“If there really is a God, maybe we’re nothing more than His dolls.”
Neon Genesis Evangelion is known for many things. Its iconic and infectious intro is the stuff of legend in the anime community. It’s known for having possibly the coolest title a show has ever had. It’s become an immensely popular intellectual property in its homeland of Japan. However, there’s a reason why Evangelion has become the marketing and meme juggernaut it has today, and it really lies in the beauty of its premise.
Evangelion is about an awkward and introverted teenager named Shinji Ikari. The show deals with his struggles trying to fit in and find his purpose in life. He is taken in by an older woman, Misato Katsuragi, who ends up being his loyal guardian and confidant. Together, the two push through the hardships of life while discovering what makes it worthwhile.
Hold on. Let me try that again.
Evangelion is an anime where a trio of teenagers get to save the world by piloting giant robots with cool guns. We have Shinji alongside the aloof and enigmatic Rei Ayanami, and the loud and brash Asuka Langley Soryu. Together, they are EVA pilots who have to balance being both students and superheroes.
Wait a minute. Something’s not right here.
The most striking thing about Evangelion is that it is both of these things, and yet is absolutely neither of them. Therein lies the sheer brilliance of the show. It tries to be two different things at the same time, all while being a third. Convoluted on paper, but by God, it works.
What is the third facet, you ask? It may be hard to fathom now, but it tackles themes such as separation anxiety, loneliness, neglectful parenting, identity crisis, and losing the will to live. Indeed, it gets that heavy.
The show has its fair share of heroic adventures, pulse-pounding action, and even hilarious moments. However, don’t let this distract you from the fact that it can take your deepest fears, regrets, and insecurities, then apply them to the cast. People hold many dark secrets, and the same holds true for the characters of the show. It shows us how truly complex humans could be. Some of the character’s traits could mirror people you know, and at times, it could even mirror you.
In that sense, Evangelion carves an identity that is unique to itself. The subversion – nay, perversion – of Christian imagery that is present throughout the show only amplifies the fact that this is no ordinary anime. It’s an unadulterated deconstruction of not just the mecha genre, but also of the human psyche.
There are some gripes to be had with the pacing of the show, especially at the start. At times, you wouldn’t know whether you’d just want the show to last serious for the rest of its run (thanks, Rei) or just be goofy forever (thanks, Asuka). However, once the mystery regarding the creatures known as Angels pop up, a wicked domino effect occurs that unravels one sad, hellish truth after another. Freakish monsters, frantic mayhem, and fragile minds – Evangelion‘s got ’em all.
Much like the people who have been enamored with the show to this day, I believe I will still think, talk, and dream about this show for years to come. Almost timeless to a degree, Evangelion is simply a captivating masterpiece one can’t ever look away from.
More than just a very entertaining show, I can safely say that Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime that changed my life. For better or for worse? That, I may never know.
Best Episode: “Both of You, Dance Like You Want To Win!” (Episode 9)
Best Moment: Shinji finds out why he pilots the EVA (Episode 12)
Best Scene: Asuka vs. Arael (Episode 22)
Best Subplot: Misato being kept under the dark about the truth
Best Character Development: Shinji, Misato, and Asuka
Most Surprising Development: Unit-01 goes berserk (Episode 19)
Hi, I’m Firebrand and you just read an article I contributed for the Drunken Anime Blog! If you’d like to see more of my work, please feel free to visit my site (firebrandwriter.wordpress.com) or follow my Instagram account (@firebrandwriter).