Probably the most controversial anime ever created will be discussed today. Neon Genesis Evangelion was created in 1995 by studio Gainax and their founder Hideaki Anno. Some proclaim it as one of the best storyline and tv series ever created, whilst others bash the show as being pretentious and some of the worst in anime. This show is not for everyone; it is heavily influenced by Hideaki Anno who was at the time going through serious mental issues and that is clearly present in this show as all the characters goes through their own mental battles.
The story of Eva is relatively simple. Like Madoka Magica it is a deconstruction of its own genre; while Madoka is deconstructing the magical girl genre, Eva is a deconstruction of the mecha genre. Eva allows a simple mecha show storyline to allow the characters to fill up and draw the focus to them. Eva follows main character Shinji Ikari a teenage boy who for reasons unexplained has to pilot a giant robot called an Evangelion against Angels who intent to destroy the planet. Shinji is not the only teenage who pilots an Evangelion, as at the start we are introduced to Rei Ayanami who pilot Evangelion Unit 00 and as the story progresses more pilots are added as the story develops. Calling NGE a mecha show would be somewhat inaccurate. Evangelion starts off as a mocha in it’s premise and first few episodes, but as the story progresses it slowly starts to become a more psychological profile on each individual character and how their past not only leads them into becoming an Eva pilot but also what that responsible means to them and how it changes them. The final few episodes of NGE clearly highlight this, since now elements of the genre it originally started out as cannot be seen, but the show rather tries to highlight the characters struggle in this world.
The characters of NGE are the clear highlights of the show by far. The show is influential in the anime community as its characters have spawned many imitators. The main three characters and Evangelion pilots Shinji, Rei and Asuka have produced clones decades after their release for example: Yuki from Future Diary, Angel from Angel Beats! and the countless tsundere’s that mimic Asuka respectively.
The characters became so infamous because NGE didn’t hold back in showing how characters act and the reasoning behind who the are now, or at least who the pretend and want people to think they are. Shinji Ikari the main protagonist of NGE is a young boy chosen by his father to save the world by battling giant aliens called Angels, and as the story continues we get to see the inner workings of his mind like being accepted. All of the main characters all struggle with some metal issues and are battling their demons and personas throughout the series; whether that is struggling with your identity like Rei, constant need of validation from others to then be able to give yourself worth like Asuka, or having to hide behind your sexuality, and needing to be able to use your sexuality so people don’t seem the cracks in your persona like Misato. NGE has a ton of characters and surprisingly for a 26 episode show, and a movie this anime handles its characters to near perfection.
All characters are in their own ways disturbed even the secondary characters like Misato Katsuragi, Gendo Ikari or Ritsuko Akagi.This show might just have the most interesting and developed set of characters I have ever seen in anime. NGE has more character development for characters that only have a few minutes of screen time every other episode, then most shows have for their main characters; it shows how realistic and personal the characters are. The characters are written in such a way that instead of emphasise with them, you feel in their situation and rather brings out feelings and memories that laid dormant within you.
This is one of NGE low points. The animation is very dated being that it aired in 1995 before I was even born, and that is very prevalent throughout the anime. Since old animation techniques were used during this time the anime doesn’t look as vivid as it could. The animation isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination just heavily dated. The art style is typical and doesn’t really do anything to try to break the mould and typical animation conventions. If you can ignore the outdated visuals whilst watching this anime, you’ll be in for a shock as half way through this series the animation quality doesn’t become such a major issue.
NGE has decent sound, I wouldn’t say the sound is amazing or bad. It fits the show and does nothing to try to propel the scenario forward or invoke different feelings within the viewer. It does not overpower the scene, nor downplay it, the music just does it job. The opening for the show is especially noteworthy as it is simply amazing, and one of the best in anime.
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This show is amazing. The story is engaging yet simple, it sets a backdrop to allow for the characters to overpower it and draw the viewer’s attention and focus. The characters are some of the best written in anime period, maybe in any medium, they are realistic and honest. Their is a reason why archetypes such a tsundere’s and dandere’s have been copied to death in anime, and they all at least been heavily influenced by this show. To talk about them all would take hours, since their complexities run so deep for the main cast and most of the supporting characters. Animation and Sound aren’t that great, the animation whilst not being bad is incredible dated and is evident whilst watching it at least at the start. The sound is neither great or horrible, but rather just decent as it does what it is required to do.
[see end of review for weighing]
Alternative anime recommendations would firstly be Serial Experiments Lain, as that is another amazing show that definitely has to be viewed a second time. Both are psychological analysis shows that explore their characters to the fullest.
And the second would be Satoshi Kon’s debut film: Perfect Blue as it also explores several characters with deep psychological issues and how that not only affect their day-to-day, but also their interactions with other.
[story+characters+animation+sound] + [enjoyment]