Neon Genesis Evangelion Review

As said in my “You Are (Not) Alone” Valentine’s day post, I had a pleasant three-day weekend to binge-watch the infamous robot anime Evangelion, a timeless classic in the anime community. So what do I have to say about it? Well, I can fully appreciate Ender’s Game now.

Fifteen years ago, the Angels, gigantically scary extraterrestrial life forms, caused The Second Impact, a catastrophe which wiped out half of humanity and literally threw Earth of its axis. In present-day 2015, the Angels have returned in Tokyo. To counteract, a secret UN agency by the name of NERV has developed weapons – human fighting machines known as “Evangelion.” Though they can only be piloted by fourteen-year olds, for some odd reason cause its anime, the heroic Evangelion robots hold up against the Angels with ease – most of the time.

Shinji Ikari’s whole world is thrown into chaos when his asshole of a father, the head of NERV, demands that Shinji pilot purple Evangelion 01 during a sudden Angel attack, even though his own son is terrified of the thought. Regardless of what he truly wants, Shinji must courageously force himself head first into intense battles, diving deeper and deeper into despair and insanity to uncover his self-worth.

Shinji is a difficult character to talk about mainly because his life is a double-edged sword; pilot the Eva and win – everyone loves you. Lose, however, and you’re on everyone’s death list. He has a pussy attitude and his constant apologizing gets on many people’s nerves. To top off this train wreck, he specifically says that distancing himself from others is easier than being with someone. As much as I want to say he is a hero, he really isn’t, but rather the child that humanity must pity. That’s not to say that his life is hell, though, because it definitely sucks! I think a distressed youth such as Shinji was the most interesting viewpoint the series could have had.

Misato Katsuragi, the sexy chief of operations officer at NERV, takes timid Shinji under her wing, serving as the motherly figure that was robbed from him as a child. She is pretty messy, as she leaves beer cans and instant-made food containers lying all around the apartment. For most of the show, she serves as the comedy and fan service side of things, but she’s way more than that. In work, she is punctual, intelligent, and a captain, while at home, Misato is relaxed, carefree, and a lover. Misato is a fun and awesome gal, and Allison Keith portrayed her with a quality-matching English dub performance!

Asuka Langley Soryu pilots red Evangelion 02, and as such acts as Shinji’s partner for parts of the show. She serves the plot as Shinji’s opposite with her busty German speaking and ballsy/brash loud mouth. She too suffers from intense mental grief, shown physically through the way she feels the need to conquer everyone else – that she is better and above all others. The two fight a lot and over the course of the show, she opens him up to a more social, sexually-open life. I especially enjoyed Asuka as a character and her English voice actress, Tiffany Grant. She nailed the German, I tell you! 😉 “Wunderbar…” God damn, I can’t even…

The one whom I was disappointed with was Rei Ayanami. Then again, I’m not one for silent characters. With her blue hair and red eyes, you get the impression right away that something about her seems, hmm, fake? She pilots the prototype orange/blue Evangelion 00. To the plot, she is much more in The End of Evangelion. For now, however, she acts as Shinji’s “love interest,” though they don’t get really far between his shyness and Rei’s awkwardness and lack of communication. Rei is the opposite side of the same coin to Asuka: a peaceful, compliant fantasy girl to a demonic, enticing sex counterpart.

So that’s all, right? Nothing else to the characters? Of course not. Neon Genesis Evangelion’s cast is massive; I’d be spending several reviews recapping just the complexity these last four characters if I could. They are all wonderful, intricate, memorable, and most important of all – human.

All of the characters are pretty screwed up though. Towards the second half and end of the series, they all descend into their own personal hell, growing more insane due to the vibe the Evangelion give off until they eventually crack. Even the good doctor Ritsuko crumbles in madness. It makes you feel depressed, shameful, guilty – just all of the things that they feel, really.

