[Anime] Neon Genesis Evangelion – Introduction

evangelion-poster1Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t my first tango with Studio Gainax. Anyone who’s familiar with this blog knows that one of the first anime I reviewed was Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann. It was only after watching Gurren Lagann, specifically when I was doing a bit of research on it for my final review, that I discovered that it was itself a response to the more dramatic somberness of its elder sibling, Evangelion. I put Evangelion on my ever expanding list of shows to watch for that reason but then subsequently forgot all about it until I recently had to decide what show to cover next.


I’m not going to be covering a full episode today. Instead, the idea was for this post to be an introduction. I’ll cover what I know and expect of the show going in and then we’ll see how totally off I was in a bit. I am also happy to announce that I’m no longer doing episode-by-episode reviews. Instead, I’ll cover a handful of episodes at once and then tackle them all at once. The reason for this is simple – it’s virtually impossible for me to discipline myself enough to only watch one episode a week, especially when I have the whole series downloaded and waiting for me. I managed to do it for Fate/Zero and the other shows I’ve covered in the past but now, with less time than ever on my hands, I just don’t want to spend another 6 months on a single show. Also, it’s pretty disruptive to momentum too – you start forgetting what happened in the early episodes and basically, it’s hard to keep the focus going that long. So, long story short, the first post is going to cover episodes 1 through 5, though I may cover more or less depending how much I have to say.


I won’t lie, I have really high expectations of Neon Genesis Evangelion and not just because I’ve heard so much about it. The last Studio Gainax show I watched was amazing – Gurren Lagann had what I felt was the perfect balance between emotion, humour and dramatic tension. It had a charming, goofy and lovable cast of characters and was able to deliver some really hard hitting moments despite never taking itself too seriously. To be clear though, I’m definitely not expecting Evangelion to be exactly like Gurren Lagann. I already know that it’s going to be darker, more dramatic, more ‘serious’ but I expect it to be just as good on the whole. I mentioned to a friend a while back that I’m probably going to be covering Evangelion for this blog (the results of the poll were pretty clear from rather early on) and he told me that it is considered one of the most influential anime series ever created. Even after discounting for bias, that is high praise.

That’s pretty much all I have for today, but we’ll jump into Evangelion proper this week. In the meanwhile, I would love some input on view order. From what I understand, there is the series itself and then there is a reboot/remake movie? If anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know.

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22 thoughts on “[Anime] Neon Genesis Evangelion – Introduction

  1. Neon Genesis Evangelion, now that’s a can of worms. Pretty interested to see your thoughts on this series! Several episodes at once I think would be a great idea, especially with this show.

    So with Evangelion there is the original TV Series and then the movie “End Of Evangelion” which is a sort of remade ending that replaces episodes 25&26. You could watch the original 25&26 and then End Of Evangelion or vice versa, I really don’t think it matters. There is also a more recent Movie series that is a re-imagining of the TV Series.


    • For a while, I was debating doing a side by side comparison of the reboot movies and the original series, then I realized that was a terrible idea that would bog me down and confuse me no end. Are those movies worth a watch though? I might do a light post on them at the end if so. Very interesting about End of Evangelion. I won’t ask too many questions I don’t want the answer to though haha


      • Definitely watch end of evangelion after the TV series and it’s original ending as that’s the real climax to the TV series, the original endings happened because Gainax basically ran out of money to do the last two episodes. Partly because of advertisers pulling out of the show because of the alter content, and partly because they were having financial trouble as it was at the time and it affected the show’s budget in many areas which becomes very noticeable by the later episodes.

        Not to mention all the issues creator Hideaki Anno and his team had at the time as well contributed to a lot of what we got. Not just his depression but his feelings of the otaku culture at the time.

        Then watch the rebuild films and see what is done differently there, not to mention seeing NGE on film is a different experience to watching it in TV anime form.

        Doing Neon genesis a few episodes at a time is a good idea I think, as while I think you will have much to talk each episode and it’s contents. Doing 3 or 4 at the same time will allow you to show how things progress between each bunch, the development of the characters, events and the battles. Not to mention allow you to give more in-depth view of your thoughts on where things are going.

        To comment on what you have replied to me this morning and also the friend comment on the influence of NGE on the anime industry, in many ways in my view and what I saw and gathered from exploring the net on NGE.

        NGE is the watchmen/prisoner of anime. In how analysed it has been over the years on it’s theme, plots, characters, symbolism and peoples reaction to it’s ending.

        Not to mention the many views and opinions it generated from viewers, critics and in fiction itself.

        In how many people in the anime industry ended up being influenced by it and used either the theme, plot or character archetypes that NGE popularised or explored. How many people read it in different ways, Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann was in some ways a response to NGE and some people have spectated that it has links to it as well in some form or another.

        NGE is dated by todays standards and many things in it will look trifle or something you have seen done many times over the years. But for quite a bit of today’s anime, this is where a lot of things were made popular, first done or done in such a unique way that it’s effects are still felt 20 years later. Especially on Rei, whose character is one of the most used templates in all of fiction.

        For better or worse NGE was a major game changer of anime in the 90’s and I don’t think any Anime since has had the effect that NGE had on the industry. That’s not to say no anime has matched or bettered it’s quality, just that the impact hasn’t been to the level NGE’s has been in my own view.


        • About Evangelion and money troubles, it makes me remember a video I have seen recently which debunks the myth of Evangelion having a small budget.

          I’m not saying Evangelion didn’t have financial trouble at the end of its run, but it probably didn’t have a small budged like some people are thinking.


          • One correction, on rewatch it seem Digibro, the person from the video is saying that the reason the final 2 episodes looks so cheap is because of a lack of time instead of money.


