While it is not completely necessary, watching Neon Genesis Evangelion and its theatrical sequel The End of Evangelion before jumping into the Rebuild can be handy for extra context and references. Both of those are available to watch worldwide over on Netflix.
Fourteen years after the worldwide cataclysm called the Third Impact,[N 1] Asuka Langley Shikinami and Mari Illustrious Makinami, pilots of the Evangelion mecha, retrieve a container from Earth's orbit carrying Evangelion Unit 01 and its pilot Shinji Ikari. When Asuka grabs the container with her Evangelion unit, it releases attack drones. Unit 01 awakens and destroys the drones, then deactivates and descends back to Earth. Kaworu Nagisa watches and says he has been waiting for Shinji.
Conversely, Charles Solomon of IndieWire praised the film for being "as shocking and energizing as the slap a Zen master would administer to a student" and lauded the visuals from climactic Fourth Impact sequence as "extraordinary", while still acknowledging how it is "not easy to watch" and will confuse newcomers who have never watched the previous two films and the TV series.
While there is no one right dubbing version to watching the film, many fans have already started their preferences. Most, however, have just decided to play it safe and stick to the original Japanese with English subtitles.
When the "Rebuild of Evangelion" films were first being released, there were rumors about their intended release schedule. At one point, they were meant to release each of the four movies every 1-2 years. At another point, the last two movies were meant to be released within a year of each other. Whatever the case, the films probably faced delays at an exponential rate: two years' wait for "2.0," three years for "3.0," and... well, it's been seven years since "3.0" came out, and the concluding film STILL doesn't have a set release date. Which is troubling, since "Evangeion 3.33 - You Can (Not) Redo" offers more questions than answers, making audiences instantly hungry for that next movie."3.33" also faced some unusual controversy for its English release. Funimation handled the English dub with its typical high quality. But after a dubbed limited release in 2013 and 2014, the movie was held back from a home video release: apparently, Studio Khara wasn't happy with the translation, and in an unprecidented move, insisted on working directly with Funimation to re-translate and re-record the dialogue. Ultimately, the home video release would come out in 2016, four years after it's original Japanese theatrical release. I actually saw the movie in theaters, not knowing it would delay a DVD release for a couple extra years. This means I am one of those rare people who had a chance to hear the original English dub. After watching the home video release, could I tell the difference? Honestly, I can't remember many details from the original, so I can't speak much. The DVD and Bluray has two subtitle tracks, one of which is the "theatrical" version, but both were overseen by Khara, so there must have been one or two legitimate issues that, upon analysis, would misinterpret the intended meaning or future direction. I recall being confused at first when I heard the word "lilium" being thrown around a lot... maybe that was part of it. It's just as likely that Khara just wanted to delay the release outside of Japan to prevent reverse-importation, or that they wanted to make the wait for the fourth film a little less noticable. We'll never know for sure. Anyway, the "Rebuild" films have made clear that they are not simply retelling the same story of the original "Neon Genesis Evangelion" series, and "3.33" is the biggest proof: it completely breaks past the original timeline, and to discuss it is impossible without spoilers for what happened in "2.0." We learn the "Third Impact" that seemed to begin at the end of "2.0" came to pass, and the surface of the Earth was destroyed, presumbly with most of the human race. "3.0" opens 14 years later, where Shinji Ikari just wakes up for the first time since "2.0": the audience shares his perspective of confusion. Misato now leads a new underground organization called WILLE, with the intention of stopping NERV from their goals, now knowing that the impacts and "human instrumentality" was their goal. Unwilling to trust Shinji, they strap a necklace on him, meant to execute him should he ever get into an Eva robot again and unleash another impact. Their pent-up anger makes them unwilling to answer Shinji's questions, only treating him with fear and hate. So when Rei comes to rescue him and take him back to NERV, he naturally leaves to seek answers. Or perhaps, not answers, but anything to ground him in this unfamiliar world. And he finds that, not in Rei or his (now cold again) father Gendo, but in Kaworu. In the original series, Kaworu had an important part to play, but only appeared in a single episode of the show. In the movies, he was hinted at in every film, and here, his presence is extended to what would have been the length of six episodes. Kaworu doesn't show any ill-will or ill-intent: in fact, he