Neon Genesis Evangelion
In the year 1999, a cataclysmic event known as the Second Impact occurs as a result of a strange incident on the continent of Antarctica. The Earth is ravaged by the far reaching, disastrous effects. Tokyo is completely destroyed and rebuilt.
Shortly after, giant, bizarre beings known as Angels begin to attack the Earth one at a time. Each Angel is completely different than the last, except for the fact that each Angel has the ability to create an impenetrable force field known as the AT (Absolute Terror) Field. A U.N. organization called NERV reveals its newest development in the hopes of saving the world -- giant, monstrous mechas known as Evas, which are one of the very few forces on Earth that can penetrate and Angel's AT Field. Problem is, though, is that only 14-year-old children can pilot Evas, and only very special children at that.
Introverted, self-deprecating Ikari Shinji is one of those special children. Long estranged from his father Gendou who is head of NERV, Shinji is suddenly ushered in to face a destiny beyond even the wildest wonderings. But Shinji won't be alone -- the tale of Evangelion entangles within it the lives of many individuals, and the picture is definitely more than the sum of its parts ...
Okay, I'm almost positive I'm going to step on a lot of toes with this review.
Ever since its debut in 1996 in Japan, the anime world has heard of nothing else but Neon Genesis Evangelion. Fans and otaku immediately fell in love with Gainax's newest controversial production featuring unique mecha design, characters, and an enigmatic story. The growth of popularity for this series has far outstripped anything else, including Sailor Moon and DragonBall Z. Many have gone as far to claim that Neon Genesis Evangelion is the best anime that has ever been made.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying Evangelion is bad by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of really good things about it, and it's a series that I definitely enjoy watching. But there are some things about it that really grate on me, that keep me from giving this _good_ title the _best_ rating possible.
Well, let's actually do some reviewing, okay? Like mentioned before, Evangelion includes within it some truly striking art and animation. The mecha designs are a departure from the tried-and-true Giant Robot template as only Gainax Studios can deliver. While perhaps not the most technically outstanding of productions, the style of execution make Evangelion a drama that stands head-and-shoulders above most else that is out there. Classical scoring pumps up the drama. Stills and pans capture crucial moments in the action. And the occasional "artsy," inscrutable angle helps add to the many questions the series poses as it progresses.
The story of Evangelion, however, is what most fans remember most about the series (besides the trademark Gainax fanservice, of course). Evangelion pumps up the "secret agenda" card as far as it could possibly go, with _every_ episode posing at least two or three more questions for every one question they answer. Just what _are_ the Angels? What is NERV (or Gendou) really after? Who the heck is Adam, and what's this Human Complement Project everyone's talking about? And does Rei have a personality somewhere in there? This is definitely not a series to watch out of sequence, and piecing together the story is at least half the fun.
There are only a few minor things, though, that stop this from being a title of the highest caliber in my book. Many people say that Evangelion has some great characterization, but I actually found it to be a little cliche, or just plain irritating at times. Shinji is _always_ down in the dumps, feeling sorry f or himself. Asuka is _always_ being an arrogant little snot. Rei is _always_ ... well, Rei (why in the world do so many people like her so much?). I had seen these sorts of characters before, and Evangelion doesn't really break any new ground here. Also, the main underlying premise of the series (once the series finally gets around to telling you what it is) is more than a bit preposterous, and even on the sacrilegious side (something I don't tolerate very well). Gainax tried _really_ hard to do some thing no one else had tried before, but in this case, it's a bit too much, and certainly more than I can swallow. And the ending episodes ... well, you'll see what I mean when you get to them.
If you're looking for an entertaining series full of action, intrigue and "waitaminute!" moments, you'll probably love Neon Genesis Evangelion. Ten thousand drooling otakus can't be wrong, right? ':-)
Recommended Audience: When NGE first aired in Japan, a small outcry came out protesting that the series was too violent for television. To some extent, that's true. Although actual _human_ deaths are far and few in between, there's plenty of graphic mecha violence and more than a few innuendos and adult situations. Not for the Saturday morning crowd, but older teens will really get a kick out of this series.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Neon Genesis Evangelion © 1995 Gainax / Project Eva / TV Tokyo
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