Since so many people have requested this over the years and as there's a new system in place I'm adding my 2009 review for this series which was originally posted on my blog here on MAL. The 2007 one was written in response to the obtuse fans that were here at the time, and it will remain after the review as removing it completely would serve no purpose.
It's also a reminder to me of something important.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most debated animes in history. Some would argue that there are numerous hidden messages in the show, while others argue that it simply
plays up to a certain puerile idealogy of the world. Whatever the case may be, NGE established itself as the hot topic in anime for well over a decade.
NGE first saw the light of day as a manga by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and was published in Shonen Ace magazine from February 1994. It's purpose was to raise awareness and public interest in the anime version that was to be released in October of the following year.
The anime was directed by the famous Hideaki Anno, and is hailed by many fans as his masterpiece (although there are numerous people who disagree with this point of view).
The animation in NGE is actually very well done considering the time it was made (and the fact that Gainax was running out of cash). The colour palette used for the show was decidely bright in many ways, and at the time it contrasted well with the serious tone of the story.
The characters were well designed for the most part, but the real breakthrough in terms of design were the EVA units and the Angels. NGE pushed the boundaries of mecha design in anime to a new level, something which no other show of the time could achieve. It also wasn't afraid to show an enemy who had no visible relation to humans - something that was a rarity in those days (although Anno had used a similar technique in Top wo Nerae).
The animation in the show is generally very fluid, and although there are some notable flaws, they don't actually impede on the enjoyment of the show.
The sound in NGE is very good in general. The VAs in the japanese version are very good, and are able to deliver a greater depth of emotion than their american counterparts. The effects used are also quite good but never really stood out as much, partly because of the overwhelming visuals, and partly because they were generally stock effects. The music is generally good throughout the show, with a mixture of classical and other styles scattered here and there.
One of the most memorable things about the music in NGE is the theme tune. Anno had originally wanted to use Borodin's Polovetsian Dances as the theme music for each episode, but was overruled by TV Tokyo, who felt that this would confuse and alienate the audience. Instead he settled on what has become one of the most played anime theme tunes in history - A Cruel Angel's Thesis, which was performed by Takahashi Yoko.
This is the area where NGE failed as an anime. Prior to making NGE, Hideaki Anno had suffered from depression for a while, and the characters in NGE were created in such a manner as to reflect his struggle against mental illness. Each of the characters is flawed in different ways, something that was unusual in anime at the time. Given Anno's talent as a director, this should have led to some interesting, and highly original, character development. Unfortunately the show failed in this area because of one key factor - Ikari Shinji.
For many people like myself, the main issue we have with the show isn't the story, or the animation, or the sound. It's the characters, and in particular, Ikari Shinji. In creating him, Anno and the rest of the production team lost focus on the other characters. Shinji is not your typical hero in that he isn't, courageous, or handsome, or intelligent. In fact, Shinji consider's himself to be worthless. The issue I have is that the show focuses far too much on Shinji, almost to the extent where the other characters were simply plot devices for his devlopment, and not enough on the characters around him.
That's not to say Shinji is a bad character. He's not. The problem is that one can only stomach so much unjustified self pity (which unfortunately most of it was in his case), before wanting to slap some sense into the person in question. It's been pointed out to me that Shinji wanted to kill himself because he thought he was worthless, and that he should be pitied because of the bad hand he was dealt. I'm sorry but that argument doesn't wash with me. If someone truly wants to kill themselves then they will, so Shinji didn't really want to die. In addition to that, I know quite a few people who have been dealt the worst hands possible, yet they do not whine and complain about it (and many of these people did consider themselves to be useless/worthless at one time or another - yet they suffered in silence for the most part). What Shinji wanted was for people to pity him and tell him he wasn't worthless, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it was over-used in NGE (to the point where I wanted to put him out of his misery - and not because I pitied him). The fact that Shinji's character has a tendency to ram his sense of worthlessness into the faces of the other characters is what put me off, as that type of behaviour is usually for attention rather than a cry for help, and because of the show's focus on Shinji, you can imagine how much I wanted to hit him afterwards. It wasn't that I didn't understand, it was just that they failed to depict him as an object of pity, and instead he came across as a whining, self pitying, attention seeking, and generally loathesome person.
As for the other characters, in particular Rei and Asuka, they did get a certain amount of development throughout the series. Unfortunately though, their characters, as well as the rest of the cast, were overshadowed by the mammoth amount of development given to Shinji.
I actually quite enjoyed the concept behind NGE, as it made a nice change of pace. I did, however, have some issues with the convenient deus ex machina of Unit 01, as well as a number of other "coincidences" that were scattered throughout the series.
The story itself isn't all that original, and it has clearly borrowed elements from other sci-fi stories. What made the story seem to be original was the inclusion of psuedo-religious and psuedo-philosophical concepts, as well as the inclusion of "Fruedian" psychology. These formed core elements of the story, so what would have been a standard "save the earth" scenario became a dive into the psyche of the characters. The basic plot is borrowed directly from Space Battleship Yamamoto, and the idea of "young" people protecting the earth was used by Anno himself in Top wo Nerae.
Unfortunately the story breaks down in several places. Anno tried to make a show that merged all perspectives into one single view, and while he managed to achieve this in some measure, he failed because he focused too much on Shinji, to the extent that no other options were ever considered.
Here's what I mean. NERV is a quasi militaristic outfit, and as such, would generally have backup options available to them. The convenient deus ex machina I mentioned earlier effectively removes all chance for anyone else to come to the fore - except for Shinji that is. If the viewer is to believe that an organisation such as NERV was supposed to protect the earth, then they would at the very least, look for other options, especially considering Shinji's character flaws. This would effectively mean that they would have at least some combat veterans or trained soldiers who could handle the EVA units. The use of teenagers as the leads in the show was simply so that it would appeal to the teenage audience.
Another area where the story breaks down is in it's use of religious symbology. Many fans believe that what is shown in NGE is taken directly from religious beliefs, in particular Kabbalism, Judaism and Christianity. While the names used in the show may be true to those religions though, in many cases the manner in which the reference is used is actually based on Anno's own definition, rather than the religious viewpoint (something for which Anno has been heavily criticised).
In truth, The religious symbology used in the show was only really used to give the series an edge over other "giant robot" anime (i.e. Macross, Gundam, etc), and all of the various interpretations since have been ascribed to it by the viewers rather than the creators (something which is very well documented).
One big plot hole that I noticed, and one that should have been obvious to most people as well, was Shinji's isolationist attitude, and Gendou's reaction to it. It's obvious to any who've watched the series that Gendou feels little sympathy towards Shinji, however due to that convenient plot device using Unit 01 I mentioned earlier, Gendou needs Shinji to pilot the EVA unit. So, what you effectively have is the leader of a militaristic organisation who feels little for others, and a teenager with supposed mental instabilities. This being the case, why wasn't Gendou forcibly dosing Shinji with meds to make him more compliant? If your purpose is to protect the earth and it's people from attack by extremely powerful beings, and you're basically a selfish person with your own agenda, then conscience or paternal instincts don't come into it, you simply do what's necessary, no matter what anyone else says.
It's interesting that the whole "psychology" angle is only really supposed to apply to Shinji, isn't it? Characters like Gendou have been "toned down" because their actions would have drawn too much attention to themselves, another convenient plot device.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a tough show to rate. According to Anno, if you're a normal, well rounded person then you won't learn anything from the show. While this may be true in some cases, the things that one can learn from the show are juvenile at best. Many of the older fans of NGE have a tendency to view the show through the rose tinted lenses of nostalgia, and while this is not a bad thing, it inhibits the ability to view the show objectively. Many of the younger fans, on the other hand, are fiercely loyal to the show, and have a tendency to react harshly to any criticism of the show. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the show has gained a certain notoriety that it could have done without, and many people who watch the show for the first time, do so with certain preconceived notions already embedded in their heads.
NGE is one of those shows that could have been great. Unfortunately the glaring flaws in the plot, coupled with the lack of develpment amongst the other characters in comparison to Shinji meant that I, at least, only found the show to be mediocre. NGE was a let down for me as I am a big fan of Top wo Nerae, the show that is effectively the older sibling to NGE (and is considered by quite a few people to be the superior show).
I'm not going to suggest anyone watches the show, as that is a decision you should make for yourself. Likewise the choice of whether you love it or hate it is something that only you can decide. The only thing I can say about the show is that, when watching it, be as objective as you can.
NGE is no Top wo Nerae by any measure, but it is a classic. Unfortunately, it really isn't Anno's best work, and the rebuild is making the same errors all over again.
And here's the review that originally graced this page. It's a bit bilious and lowbrow, but it served it's purpose - which contrary to what you may think wasn't to simply to upset the "hardcore" fans.
Okay, I'm REALLY going to upset a lot of you out there with this review.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most mediocre animes I have EVER seen.
I watched this when it first came out, and I wasn't overly impressed with it to say the least.
The story is okay. The idea of earth being assaulted by unknown, quasi-supernatural/technological beings is one that has been handed down through the years, the most famous example being The War of the Worlds (which wins hands down by the way).
The animation was actually one of the few plus points for this anime. The art style and use of colour made this attractive to many when it was first released. The sound was also of a high standard, and the catchy J-pop intro jingle was forcibly lodged into many peoples craniums.
Now we get to the good part - the characters.
Ayanami Rei was okay as a character, but what on earth possesses everyone to raise Ikari Shinji to almost godlike status? The guy is biggest loser in anime (with the exception of Makoto for School Days - Nice Boat), and one of the biggest losers I have even seen in ANY story since Thomas Covenant. I honestly found myself wishing he was a real person so I could smack some sense into him. I've heard it mentioned that he is the most realistic character in the anime, and I have to wonder what planet the people who say such things were born on. I mean honestly.
Okay, rant over, here's why this character is THE MAIN REASON why this anime was mediocre. NERV is a military organisation whose SOLE objective is the protection of the planet, by whatever means. This being the case, WHY THE HELL is Ikari Shinji the main focus of the story? He doesn't want to pilot an EVA, and doesn't want to fight. Any self respecting organisation WOULD HAVE FOUND SOMEONE MORE WILLING AND MORE ABLE to do the job. There's such a fuss over how special Shinji is, but surely with 6 billion people on the planet there would be someone better equipped for the job.
But I understand the anime only had so much budget so they couldn't really conduct a global search.
The most believable character is Asuka Langley Soryu, as her reaction to Shinji's ineptitude and cowardice is similar to that of any reasonable person.
I'm not going to mention enjoyment as I've already made it clear that this was mediocre at best.
This wasn't Hideaki Anno's best work by far. Top wo Nerae (Gunbuster), was a far superior sci-fi anime, and the characters were MUCH more believable. The story for Top wo Nerae beats Neon Genesis Evangelion hands down.
As for his other works, watch Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (KareKano or His & Her Circumstances). Hideaki Anno proved his talent with this anime, and Top wo Nerae, so I can only assume he was suffering from dementia when Evangelion was written.
A suggestion if I may, to end this rant. If you want emotion, trauma, passion, a great story, and all the rest, then watch some of the following animes:
Flanders no Inu (movie)
Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid
NHK ni Youkoso!
Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
Top wo Nerae
Grave of the Fireflies
There's a lot more that fit the bill. Watch them, then re-watch evangelion and see if it has the same feeling it did before (I would advise removal of the fluffy pink clouds of nostalgia in your head before rewatching).
Some of you are probably wondering why I wrote this review if I dislike the show so much. The reason is simple. I'm sick to death of seeing the show aired on the various channels that show anime, and I'm even more fed up with the fact that newcomers to anime are indoctrinated by magazines and other people into liking this piece of tripe, especially when there are far superior animes out there that rarely get mentioned anywhere.
I'm going to end this review here. I'm not going to tell you all not to watch this. I just hope that this review makes you consider what actually IS good in anime.
Hugely experimental and wonderfully unique, Evangelion is a roaring success.
The basic, initial, plot goes thus: a 14-year-old boy named Shinji is called to NERV (an organization charged with defending mankind from extinction, no less) by his estranged, seemingly cold and calculating father. There, his fathers' first words are an order to pilot an immense robotic machine, the titular Evangelion, and fight against the monster that's attacking Tokyo-3, the city under which NERV has it's headquarters. These illusory 'monsters' are called Angels and are seemingly invincible - traditional weaponry, even in the year 2015, has minimal effect upon them. Only the
Eva 'biomechs', which can be piloted solely by certain selected 14-year-olds can stop them. This [i]is[/i] merely the basic, initial premise of the series. As it goes on, everything gets a lot more complicated; There's a metric ton of mystery, suspense, twists and turns in Evangelion's plot, all routinely thought-provoking and intensely interesting.
The characters are excellent. This is an important point as the series is more about them than about the Angels or NERV. Shinji Ikari is one the most believable and genuinely sympathetic character ever conceived in anime. Though some would complain that Shinji is overtly emotional and annoyingly so. But, really, no one wants Shinji to become the 'Hollywood hero' and save the day with a smile on his face - no such human could ever really exist, and studio Gainax understand this and apply it perfectly to the series. Shinji's mental struggle is dealt with effectively by Hideki Anno, through the use of complex monologues and largely successful experimental cinematic techniques. Asuka and Rei, the other chosen children, are both polar opposites and ingenious characters. Both develop a great deal in a very interesting way throughout the series, and this character exploration and growth is at the heart of Evangelion.