is the only kind smile Shinji can find in this new and desolete world. The only one willing to spend time with him, the only one willing to offer any answers. Shinji has no one else, and trusts him fully, especially when he offers an opportunity for Shinji to undo the mistakes he caused, without asking the logic to how it might be possible. And this leads to his downfall.While the movie is disorrienting and confusing, most of the questions we have about the current state of the world are answered, or at least, answered as much as it ever will be. The biggest question I kept think was why director Hideaki Anno set this up, and what his intentions were. Why 14 years later, for example, and why is it that all the Eva pilots look like they haven't aged a day? I suspect the oly reason was to make the fan-service applied to 14-year-old girls less creepy, such that sexual figurines and merchandise of them could be sold more broadly. But why a movie that only seems meant to place Shinji in a confused state of mind? Of the multiple themes at play, the biggest is right in the title: Shinki is learning the hard way that actions, even if they seem to be right in the moment, have consequences, and it is often impossible to take those back.But was it so necessary for Misato and the others to be so cruel? What exactly is Gendo planning, or what is left to finish his secret mission? If not Angels, what are the abstract monsters that still attack those still alive? To watch "3.33" feels like skipping a full-length book of a series, and unfortunately, it's difficult to judge it without knowing where it going. The fourth and final film seems to be key to everything now. And with "3.33" having such an open ending, I strongly suspect even Anno doesn't yet know where the story goes next. Curiously, watching the original series helps one appreicate "3.33" more than either "2.22" or "1.11," despite "3.33" having no continuity with the original story. In "3.33," some terms and lore are introduced or used heavily without necessary context, an issue the prior films were able to overcome for new viewers, but watching the original series helps offer a bit of insight on those details. It also gives greater appreciation to "3.33," because its goals match that of the end of the series: it was never about the lore and science fiction and world building, but about conveying raw emotions that are hard to talk about, and telling us "it will be ok." That doesn't fully fix the movie... again, "4.0" will be the final piece of the puzzle, but having the right expectations might improve your experience.The production values are stronger than ever, but perhaps a little too ambitious. CGI is utilized heavily, sometimes enough so for the movie to be more CGI than hand-drawn. It allows for some great camera shots, and fantastic action scenes involving the Evas, but when it replaces characters with 3D models while close to the camera, it becomes more noticable. It isn't as subtle a hybrid. In other cases, the hand-drawn animation (specifically, during scenes involving piano and shogi) are impressively detailed, moreso than the films have been before. Visually, the world's new barren landscape makes for a less-impressive design to utilize that animation, but still extravegent when possible. Some of those supposed dub changes feel a bit more awkward than before, but still generally strong. The audio track is fine, but feels more like an afterthought than the previous films."Evangelion 3.33 - You Can (Not) Redo" is still an impressive achievement. It's an artistic statement, a philosophical metaphor, a beautifully animated cinematic experience. But it has major implications to the story, and I'm at a complete lost to where it even COULD go next, where most films like to offer some hint to fantasize about. And having been released, it's hard to write out those new changes should Anno change his mind. As you say, you cannot redo this film, Studio Khara. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but I'm waiting for that ending.
Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time is written by Anno and also hails from directors Kazuya Tsurumaki, Katsuichi Nakayama, and Mahiro Maeda. The anime film had its first premiere in Japan last March, where it became the highest-grossing in all of the Evangelion movies and was also the most-watched movie in Japanese theatres in 2021.
While largely redundant, I enjoyed Eva 1.11. I loved the treatment they gave to Operation Yashima, the sniper attack on the crystalline angel, Ramiel. I loved Eva 2.2 in how it evolved the film series while still paying homage to and working with the material from the original series. When it came to Eva 3.33, I loved that the production took the leap and almost completely severed itself from the original series by introducing a time-skip that changed everything. The reveal of the time-skip, the whole first third of the film is great, actually. The set pieces, the progression, it all builds nicely and is really exciting and enjoyable to watch. But as the film enters its second act, it really starts to fall apart for me. 2b1af7f3a8