Type: TV (26 episodes)
Next in series:
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Shinji Ikari is a 15 year old boy who has many issues in his life. His mother died long ago and he hates his father. But he also strives for some sort of acknowledgment by his father as well. But when his father expects him to pilot some giant robot called an Evangelion, Shinji isn't really up to it. However the city of Tokyo 3 was built as a fortress to protect the future of mankind from the beings known as angels. And as it would happen an angel appears right when Shinji is in Tokyo 3. So in the end Shinji does end up being the pilot for the Evangelion.
But his turmoils don't end there. His guardian is Major Misato Katsuragi, who is fairly collected at work, is also a party girl and somewhat of a slob at home. His colleague and fellow pilot Rei Ayanami is just all out weird. And then there was the arrival of another pilot: Asuka, who is determined to show up Shinji at every turn.
But at each turn the Angels provide new challenges. Each one of the 18 is different from the last. And this isn't a game; for if the Angels breach Tokyo 3, then the world will come to an end. There are other mysteries as well. What exactly IS the organization called NERV? What are the angels and what do they want? What exactly is an Evangelion?
Although only the Evangelions can defeat the angels, Shinji has a difficult time justifying being a pilot. He also struggles within himself for various reasons, most of which limit his abilities to pilot the Evangelion. In the end it may come up to Shinji to save the world, but will he be up to it by the time the world needs saving?
Anime as an industry goes through various cycles of stagnation, and in 1995 it seemed like the LAST thing anime needed was yet another giant robot title. That's probably why Evangelion came so unexpectedly out of nowhere and blew everyone away, reaching new heights in popularity. While a title can't be everything to everyone, Evangelion got about as close as anime ever could. At its core it's a giant robot mecha anime with plenty of action. It's also got plenty of drama, comedy, and even philosophy. On top of all that it's glued together with this conspiracy plot that borrows Christian religious elements and fuses them together with an apocalyptic sci-fi story.
Another big strength of this title lies within its cast of characters, some of which are the most recognized in anime. Rei Ayanami alone is possibly the most influential character ever created scary as that is. Evangelion goes a step father than just having diverse and interesting characters, and develops them to an level that few titles touch on. Many of the characters have experienced various levels of trauma in their lives, and this is sometimes portrayed in ways that can be disturbing. The central focus of the show is Shinji Ikari, but we don't just get to know Shinji with his history and actions, but get a look deep into his mind. His doubts, hopes and fears, as well as his inconsistency and realizations.
Evangelion is also a step apart with very abstract visuals and editing, which artistically speaking is very impressive. While cutting edge, it can also be a bit hard for many to digest, but even for those not into artsy weird stuff, Evangelion has more than enough badass action sequences to keep you glued to the screen. One of the scenes I remember most in anime was Shinji and Misato standing at a train station in silence. Nothing happens. It goes from a pause, to an uncomfortable silence. And still nothing happens. This stretches on for so long that the lack of animation and dialog draws attention to itself in a gutsy way I've not seen done in anime before or since.
Evangelion also comes up with a lot of interesting comedy, which is much more abundant in the beginning, but tapers off towards the end, where it shifts to a much more abstract philosophical focus. This culminated with an ending which many fans of the anime hated (I liked it personally, it's one of the few endings I remember so vividly).
Evangelion is popular, but for good reason as it appeals to a wide audience. If you're into anime it's unlikely you won't find something here you like, however how much you enjoy it has a lot to do with how many elements are to your taste. If you like absolutely everything, this will be one of your favorite titles, but I'd say that even in the worst case scenario as an anime fan, you'll be hard pressed to hate it. Most people tend to score around liking, or loving it, but fall short of rabid adoration: nearly everyone has at least one thing about it that they weren't particular on. Being as influential as it is, Evangelion is a classic any well rounded anime fan should watch, but aside from that is a great series worth viewing on its own merits.
Ritsuko: Shinji, how does it feel to pilot Unit 0?
Shinji: Kinda weird... it smells like Rei
Asuka: It smells like WHAT?!
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