The design aspects are wonderfully unique - the Evas themselves are strikingly colourful and the Angels are attention grabbing and memorable with many towering over Tokyo-3's skyscraper. The Angels appear in many different forms (one Angel takes the form of a gargantuan, blue diamond while another is too small to be seen with the naked eye and acts as an organic virus, crippling NERV's computer system) which helps Eva avoid the repetitve "Monster of the Week" format and keeps the action aspect of the series consistently fresh and enjoyable. Judeo-Christian references are famous (or rather, infamous) in Evangelion and despite widespread condemnation, I am of the firm belief that the symbolism is never obnoxious, and always evocative and visually shocking. It must be noted these references are usually fairly shallow, but they make you sit up and take notice of the deeper meaning in the series as a whole. Animation is crisp and clear for the platinum re-mastering that I watched, and I hasten to add that this re-mastering is only version of Eva worth buying. Visuals are regularly stunning and scenes from this series will surely stay with you forever. The regular provocative imagery is often times shocking and sometimes awe-inspiring. The image of a crippled Rei, bleeding and covered in bandages in the first episode provides the first real shock of the series. Such imagery contrasts with the visual gags present throughout - a toothpick container obscuring Shinji's nether regions in episode 2 being one of the most memorable.
The music is, much like the rest of Eva, superbly memorable. It excels at setting the right mood and tone, using inspirational trumpets to highlight Asuka and Shinji's success in battle, and nuanced reflective tunes to convey the character of Rei. The OP is among my favourites of all time and you'll not tire of hearing it throughout the 26 episodes of the series.
The final two episodes are controversial (more controversial than the rest of the series at least!) because they are both the peak of experimental Eva. While I certainly wouldn't call them "bad", they are frustratingly unsatisfying as an ending. Thankfully, the subsequent movie release titled 'End of Evangelion' rectifies this with bombastic aplomb. EoE - which essentially tells the story of what happens in eps. 25 and 26, but this time outside of Shinji's mind - is truly magnificent, and definitely lives up to the sky high standards set in the series, and perhaps even exceeds them. As well as being one of the greatest anime movies ever made, EoE gives the series an extraordinary conclusion.
I haven't even mentioned the dub, the pacing or the sound effects, but rest assured that they are all of a fantastic standard. Overall, I think this series deserves it's iconic status - it's easily one of the absolute best TV series (anime or otherwise) that I've ever seen. Every single episode is nothing less than a masterpiece and an utter joy to watch. I whole heartedly recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is imperative that you watch this anime!
Evangelion is widely considered one of the most influential anime created in the 1990's, if not of all time. It is extremely well known for it's brave attempts to turn the mecha genre on it's head, it's deep character development, and it's unorthodox storyline. Created by acclaimed studio Gainax, and written by both praised (and sometimes hated) writer Hideaki Anno, Evangelion has been called a masterpiece by anime fans. Does it deserve this praise.
Story: One of the most well known aspects of Evangelion is it's story; it is simply unorthodox, as it does the process of not feeding all of the story the viewer;
it drip-feeds it, giving the viewer only half the story, or sometimes giving scenes without any context. For some anime, this would be a disaster waiting to happen, but in the case of Evangelion, this is done almost consistently masterfully, holding back information on such subjects such as SELEE or The Angels. Many have critisized the holding of frames later in the series, but taken into the context of the fact they were running out of money to make the show, is is understandable.
For many fans, their major criticism of the anime is the handling of the ending, which many consider far too 'out there' and simply crap. I too, am not a huge fan of the ending, but taking the ending to the TV series, inside the context of the 'true' ending movie, The End of Evangelion, the ending can make a lot more sense, and thus I enjoy it far, far more. To stop me from ranting on for ages, Evangelion's story is a master stroke in writing, one which has been a hard feat to replicate.
Art and Sound: I was introduced to Evangelion through the in-progress tetraology of films, The Rebuild of Evangelion; due to this, I became used to the cutting edge graphics employed for the higher-budget films. And to be honest, yes, the TV series art is beginning to show it's age 20 years on; however, this does not detract from the series in any major capcity, as the art compliments the anime extremely well.
The sound is also fantastic, and a very high-point for the show. Excellent music is employed to showcase the fights against the Angels, and for darker moments such as the internal struggles of the main cast of the show. Some of Beethoven's music is featured later in the series, which coupled with the emotional impact of the scene, produces one of the most excellent scenes in anime history.
Characters: By a massive leap, the highlight of the series. Evangelion features in it's story the struggles of the main characters, to devastatingly wonderful effect. Weak, timid, daddy-issues Shinji, to powerful, arrogant, egotistical Asuka, to the quiet, mysterious Rei, and the dark, apparently agnostical Gendo, Evangelion develes into the mind and motivations of these characters, showcasing exactly what makes them tick, and this is what gives us some animes most regonisable and wonderful characters.
I am certain entire essays have been written on why certain charcters tick, and that's another reason so many of these characters are so wonderful. Fans are so devoted to their favorite characters (personally I am partial to Rei and Gendo), and this creates a wonderful feeling when learning about these characters and then discussing this with other fans. Generally, Evangelion employs some of the most human characters in anime, showing us that the heroes of anime aren't always strong, both mentally and physically, or not even in control of their lives.
In closing, Evangelion is one of the strongest anime ever produced. It employs powerful characters, a deep, deep story, and art that has only just began to show it's age. What makes the show's longevity even more powerful is that even now on sites such as EvaGeeks people are still analysing this series, trying to know everything about it. I hope Evangelion will live on in the hearts of it's fans, who'll continue to appreciate it's deep, metaphorical story. I hope that Evangelion will always remain an anime that will be treasured, for all the ages.
Mod Edit: This review may contain spoilers.
People have been fighting over the merits of Neon Genesis Evangelion since its conception, engaging in an endless bloody war to decide whether or not the series is a masterpiece or overly-pretentious filth. Writing a review for Evangelion is pretty much just adding fuel to the fire, giving one side or another some extra ammo with which to demolish the opinions of the opposition. For that reason, I've decided to do something different with my Evangelion review. I'm actually going to write two reviews, one heralding Evangelion as a masterpiece and the other condemning it as mediocre bilge. I've
put my full effort into both of them, trying to make each compelling. I believe that both reviews get down to the essence of why people either love or hate the show, and the goal is to let anyone pondering whether they should pick up this giant of the medium to really understand what they're getting into and whether or not it sounds appealing to them.
Without further ado, I present Neon Genesis Evangelion: Critic & Fanboy.
**The following review will explain why Neon Genesis Evangelion is overrated garbage.**
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most popular anime of all time. It's shaped the entire medium for decades, inspiring countless other shows through its characters, story, and ideas. Many people have called it the "greatest anime ever made" and a "triumph". Its protagonist, Shiji Ikari, has been on the top of many character lists, and its ending is infamous. Most times when someone starts criticizing Evangelion they are promptly told that they just "don't understand what it's trying to achieve". Well, let me begin by saying this: I understand exactly what Evangelion was trying to achieve, I just think that it executes this attempt very poorly. Evangelion is a mecha show, yes, but it's really about the internal struggles of the characters: most noticeably depression, fear of rejection, and sense of self. It's attempting to criticize the anime crowd by telling them that they're filling their lives with hollow escapism as a substitute for meaningful human interaction, but it's also just trying to tell people in general that they have value as an individual and whatnot. But before we get into how it fails in this regard, let's talk about the more superficial stuff. Let's talk about the plot.
See, Evangelion seems to have the idea that if it's "meaningful" enough it doesn't matter if it doesn't have a well put-together story. If it discusses important ideas, its story can be a mess. Well, half of this is true: the story IS a mess. The premise assumes that only 14-year-old children can pilot giant robots. Why? Never touched on. Okay, so any 14-year-old in the world will do, right? Nope, it has to be the guy who's spearheading the whole project's son, who is also conveniently unwilling to do it. Why not find someone more willing and trained? Well, because his synchronization rates are off the charts, of course. Sounds like an awful lot of insanely contrived nonsense to me. To top it off, Shinji's dad hates him to make sure he has issues with opening up, although this is never explained either. It seems like if the fate of the world was going to be entrusted to my son, I would want to, you know, make sure he was emotionally stable even if I didn't like him. After setting off this ridiculous premise the show devolves into bland monster-of-the-week with minimal development for about half of its run, throws in some totally meaningless religious symbolism, bends the world around Shinji's problems more than SAO bends around Kirito, and then proceeds to turn all of its characters into tools for its single-minded purpose before ending with a slideshow of photographs of lamps and concept art with dialogue over top.
See, here's the thing. If I wanted someone to explain to me the philosophy behind the hedgehog's dilemma or to tell me that I needed to open up to other human beings, I could just consult wikepedia or go see a therapist. The reason I'm watching a TV show instead is because by using a story with elements that get me invested and characters that I can relate to it allows me to understand what I could have learned at face-value anywhere. I learn because I care. Evangelion, however, forgets this. It seems to think that if it just spews enough philosophy at the viewer that that will do the trick. Why should I care what the show is telling me? Because here's the thing: the ending isn't gibberish. It does mean something, it means something very specific. But it still fails completely because it fails to convey that in a way that engages the audience or demonstrates it through the use of a story. It abandons the story and gets all up in your face instead, and this ruins the impact and renders everything its saying unimportant.
Well then, what does the show accomplish? Sure, it has some nice action sequences, but these come at the expense of a lack of budget later in the show. The soundtrack is pretty standard, with some of the pieces even being pretty blatant ripoffs from other places (one person once showed me how one of the battle themes is nigh identical to a 007 song), and all we're really left with to convey what the show is trying to convey is the characters.
The characters from Evangelion get a lot of praise. Many consider them to be the greatest cast of all time. Shinji Ikari, wonder boy, has been tugged around as the epitome of male protagonists, and others like Asuka and Rei laid down the foundations for their archetypes. Let's talk about all three, one at a time.
Rei - Rei is a failed experiment. She was originally created by Anno (the director) as a way to demonstrate to the Otaku fanbase that their best girls and waifus were actually just emotionless unresponsive dolls that would never provide them with anything real. The sentiment is one thing, but the fact of the matter is it doesn't matter what Anno wanted to convey, what matters is the result of what he created. Rei actually became the very thing she was created to destroy, and was one of the most popular waifus ever made. She reinforced the idea she was meant to take down. Rei is an absolute disaster.
Asuka - Asuka is very nearly the origin of the tsundere. The trope may have existed before her, but she defined it and made it popular. The problem is, Asuka really isn't that well-written. It doesn't matter what ideas she was used to expressed, the fact of the matter is that the consistency of her character is weak and by the end she, along with many other characters, has been converted into a tool to be used by Anno to make his points. She ceases to feel like a person of her own, and exists only to reinforce the ideas conveyed by Shinji.
Shinji - The man himself, attacking Shinji's character is considered pretty taboo. However, in truth, Shinji is simply pretty mediocre. His character exists to repeat the same few ideas over and over ad naseum, and he receives very little characterization outside of this. By the end of the show almost everything we know about Shinji can be boiled down to "he's afraid of rejection", "he has daddy issues" and "he struggles with self-value and sense of self". While this is great and all, there's more to people than just their deep-seated issues and Shinji fails to display that.
So with all this in mind, what on earth sets Evangelion apart? What has kept the fanbase so alive and vocal for these twenty years while nearly everything else made around the same time has fallen into obscurity? I believe the answer is pretty simple: intensity. The ideas in Evangelion aren't unique. They're in plenty of other anime, portrayed in more well-developed and creative ways, but Evangelion drowns all of those out by being really goddamn loud about what it's saying. Its characters are screaming, crazed people. Its production is a wildly fluctuating mess. Its emotional intensity is unmatched, and it uses this to grab peoples attention and cause them to feel as if it is "raw" or "real" when really it's just very noisy. Neon Genesis Evangelion may be one of a kind, but that doesn't mean that it's some sort of incomprehensible masterpiece. It just means that its a broken, twisted thing that takes some pretty straightforward ideas and yells them until people pay attention, rarely managing to convey them in any powerful way. It's preachy, poorly-constructed, and will hopefully gradually fade into obscurity so that people stop having to feel as though they're obliged to watch it only to be told that they don't "get" it.
**And on the flip side, the following will explain why Neon Genesis Evangelion is an inspirational masterpiece, worthy of standing the test of time.**
Neon Genesis Evangelion: the words that can spark conflict amongst anime fans almost instantaneously, like pouring water on sodium. Many people believe that this medium giant is overrated, outdated, or simply not a very good show. Some people even deeply loathe it, frustrated with its convoluted presentation and rabid fanbase. Personally, however, the show is one of my favorites. I believe it continues to be relevant for a reason. I believe that Neon Genesis Evangelion has achieved what no show before or after it has managed, and perhaps what no visual medium has ever accomplished.
Neon Genesis Evangelion manages to truly capture the feelings of doubt, isolation, existential dread, and desire for human connection that come with being alive. It manages to express them in a way that is powerful enough to replicate the monumental weight that these matters place on us, and it manages to provide a simply, bittersweet yet beautiful answer to them.
The first thing you should know about Evangelion is that at face-value it isn't perfect. It has pacing issues, budget issues, and cracks in its plot that plague it all throughout its run. It seems to change moods quickly in its first half, and it doesn't always seem to care about all of the threads of its creation. However, I firmly believe that a polished version of the show would not be as effective. It's because it's so messy that it manages to draw you in. That messiness is relatable. The world is a confusing, difficult place, and so is Evangelion. Likewise, as it progresses into its second half and the internal struggles of its beautifully-crafted characters begin to swell up inside them and consume them, the show shifts its focus to accommodate this because that's what it feels like to the characters. The internal battles they are fighting are all-consuming things, far more important than what is happening at NERV headquarters, and the show demonstrates this by allowing the inner workings of their minds to consume the show itself and show you first-hand how much this matters to them.
The entire show manages this, actually. It takes such simple internal yet universal conundrums and inflates the scale of them, making them feel larger than life in the forms of giant, gruesome robots and bizarre alien beings. The plot becomes insane and messy, with schemes and scale intensifying constantly to keep up with the messiness of the character's minds. Evangelion takes these all-important ideas and it shows that, using its rather cliched premise to demonstrate that it understands just how huge these issues feel to people. It does this in a way that nothing else does, drilling down to the cores of its characters and its audience and digging up the things that seep poison into their hearts. Evangelion lays people bare, it strips them down, it shows them that it understands them and then it tells them what they can do.