And the plot is the same way. What started out as a regular mech series that has fighters cleverly taking down enemies ended up soiling itself in darkness and messed-up plot turns. However, the show’s real antagonist,” Seele,” lacks so much explanation that they are hard to understand. They pull random crap out of nowhere and it can be really confuzzling. Character motives become distorted and you ultimately end up with a show soaked in raw twistedness.

To the animation by low-budget Gainax – IT’S NOT AS BAD AS PEOPLE SAY IT IS. Frankly, I found the animation to give the show a unique feel to it. Yeah, it’s crap during a plentiful amount of scenes; there are freeze frames where nothing is moving for a freakin’ hour; the Evangelion and Angels are not given justice in Gainax’s animation – so what?! It makes you feel eerie; the dull tone and paleness makes the story more mysterious in a sense. Praise to the Rebuild films – ABSOLUTELY – but this anime makes do with its poor studio budget, and I appreciate that.

The soundtrack supports many militaristic themes for the engaging battles, but nothing really stands out. Even more emotional moments lack interesting tracks. I suppose it fits the mood well, but it’s not a brilliant score by any means. One of the main things I took from this experience was the addicting opening, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi. I kid you not; I never skipped this opening once when I watched the series. While the legendary lyrics don’t really match Shinji’s character, the song is still a must-listen! 😀

If you didn’t understand Neon Genesis Evangelion – that’s fine, did anyone? Just to name a few questions: Who can truly say when evolution has gone too far, as well as whether having a God is a good thing for humanity? As long as you grasped your own beliefs from this anime, then you have mastered the Evangelion experience, so-to-speak. Many believe this anime to be symbolic of life; some think Hideaki Anno was simply high when this show came out in 1995, and he probably was. Neon Genesis Evangelion truly masters character relationships, and is intelligent, creative, disturbing, unnerving, and downright weird. But at that, one hell of a ride. “Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men.” – Ritsuko Akagi

Thank you so much for reading my review over this timeless anime classic! Leave a comment below with any thoughts or questions you had. Hit the like and/or follow buttons for more content like this and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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15 thoughts on “Neon Genesis Evangelion Review

  1. Personally NGE is my favourite anime simply because the characters are so deep and complex. Having read the manga etc. I kind of understand Seele and the Instrumentality Project much more than most standard viewers, but you’re right when you say viewers shouldn’t have to read external content to get the gist of things.

    I haven’t really seen characters as complex or otherwise deep in any other anime or media in general, though I’m saying that knowing there’s probably something that could be considered better.

    Nice review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never felt I truly understood Neon Genesis Evangelion. I felt I was close to point of fully grasping it but still feel it remains out of my grasp. So I guess this is the reason I see this as a good anime series but not excellent or worthy of being a classic staple for my lifetime personally. I mean. Not all classics can ring true with us all.

    And your so right the OP, A Cruel Angel’s Thesis sounds really nice especially for a mecha anime series. Though I also thought the ED, Fly Me to the Moon, was also very beautiful.

    With Evangelion I got the sense that it was examining human relationships and how with different people we are different in the way we are. For example Shinji feels like with his father he always feels unworthy but cannot help but want to please him. With Asuka a girl his own age he feels more free to be his own self. With Misato he feels too grown up.

    And with Rei who I happen to like the most since she had this delicate nature that was irresistible. I actually got the idea that their relationship was the opposite of romantic but that she was more of the mother figure he was searching for. It can be kind of confusing since at the beginning I did get the feeling Shinji saw here as a romantic interest but that could have just been him gravitating toward her.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting view on Rei, Cassandra. I never thought of her in that way.

      And yeah, I’m not sure if I understood Evangelion’s “correct” message or theme, but I definitely derived ideas and my own thoughts from it. It’s a great piece of science fiction that asks a new and driving question to the mecha genre – What if we were actually “piloting” the enemy this whole time? Evangelion dives into the human psyche and how much the individual is actually worth, too, which makes it all the more unique.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking responses!

      Liked by 1 person

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