Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Bright Side to Dark Reality

evangelion poster

Alternative Name Shinseiki Evangelion; 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン

Created and Directed By Hideaki Anno

Original Run October 3, 1995 – March 27, 1996 (26 episodes finished)

Genre Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Mecha, Psychological, Romance, Science-fiction, Supernatural

Plot

Fourteen year old Shinji Ikari is called by his father Gendou to become an Evangelion pilot (together with other pilots Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley-Soryu) and destroy the Angels. The truth behind the creations of both Evangelions and Angels are slowly revealed, as well as NERV’s true darkest intentions.

Main Review 

There is more to this mecha anime than meets the eye. It is interesting to see how Neon Genesis Evangelion has taken a different perspective from the anime/manga ideal (which is based on achieving one’s dreams and good triumphs over evil), being a tragedy-based anime that puts a higher emphasis on the dark side of reality. Nature is replaced by Man- made creations, the environment is pretty much destroyed, material success is more valued than family relationships that are ignored, religion only exists as a name (thus, the use of religious names for aesthetic purposes like the MAGI) and human beings are letting themselves drown in their struggles leading to alcoholism, insecurities, self-pity, lust, mental break-downs, ego centrism and hatred for others. Another interesting aspect is the controversial religious themes, wherein the ironic use of religious names. The destroyed Tokyo-3 is referred as the “city of paradise,” while there’s also an irony behind Adam and the Angels (respectively designed as the first human to give birth to other humans and beacons of hope in humankind in the Bible) being referred as the human’s enemies. The title in itself, meaning the “Gospel of New Century,” is also ironic as seen in the society’s portrayal opposite to the world tied with God. The city, being the sole representation of the entire world, is shown as a vast desperate land, filled with destroyed surroundings, success through evil means, problems solved in the meanest, if not, self-destructive ways, relationships under the rocks and ignorance of God’s existence.

The characters have spent most of their time questioning themselves (in own and other’s perceptions), their reasons of existence, their relationship with others and with surroundings, and the environment they live in. Thus, the captivating theme of psychoanalysis, most particularly the coming-of-age involving self-discovery and teens and young adults angst. Other interesting themes to consider are greed, ambition, corruption of power and manipulation of mankind, shown through Human Instrumentality where salvaged human lives are used to provide mind and emotions to Evangelion cyborgs and to give birth to Rei Ayanami, later revealed as a clone. Rei’s passivity and emotionally-deprived nature proves how humans are rather used as objects than as subjects with minds of their own. Destroying and (re)creating the Angels, thus the devise of NERV headquarters.

What else to like about Evangelion? The plot and the entertainment it brings. The plot already involves an outstanding and unpredictable twist, and has strong audience impact by bringing burden to the audience’s hearts and minds as though they are facing the same struggles as the characters. The unintended meaning makes the plot deeper and challenging enough for audience to have different interpretations. Meanwhile, the rolled-up comedy, action, mecha, science fiction, drama and love-hate romance adds entertainment to the series. The characters are interesting enough to be either loved or hated, being portrayed enough with more human-like attributes. The soundtracks are catchy, though unnecessary in the battle scenes. And although it is not as improved as the remastered films (Evangelion 1.0, 2.22, and 3.0), the quality of art and animation is already excellent for a 90’s anime.

The only aspect I dislike in Neon Genesis Evangelion is the melodramatic finale. I could not stand hearing Shinji’s break down all the way through and the other characters who excessively question about life as though they have nothing else to think about. Another to dislike about the anime is how Shinji can remember his mother well. I find it very inconsistent, as it is impossible for a person to recall his or her three year old memories. Not forgetting to mention how Shinji was only three when his mother died.

I never regretted watching Neon Genesis Evangelion in my late childhood. It had those rolled-up entertainment that tuned my 10/11 year old self, although I never understood the story line perspective and its message. It is not until adulthood that I begin to understand the series’ deeper aspects. It is still worth-tuning after several years, proving that Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the greatest masterpieces ever made.

Overall Rating 4.95/5 stars (9.9/10)

Sources

Neon Genesis Evangelion, MyAnimeList

Neon Genesis Evangelion, Wikipedia

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