By people, of course, I mean both the audience and the characters, but since I can't give you an analysis of the audience allow me to take a moment to talk about the characters. There are three central characters that make up the cast, playing off each other perfectly: Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langely, and Shinji Ikari. Each of them serves a distinct purpose in the narrative and I want to take some time to talk about each of them.
Rei - Rei is the doll character, a stoic figure lacking emotions that has been repeated over and over again since her conception in all manner of shows. In Evangelion, however, she serves a very specific purpose. Rei demonstrates to Shinji what he is. Because she's a doll, she responds in whatever way she is treated, and showing her kindness will elicit kindness in return. Essentially, she is a mold-able personality, a person that will be whatever you want them to be for you. Through Shinji's interactions with her she demonstrates both that the concept of such a being (oftentimes taking the form of a significant other from a TV show in our world) is disgusting, and that Shinji will not be able to find the sense of acceptance and connection that he desires from her. She's not accepting Shinji because of who he is, she's accepting him because she'll accept anyone.
Asuka - Asuka is practically the origin of the modern tsundere archetype, with the unfortunately truth being that it's an archetype that was mastered at its conception and has not been challenged since. Asuka provides two very important facets to the series: firstly, she's a character to foil Shinji and reject him. She's a very distinct personality of her own, and her coldness towards Shinji stems from who he is. Shinji is forced to confront the harsh reality that if he opens up to her she will likely hurt him, and has to decide whether that is worth it regardless. On the other hand, Asuka is an amazing character in her own right. She struggles with many of the central themes of the series herself, loathing herself for not being good enough and trying to discover who she is when the aspects that she decided defined her come crumbling down.
Shinji - I've already mentioned him a hundred times in this review, but here he is: Shinji Ikari, the naked heart of the human race. Shinji pretty much is Evangelion, and most if not all of the show's messages are conveyed through him. Over the course of the show he becomes more and more withdrawn into his own mind, struggling to come out of his closely-guarded heart and actually express himself to the world. He wants to be wanted for who he is, not because he's useful, or because he's any person. He wants to be cared for because he's himself, because he's an individual, because of what makes him him. It's something that every human on this planet desires, and no one demonstrates it better than Shinji Ikari.
As the show culminates into a surreal journey into the minds of the characters, some people complain about the convoluted nature of the execution or that the ending of the show is only pretending to be meaningful. I assure you this is not the case. It may be jarring, yes, but if you pay attention you'll find that you're observing the most important decision in the world being made. All of the literal world falls away, because in comparison to what is going on inside the minds of our protagonists such a world is unimportant. That is the world through which one can express one's self, but Evangelion is more concerned with what is one's self. Evangelion is concerned with what makes you you and me me, and why the two of us talking and conveying our thoughts and becoming closer is the most important thing in the world, not in spite of the fact that we can never truly know each other but because of it. It's an infinitely important idea, and Neon Genesis Evangelion takes it on like no other.
If you haven't seen this masterpiece yet, I can only urge you to watch it. After all, you are a person, and Evangelion is about people. It knows them. It understands them on a level that nothing else does. It draws you in with its gritty, alluring story full of mysteries and its utterly unique mecha designs, it captivates you with its constantly creative enemies and lucrative fighting techniques, and then it shows you what it means to be human. It's one of a kind, and I can't encourage you enough to give it a try.
Neon Genesis Evangelion has been known to divide audiences. And despite its love for giant robot battles and generous use of fan service, Neon Genesis Evangelion is unarguably one... of the most influential sagas in modern anime. In the history of anime no series has sparked more debate than Evangelion. For every viewer who's enthralled by its mix of classic anime action, convoluted philosophy, psychological angst, and religious imagery, there's another who finds it pretentious and ponderous.
If you are unfamiliar with Neon Genesis Evangelion and have yet to watch it for the first time, you're in for a real treat it truly is an emotional
roller coaster. On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a basic mecha series with a host of teenage pilots controlling monstrous beasts called Eva’s. The lead character is a reluctant hero trying to live up to his father's expectations while saving humanity at the same time.
Story: The story of Evangelion primarily begins in 2000 with the "Second Impact", a global cataclysm which almost completely destroyed Antarctica and led to the deaths of half the human population of Earth. The Impact is believed by the public at large and even most of Nerv to have been the impact of a meteorite landing in Antarctica, causing devastating tsunamis and a change in the Earth's axial tilt (leading to global climate change) and subsequent geopolitical unrest, nuclear war (such as the nuking of Tokyo), and general economic distress. Later, Second Impact is revealed to be the result of contact with and experimentation on the first of what are collectively dubbed the Angels: Adam. The experiments were sponsored by the mysterious organization Seele, and carried out by the research organization Gehirn.
In the year 2010, Gehirn had accomplished a number of its scientific and engineering goals and corporately changed into the paramilitary organization Nerv which is headquartered in Tokyo-3, a militarized civilian city located on one of the last dry sections of Japan; Nerv's central mission is to locate the remaining Angels predicted by Seele, and to destroy them. However, Nerv has its own secret agenda, as directed by its Machiavellian commander Gendo Ikari: the Human Instrumentality Project, which, according to Gendo in episode 25, is the task of uniting all human minds into one global spiritual entity. Associated with Nerv is the Marduk Institute, which has the task of selecting the pilots for the Evas, the most capable being children conceived after the Second Impact (14 year olds). The institute consists of Commander Ikari, and Nerv's chief scientist Ritsuko Akagi; supporting the two are 108 companies which are all revealed to be ghost companies.
Story does start off quick with a bit action in the beginning. It then becomes quite dull with how the main character acts. But by the time Asuka makes her first appearance, the show has kicked into high gear for a stunning run of near-perfect episodes.
Characters: The cast of Characters in NGE are varied, and through the course of the series the majority of them are emotionally ripped apart and left for dead. NGE holds back nothing. For most animes, a flaw of a character is usually ironed out before the end. But NGE is different. Weak characters show moments of strength, but ultimately remain weak. Arrogant characters show moments of humility but ultimately remain egotistical. Such is the nature of the series - the characters definitely go through challenging experiences that test their flaws, but they do not seem to overcome them. One reason for this may be that the challenges the characters go through in NGE are treated as though they were realistic stressful conditions that mentally damage the characters since there is always bad collateral damage even with success.
Art & Animation: While the animation looks a bit dated by today's standards, NGE is still a powerful cerebral onslaught and an audiovisual force that won't soon be forgotten.
There are just so many things Evangelion does right that elevate it beyond pedestrian anime. The world is so alive and well-developed, right down to the smallest details (like the way cars run on batteries instead of gasoline, as one would expect in a future following global disaster that would limit access to fossil fuels). Even the minor characters, like classmates Toji and Kensuke, are remarkably fleshed out. The way Misato's mature (but dysfunctional) relationship with Kaji contrasts with the teens' awkward, tentative steps towards romance is brilliant. In other words, Evangelion pulls off the remarkable trick of feeling tantalizingly real, an exceedingly rare accomplishment in anime (and animation in general).
Sound: NGE is a show of extremes. Ranging from scenes of palpable, visceral power that inspire shock and awe, to the most quietly serene, surreal, and beautifully touching moments. These scenes are woven together as fine and eloquently as the Beethoven Symphony they play in episode 24 itself. And like that symphony, even though the parts are outstanding, the whole is much greater than the sum.
Enjoyment: Without spoiling the show for those of you new to join, the replay/enjoyment value on this one is off the charts if you enjoy complex dramas and well written anime shows. Further, in the thirteen years this one has been out, you can trace almost every anime show using giant robots, psychological thrillers, and hidden cabals within society running things from behind the scenes back to this one. Sure, it builds on shows that came before it but it was more of a revolutionary step in terms of overall complexity and quality than it was a smaller evolutionary step; leading fans to discuss its nuances over and over.
Overall: Evangelion is definitely in a class by itself, and it is required viewing for any anime fan. Not just another giant robot/sexy teenager anime, Evangelion is a trendsetter and a pillar of creative achievement. While it won't answer many of those lingering questions you might have in the end, it does set up the finale, End of Evangelion, a movie that presents a more coherent ending which makes a lot more sense than the last two episodes did.
Make it a priority to watch this and see for yourself what NGE means to you. After you do, make sure you watch the movie, End of Evangelion.
One of my absolute favorite things about this anime is how they have implemented lots of references to old religious symbols and characters; and how it's all done. They make the series into something more by doing this; it gives it a unique feel that I still haven't seen in other series.
The story itself is made up of pure awesomeness. It has a mix of mecha (which of course includes action), slight romance, and psychological elements, and especially the latter. It progresses nicely as the episodes pass, and we get to see more back stories, more psychological struggles, and lots of neat fighting. The
thing that drags the story down is the two final episodes - they're very confusing. Though I'm able to understand many elements of the end now, when I watched this series half a year ago, I didn't get it at all.. Also, it had some strange moments toward the end, mainly the scenes where nothing at all happens for a minute (example: Asuka and Rei are standing in an elevator for nearly a minute, and the only thing that happens is a cough from one of them).
The characters of this show... well, to quote Hideaki Anno - "It's strange that Evangelion has become such a hit - all the characters are so sick!" That's true, very true. But they are sick in a way which makes me like them, because they are portrayed in such an excellent way. The characters have really deep emotional struggles, and the way the series portray this makes them seem to me like actual human beings; I end up sympathizing with them and their tragic pasts. It also portrays their relationships and interactions with each other very well, and everything going on inside their minds.
The animation of NGE is really, really cool. The show is, like, what, 12 years old by now? That is something I wouldn't entirely believe by watching this show, as the animation style is, even today, very good - it's flawless, and the effects are really good, and not to mention that they have done the battles very well. It was amazing when it was new, and I dare to say that it's amazing even today.
I really like the music in this series too - there's some really great themes, especially the OP and ED themes. The OP is simply the best song ever, and the ED theme is a really great song named Fly Me to the Moon, or to be more specific, a version of it. That song is fantastic, and it has a place in my heart thanks to NGE.
To be honest, if you haven't watched the show yet, go watch it this instant. You've definitely missed something.
To 'Not Helpful' voters (and you 'Helpful' voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Hugely experimental and thankfully unique, Evangelion is a roaring failure.
Yeah, there might be spoilers but I'll try to stay away from them.
After watching several series, I finally ran across something that I actively disliked. Maybe if you are a (shudder) person who enjoys a nice bit of Camus to go along with your nightshade cocktail, you will really dig this series. Otherwise this one is going to be painful.
STORY: Evan starts off moderately interesting. For some convoluted reason a teenager is the only one who can pilot a super-mega-awesome-gigantor-robot for some convoluted reason. We've seen it before -- it allows the
target shounen audience to have characters they can identify (i.e. lazy kid) get to play the hero instead of someone more realistic -- say a 30-year-old ace captain with years of conflict experience and (more importantly) some emotional maturity. But hey, not like this is the first time. So we get the normal mecha-on-mecha action sequences, which are kinda cool, and the expected teen drama stuff. Oh, and some daddy issues, because what is anime without a justified hatred of one's parents?
AND THEN THE SERIES LOSES IT'S FREAKING MIND
There is no better way to put it. I read on wikipedia that the person responsible for this travesty of philosophic trite had a bad batch of depression, and it shows. Anytime sci-fi has to double back to religious fantasy, it fails. I "got" the story but I hated it. Around this time the series shifts to adult themes over shounen, which is kinda cool. But since everyone was afraid of losing their jobs at the time (per Wikipedia "but also partly because by this point, production had begun running out of funding and failing to meet the schedule; this collapse has been identified by at least one Gainax employee as the impetus for Evangelion's turn into metafiction...") they decide to spew out a bunch of woe-is-me-the-world-sucks garbage.
ART: Art here is decent. Not great, but decent. Since this was a 90's anime, this is very excusable. At the time, the art had to be fantastic. Thank god I started watching anime now than back in the day.
Sound: Passable. Nothing great, nothing too easy to beat up on.
Character: Anyone who tells you that they liked the characters is lying (a) to themselves and/or (b) to you. All of them, especially the protagonist, have extremely annoying qualities (whinny, self-absorbed, withdrawn) that begin to drag on one's nerves. The protagonist particularly sucks -- 4 weeks of basic bootcamp as Gomer Pile would have given him something to really cry about.
Enjoyment: There is a reason why this series almost bankrupted the company. This is not what all anime should be, entertaining.
Overall: I was really looking forward to this anime after hearing such great things about it. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this is so well-regarded. I think it's because if you are the type of person that thinks the same as as some of the characters, this anime will sing to your soul or something.
Sometimes classics are deserving, sometimes they are not. This anime is the latter.
Time to travel back to the mid 1990s and evaluate one of the most influential anime of the last quarter century! Evangelion was once hailed as the deepest anime to ever exist. The random references to Gnostic Christianity, Jungian psychology, cross shaped explosions, and inclusion of classical music was seen as the very zenith of intelligence in anime. Eventually this caused a massive backlash and much like its fellow 90s hit, American beauty, internet critics attempted to push it off the pedestal and into the mud. It became all the rage to bash Eva for being pretentious and even the writer/director, Hideaki Anno, said that
most of the symbolism was totally pointless. Anno stated that he "hated most of the fandom, and that Eva had become the most overrated anime in history." Of course Anno does suffer from clinical depression and tends to be extemely self depreciating much like his protagonist Shinji. Although it doesn't have QUITE the critical acclaim it once did and has been somewhat replaced by Galactic Heroes, the bashing has calmed down and Eva is currently going through a positive reassessment by the anime viewing public.
The story and its characters:
I won't go TOO deep into story and characters because I don't want to spoil anything.
