EVANGELION 2.0: YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE Adolescent hormones wash across the sky in magenta waves and kaleidoscopic prisms in the second installment (of four) of this Japanese anime, derived from the '90s Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series. The fireworks above a futuristic, ruined Tokyo come as four high-schoolers pilot giant, Transformers-style battle-bots against marauding “angels” that are terrorizing Earth. The laser blasts and shimmering force fields in these contests are less violent than the repressed feelings of sensitive Shinji (back from part 1.0) and the three sexy, kittenish schoolgirls whom the directors favor with strategic up-skirt shots in the lulls between battles. Though awed by the brash, blond, blue-eyed gaijin Asuka, Shinji still pines for the demure, blue-haired Rei. Inevitably, they end up in a three-way alliance (ahem), as their giant metal avatars — called “Evas” — smash and leap through purple skies in ecstatic, violent release. But there's no sex for these teens, only a few nipple slips and moments of awkward embrace. Viewers who haven't studied their Neon Genesis DVD box sets in advance will find the plot incomprehensible — Old Testament gibberish mixed with political intrigue at the global defense agency headed by Shinji's aloof father. But the sentiments are clear: “I guess I want Dad to praise me,” says our wavering hero. And his courtship of Asuka is downright charming. He actually cooks for her — a welcome touch of the domestic and a respite from the cacophonous combat overhead. (Brian Miller) (Downtown Independent)

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