a.k.a. Shin Seiki Evangelion (lit. Gospel For A New Century)
Shinji is a lonely fourteen-year-old child with a dark history; his mother died under mysterious circumstances, and his father basically orphaned him to work for a top-secret government project. One day, a terror from outer space wreaks havoc upon Japan, necessitating Shinji’s assistance in his father’s project. The project is the creation of the EVA units, large mecha created to combat the Angels, and can only be piloted by fourteen-year old children. Pilot is the wrong term; the EVA units require the children as hosts! Is Shinji the savior of the earth? And if he is, at what expense?
summary by Kain
Highs: Mecha design; well-choreographed action scenes; strong character analysis and religious symbolism will delight some
Lows: Project goes overbudget and it shows; story bogs down in the middle; strong character analysis and religious symbolism will confuse many
This series (and the movies, which replace the last two episodes due to public outrage) is a fan favorite, and with good reason; few anime delve as deep into the psyche of its characters and offer religious overtones by the bucketful.
Those looking to watch this just for the mecha will be pleased initially, but bored the rest of the time. It takes someone with a working knowledge of Christianity and an appetite for psychology to fully appreciate this anime for all it’s worth.
While we aren’t probing deep into the confused minds of fourteen-year old children, we are spectator to some wonderful action sequences as the EVA pilots protect the earth from the Angels. I’m reluctant to say, however, that this is reminiscent of the “Monster of the Week” theme that permeates Sailor Moon and the Power Rangers. This, and the fact that Gainax went overbudget about halfway through the series and thus used an extensive amount of stills, seemed to dull the story and make it feel uneven.
One aspect that I find missing in most action-based anime is that every gesture, every word, every scene gives some weight to the story. Though the meaning of each may fly over your head the first time, it’ll dawn on you by the end of the series. The best way to describe this anime is as a character study, a Sunday school lesson, and a thriller all rolled into one complicated mass. Anime fans should watch this if only because you’ll be hard-pressed to find another as introspective.
Highs: Quiet moments; battle scenes; decent enough music
Lows: The characters; convenient symbolism; awkward science fiction
A titanic and compelling show. The most controversial series ever made. The greatest anime of all time. These are just some of the things you will hear if you mention Evangelion. Of course, like most hype, the accolades are farfetched.
Evangelion was an anime created by a thoughtful anime otaku who enjoyed his days spent watching Mazinger Z and Macross. This can be seen rather vividly in the show’s violently spectacular battles. It is hard not to find glee in watching Nagai Go-inspired monsters and robots bite into each other. This, coupled with some rather impressive music, makes for an old-school mecha fan’s dream. In a sort of contrast, the other impressive moments were all those little, quiet scenes; these scenes without dialogue hold the most weight. Unfortunately, this series is littered with so much techno-babble that the viewer becomes detached from what is really happening on-screen. I could care less about “Angels” and “Third Impacts” if there are no meaning to them. The script itself comes from the same “hmm”-inducing nature as a Tomino Yoshiyuki story (the traumatized teens should be a dead ringer for that) but leaves the viewers with more angry faces than widened eyes.
Though it has been the point of discussion for years, the symbolism holds very little water to the story. Most of it seems like it was placed in because it sounded cool but are vague descriptions due to laziness in the screenwriter’s progressive thought. Same goes with the characters. I won’t lie when I say that these characters are boring. There is very little given that makes me want to follow their journeys or listen to their stories. And by the end, I could have cared less if they made it or not.
In the end though, Evangelion is not a terrible series. Different groups of people may or may not find something enjoyable about it. So, to answer the questions everyone has: is Evangelion a series worth seeing? Yes. Is it a series that should be placed on a pedestal above other anime? Not at all.