The story of Eva is simple on the surface at least. Aliens come to Earth and kids must pilot giant robots in order to stop them. We have seen this in countless anime and sentai shows right? What Eva did was rather brilliantly subvert this concept and show why emotionally fragile teenagers being given giant robots and told to save humanity would be a TERRIBLE idea. Eva is known for its many plot twists and ambiguity that leaves itself open to viewer interpretation. This is especially true for End of Evangelion and its ending, but it applies to the original ending as well. One problem many had with the original series and a reason for the many reboots was the highly limited animation budget during the second half of the series. It is a true story that Studio Gainax actually blew almost the entire budget on the first half, so that resulted in later episode scenes such as the infamous 10 minute escalator scene. The ending 2 episodes had so little budget left over that they are basically like watching a powerpoint presentation for an intro to philosophy class at your local college! I'm not joking, that's exactly what it is! One thing Eva did well that can't be denied was that Anno really bared his soul with us and showed us the depths of his depression and his angst. Anno claims he created the series to cope with the death of his mother. This was massively ambitious for a 1995 shounen. Eva pushed the boundaries in shounen and allowed psychological drama in anime to become more main stream. Before Eva, most shounen protagonists were plucky and happy go lucky like Goku from DBZ. By making Shinji a whiny kid with Freudian issues, Anno was reinventing the Shonen hero. This actually turned out to be a brilliant move because lonely and awkward Otaku could identify with Shinji and empathize in a way that they couldn't with the invincible Kenshiro or Goku. This empathy that viewers felt, made him an original and moving protagonist for the then rather stagnant Shounen genre. In one interview a kid famously asked Anno what Rei was like because we see so little of her personality. Anno being... Anno responded that she doesn't have a personality because she is a poorly written character by a terrible author. However, Rei's extremely mysterious nature and good looks made her one of the most beloved anime heroines of all time. In Japan she was known as "the premium girl" because figurines of her sold so well (despite the fact that this disgusted Anno). Asuka is a bundle of teenage hormones, an inferiority complex, and anger with as many psychological abandonment issues as Shinji. She is brash, loud, and incredibly obnoxious, but the audience still cares about her because the show does such a great job inspiring empathy for her character. Almost all of Eva's characters are psychological basket cases, whose very dysfunctionality makes them that much more interesting.
art, music, and technical stuff:
The opening theme is ranked among the greatest in anime history and the rest of the soundtrack is quite good as well. It really fits the atmosphere and amplifies the drama. This is especially true for the rather brilliant use of classical music, which had been done before in anime like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but wasn't common or main stream in 1995. The art and animation in the first half of the series was spectacular and put Studio Gainax on the map. Eva is a very well made show from a technical view and still quite impressive in its art and animation even 20 years later.
my final thoughts:
If you're reading this and somehow haven't seen Eva yet, I suggest you go forward knowing that it has some flaws, but that it also has a lot of things it does really well. It was a series that dared to be different, and had some real ambition. Yes, at times it could be a tad pretentious, had some budget issues, and can be frustrating, but that doesn't erase the massive contributions that Eva made to anime as a medium and shonen in particular. I award Eva with a 7/10.
PS. If you like psychologically damaged characters fighting aliens with giant robots and TONS of religious and philosophy allusions check out Xenogears for PS1 and the Xenosaga trilogy for the PS2. It is basically Eva...only better. Just be aware that these games can get EXTREMELY pricey especially Xenogears and Xenosage Episode 3: Also Sprach Zarathustra.
I realize that I'm likely painting a target on my face with this one, but here goes. Please read to the end, as my recommendation may surprise.
The biggest sin of NGE, in my opinion, is wasted potential. Be warned, I'll be touching on spoilers here, though I'll try to avoid any actual plot developments.
The story of NGE actually starts off rather strong. Eldritch abominations are attacking the world (primarily Japan), and only might mechs known as Eva-Units can defeat them. The only catch, only certain children can pilot these mechs, and doing so requires mental synchronization with the machines (in other words, if the
robot's arm gets ripped off, the pilot gets to feel it). I love this premise, and it proves a great deconstruction of the genre. The problem is that eventually the story devolves into a pity party so full of skin-deep symbolism that there's no real... victory involved. There's bad ends, and then there's spiraling into a whirlpool of depression that aims to take the world with it.
The art direction is actually rather solid. Character designs are unique, for the time (really everyone else began copying this), and when the show does an action scene, they do a wonderful job of it. Sadly, the limited budget of the show leaves us with several scenes that consist of stills. Still, props for doing a great job with what they had.
A true high point of the show, this is where a great chunk of effort came it. Even the dub is quality, and it's a 90's dub. I came in expecting a few laughs, but I was pleasantly surprised. The music is well-done, but not varied. I mean, I love fly me to the moon, but pick another song, Hideaki.
Hoo-boy. This is the hardest part for me. It's not that the characters are bad, per se; it's that they had wonderful potential for growth, and then stagnate AT BEST. Shinji is a whiny wimp who looks like he'd fit in well in a coming of age story. Sadly, he stays in the whole "Somebody love me!" stage pretty much the whole way through, and the few times he does grow, some event comes along to destroy it. Rei is an... acceptable excuse, but that's going into spoiler territory. Clever naming though. I can approve. The other likable characters all have something come along to ruin the growth they've had (again, heading into spoilers, so I have to be a little vague). Gendo's a prick. I am accepting of this fact. Moving on. Asuka................ she could have been great. She could have been one of the best characters in the show. She starts off selfish, and abusive, and arrogant. It's shown later that she came from a damaged family. But rather than realizing that there are people who care about her, that she doesn't need to prove anything, she just spirals into depression worse than any other character.
I know this will vary heavily from person to person, but what I love most in a story is character growth. As detailed above, I didn't get that AT ALL, and it really hampered my enjoyment of the show.
Overall, should you watch this? Yes. At least once. The show has some virtues, but I felt those virtues were heavily overshadowed by the themes of depression that began to permeate the show. It can be done right, but I don't think NGE was the show for it. Just be sure you're in a stable frame of mind when you do watch it. I've met those who actually fell into bouts of depression after watching this show's conclusion. Oh, and thanks for reading to the end.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably familiar to most of you. It's a well-known series from Gainax written by Anno Hideaki. It's also an anime I never got all the way through before this point. I tried several years before I wrote my first review when I was watching a bunch of anime because they had Hayashibara Megumi. I got through Nuku Nuku, Blue Seed, Saber Marionette, the Slayers, Love Hina, Bakuretsu Hunters and some others. Evangelion was the only series I couldn't get through. The characters annoyed me more than any cast I'd ever seen and the story was pants. In the end I got
to that episode where Shinji and Asuka have to time their attacks using DDR, and no I don't know which episode that is numerically, and the sheer stupidity of that plot point resulted in my looking up the plot summaries for the remaining episodes to see if it was ever going to improve and promptly dropping it.
My ignoring the franchise ended last year when I was asked to review the film, End of Evangelion, which was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. In fact, I would rather watch one of Michael Bay's films than re-watch that. Now, I've been asked to go back and watch the series in its entirety and give it a chance. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to it. That being said, some of the series and films I've re-watched from that time period have turned out to be much better or worse than I remember. So, Evangelion could end up being better than my memory indicates. I certainly hope so because otherwise this is going to be painful. Let's take a look and see.
In the far off year of 2015, fifteen years after the second impact cataclysm, mankind finds itself under siege by beings called “Angels.” Our protagonist, Shinji, is assigned to pilot a giant robot called an Eva and fight against the angels. Otherwise, a third impact could come and destroy everything. Unbeknownst to him, the organisation he's working for is keeping secrets that could be more destructive than the angels.
Now, you might think setting the initial event that kicks off your story a scant five years in the future, the series started running in 1995, is absolutely moronic and just serves to make it horribly dated very quickly, but it has to be set in 2000. You see, Anno was making a satirical statement about the fact that government agencies used to lie. I know, shocking.
Some might also call the writing weak for minor details like the angels having no real motivation, the NERV organisation being more transparently evil than a Captain Planet villain, the narrative grinding to a halt halfway through and never reaching any kind of real resolution or the ending in general. The people who say this just don't get the deeper meaning behind all of these factors. The angels have to be depicted as having no motivation because giving them motivations would make NERV's transparent evil too obvious. NERV has to be transparently evil because government agencies used to lie. The story has to grind to a halt to illustrate that life doesn't always have neat resolutions. You might argue that a narrative needs a sensical resolution but that's just nitpicking.
In a world where most media tries to have characters who are endearing, complex, realistic or some combination thereof, Evangelion makes the bold decision of having characters who are none of those things. These are characters who are all of a quarter-dimensional. Sure, in a series like Highschool of the Dead or Crime Edge having characters that basic would hurt the narrative, but Evangelion pulls it off ingeniously. You see, Anno adds depth by giving virtually every character severe parent issues. You might think that sounds absolutely horrendous and annoying, but it's not. It's ingenious.
I will grant that the art is not great, even by the standards of its time. That being said, there are some very clever artistic choices. Like making most of the angels look like rejected super sentai villains. There's also the daring decision to show fourteen year old girls naked. It might sound pervy, but it is very essential to the underlying themes.
Hayashibara Megumi and Ogata Megumi are two of the greatest actresses ever to grace the industry. Hayashibara Megumi might even be the best voice actress in any language ever. In addition to these powerhouses, Evangelion has Miyamura Yuko, Mitsuishi Kotono, Ishida Akira and several other talented people. With such a talented cast, Evangelion made the intrepid decision to have none of them act. It might sound like inexcusably bad direction, but it's very important to the themes that each actor only gets allocated one or two emotions. The music is pretty good.
The ho-yay factor is a 2/10. There's a little bit between Shinji and Kaworu.
For the one person out there who didn't pick up on the sarcasm in the preceding paragraphs, I'll say it clearly. This is one of the worst anime I've ever seen. The writing is horrid, using several elements that could be good if very well written but with all of them being handled completely incompetently. The characters are less than one-dimensional, thoroughly unlikable, and downright obnoxious. They neither act nor talk like anything remotely resembling a real person. I apologise to everyone, myself included, who has an actual depressive disorder since so many people offensively excuse the terribly written Shinji as just “being depressed.” The art would be middling, even with the ridiculous looking enemies, except for the gratuitous teenage nudity because the artists are pervy assholes. They got a stellar cast, which went entirely to waste. About the only positive element is that the music is actually pretty good.
Now, I know someone is going to tell me I didn't get the “deeper meaning” behind the pretentious twaddle, so I looked up what Anno had to say about it. Which is that there is no deeper meaning in Evangelion. So, why exactly do people think there's a deeper meaning here? Allow me to explain.
Finding meaning in something like Evangelion is a type of Apophenia, or seeing patterns and connections where none exist. The fact is, a lot of people see things like random religious symbols or the moments inside what passes for a “mind” in Whiny, Blank Slate or Anger Issues, as proof that there's a hidden meaning. So, they look for what it could be and they find something that satisfies them. If you're looking for a deep meaning, you will find it, regardless of whether or not there actually is one. It doesn't matter if a series is meaningless, simple and straight-forward, random or downright stupid.
As an exercise, Let's revisit Kill La Kill, assuming that it has a deeper meaning instead of just being a dumb action series. The series is actually a cautionary tale about the misuse of, and over-reliance on technology. It makes the brilliant move of using clothing, one of the most basic elements of our modern society, for this endeavour. It presents a nuanced approach, having clothing used both for good and ill. I could point to scenes like Mako and her family being corrupted by opulence only to discard their clothing and emerge as a noble poor family again. Sure, you could probably poke holes in this idea if you've seen the actual show, but the point is that it's ridiculously easy to construct your own meaning, especially if you're convinced that there is one.
The final rating, 1/10. To paraphrase a writer with actual talent, if the word “hate” was engraved on every atom of my body, it would not be a billionth of the hate I have for this series. It's downright atrocious and it was painful to sit through to the extent that you could force people to watch it as a method of torture. Next week, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku. I need to read some Alan Moore to try and fix the damage the idiocy inherent to this pile of rancid fecal matter did to my brain cells.
Since I started watching anime, it seemed that all anybody could do was talk about how amazing this show is. In a sense, they're right. When one watches this show, they must see it through a lens of how revolutionary Evangelion was at the time, and how largely it influenced anime. However, this review isn't about that. This review is about how enjoyable this anime is to watch. Evangelion is well-written, full of symbols, and smartly deconstructs the mecha genre; however, it is pretentious, at its best underwhelming, and at its worst a complete waste of time to watch.
Let me preface
this by saying that I am not a fan of the mecha genre. However, I was assured repeatedly by fans who swear by this show that this show is a psychological thriller at heart, and that the mecha aspect isn't very important. And with that, I feel misled. Between the lack of cliffhangers, the episodic plot structure, and the fairly predictable mecha fights, I was at times forcing myself to watch the next episode as I so dearly hoped that the next one would become more captivating and finally begin to shed light on why this show is so revered. Unsurprisingly, I was disappointed.
Some would argue that the plot predictability comes from how much this show influenced future shows that I've probably already seen. Even if this were true, it doesn't fix the problem; it only shifts the blame around. Moreover, the episodic plots, predicable or not, still were not compelling in the slightest. This is the real issue, and regardless of what causes these issues, it doesn't change the fact that it makes the show far less entertaining.
Ironically, I liked the last two episodes more than the rest of the show combined. Perhaps it was because the writers couldn't use mecha battles and instead had to write some actually interesting and compelling character or philosophy-driven content. I won't get into detail as to what happens in them, but they were a breath of fresh air and a remarkable improvement to the series (even if their budget was nearly nonexistent at that point).
Evangelion is a tricky case. Yes, the show is filled with symbolism and motifs and other such nonsense, but packing an otherwise mediocre series with symbolic imagery doesn't inexplicably improve the enjoyment of the show. Fans of this show berate others who didn't like it for not "getting" it, and that people who truly understood the show would love it. This variant of the No True Scotsman fallacy is the exact same thing that similar fans use to dismiss those who didn't like FLCL, and it's just as wrong. If you enjoy the mecha genre enough to see a deconstruction of it, and don't mind some predictability, Evangelion will be right up your alley. Otherwise, you are only wasting your time.
