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Neon Genesis Evangelion

 

Grade: B+

Genre: Mecha, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi

Reviewed: Sub/Dub

Episodes: 26

Notes: There are 2 movies created after the series to elaborate on the ending. The manga was created after the series.

Introduction:

One day, Shinji Ikari, a 14 year old boy, is summoned by his father whom he hasn't seen in years. But it's not for a reconciliation, it's to be forced to pilot an Evangelion, (term for a mecha in this series) Eva for short. The Evas are the only defense against the "Angels" who appear out of nowhere with the possible intention of destroying mankind. Shinji and his fellow pilots Asuka and Rei, must work together to defeat the Angels. But what are the Angels, what do they want, and what are the secrets behind the NERV and SEELE organizations responsible for creating the Evas?

Animation/Music/Voices:

Animation overall is very good and there are some very good intense action sequences. Design of the characters is good, and the mechas are more detailed and interesting than in some other series; however, several of the Angels are rather disappointingly plain geometric shapes. The opening theme has good intensity and excitement while the ending theme is a soothing Frank Sinatra ballad (Fly Me to the Moon). Overall, the score is fine. Both sub and dub voices are fine but annoying - Shinji is appropriately wimpy, Asuka is appropriately obnoxious.

Review:

Probably the most praised and debated anime ever, you will see it on countless best anime ever lists, but don't be taken in by all the hype. It is intricately plotted, but unnecessarily complicated, and will leave as many questions unresolved as answered. Fans like to debate the religious elements, but they're not meant to be accurate. Action (when there is any, that is when the Angels attack, and there's 17 of them) is quite good. The different tactics against the Angels are well executed, but not particularly original. The filler episodes and minor characters, however, are a total waste. The original and creative plot is at first very interesting and seemingly intelligent and it's hard to criticize an anime that takes such chances, but the fundamental problem is the characters. How much you will like this series will depend on how you feel about the characters, whether they are sympathetic or just pathetic. About halfway through, you may find that all the characters are really, really, really annoying. The characters are not your typical anime heroes/heroines, and are created that way to be less likable and possibly more realistic. But it's a fine line to walk and unfortunately the characters become more like the caricatures they're trying to avoid than anything realistic.

Examples of character development:
Asuka - angry obnoxious bitch to sad obnoxious bitch
Rei - no emotions to blips of emotions
Shinji - sad wimp to less sad wimp
Misato (captain in charge of strategy and tactics against the Angels, Shinji's guardian and roommate) - annoying lush to sexually fulfilled annoying lush
Ikari - uncaring father to Shinji, becomes uncaring SOB to all of humanity


The attempts at humor generally fall flat. There is also unnecessary fan service for adolescent boys, such as Shinji falling over a naked Rei; and the completely nonsensical humiliation of Risuko (the computer expert) who is forced for some inexplicable reason (except as a plot device to spur her resulting actions), to appear naked in front of the board of SEELE. Reviewers often make a big deal about the nonsensical ending, but even before that you may hope the characters all die!

The series ending is basically an explanation of what individual characters go through in order to accept themselves before being integrated into a greater universal consciousness. Viewers should just accept the ending for what it is instead of trying to figure out exactly what sequence of events occurred. For those who need to know, there are 2 movies available, which may resolve some plot holes but may obscure other questions even more.

If you like intricate plots and don't care about having all the answers and have a high tolerance for annoying characters, this is for you. If you have a low tolerance for annoying characters and pretentious plots, you'll probably want to see this anyway just to say you've seen it and it was over-hyped. Not recommended for children under 13 due to some sexually gratuitous scenes and they won't know or care what's going on.

Death and Rebirth (Grade: B-) First half is basically a rehash of the first 24 episodes of the series with a few extra scenes. Second half fills in more of what happened toward the end. There's also a couple of more gratuitous scenes between Shinji and Asuka, and Shinji and Misato. Even more pretentious than the series, if they had combined parts of this with the original ending, the series would've been better.

End of Evangelion (Grade: B) First part is basically the latter part of Death and Rebirth. Some more filling in of what really happened but still nonsensical with a giant Rei and people turning into pudding.