THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!!
Neon Genesis Evangelion... a.k.a. Depression:The Anime!
Considered a mess by some and considered a masterpiece by some. Very controversial and full of symbolism.
Evangelion doesn't start very strong, but it doesn't start weak also. The beginning of the story is pretty mediocre. Later on the plot progresses and becomes much more complex. There are some episodes dedicated to the progression of the plot and those episodes were very well written. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of these episodes since the characters and their clinical depression is the primary focus of this anime.
First 15 episodes are a monster of the week action show focusing on slice of life comedy and our protagonist's struggle in his mission to fight angels. The show switches to a psycho-analysis of characters in episode 16. The show gets better at this point, but it only lasts until episode 20, where Evangelion becomes a surreal anime. At first they are using this only for fanservice(episode 20) and later use it more seriously. The mystery of Adam and angels begins to unravel too quickly. The worst part is that the last 2 episodes aren't even a closure to the story. They are poorly executed and produced.
It's obvious that this anime had very high budget. Fight scenes look amazing for an anime made in the middle of 1990s. Unfortunately, animation looks great ONLY during the fight scenes, which last about a minute. Because Gainax wanted to have high budget fights they had to save money when animating non-action scenes. This leads to stationary scenes where literally nothing is happening lasting for about a minute(elevator scene).
Nothing really special, a couple of good songs. The OP is amazing.
The Characters of Eva are considered very complex and fleshed out. That cannot be said for every character. Let's start with good ones. Shinji Ikari is a very well written protagonist. He is not your typical badass hero, but a kid forced to fight to save the world which brought him only misery. He gets scared a lot and that is why he annoys some fans. My favourite character is Misato Katsuragi. She had a stressful youth and she looks tough on the outside, but she is fragile on the inside. Only people close to her get to see the real side of her. On top of that she still has feelings for her ex boyfriend who she can't be with because of... well, I won't spoil anything. She also gets a lot of compliments based on her appearance. This has affected her in a way that she thinks that the only thing she can do to make others feel better is to offer them her body. She is also a nymphomaniac who thinks intercourse is a solution to all her frustrations. If all women were like that the world would be a better place.
Asuka and Rei are by no means bad characters, but compared to Shinji they are underdeveloped. Anno focused way too much on Shinji's struggle and he rushed the backstories of other characters. The blandest character in my opinion was Gendo Ikari. He wants to see his deceased wife one again, but he also destroyed all images of her, which makes no sense. He rarely appears in the show. His only notable characteristic is that he doesn't have empathy, nor does he care for his only child.
I could end my review here, but there are more things I have to say about Neon Genesis Evangelion. More precisely, there are some other things that have annoyed me about this anime.
1.There is too much fanservice. There is not too detailed female nudity. Censored male nudity. An offscreen sex-scene(episode 20). Fanservice was very frequent and it made me uncomfortable very often.
2.The pacing is not very good. The first portion of the show is episodic and quite repetitive. They could kick out some unnecessary scenes(like the budget saving scenes) and made the episodes last 15-20 minutes instead of 22-29 minutes.
3.Meaningles symbolism would get on my nerves very often. Most of Christian symbolism was there to teach Japanese people about Christianity, but some of it was just there to look cool(every explosion in anime is shaped like a cross).
4.If you check the genres of NGE you can see the dementia tag. Dementia anime are surreal and/or avant-garde anime. Usually in these type of anime you don't know what really happened even if you finish the whole thing. This is not the case with Evangelion. Eva is very easy to figure out(End of Evangelion is not, but this review doesn't cover EoE). Eva wants to be a good dementia anime, but fails, making it look pretentious.
5.The ending is anti-climactic and poorly executed(I'd like to say more, but I will not give away spoilers).
Evangelion is great in some aspects, but it is also very flawed. I did not enjoy Eva, but I don't consider it a bad anime. I think that my objective score for this anime would be 6.5-7(mediocre score is 5, not 7), but there are so many things about this show(as stated in the second half of my review) that make me consider it a pretentious mess disguised as a masterpiece. In my opinion this is a completely mediocre anime.
If you want good avant-garde anime check out Serial Experiments Lain and Paranoia Agent.
+great portrait of depression
+great overall plot(although it's underdeveloped)
+fight scenes look great considering the period they were made in
-underdeveloped minor characters
-inconsistent animation quality
-the final 2 episodes are terrible
-dementia aspect is executed poorly
My score: 5.4/10