This was a rather tricky programme to review. Great pains were taken to avoid spoilers so if you're a fan of Eva, please don't take umbrage with me for not going in-depth with certain areas. If you happen to dislike Eva or feel that it's overrated, I'd still encourage you to read through this entire review. Feedback is greatly appreciated, as always. On another note, this review will NOT cover Evangelion's religious symbolism at all. I tried to in earlier drafts of this review, but they just made the review much longer and more tedious than they needed to be.
The last thing I want to
talk about before I go into the review is the current state of Evangelion's licensing. Unfortunately, Neon Genesis Evangelion is currently unlicensed. It was originally licensed to ADV Films before its inevitable collapse and then the license was transferred over to Section23 Films. Unfortunately, the license expired in mid-2012 and the show has since gone out-of-print with the official DVD releases of the programme priced as high as $300 on Amazon. I am aware that Evangelion was also licensed by Madmen Entertainment in Australia, however I'm not too sure if Madmen Entertainment still holds the license.
The best we can hope for is Funimation to pick up the show and give it a Blu-ray release in honour of Evangelion's upcoming 20th birthday in November of 2015. If you wish to watch Evangelion, you'll either have to settle for bankruptcy and buy the DVDs for an absurdly high price, torrent it, or watch it on a site like KissAnime or what have you. Sorry, that's just the way it is. ;-;
"Evangelion" is a name that you've either heard of in the past or have just read about now since you're reading this review. Arguably one of the most influential and yet most controversial anime series of all time, this is a show that you'll either love the hell out of, viscerally hate, or just watch once and then go on to cut your wrists and black your eyes so you can fall asleep tonight and die (please tell me you get the reference). Okay, that's not really fair but it's still something to be said that virtually EVERYONE who goes into Evangelion comes out with something different.
Now, a lot of people say that this show is nothing more than pretentious garbage and that interpretation certainly is a valid one, given that there are some moments where this show feels like it gets up its own ass. BUT, that's not entirely the case. I don't really care how much of a pretentious fanboy I sound like when I say this, but in order for you to "properly" appreciate Evangelion, you'll have to understand the mindset of Hideaki Anno when he went on to create this programme.
Now, I'm not completely filled in on his back-story, but this is how I understand things went down around the time Eva was being produced: Anno fell into depression for four years, he became disillusioned with the otaku lifestyle, among other such things. He was angry and he needed an outlet to vent out his frustrations. Seeing as how he was an animator, he decided to come up with an anime series that would basically just be one big "FUCK YOU" to whomever he pleased (which at the time were the otakus whom he's grown to despise) and would just ruin the very things that specific group loves.
The concepts behind this programme were simple: what would happen if we took real people and forced them into similar situations that happened in any Gundam and/or any harem show? Not only that, but what would people realistically be like if a post-apocalyptic situation occurred? What would happen to the son of a man who lost his wife and was appointed to be head of an organisation which deploys giant robots to fight some unknown threat? How would common anime archetypes translate into the real world? Combine these ideas with a frustrated animator with a lot of pent-up rage against a community of people whose lifestyle he became disillusioned with plus extremely stressful work conditions and what you'll get is Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Neon Genesis Evangelion was a project that was seemingly destined to do two things: tank horribly and either worsen Hideaki Anno's depression or drive him to suicide. Gainax's poor accounting practices at the time basically meant that Evangelion was given a very small budget to work with (which was almost completely exhausted before the final two episodes were made; more on that later) and the general consensus at the time was that Evangelion would get cancelled within 5-10 episodes. However, their assumptions couldn't have been further from the truth. Evangelion was a huge success, and what probably kept Gainax from going out of business at that point in time. Why was it such a huge success? I don't know, but I'm guessing because it effectively took all of the mecha and harem tropes and then completely subverted them.
Have you ever wished that the world you lived in was more like the anime(s) that you love so dearly? Let's say for example you're an avid fan of mech shows, would you wish that your life would be similar to the main character's life in your favourite mech show? I mean... YOU GET TO PILOT A GIANT FUCKING ROBOT. Instant respect from the common bystander, girls with low self-esteem and questionable morals may very well end up dropping their panties at the sight of you, and once again: YOU GET TO PILOT A GIANT FUCKING ROBOT. Remember the MEGAS XLR theme? “You dig giant robots, I dig giant robots, we dig giant robots, chicks dig giant robots.” Well... sometimes it's not always like that.
You see, MEGAS XLR takes the optimistic route. However, Evangelion is thoroughly entrenched in pessimism. Every single character in the show has some deep-seated psychological trauma, and I do mean EVERY character. From the Eva pilots to the commanders at NERV and even the random bystander who had no dialogue, every single person in Evangelion is fucked up in the head. Why is everyone like that? Because of the eminent threat of death. The entire world as people once knew it was completely destroyed, leaving many places to be desolate wastelands. Half of humanity's population was eradicated with the only traces of their existence being grave markers. Whole cities are wiped off the map and the survivors ended up being forced to relocate. 15 years of relative peace then gets interrupted when the mysterious Angels start attacking, seemingly for no apparent reason.
One rather bizarre thing to note is that you can't really tell that since the first 15 or so episodes of Evangelion do follow a rather typical mech show formula... albeit with a special twist thrown in here and there. Jovial and upbeat music is a rather frequent sight, we get to see common harem tropes at work, etc. Hell, Evangelion actually kind of felt like a feel-good mecha/harem show (in a vein similar to Full Metal Panic!). BUT... then came along Episode 16, and then you got to see how fucked up and morbid EVERYTHING about this show is. We get to see that Shinji's lifestyle isn't a real sex fantasy, and the women in Evangelion are actual women with real problems who DON'T need a penis to feel like they're worth something. We also learn how thankless being an Eva pilot really is.
EVERYONE'S livelihoods are directly linked to the success of the giant robot pilot. Under such conditions, you wouldn't receive the praise and the respect of the people for being a pilot. If you fuck up, you're directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds upon thousands. If you succeed, you get nothing because that's what you're supposed to do. Let's not forget the fact that this EXTREMELY heavy responsibility is being placed on the shoulders of teenagers. Why? Well, it's never properly explained why but truth be told, there's no need for any explanation. Hideaki Anno wanted to create a show that would subvert common mecha/harem tropes, and one thing that a lot of mech shows at the time had in common was the fact that the pilots were very young OR had deceptively youthful appearances.
The whole point of Evangelion is to show what would happen if we took three teenagers and forced them to not only deal with the burdens of society and their own adolescence, but also having to pilot a giant robot in order to SAVE THE WORLD where the threat of their own deaths is always a very real possibility with virtually no sympathy whatsoever. An explanation as to why our pilots are adolescents would certainly be appreciated, but it's not outright necessary to the plot. With that said, let's take a look at our characters. Evangelion's got a wide variety of characters, each with their own varying degrees of depth and relevance, but let's just take a look at our three mecha pilots and their overseer.
Fans of Eva and pretty much anyone else who's ever taken a cursory look at the Evangelion franchise as a whole will pretty much come to the same conclusion about Shinji: he's a whiny, useless little bitch boy who runs away from everything and well... yeah, he's guilty as charged. But why is that? Keep in mind: he's supposed to be what our lead mecha pilot would realistically be like given the situation he's placed in. His father abandoned him so that he can work with some government organisation he's never even heard of and his mother's dead. Obviously there's going to be some abandonment issues at work but it's not just that.
The first time he's seen his father in umpteen years, and Gendo tells him to get into a giant robot and fight against some unknown threat with absolutely no prior notice, no training, or anything of the sort and there's a good chance that he may very well end up being killed. How else is he supposed to react? Is Shinji supposed to be ecstatic that he'll be piloting a giant robot? NO!!! I don't care what you say, if it were you in that very position, you sure as hell would do exactly what Shinji's doing. I mean, piloting a giant robot is cool and all, but if you have to pilot a giant robot at such short notice with no training or anything of the sort against an unknown threat that may very well end up killing you, common sense dictates you having to think more than twice about this.
He runs away from his problems rather than confronting them because truth be told, that's a relatively normal response. Think of everything I just mentioned: his pre-existing psychological trauma, the burdens of society and adolescence placed upon him, his ESTRANGED father using him as a means to an end, having to pilot a giant robot and combat mysterious beings that may very well end up killing him, all the while having to put up with all of that with virtually no sympathy whatsoever. All things considered, he's got balls for actually getting into the damn robot in the first place. When he does run away, he always returns. Sure, he can run away in the midst of an angel attack like anyone else would. But when he's confronted with the reality of the situation: where mindless destruction occurs and innocent people get caught in the crossfire, he inevitably comes back to save the day because he knows that he can put an end to all of the madness.
When you take all of that into consideration, Shinji isn't as unlikeable as he might seem. HOWEVER... I will concede that Shinji can get rather intolerable at times (alongside Asuka for reasons I'll explain later). That's his biggest character flaw: yes, he's empathetic and my sympathies really do lie with him for a good chunk of the show. HOWEVER, his constant complaining gets rather irritating after a certain point, and you're just begging for him to shut the fuck up and do something. Thankfully, we get a heaping helping of catharsis whenever Shinji overstays his welcome in the form of seeing Shinji getting his ass handed to him by Angels and the like. Okay, well he's not an incompetent Eva pilot in the slightest (quite the contrary) but I just can't help but feel immensely satisfied seeing Shinji get his ass handed to him after I just watched him do NOTHING but complain. But, I digress.
Now we come over to Asuka Langley Soryu, the Second Child. Now, Asuka actually makes her debut rather late in comparison to the other Eva pilots (Asuka shows up in Episode 8, rather than the pilot episode like the others) but regardless, she still manages to make more than enough of an impact on the story while not faltering a bit in her characterisation. One of the second biggest complaints I hear about people who don't like Eva is the fact that Asuka is an intolerable tsundere bitch. You know what? You're right on the money with that one: Asuka was specifically designed to get under your skin and make you hate her. Hell, she gets under my skin 5 times out of 10. But why is this?
Well, given that Shinji is what our lead mecha pilot would realistically be like, what sort of trope(s) is Asuka meant to tackle? Well... I've got a faint idea of what Asuka is supposed to be: she's supposed to be the embodiment of how tsunderes would actually be like in real life, while also being the complete polar opposite of Shinji. While Shinji is passive and introverted, Asuka is aggressive and extroverted. Did I forget to mention that she's also a combat prodigy akin to Mikasa Ackermann from Attack on Titan? Despite all of this, she suffers from almost the same kind of psychological trauma that Shinji suffers from.
Her aloof and confident exterior is just a mask for a gaping inferiority complex that rivals that of Mello's from Death Note. She's a combat prodigy because piloting Eva-02 is the only way for her to ever feel validated. She lives for the praise of others, and thus can't stand it whenever someone steals her thunder. When Shinji and/or Rei save her from being killed by an Angel, she takes umbrage with them because it's not the angel she lost to, it's Shinji/Rei that she lost to.
Being such an obnoxious tsundere half the time, it's only natural for her to end up like Shinji whenever she overstays her welcome. What do I mean? Well, whereas Shinji just gets roughed up by the Angels or what have you, Asuka gets taken down a few pegs if she ends up overstaying her welcome and it's just so cathartic to see her squirm whenever Gendo, Ritsuko, or Misato are favouring Shinji or Rei over her. With that said, she's also the most entertaining Eva pilot to watch given that she's great at combat and if nothing else, some of her banter with Shinji et al is rather amusing to say the least.
With so much hostility built up toward her comrades, one would expect her to not show any compassion whatsoever. BUT, that's not the case at all. Remember, Asuka is a tsundere (a rather extreme one, but a tsundere none the less). She's got an aloof exterior, but people keep forgetting that loving interior of hers... which is quite understandable since it never really manifests itself all that often but when it does, it's certainly going to catch you off-guard. The most bizarre thing is that she's 14 years old, yet she's constantly throwing herself at her "keeper," Ryoji Kaji who is quite literally twice her age. It might seem off-putting to you and you might dismiss it because it's okay in Japan or some shit like that. HOWEVER, THIS WAS ACTUALLY OFF-PUTTING TO JAPANESE VIEWERS TOO!!!! But strangely enough, her "deredere" characterisation always manages to come into play whenever Asuka is around Kaji.
So, you might think that Asuka only shows this other side of her personality to Kaji BUT you'd be sorely mistaken. You see, as bizarre as it might be... Asuka and Shinji actually have a thing for one another. The problem? They're both completely fucked up in the head. Did you honestly expect their relationship to resemble something out of a feel-good romcom ecchi harem? Oh fuck no. This is Evangelion! Whenever one side tries to make a move on the other, the other pushes them away. Asuka's aggressive attitude is what's keeping Shinji from approaching her. However, Shinji's withdrawn and passive personality is the very reason WHY Asuka lashes out at him. It's the perpetual dance of hedgehogs... which actually brings me to something I forgot to mention earlier.
Considering the fact that almost EVERYONE in Evangelion is fucked up in the head, it's only natural for them to be unable to form any sort of healthy relationships. This leads to something known as the "hedgehog's dilemma." When it's cold, hedgehogs tend to huddle together for warmth. The problem is the fact that the closer the hedgehogs get to one another, the more they risk hurting each other. Character relationships in Evangelion work the exact same way, especially given how fucked up everyone is in this show. As much as you'd probably hope for Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Misato, Gendo, Ritsuko, or whatever other character(s) you've grown attached to actually improve/grow as characters, that will NEVER be the case. That's one of the more depressing aspects about Evangelion, which is such a shame given that I grew quite fond of Shinji despite how unbearable he can get. But, I digress.
