Over the coming weeks, I’m going to start reviewing my first television series, Hideaki Anno’s ambitious deconstruction of the mecha genre, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I’ve spent the entire day mulling over how to approach reviewing something that’s over fourteen hours long and is told in episodes.
At first, I thought I could watch the entire series and review it as a whole. This was my first intention. I was going to take the week off of movies, go through the episodes about four a day and at the end of the week give my thousand word yea or nay. After a day of thinking, I realized that 1000 words, while ideal for summarizing a movie or book and a bit lengthy for an album, felt like too little to tackle a story told over the course of fourteen+ hours, twenty-six episodes (four of which being extended director’s cuts) and a feature length film–all of which are necessary for the full comprehension of the story planned from the get-go.
Then, I wondered if I should review it episode by episode. The problem with that is so obvious, you just said it out loud. “Joe, you just said that 1000 words is too many for an album. The only album you’ve reviewed was .9 seconds short of 79 minutes. That’s almost a feature length film, and you struggled to get it up to size!” Constant reader, you missed the second flaw: the timeline. Doing an episode a day, even, would take twenty-six days with no days off for the sabbath. That’s over three weeks, all Eva, all the time. I love this series–ain’t no way in hell I’m going to sit through an episode a day for three weeks without reviewing anything else.
And, after all of that thought, and through talking it over with Chad, the perfect system hit me. The easiest articles to read, as pointed out by Cracked, are ones that are split into separate sections before you start reading them, right? “6 Most Literate Badasses in Victorian England” and stuff, right? Well, if I have episodes that mode out to 24 minutes in length on a weekly basis, why not double them up and do 500 words a piece? With about 150 words for plot updates, 100 words for highlights from this week’s episode and 250 for overall analysis and arc significance, I could do two episodes an article at a comfortable pace. It’ll take longer than three weeks to do, certainly, but it won’t feel like a chore to write and it won’t alienate regular readers who come by for movie reviews or hot Joe-on-blog action. I’ll still be writing reviews every week. I’m also considering doing a personal supplement every Saturday; maybe 500 words or so. I wouldn’t want to bore you with my life story.
The only thing wrong is that the episode reviews themselves would get laden with spoilers, so anyone entirely new to the story would be shut out. I fixed that with the system I’ve outlined below:
The first post in the series will be called “Introduction: Neon Genesis Evangelion”. In this article, I will use my thousand words to introduce the series to anyone who is unfamiliar. I will also explain the series’ significance within its medium, genre and culture. Now, I’m not the most knowledgeable person on this series or any other–it’s useful to keep in mind that there is always someone better, or in this case, more well-researched. However, in addition to introducing basic concepts of the series, like characters, cast, notable crew, I’ll be telling the story of how I got involved in its fandom and first saw it. I’ll be relaying my over-all, spoiler free experience of watching it, which I include in my reviews of everything else. This article will be spoiler-free for the entire series.
After this will be a series of thirteen thousand word articles, titled “REVIEW: [Episode A]/[Episode B] (Evangelion)”, all the way from episode one to episode twenty-six. The fourteenth article will be “REVIEW: The End of Evangelion” which was a movie structured as two episodes released in theaters, also at 1000 words. This breaks down to approximately 500 words per episode, which I feel is appropriate for the earlier ones. If later episodes demand more, I may bump up to 600. My maximum will be 750 words. If I can do End of Evangelion in 1000 words, I should be able to do the last two episodes of the series in as much.
These fourteen articles will be absolutely lousy with spoilers. The reviews will necessarily stay on the topic of the episode at hand, so I won’t be spoiling the end of the series at the outset. However, due to their episodic nature, I will be reviewing current events in the plot every article. This includes shipping, angst, anything. If a character dies in that episode, I will say so. This article counts as your “spoiler” or “thanks for making sure I don’t have to see it” warning. So does the introduction, where I will re-iterate this warning. Yes, it’s my fault for publishing spoilers, but after two fair warnings, it’s your damn fault for reading them. Not even Wikipedia is this courteous.
After all of that will be an article called “Conclusion: Neon Genesis Evangelion” where I review the series as a whole as I just saw it with fresh eyes. This article will be entirely spoiler-free to complement the introduction and to make sure people who aren’t spoiler hounds don’t miss out on my analysis of the series. While this will cover most elements of the series, it will be no more spoilery than my movie reviews. And if you’ve seen Inglourious Basterds and read my review, you know that I don’t spoil a thing. So no whining after the fact. If you wanna go in 100% clean, why are you reading a review?
All in all, if you have friends who really liked the series, tell them I’m reviewing the whole thing. Get them to check back in. Maybe I’ll set up a weekly schedule for reviewing TV series, movies and general articles in the future. Quoth Tank, “these are very exciting times”.