Ooooh boy. Neon Genesis Evangelion. If I had to sum up the general opinion on the show in one word it would be “devisive”. If you don’t love Evangelion, there’s a rather large chance you hate it. Today I’m going to be explaining which camp I’m in and try to tell you why. Let us begin.
For a show that’s often called “completely insane”, Evangelion starts off relatively simple. 14 year old Shinji Ikari is called to NERV headquarters by his estranged father Gendo. Gendo, for whatever reason, needs his underage son to pilot a giant robot to defend humanity against “Angels”, monsters that are attacking and attempting to destroy the planet that can only be stopped by giant robots called “Evangelions”. This is more or less the premise of the first 16 episodes or so while introducing and developing its large cast of characters.
But then the show gets dark. The once somewhat-bleak-but-still-totally-fine-for-prime-time series begins its infamous descent into madness that culminates in the infamous original ending and then the alternative ending/expansion of the original ending (depending on who you ask) End of Evangelion, a film that is quite possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever borne witness to. I’m not going to write to much more about the plot as I would hate to spoil anymore for those who haven’t seen it, and I don’t want it bore those who already have.
To summarise, the plot of Evangelion is confusing, amazing, weird, and entertaining. It’s thought provoking but is never so insane to stop being interesting. And the main reason for this is the emotional core of the show. The characters.
The primary reason that I personally stayed invested in Evangelion was because of its characters. Sure, the show’s plot is interesting, but without this cast it may have become too inaccessible for me to keep caring. The characters give you something to latch on to and relate to.
Not all the characters of Evangelion are likeable, some being down right detestable, but what makes them work is they all feel so incredibly real. Their problems are human problems. Isolation. Fear. Depression. Selfishness. The shitty things about people.
One of the sufferers of some of these problems is our main character Shinji Ikari, the emotional centre of Evangelion. Shinji is, like the rest of the show, divisive. Many complain that he’s too cowardly and unlikeable. Repulsive, even.
I’m not really sure how this can be considered a criticism. People aren’t nessacarily inherently brave and strong. With the task that is placed in Shinji’s hands of literally saving the world from annihilation, I feel like many people would be just as terrified and weak as Shinji is. Combine that with his wide array of psychological disorders and problematic relationships and I feel it becomes quite easy to see why Shinji is the way he is.
There are many other characters to talk about, most of whom are just as interesting as Shinji, but I’ll let you experience them yourself if/when you do decide to take on the task of watching the show.
The soundtrack for Evangelion is really good. It is highly varied and always compliments the scene in which it is playing perfectly. Not much else to say really other then that. It’s just really good. Amazing opening too.
In regards to English or Japanese, this is one is hands down Japanese. Unless you are unable to read subtitles or cannot stand listening to Japanese, I see no reason for you to listen to the dub. It’s not downright awful, but in comparison to the Japanese, the English just falls completely flat.
The animation for Evangelion is pretty hit or miss. The show is well known for suffering from many budgetary problems. Various shots where absolutely nothing happens and a couple of infamous scenes toward the end PLUS the majority of the original finale make it apparent that animation studio GAINAX was rather short on funding for the show. However, I don’t really care. Partially because when the animation really needs to look good, it does. The battles against the Angels still look great 20 years after the show’s original run. And for the vast majority of scenes where nothing is happening animation-wise, the writing and direction is usually interesting enough to hold my attention.
In case you somehow couldn’t tell by now, I adore Neon Genesis Evangelion. I love almost everything about it. From its excellent characters to its confusing narrative, it all works so well. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close to it. I would recommend it to almost anyone, especially if you consider yourself an anime fan, as it is very influential and regarded as a classic by many (including me). Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to leave constructive criticism in the form of a comment here or on one of the profiles I’ve linked down below as I am still pretty bad at writing and would love to get better at it.
Until the next post!
Final Score: A (Excellent)
Neon Genesis Evangelion used to be available from Madman Entertainment in Australia, but has unfortunately gone out of print. It’s not available for legal streaming either. A remake series of films is available from Madman Entertainment, but I have not yet seen them so I’m unable to provide comment on them.