          • The episodes budget would usually be taken up by the fight scenes which is why the talking scenes seem less detailed, overall NGE turned out the way it did for the variety of reasons that have been mentioned, the budget was just not the big reason for it as digibo mentions.

            Someone posted a link to an interviewform one of the senior staff on the issue.


            Though I think he would be surprised of what quickly a budget can be spent by anyone who doesn’t know how to handle money right.

            Mix of production and Anno’s issues that led to him breaking down were the bigger contributors I would say overall, which affected ENE with some of the scenes in it being seen by some fans as being aimed at them and him lashing out.

            Whether there’s truth to that who knows, but some fans still feel that’s what he was aiming for.


          • You know, after watching his KnK videos, I didn’t expect him to have a beard and hippie glasses…

            Also, I’ll watch that video in full after I’m done with the series because I’m scared of spoilers


            • Wearing hippie glasses and a long beard is recent things. He didn’t have those when he was reviewing KnK.

              In the Evangelion video he doesn’t mention much about the story. He just uses a few scenes as example. These examples don’t spoil anything about the story.


        • So in terms of order:
          1.) Series
          2.) End of Evangelion
          3.) Maybe the Rebuild movies?

          A bit of tangent, but I can’t help but wonder whether most authors of psychological works end up a bit loopy themselves (not to make light of his depression, of course).

          I’ll definitely pay attention to the themes, characters etc, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see the influence it’s had since my exposure to other series has been so limited.


          • yep, oh I don’t know, I think you might pick up on some stuff that you have seen elsewhere or in future see where some of the influences came from.


  2. Oh, this should be good. I’m quite interested in what you have to say about this show ; it’s been a really long time since I watched it, but even to this day, I’m not quite sure what to think of it. Which was probably the intended effect. But it is certainly a classic that any anime enthusiast should watch, if only for the number of tropes future shows took from it.


  3. It’s going to be interesting to see what you have to say about Evangelion. I hope you’re ready because it’s quite the psychological thrill ride XD.

    On another note, I recommend putting Puella Magi Madoka Magica and its sequel the Rebellion Story on your to watch list. Madoka Magica has been hailed as the Evangelion of magical girl series (not that it’s as heavy as Eva but that it does similar things for its own genre), and has had a huge impact on the series of that genre that have come out since. It’s written by Gen Urobuchi (Fate/Zero), and the music is composed by Yuki Kajiura (Fate/Zero, Kara no Kyoukai). I think it would be interesting to see what themes and symbolism you pick up on, as well as what foreshadowing you catch or miss. It’s a show that benefits from multiple viewings, as after having all of the information some scenes are given entirely new context.


    • I think we already lobbied hard for that one in the final Fate/Zero review (and apparently there was a poll?). All in due time. 😉


    • Trust me, it’s on the list. I’ve heard a lot of good things (really, you can look at how often it comes up in comments) and I’ll definitely get to it. The good thing about covering more than one episode per post is that I can cover series faster.


  4. ” I mentioned to a friend a while back that I’m probably going to be covering Evangelion for this blog (the results of the poll were pretty clear from rather early on) and he told me that it is considered one of the most influential anime series ever created. Even after discounting for bias, that is high praise.”

    Yeah, I would say the Gundam franchise and Ashita no Joe are equally as influential though (And i’m saying this as someone who hasn’t even finished a Gundam Series), but that’s just my personal opinion.

    “From what I understand, there is the series itself and then there is a reboot/remake movie? If anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know.”

    My recommended order for right now would just be Evangelion and then End of Evangelion. The Rebuild movies aren’t finished yet unfortunately which is why I don’t recommend them. And the Death & Rebirth movie is just a really weird recap of the TV series, with the last 30 minutes of it just teasing End of Evangelion.


    • Yeah even I know about Gundam (more from their merchandising than anything else), so I’m going to assume that it was huge back in the day. There are a whole bunch of timelines and series and stuff, so that gets a bit confusing. Haven’t really put it on my list because I’m a bit ambivalent about the whole mecha thing. Like, clearly, I’m not against it but it has to do mecha with a spin (so both Evangelion and Gurren Lagann qualify) instead of just robots hitting robots.


      • Not just “back in the day”, Gundam is still easily the anime franchise with the most merchandise sales in Japan, and new entries in the series are always top-sellers of their respective seasons.

        Also, that conception you have of it (“robots hitting robots”) is very common for people that have had 0 contact with the series. Most entries (especially the original, main timeline) are about showing the horrors of war, weapons of mass destruction, and having their (usually teenager) protagonists confront those realities. In that regard, Gurren Lagaan is much closer to the “Super Robot” genre (cool giant robot fights) than Gundam.


  5. This ought to be interesting. Reading about the production and creative process behind Eva is super interesting. Analyzing and reviewing the show is probably, at this point, just as intimidating as trying to watch it in the first place.

    I’m still watching the rebooted version, but I will parrot what some of the others have said about the movies. They’re worth watching. The ending of the original series is confusing. It is a valid ending but you have to really know what’s going on to figure out exactly what’s happening. It’s not really ideal as a finale to a series, it’s a bit abstract and trippy. Some people I know absolutely hate it and tell people to just watch the movies instead but I think there is enough in there for you to pick at to find it not a waste of time. I kind of like it, honestly, even if the studio only did it that way because their budget was all but gone at that point.

    The reboots seem like maybe they were how the show was meant to be if their budget had been larger, but I don’t think it’s an accurate reflection of the original vision of the series. Time has to have influenced how they perceived this show and it’s characters and story. Plus the people working on it are older now. They have a completely different mental outlook from where they were when they made the original. If they had the money back then to make what they wanted I don’t think it would be the same show that the reboots are. The reboots, to me, are their own beast entirely.

    That’s not a bad thing though.


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