Now we have Rei Ayanami... aka Hideaki Anno's greatest success and greatest failure. Rei Ayanami is one of the most interesting things about Evangelion. You see, Hideaki Anno created Rei in order to demonstrate just how creepy an emotionless doll character would be. HOWEVER, that wasn't the case at all. Instead, Hideaki Anno pretty much created the prototypical moe girl. Rei was so popular to the point where other programmes ended up creating "clones" of her, each with their own varying degrees of depth and/or development with some clones (i.e. Yuki Nagato from Haruhi) getting better character development than Rei herself ever received.
But why is Rei so popular? Well, my inner cynic tells me that given how Rei is submissive, doesn't talk back, and the like, perverse otakus took to her because they now had material to work with for their rape fantasies. HOWEVER... while I did find Rei to actually be rather creepy when I actually did stop and think, there were many moments where she was portrayed as a helpless victim (did I forget to mention that she pioneered the bandage girl aesthetic?), and I genuinely did find myself wanting to protect her. You know... I can't help but wonder how different Rei could've been if she wasn't always wearing a cast/eye patch/bandage and didn't get herself into situations that would evoke a protective instinct.
Now, as strange as this might sound... I actually could find myself relating to Rei, even if only a little. Maybe it's because I'm introverted and I don't really talk to people I don't know all that much but it's still something to be mentioned. The bizarre thing is that Rei herself actually isn't emotionless, but rather she doesn't know how to express them until Shinji asks her to smile to express gratitude after saving her in Episode 6. Okay, well... compared to how bizarre the rest of the show gets toward the end, I guess this is actually relatively normal. It's still something to be mentioned, though.
The last character I'm willing to talk about is Misato Katsuragi, who actually witnessed and lived through the apocalypse that set the stage for Evangelion. Now, as a survivor of the Second Impact, you'd think that she'd also have some deep-seated psychological trauma and well... yeah, she definitely does. However, in comparison to Shinji and Asuka, Misato is arguably the most well-adjusted of them all. She's jovial when she needs to be and serious when the situation calls for it. She also provides all three Eva pilots with much-needed emotional support... although they rarely capitalise on said emotional support.
Misato is quite likeable, and she really does help prevent the show from turning into a teenage angst-ridden melodrama. HOWEVER... there were quite a few things I found rather unnerving about her character. For example, the way she introduces herself to Shinji is with a picture of her bending over with her right hand making a peace sign... with an arrow pointing to her cleavage. However, just like how Kaji is twice as old as Asuka, Misato is twice as old as Shinji. Of course, Shinji doesn't really display the same sort of... "attraction" to Misato that Asuka displays to Kaji.
After this, Misato tries to behave more like a motherly figure to Shinji... while still hinting that Misato is a potential love interest for Shinji. You know... it's not the subliminal Oedipus complex that disturbs me. It's the fact that Misato is actually attracted enough to a 14-year-old boy to actually send a picture of herself in such a pose to make the first impression and yet somehow ignore all of that JUST to be a motherly figure to him. It also doesn't help that End of Evangelion further complicates shit like that, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it. So, as good of a character as Misato is... she just creeps me out (moreso than Rei, which is rather surprising).
Taking a break from all of that rambling about story and characters, let's get on with one of Evangelion's biggest flaws: its animation (or lack thereof... asterisk). While the art direction is pretty damn good and everything as a nice amount of detail put into it, the actual animation can just get downright lazy and there are some decisions where you'll just find yourself wondering "Really? Was it actually necessary to animate something so pointless as that?" So in some respects, the actual animation feels vaguely reminiscent of Gantz, although it was never quite THAT bad. However, there's a LOT of points in the show where you can quite obviously tell where they cut corners... or rather took out a chainsaw and cut huge segments out of.
For example, there are a lot of segments where the camera is zoomed into the characters face, so they don't have to animate anything but the mouth movements. HOWEVER, there are MANY instances where Gainax actually had the mouths covered, obscured by light, or just plain out-of-focus so they don't even have to pay to animate the mouth movements. Fun fact: Gendo Ikari's signature pose is a direct result of the lack of budget this show had! Almost all of his appearances where he had any dialogue of relevance, his hands would be covering his mouth so Gainax wouldn't even have to pay to animate the lip-flap movements.
There are also an annoyingly high number of points where we end up staring at still frames with nothing but ambient noise playing in the background for almost 3 minutes (I'm looking at you, Episode 4)! You know... if they were just doing this shit because of a corporate mandate for episode length, they could've just done us all a favour and just let us stare at a black screen for 3 minutes in silence. That would've been a million leagues more entertaining than making us sit through 3 minutes of Shinji staring at Misato while ambient noise was going on in the background, only for Shinji to say "I'm home" and then cut to the end credits.
There's also no shortage of segments where they ended up re-using the same few frames of animation in the earlier episodes where it was all jovial and shit. But, I can't really hold that against Evangelion since many anime series I watched that came from the early 90s (i.e. Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing) ended up doing that at some point or another. Eva just happens to do it on a more frequent basis across a shorter period of time. With that said... it's still rather off-putting, but then again I grew up in the late 90s and early 2000s where anime was starting to actually have a budget so hell if I'd know.
Another bizarre thing to note about the animation itself is the fact that there's no shortage of fan service available to the point where Tiffany Grant, Asuka's English VA would say that there would be more fan service in the next episode during the next-episode preview at the end of the one I just watched. You'd think that the fan service would be used in such a way where it would actually be used to keep everyone's interest in the show while the animation budget slowly went away, right? You'd be sorely mistaken. As early as the first episode, we get treated to out-of-place shots of Misato's ass and breasts among other such things. HOWEVER, the fan service almost entirely dissipates by Episode 16 as the show gets increasingly morbid.
I know I spent a great deal bitching about the how lazy/odd the animation gets, BUT thankfully Gainax manages to make up for it in almost every single episode... except the final two because of reasons I'll get into in a minute or two. Basically, the vast majority of the budget was spent animating the Eva battles, and the remainder of it was spent on everything else. The Eva battles are perhaps some of the most entertaining fights I've ever seen in any mecha anime I've ever seen, and my guess is that if Gainax gave Evangelion a bigger budget, THIS is what the rest of the show would look like. So I can't stay TOO hard on the animation.
However, that lack of budget REALLY affects the storytelling to such a negative degree that you can't even begin to imagine. I mean, we get so many stills and walk cycles of Shinji to the point where it becomes tedious and you just begin to lose interest in what you're watching. The most infamous example of how bad the lack of budget affects the storytelling is the final two episodes. Basically, there was virtually NO budget left for these two episodes and the vast majority of it was spent re-using animation and having a good chunk of the episode animated in pencil... I shit you not, that actually did happen. Basically, nothing gets explained (directly) and there's a quite obvious lack of resolution.
Now, it's not like these two episodes are pointless since they do provide quite a bit of character insight and if you pay close enough attention, you start to get a faint idea of what just went down in the real world, since these last two episodes take place inside Shinji and Asuka's heads. HOWEVER... this was such a drastic change of style to the point where fans of the programme quite literally mailed death threats to Hideaki Anno/Gainax (some of which actually do show up in End of Evangelion). Suffice it to say, this was the programme that Gainax ended up developing their infamous reputation with how they end their shows.
Hideaki Anno and Gainax did eventually go on to produce Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion which is how the final two episodes of Evangelion were supposed to be (according to Hideaki Anno), but that didn't come by until 1997 and I don't even want to imagine how long it took for Manga Entertainment to license the movie, dub it, and distribute it only to go out-of-print a few years later. As far as endings go, I have to give EoE its own review but I will say this: it does a MUCH better job of resolving the story of Evangelion while still retaining that sort of "what the fuck am I watching?" atmosphere that Eva is known for.
The last thing I want to talk about in regard to Evangelion is the audio portion of it all. Now, the OST for Evangelion doesn't really do much to stick out and with the exception of the opening and a few tracks that play whenever shit gets REALLY morbid, there isn't really going to be much that would stick out in your mind unless you pay an unusually large amount of attention to what you listen to. The OP track, "Cruel Angel's Thesis" is a beloved classic and with great reason. It's matched with visuals that perfectly flow with the tone of the song and if nothing else, I find myself humming it at the most random of times. The ED however is nothing more than Muzak you'd hear in an elevator of a classy hotel or something, so there's that.
Now we come to the most interesting part of Evangelion: the English dub. This is a pre-Bebop dub, so you might think that this dub is shit. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. With the exception of the first four or so episodes, the entire dub is quite well-cast and executed. The reason why I left out the first four episodes is due to the fact that it was quite obvious that the VAs were getting accustomed to their roles and as such, there are quite a few segments of the first few episodes that sound... off, to say the least.
Now, I can't put too much blame on the director of the dub since he/she does smooth things out rather early on. HOWEVER, Evangelion 1.0 which happens to be a retelling of the first six episodes has the same cast as this dub, but it doesn't sound anywhere near as off as the first four episodes of the TV series. To be fair, the Rebuild of Evangelion movies are licensed by Funimation and they do a great job of their dubs while the TV series was licensed by ADV Films: a company that doesn't really seem to have a standard for dubbing quality given that so many of the things they've licensed (i.e. Elfen Lied, Azumanga Daioh, 5 Centimetres per Second, Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal) have dubs that vary quite a bit in terms of actual quality.
Spike Spencer does an excellent job of voicing Shinji, as does Tiffany Grant voicing Asuka. What I love about Grant's work as Asuka is the fact that she's fluent in German. Why is this important? Because Asuka herself is German and there are a few points where she speaks in German. That's a nice little touch and it's the small things like this that make me smile. However, my favourite performance would definitely have to come from John Swasey voicing Gendo Ikari. He does a great job at capturing just how cold and emotionally distant he is from Shinji and he plays off of Spike Spencer quite well in scenes where Shinji and Gendo have a lot of dialogue together. As for everyone else, they do a great job with the roles they've been given so props to ADV for not making a dub that's complete shit in the mid-to-late 90s.
On the whole, Neon Genesis Evangelion is certainly an experience that NO ONE should miss out on. This is one of those shows that has a reputation for being one gigantic mind fuck, which is true in some cases, but the story itself is rather easy to follow... it just gets rather tedious in the beginning because Gainax. Is it as great as people say it is? Oh fuck no. Is it a pretentious piece of garbage? Pretentious on occasion, but garbage? HELL to the fucking NO. If you seriously want a good idea of what Evangelion is like, you should just do yourself a favour and watch it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is perhaps the most popular anime of all time, trumping the majority of anime franchises, and is often considered to be the best anime of all time. Needless to say, it isn't. Not even close. Although it certainly had the potential to be, it just didn't live up to it. Which isn't to say Evangelion is bad, no. Evangelion is actually very good in many, many ways. The problem is, it counteracts this by having some horrible problem in another way.
The premise of Evangelion is set in 2015, set 15 years after the apocolypse, or "2nd Impact" wiped out half of humanity.
I do love when a show claims Judgement Day will happen in the near-future, and gets ultimately proven wrong. At any rate, humanity is 15 years later being attacked by these things called "Angels", for some reason, and must kill them in giant robots called "Evangelion", to prevent 3rd Impact from happening. And so beings our vague story of vague vagueness.
And what a vague story it is. Evangelion loves suspense like a fat kid loves twinkies, and will throw in 5 plot twists and/or questions per episode, without answering any of the present ones. It kicks off being something of a Monster-of-the-week thing, and does stick to the formula over the course of the next 26 episodes, but at the same time doing it, and pretty much everything else, completely different to anything and everything that has come before or since. Our normal plot is cut inbeetween with bizzare symbolism and obscure Biblical references, as well as the occassional Navel-gazing episode, which are usually a mental and visual mindfuck, and often very, very disturbing.
Horror is a genre that isn't used very much in anime, and while Evangelion is very much a Sci-Fi show, it becomes more horrific than anything i've seen in any horror movie. Nothing regularly associated with the genre comes close to being as sickening and disturbing as some of the thing you'll see in Evangelion, which I will avoid stating for the sake of massive spoilers. But all of these add to what Gainax does best: Immersion. I don't think i'd be overstating it to say that Evangelion is the most emmersive, involving anime there has ever been, and you genuinely feel an attachment to this world and its inhabitants. Except Asuka. I could rant for a loooooong time about why I hate Asuka, but let's just say she's an irritating bitch who has a large amount of reverse character development.
Speaking of the characters, the characterization falls into a weird void wherein I can't honestly decide if they were lazily written or perfectly formed. While some of them become unbearably whiny, uninteresting, bitchy, or downright twisted, don't real people often fall to the same pitfalls? I've known plenty of people like Asuka in my time, although none of them quite so fucked up, and I can honestly see a lot of realism in that. Although there is one character I will say was undeniably fantastic, which makes the fact that he appears for all of one episode all the more tragic - Kaworu. Whether or not he is a good character (a question very much up for debate for every single character in this show), every moment he is on screen is a joy, providing a strange kind of relief much akin to what he actually does in-story. And probably moreso to fangirls... I can imagine a million of them squeeing over that one particular scene in the shower. You know the one.
Production-wise, the show is a very large up-and-down case. Artistically, the style is likeable and unique, and really brings something to the show. However, the animation is full of enormous and blatant corner-cutting. I am willing to forgive this to some extent, though, in that it was used to interesting artistic merit. The soundtrack is a strong, memorable affair, with several vivid tracks that remain easy to associate with the series. The English dub is a strange mix of realism and annoyance, but it has to be credited in that you really can't imagine them sounding any different, something the Rebuild movies have very much proven.
But here's the show's enourmous downfall. You remember those aformentioned plot threads? The ones they introduced in bulk per episode? None of them are resolved. None. Not even a single one. The movie "End of Evangelion" makes a passable attempt at fixing that, but there's no fixing the unbridled fury that thing that calls itself an ending will doubtlessly induce.
