The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion aka Shinseiki Evangelion
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Gainax
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 1995 – 27 Mar 1996

Synopsis: Ikari Shinji is fourteen years old: motherless, angsty, and most of all, lonely. When he is transferred from his teacher’s residence, where he dwelled for a number of years, to Tokyo-3, he is brought into a world of monsters (ironically called Angels) and man-piloted robots, the Evangelion. Shinji is way in over his head as he eventually realizes his own weaknesses as a human being. How will he deal with it?

The Highlights
Story: Excellent and controversial.
Fights: Well choreographed and entertaining.
Seiyuu: Hayashibara Megumi… need I say more?
Ending: Terrible.
Fanservice: Convenient distraction for other flaws.

If my dad showed as much contempt for me as Gendo does to Shinji, I’d be as whiny as hell too.

Evangelion is an anime which defies common stereotypes and conventions to take the viewer on a ride to the depths of the human psyche and the limits of sanity. It is a roller coaster trip through the psychological disorders and subconscious self loathing deep within the mind of director Anno Hideaki. Unfortunately, while Evangelion has excellent characters and an amazing story, it suffers from critical flaws which can be directly linked to budget concerns in the late stages of production along with an absolutely wretched ending. Nonetheless, Neon Genesis Evangelion is the series that would revolutionize and redefine anime for the next 10 years.

Many futuristic mecha-based anime survive on the creative and awe inspiring design of their mecha; however, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a different kind of anime. While the mecha are certainly original and cool looking, Eva does not rely on aesthetics alone. What separates Eva from 95% of other mecha anime is its excellent story. Using the concept of god is not an entirely new idea… yet Eva takes religious symbolism and philosophy to new levels or depths, depending on your perspective.

But in order for the story to progress, the characters must be present. Throughout the series, each character grows and matures into a wholly new person; and while it is not easy to identify with a Gendo or a Fuyutsuki, most of the characters draw some basic empathy from the viewers. By the same token, the characters would not have been what they are without excellent seiyuu. The voice crew never failed to bring out the soul of even the smallest side characters.

Most people believe that the fact that the series went over budget was what stopped Evangelion from being truly great; and, sadly, they are correct. Latter episodes featured excessive fanservice which was indubitably used to draw viewers’ attention away from the massive flaws that were becoming more and more apparent in Eva, thanks to budget problems. Gratuitous nudity began to appear in several episodes in the second half of the series. Though it was a huge contributor, the money issues are not the only thing that stopped Evangelion from being truly epic.

Truly, the worst part of Evangelion was the ending. It was so bad that (besides milking an already successful franchise to death) two additional endings were released after the series to quell viewers’ unrest. It invoked memories of Dragonball Z (you know, the episodes where nothing gets accomplished beyond, “Frieza! I am going to McKill you now!”).

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great anime that has arguably been corrupted by its excessive fan base. You will go from being on the edge of your seat during the mecha battles to being deep in thought throughout everything else. Whether you understand it or not, every anime fan must watch Evangelion at least once… even if it’s only for the fanservice.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Seven

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