#TBT Anime Reviews: Neon Genesis Evangelion

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)



Stories can have a powerful impact on a population. Not only can they change our belief systems or ways of thinking through things like The Bible or The DaVinci Code, but they can also be on such a level that others are compared to them. For example, when we think of war films, most would name Saving Private Ryan as a film that comes to mind. If we say detective stories, Sherlock Holmes may be named. And when we think of mecha-related anime, arguably the pinnacle of the genre and that to which all others are compared, the answer is easily Neon Genesis Evangelion. A classic in every sense of the word, Neon Genesis Evangelion brought a whole new dimension to mecha anime and developed a cult following spanning decades.

Shinji Ikari is a lonely 14-year-old boy. As he has no mother, he is sent to Tokyo-3 where he is to live and be a part of the NERV project: Evangelion. Evangelions are giant robots that are piloted by special children who possess the ability to link with specified Evangelions. The role of the Evangelion is to fight off monsters called Angels that come to Earth. For Shinji, a child who feels unwanted, things get worse when he finds out his father is in charge of NERV. Not only is he thrown into a life-and-death fight for the fate of the Earth, but he also must work with a father who does not love him. But Shinji is not alone, as other 14-year-old children are recruited to pilot the other Evas. But will Shinji be able to control his inner demons and personal strife and become the pilot the world needs him to be?

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Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deep drama told through the context of mecha warfare. The Angels coming to Earth, and what their end goal is, is only one part of the story. But we also have a cast of flawed characters trying to make the best of the cards they are dealt by whatever means they can. Shinji is unloved, introverted, and a loner. Being abandoned by his father has led to a lack of significant relationships in his life. Plus he always feels like he isn’t any good. If your own father doesn’t want you, can you be good for anyone, even yourself? Shinji’s guardian while at NERV, Misato, has her own struggles. She drinks in excess and plays everything off, but she, too, longs for a significant relationship and a normal way of life. Asuka, another Eva pilot, struggles with a need to be the best and to earn the approval of everyone, which she never received from her mother when she was young. There are so many flawed characters living in a flawed world where the chips are stacked against them. But it is the relationships they form together, the ability to help each other build up, and realize there is hope in the future, this is what gives them the strength to do what is needed to save the world.

While the mecha battles are some of the best in anime, even by today’s standards, that is only a part of what makes the anime so amazing. What it really comes down to is the story. Movies don’t win Oscars based on action. It is all about the story. Neon Genesis Evangelion is like an onion, with layers that delve deeper and deeper as you peel off the previous layer. What are the Angels and what are they after? What is this organization called NERV and what is their real plan? What is the true nature of the Evangelions? These are but a few of the outer layer questions, which become much more involved as the story unfolds.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion provides something for everyone: action, drama, laughter, suspense, and deep, thought-provoking storylines are just a few things that have made this anime one of the all-time greats. It has become so popular, it spawned a remastered edition, individual movies, and currently a restructured story being told over the course of four films, the third of which was in theaters in 2014. If you’ve already seen the series, you know of how great it is. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to watch one of those series that has been talked about for over 15 years and is still relevant even today. I mean, with hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide, they can’t all be wrong, can they?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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