But truly, any complaint I have is somewhat irrelevant, because you HAVE to see Evangelion. There is no other series like it, and it will always be a cult thing, but there's no way to know if you'll like it until you watch it, with Evangelion being one of the most polarizing shows there has ever been.
A must see, regardless of its many faults.
English Dub: 5/10
Overall: 5/10 (make it 7/10 for the first 24 episodes, but those last two bring the score down HARD.)
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most well known anime of the 1990s. Whether someone recommended it to you or you happened to read the name in passing, Evangelion is a name that’s impossible to escape if you’re a part of the anime community. However, with its fame also comes controversy. The show has got to be one of the most divisive anime ever made. Many love it and consider it to be one of the greatest anime to come out of the 1990s and others consider it to be a pretentious mess with irritating characters. Well based on the score I’m pretty sure
you can see which category I fall under. So without further ado let’s dig in.
The show is basically set 15 years after a global cataclysm and revolves around a secret organization called NERV which combats mysterious creatures known as Angels using things called Evangelions which are essentially mechas that are piloted by 14 year olds. Sounds simple enough right? The show starts off with a “monster of the week” narrative as Angels arrive in Tokyo 3 to fuck shit up and our three heroes use their Evas to combat them while employing different strategies each episode depending on what the Angel can do. These early episodes give us a basic albeit solid understanding of the setting as exposition is given through older characters as well as TV news reports, newspapers and the like. The early episodes also give us a solid understanding of a lot of major characters as some episodes don’t even feature any Angel battles and are just there to flesh out characters and their relationships with other characters. This is also done through fantastic character interactions that are, a lot of the time, filled with subtext. And speaking of subtext, there is a lot of foreshadowing in the show’s first half. It can be quite apparent when you eventually get to what it was foreshadowing later on or it can be oh so very subtle and thus the show is something that should be viewed more than once. It’ll set you up for a different experience each time knowing what is revealed to you later in the show. The tone of the first half can be very tense during its battle scenes considering what’s at stake and certain variables can get thrown in that make it all the more tense. Couple this with top-notch fight choreography and entertaining strategies and tactics and you have yourself a hell of an entertaining viewing experience. In contrast to this the moments off the battlefield are highly entertaining as well with well timed and very amusing comedic relief as well as the occasional dosage of fanservice (yummy).
The show’s second half however is where shit gets real and the tone gets darker. The tense and entertaining battle scenes are still there, but they’re a lot darker and have more psychological implications than those of the first half. The encounters with the Angels start to reveal the personal flaws and mental states of the characters as well as force characters to make tough decisions and witness traumatizing things. The comedic scenes are still there, but used a lot more sparingly and the fanservice virtually disappears from the show altogether. The show begins to get inside the heads of the characters and peels back their layers, revealing them as more complex than we were initially led to believe. The second half of the show also contains a lot of revelations, many of which were foreshadowed during the first half so as not to feel contrived. The conspiracy subplot involving NERV’s true purpose that was very briefly touched upon in the first half is now a lot more prevalent, character motivations are revealed, key plot points and mysteries are explained and tragic backstories are revealed.
The show is rather vague with certain story details and those looking for straightforward answers might be disappointed but it dangles the carrot close enough for the viewer to reach without it being too confusing. It goes for visual rather than verbal exposition at times and this is yet another reason the show should be watched more than once.
The show’s ending is…perhaps the most controversial thing about the show aside from the characters. The original TV ending for the show was made due to Gainax running out of funds and thus having to scrap the original ending for a more minimalistic one. While this ending does provide fantastic insight into the characters’ motivations, goals, emotions, wishes and fears it does leave quite a bit to be desired with regards to the story. Key plot points are left unexplained and this does leave the viewer feeling somewhat confused and maybe even a tad pissed off. However there is of course the film ending that is just as if not more controversial than the TV ending. That film is The End of Evangelion. It ties up the loose ends left by the series and provides us with fantastic and much needed closure for the character arcs. It also provides a context for the ending of the TV series, and the two surprisingly go hand in hand very well.
Now lets talk about one of the most divisive aspects of the show; its cast of characters. In my opinion, this is where the show shines brighter than most others as it has one of the most complex and fleshed out character casts I have ever encountered in any story.
The protagonist Shinji Ikari gets a lot of shit from both fans and haters of the show for being a “pussy” and an “irritating brat”. Well I’ll let you in on a nasty little fact about me; Shinji is one of my favourite anime protagonists of all time. Granted he’s angsty and whiny but he has good reasons for being the way he is. His mother died under dreadful circumstances when he was very young, his father had been absent for most of his childhood and when he’s reunited with him he chucks him into a situation he knows fuck all about and makes him carry the heavy burden of the fate of the city by making him pilot a mecha he initially knows fuck all about in order to fight a gigantic monster he knows fuck all about. Yeah, I don’t think I’d be a happy chappy either. In spite of this he’s thankfully given more depth than simply “being a pussy”. He’s given moments of levity in order to make him feel more human and said moments of levity make a lot of the things that happen to him throughout the show feel all the more poignant.
Another character who gets a lot of flack is Asuka Langley Soryu. She’s another pilot and serves as Shinji’s foil. While Shinji is shy, quiet and introverted, she’s loud, egotistical and energetic. A lot of people hate her because they see her as annoying, vain and bitchy. Quite frankly I find her obnoxious too and fail to see what all the lonely weeaboos see in her but I digress as that’s beside the point. She is an incredibly well written character and I find her intriguing in spite of my contempt for her personality. Her chemistry with Shinji is fantastic and she too has reasons for acting the way she does, which I won’t spoil.
The third pilot in the series is a girl named Rei Ayanami. She’s a seemingly emotionless girl who is very subservient. Her initial ambiguity is intriguing and she provides us with plenty of foreshadowing throughout the show, including foreshadowing regarding her origin. In spite of her lack of emotion, her interactions with the rest of the cast are interesting to watch and their feelings towards her tell you a lot about them. Much like everyone else, her layers are revealed later on as we get to see what her true motivations and emotions are and the show does an excellent job at making this feel natural and this is tricky to do as suddenly giving an emotionless character emotions can feel very contrived but the show avoids this through foreshadowing and hints.
The cast of this show is incredibly complex as all the major characters have backstories which make the way they act and think believable and realistic. All of the characters have motivations that are more complex than what they initially appear to be and their chemistry and interactions with the other characters is interesting as well as really believable. Overall the cast of this show is an achievement that shall likely go unrivalled for a long time.
The show’s animation is quite inconsistent and easily the show’s biggest flaw. At times (specifically the action scenes) the show can look absolutely incredible and able to rival some of the stuff coming out today but at other times it can be pretty damn lazy. The series was made on a low budget and it shows. It likes to cut corners and this is evident in scenes where a character’s mouth may be moving yet the rest of their body isn’t and scenes where one cell is used for a number of seconds. The art of the show on the other hand is excellent. Sadamoto’s character designs have their own unique flair while maintaining an obvious anime aesthetic.
The show’s soundtrack is pretty fantastic. First there’s the iconic opening, Cruel Angel’s Thesis, which is easily one of my favourite openings of all time. It’s catchy, memorable and really quite powerful. The show’s ending track is the famous Fly Me to the Moon. Hold your horses guys it ain’t the Sinatra version, each episode has a different singer covering the classic song. These covers can range from really good to FUCKING ENGRISH. The show’s OST is absolutely brilliant too. It has some bombastic John Williams-esque orchestral pieces for the battle scenes, giving them a grand scale. The other tracks are great too, all of which are memorable in some way or other. The tracks can range from melancholic and somber to lighthearted and wacky, depending on the scene in question and the tracks fit their respective scenes to a tee. The show’s Japanese voice track is excellent with actors portraying their characters wonderfully and expressing emotion very well. The English dub is a mixed bag however. Spike Spencer, Tiffany Grant and Amanda Winn Lee, the people who played Shinji, Asuka and Rei respectively, really have a grasp of the kind of characters they’re portraying. The same can be said about the rest of the cast. However, this being a 90s pre-Bebop dub some of the delivery is a tad cheesy, particularly from NERV’s ground crew (“Its an Angel!!!”).
Not everyone will like Evangelion. It has a story that’s hard to follow at times, inconsistent animation and characters that some may find obnoxious. However it is something that all anime fans need to see due to its legacy and its impact on the medium of anime as a whole. As for me I absolutely adore the series and consider it to be one of the all time greats. While many see a pretentious show about a whiny kid piloting a mecha, I see a wonderful coming of age story about a troubled kid learning about his place in the world.
Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Just by saying that name, almost any anime fan will go into an extremely cautious silence. The weight of that series, among fans and haters alike, cannot be underestimated, as it's influence on the anime industry and anime fans is enormous; chances are that even if you hate the series, you can't deny it's positive influence on the anime industry, considering that chances are that you may even have something that was influenced by this series on your favorites, even if you immensely dislike the series in question.
Now, my opinion is a fairly different one from the vast majority of people who watch
this series. I'm already seeing a plethora of "Not Helpful" votes just by giving Evangelion the score I did, considering Evangelion is often referred to as a series that is either considered well above average among the greatest achievements in the history of anime (which it is, in a certain sense) or a complete pile of pretentious garbage that a pack of elitist wannabes hype to drill into the heavens that is unworthy of being compared to the series it influenced.
In any case, enough of me talking about that and onto the review:
I'm already seeing eyebrows being raised. But let me clarify something before I give my opinion: I am aware that Evangelion is meant to be a deconstruction of the mech genre. I am aware of the various themes it was trying to handle, ranging from Freudian psychology to Christian symbolism to the Hedgehog's dilemma to Social Darwinism (to some extent, anyway).
Everything I said sounds good, right? The series however, assumes instantly that you know all of these themes and will make sense of it if jumbled together, which leads to an extremely flawed and contradictory form of storytelling.
Allow me to explain what I mean. Series should know how to show a story, while providing minimal, but necessary information in telling a story.
This series assumes that instead of telling a story, the viewers will make up the story for it, ruining most of the credibility the series had going for it.
And onto the show aspect; the series loves placing irrelevant symbolism at the wrong times.
Such as when the angels get defeated, a giant cross (or multiple giant crosses) with no meaning whatsoever appears.
Or making characters act completely out of character and unrealistically (I'm looking at you, Asuka) just to emphasize it's themes, forgetting that if the viewer doesn't connect with the character in question, any point in it's themes are deemed irrelevant to the casual viewer.
Seriously, this series could have done so much more with it's themes, but instead resorted to randomly tossing in big words and jumbling it's themes together in the hope something would make sense to the viewer, leaving a mildly interesting story with interesting ideas (with absolutely no idea how to execute them) and a miserable excuse for an ending that in my opinion doesn't make any sense whatsoever, although I'm not entirely sure how anyone can make sense of that ending personally even after watching End of Evangelion. But that's a review for another time.
The artwork looks quite interesting and well-done for it's time, and the mech designs as well as the detailed Lovecraft-styled Angels look pretty damn good too.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the animation during most of the series, as it randomly fluctuates between looking absolutely gorgeous during action scenes to looking absolutely terrible most of the time. This lead to some rather...questionable scenes to say the least, including the ending, the infamous train scene and the countless times (No, for those who haven't seen it, I am not joking) character's mouths were covered and the frame would stay completely still for around 2 minutes.
The exceptional artwork is therefore put down by the extremely low quality, inconsistent animation, hence the low score.
Decent voice acting and soundtrack and an amazing opening.
All right! Everything is perfect!
Until we get to the classical music. No seriously, the classical music ruins the atmosphere so badly it's not even funny (OK, I jest, I find it bloody hilarious, especially in completely still scenes). Who's idea was it to randomly insert classical music in the hope people would make sense of it?
It loses what would've been a perfect or near-perfect score thanks to this problem I encountered.
Where do I start?
The three children are all annoying, angst-ridden, irritating and serve later in the series as tools to advance the themes and plot of the story. The character that falls victim to this the most is Asuka, who has (mild spoilers) feelings for Shinji yet changes personality to be jealous of him off the drop of a hat, which emphasizes the theme in question in all the wrong ways.
We never discover the motives for some of the characters for acting as they did, which for several of these characters is a huge mistake considering how important they are to the advancement of the plot.
A huge shout out however, to Misato Katsuragi, who was easily my favorite character and the most consistent and most lovable character of the show. Sure she has...problems, to say the least, but she is the only character who stops me from giving this section a lower score. If only all the characters were as well-written as her...
Ultimately, I feel Evangelion is a completely average mech anime with interesting ideas but one of the poorest executions to those ideas, due to underdeveloped characters, ill-fitting music at times, low quality animation and lackluster storytelling, which I found greatly hampered the show's great moments and throw it off from what it could have been to complete mediocrity.
Overall, I give this series a 5 out of 10. Lord have mercy on me.
Thank you for reading my review! Feedback is greatly appreciated!
When I first heard about Neon Genesis I was expecting a no-brainer of an action-packed mecha anime. Something along the lines of say Gundam Wing or old school anime like Mazinger Z, with a battle-a-new-monster-every-episode type structure. Don't get me wrong it has all the elements that made those types of anime enjoyable (i.e. its still has something of a monster every week element), but it has has so much more to it than that.
Basically the story is set up as follows: It's 2015, Ikari Shinji is a wimpy little kid called to Tokyo-3 by his father (Ikari Gendo). Shinji's relationship with is father is
somewhat distant and Shinji in fact hates his father. Prior to this Shinji lived with his teacher. As it tuns out, Shinji has been summoned by his father to an organisation called NERV where he has been selected as the "Third Child" and is required to pilot a mecha called an Evangelion, specifically Eva Unit-01. Anyway by sudden coincidence just as Shinji has been asked to join NERV and pilot the Eva, the third Angel ( a random alien monster that seemingly appears out of no where) starts attacking Tokyo-3. This is the first Angel attack since an event called "Second Impact", of course at this point it's time for Shinji to pilot the Eva and stop the attack.
