled package of familiar figures brought forward into a new age. Intricate backgrounds laced with small details draw the eye as realistic colors explode in brilliant clarity. The CGI mecha battles are fast and furious, fluidly rendered in utterly smooth frame-rates.

It will be interesting to see if they ever release the three earlier Rebuild films on UHD matching this disc. While those Evangelion movies had solid animation for their late 2000s era, there’s no chance they’ll ever approach this quality.

Audio

Original Japanese audio and a superb English dub are heard in swirling, immersive 5.1 DTS-HD MA options. After four films the voice casts are like old friends at this point as they close out this last chapter of Evangelion. The rousing, often moving score composed by Shirō Sagisu is an indelible part of the film. A handful of brilliant song selections amplify the story’s heartfelt impact. Maybe the greatest musical soundtrack I’ve ever experienced in anime, it’s a shame GKIDS didn’t include a CD soundtrack for this deluxe collector’s edition.

The discrete surround mix absolutely delivers during the biggest action moments. There’s depth and presence built into the soundstage with suitable LFE. Dynamics are impressive, cleanly capturing each subtle thrust and panning cue as Eva units roar to life. Channel separation plays a key role in the most heated action, moving forwards and backwards in space. Intelligently planned, it’s dream audio with everything working together.

Optional English, English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles play in a white font. They remain inside the scope video at all times. The English subtitles are a nigh perfect translation of the Japanese dialogue.

Extras

GKIDS releases the 4K UHD Collector’s Edition of EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME in a gorgeous and well-designed three-disc set. It includes a 4K UHD disc featuring the film, a Blu-ray of the feature film, and a disc of brand-new bonus features encased in an all-white rigid box case. Physical goodies inside offer a fantastic 28-page book packed with production notes, five art cards, and a fold-out poster.

No bonus features are included directly on the UHD, they’ve all been dumped on the second Blu-ray in the set. Both BDs are for Region A, while the UHD of course is region-free.

Special 1:
Teasers (02:53 in HD)
Trailers (06:04 in HD)
Additional Trailers (02:56 in HD)
TV Spots (01:59 in HD)
:3.333 – Trailer Updated (00:37 in HD)
Promotion Reel for SNS (02:27 in HD)

Special 2:
Character Promotional Reel Featurette (02:06 in HD)
Current Evangelion Featurette (01:34 in HD)
“Message for Kinro” Featurette (01:32 in HD)
“Message for ANN” Featurette (29:41 in HD) – The long-time Japanese voice cast ponders the end of Evangelion in these sentimental audio clips

Special 3:
Stage Greetings (17:30 in HD)
:1.11, :2.22, :3.33 – Trailers for 4D (00:31 in HD)
“Rebuild of Evangelion: 3.0+1.11” featurette (16:02 in HD)
“Evangelion: 3.0 (-46H) 5.1ch” short (10:42 in HD with Dolby Digital audio)
“Evangelion: 3.0 (-46H) 2.0ch” short (10:42 in HD)
“Evangelion: 3.0 (-120min) 5.1ch” short (06:59 in HD with Dolby Digital audio)
“Evangelion: 3.0 (-120min) 2.0ch” short (06:59 in HD)
:3.0+1.11 – TV Spot (00:17 in HD)
:3.0+1.11 – Promotional Reel (02:47 in HD)

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Creator Hideaki Anno says goodbye to the nearly 30-year-old saga of Shinji Ikari and the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise in one of the most anticipated and lavish anime films ever released

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User Review
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 56 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:


One thought on "Evangelion: 3.0+1.11 Thrice Upon a Time 4K UHD Review"

  1. Some of the first pressings had incorrect art cards which Shout Factory will replace for free:

    https://shoutfactory.com/pages/evangelion-replacement-program

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