Now as I progressed through the series I found myself watching an assortment of characters that all defied the cliche of a lot of anime/TV in general. I found the character's to have realistic flaws and problems (albeit exaggerated true to anime form), but I found myself caring about what happened to the characters. Although most of the time I just wanted to give Shinji a punch in the face, but he's deliberately put there to annoy you in my opinion, he is unlike any other main character in the sense that you are glad you are not him, as opposed to say Kurosaki Ichigo from Bleach where you perhaps wouldn't mind being him ^_^.
As a final point: the score is by Sagisu Shiro (the same guy who scored Bleach) but may I add that although it is no where as good as Bleach's score, its does the job, hence why I gave it an 8 (because I know Sagisu can do better :P).
To sum up, I generally give this series (i.e. the story) a 9, but I seriously recommend watching the movie "End of Evangelion" straight after watching the series for better finalisation of the story. Along with the movie, the whole Evangelion "experience" gets a 10 in my view.
Neon Genesis Evangelion... one of the most controvercial animes of all times, with legions of determined fans and legions of convinced haters this is one anime that hasn't gone by without leaving some feelings behind and so how can we not recognize it's value.
There are a lot of guys that say Evangelion was a great mecha/action anime for it's time but the confusing and boring ending and the fact that Sinji is a very weak character pulled down the anime... in my opinion they just didn't get the show at all... that is the beauty of NGE, the story is to deep for some
to appreciate for a reason, I'll give you a hint... it doesn't have anything to do with robots, fighting, love, or heroes...
NGE is actually a story that uses action, mecha and pseudo-religious symbolism to advance philosophical and psychological depictions and theories about the concept of freedom, self determination, decision and responsability, about the final stage of human evolution and human nature of the dark side, anxiety, the relation between the individual and society, the relation between humans and divinity... all hidden in an seemingly insane but yet very logic story. It can be compared with a complex spider web, a labyrinth. What is interesting in my opinion is that the story doesn't threat you as a fool by throwing the clues in your face, it just shows you a glimpse of it without focusing, it lets you think and put pieces together, and you slowly start to discover new things and form new theories and you soon realize how really extraordinary the anime really is and how much thought, planning and calculation was put into it to make it so complex and mysterious.. and in the end the anime makes you form your own conclusion, your own ending using your own free will.
It incorporates many of Freud's ideas (the father of modern psychology) such as "hedgehog dilemma","oedipus complex","separation anxiety","thanatos","oral stage" which can be seen in the characters actions, especially Sinji, Asuka, Rei, Misato and Ritsuko.
From the philosophic point it deals with the question posed by many great minds over the centuries, what is the human, what is freedom and what is the final stage of evolution, confronting the SEELE's plans (which have clearly an idealist Friedrich Hegel philosophy) against the existentialist view os J.P. Sartre and Kierkegaard... for those who don't know Hegel, Sartre and Kierkegaard are all famous philosophers... the ideea of Human Instrumentality Project is also inspired from Arthur C. Clarke's novel "Childhood's End".
For more just check Evangelion of Wikipedia and you'll be amazed how interesting this anime really is if you have some culture and brains to actually see it's real meanings.
The animation still is decent even after almost 10 years and the Eva fights can still impress you, and i really wouldn't imagine characters like Sinji, Asuka, Rei or Misato in any other form.
Voice acting is one of it's strong points, the script has some very hard to play out lines and emotions, but as all the seyuus are some of the most experienced ones out there, we get as a result one of the best and most emotional voice acting ever, Oscar worthy for shure.. a great example of that are Sinji and Misato. The music containing mostly classic music also fits every scene and every emotion, and if you have the surround version you couldn't ask for more than this.
The characters are just great, none are perfect, none are good or bad, this isn't a black and white story, all characters have good points and bad points, complex feelings and personalities, most have a tragic past that still haunts them, that has a huge toll on their present, emotional wounds that would never heal. So much lonliness, so much despair, dissapointment, hate and passion. Some are like the storm some like a leaf in a storm but they are all going fast on the one way road to destruction... Trully memorable characters... And for all those who claim to hate Sinji cos he's a coward, and prefer an unrealistic Naruto like kid that has unmeasurable courage in impossible situations, I have to remind them that this is a SERIOUS ANIME where chars act like real humans.
This is a true classic that any anime fan has to have a real jewel among all SF and psycho animes. We can all accept it's contribution to the anime kind and we know about the copies that appeared after it. Nowbody can remain cold and without feelings after this anime, either you'll love it or hate it, you'll consider it a masterpiece of a genious or the dangerous work of an insane person, you'll still remember it and you'll have to respect it.
People who watch NGE usually feel 3 reactions afterwords: They loved it, they hated it, or they didn't understand it.
Before I talk about why I love this series I have to list the flaws. 1) Due to budget issues some episodes were... not exactly episodes. Watch the show and you'll know what I mean. 2) The main character comes off as a whiny coward. 3) Repetition.
With that being said, I love this series with a passion. Philosophy, violence, themes of growing up, puberty, the conflict, the (extremely) well developed characters, overcoming low self-esteem, etc., etc., etc. They are all the things I love and
they are the things that make Evangelion stand out as a series.
Now I'm not going to lie, if you can't look past the flaws and if you are a happy person who considers everyone with emotion issues 'emo' then you'll probably hate this series.
However whether NGE is hated or loved, nobody can deny that it is a classic and every anime fan should give it a shot.
WARNING: This is going to be a very long review, as there's a lot of content to cover. Bear with me, please. Also, note that I watched the remastered version of the series, and the Revival of Evangelion (which contained only the Death segment of Death and Rebirth, combined with the End of Evangelion). Also, this review may contain some SPOILERS.
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Manga, Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion has, at this point, three manga incarnations. The first, which shares the same title as the anime, was released to drum up interest for the anime TV series, though originally publishers thought that
it was too out-of-date to actually earn money. It was authored by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (famous for his character designs for the .hack series and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), and began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Shonen Ace in the February 1995 issue (actually released on December 26th, 1994), and is still running at this point in time. Viz has licensed it Stateside, and it stands at 10 volumes of the 11 currently published volumes, with a total of 12 volumes planned. The second, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, is an alternate retelling of Evangelion, using the high school romantic comedy scenario shown briefly in Episode 25 and expanded upon in the video game Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel 2. It was authored by Fumino Hayashi (who is also working on a Terra E spinoff called Aoki Kobo no Kiss for Square Enix), and was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka from the November 2003 issue to the November 2005 issue. It has been licensed Stateside by ADV Manga, and ran in Newtype USA from the August 2005 issue to the January 2006 issue, and the sixth and final volume was released on August 31st of 2007. The newest incarnation, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku, focuses on Shinji's attending NERV Academy, and being roped into helping the Samash Guardians (Rei, Kaoru, and Asuka) find and protect Cores, which are gems that, if they fall into the hands of Angels (which are only consciousnesses, not actual physical beings) will end up in humanity's destruction. It's authored by Min Min, and began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Asuka in the October 2007 issue, and is still ongoing. It also has yet to be licensed Stateside.
At this point in time, Neon Genesis Evangelion has four anime incarnations, three of which are movies and will be covered later in this review. Neon Genesis Evangelion's original anime incarnation was a twenty-six episode series that ran on Japanese TV from October 4th, 1995 to March 27th, 1996. It was produced by Gainax (famous for their work on His and Her Circumstances and FLCL), and directed by Hideaki Anno (famous for his work on the original Gunbuster OVA and His and Her Circumstances). It has been licensed Stateside by ADV films, and the latest remastered box set was released on November 22nd, 2005.
Story: After not seeing or hearing from his father for several years, Shinji Ikari is summoned to Tokyo-3, Japan's new capital after the original capital was nuked in the chaos after the Second Impact, which was caused by a meteorite slamming into Antartica, killing off about half of the world's population, submerging a good deal of the continents, and tilting the Earth's axis, which caused major climate change. He is then ordered by his father to reluctantly pilot a robot known as the Evangelion Unit 01 in order to defeat a strange invaders known as Angels.
So, yeah. Sounds fairly generic, right? And for about the first half of the show, Evangelion is not really anything new in the post-apocalyptic mecha genre. Episodes are, for the most part, either Shinji angsting about piloting the Eva or a monster of the week episode, and you can start to predict what's going to happen after a few rinse and repeats. The characters that are introduced are all fairly messed up, and you might form attachments to them, but it's not enough to really keep you interested. I was seriously considering dropping it at about the halfway point.
And then the second half of the show hit, and it hit hard.
The second half starts to focus more on the psychological aspects of the characters, and the truth behind NERV and its goals. You knew before that these characters were messed up, but now you get to find out just how messed up they are. And the unfolding mysteries behind NERV and the Evas are nothing short of amazing. It also gets a lot more violent and sexual.
The reason that this change happened was partially because it was already in mind, but had to do a lot with what was going on behind the scenes. At this point in time, Anno was suffering from severe depression, and you can see it reflected in the show and its characters. Also, right around this time, funding for the show was starting to run out, and they were failing to meet deadlines.
And, then, of course, there's the infamous Episodes 25 and 26.
Oddly enough, the original ending, while it didn't address any of the issues and mysteries that had built up over the last half of the show, was actually kind of satisfying to me. It shows the actual process of Instrumentality, even though it doesn't really explain what it is, and it ends up being a kind of cracked-out therapy session for the major characters of the show as they take part in Instrumentality.
Also, know going into this that there's a lot of psychology and philosophy and religious symbolism in here, that, if you know it, will definitely help with your understanding of the show. On the other hand, if you don't, be sure to keep Google up, or see if you can find a version of the show with the equivalent of footnotes.
Overall, the story's a bit dense, a bit generic for the first half or so, and doesn't really resolve its issues, but, once it gets to the second half, it kicks into high gear and doesn't look back.
WARNING: As you get into the second half of the show, there's a lot of graphic violence and gore, and offscreen sexual happenings. Be aware of this going in.
Art: Compared to other shows that were airing roughly around this time (Fushigi Yuugi and Sailor Moon SuperS and StarS), the animation, for most of the show, is pretty good. The designs for the Evas and Angels are amazingly varied and just amazing to look at in general, as are the character designs and the way the battles are done.
There's a fairly obvious dip in quality towards the end of the show, but, again, that has to do with the fact that they were unable to meet deadlines and were running out of funding for the project in general. Though I have to admit that they did come up with fairly creative ways to work around the lack of budget, even if some of them could probably cause seizures.
Music: The music for Evangelion is done by Shiro Sagisu and is one of those soundtracks that sticks in your head and one that you actively notice throughout the show, like I did with Gankutsuou, Bokurano, and Code Geass. I'd say some of these themes are probably some of the most recognizable from any anime. And there are some classical themes that end up being used for background music in some of the more EPIC moments of the show, which only helps the moment.
The OP, "Cruel Angel's Thesis", is amazingly catchy. And the ED, a cover of "Fly Me To The Moon", has several different variations that are used, depending on which episode it is.
All in all, awesome music.
Seiyuu: There are some fairly well-known seiyuu in here. Misato's seiyuu, Kotono Mitsuishi (aka the voice of Sailor Moon and Juri Arisugawa in Revolutionary Girl Utena), Shinji's seiyuu, Megumi Ogata (aka the voice of Sailor Uranus), Rei's seiyuu, Megumi Hayashibara (aka the voice of Atsuko Chiba and the title character in Paprika and Lina Inverse in the Slayers series), and Aoba's seiyuu, Takehito Koyasu (aka the voice of Touga in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi) all do excellent jobs for thier characters, and it's nice to see them in this production.
Length: Overall, pretty good. It doesn't feel like it drags in any places, though, realistically, they could've cut out some of the filler at the beginning. They didn't really address all of the mysteries of the show, but, then again, that's what the three movies are for. Still, twenty-six episodes is pretty solid.
Overall: An excellently scored and seiyuued show that starts out generic, but, with budget cuts, deadline issues, and the depression of the director in the second half, takes the story into new, violent, symbolic places, even if the quality of the art goes down a bit and the ending doesn't quite resolve things.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995/1996) is the best epic psychological sci-fi classic action series of all time.
Neon Genesis is a show exploring counter escapism. Instead of pandering it finds solace in coping. Shinji, is basically a sweet-tempered nervous young man who is pathologically terrified of loneliness and the thought of spiritual isolation. His quest for meaning and self-discovery drives him to the fringes of our reality, which only serves to isolate him more from accepting things as are.
The social commentary and psychological examination of its characters is fantastic. The majority of artistic crafts can be beautiful, grotesque, haunting, grand, & frightening. Shinji’s father,
who is as perpetually confused about reality as Shinji. The aforementioned self-helper Misato, who is desperate to spread the lie that keeps Shinji moving; Asuka who is struggling between her identity in adulthood and her identity from childhood. And then there's Rem. A experiment created to perpetuate Shinji’s father’s desire to escape accepting death. All I can say here is that nothing can prepare you for adequately describing all these characters to the magnificence they deserve.
Probably the best thing about this show is its incredible emotional range. It manages to inspire hope, love, dread, laughter, and tears at different points throughout the runtime without making you feel least bit like there is a contradiction between those states.
The performances in this show are exquisite. Across the board voice acting brings it. That said, though, this show has a dismal opinion on some people. For those who enjoy pandering its possible you’ll resent it. For those who escape sexuality, death, social life, love, family, or personal responsibility you’ll find ridiculous gripes within it.
If you are willing to cope with pain instead of turn a blind eye. If you favor shows which explicitly subvert expectations being more than what they’re labeled, and if you love an introspective look at anti-escapism & character theme explorations. This is the show for you. A mesmerizingly hauntingly beautiful experience from a perfect show, Neon Genesis, it is as good as it gets.
Overall: It is one of the most ground breaking titles of all time & easily deserves the proclamation of being a masterpiece or on anyone’s top ten list. If you disagree enjoy your pandering bullshit. l wont run away.