Neon Genesis Evangelion (or Eva, because I won’t be typing that again), was a show often mentioned in the same breath as Cowboy Bebop or Ghost in the Shell. Int the early 2000’s, anime was very hard to come by state side. Most of it was neutered, pigeon holed into a much lower age demographic. Thanks to the success of some other shows, more anime began to be make it’s way west, intact. Dubbed and marketed for direct release, it did fairly well for years, though incredibly overpriced. At the time, typically only the higher quality material was licensed. Eva taught me that high quality was a relative term.
Eva is prime explain how bombastic set pieces and slick character design can carry a series. The initial concept was interesting enough. Giant robots were created to battle against Angels. I’m not entire convinced anyone knows exactly what an Angel is, other than one of the series many overt references to Christianity. There are three Evangelion units, each piloted by a 14 year old because insert whatever illogical reason to make this happen. That’s something I’ve never really liked, the fate of X placed on children in their early teens. When I was that age, I thought “hell ya!” Now as an adult, I realize kids are idiots, and very inexperienced. Thankfully, not every 14 year is portrayed to be 30.
Regardless, the series mostly follows Shinji Ikari, as he was brought in to pilot a new Eva unit. Rei Ayanami, who gets the crap beat out of her on a constant basis and is clone of his mother (he doesn’t know this), pilots the original unit. Eventually, Asuka Langley Soryu joins the group, piloting the third mecha. Shinji’s father, Gendo, is the head of NERV, who created the Eva’s.
This show is a textbook example of diminishing returns. Budget was the biggest concern, and decreased as the series progressed. What started as an action heavy show, quickly changed gears to an introspective, psychological one. All manner of animation tricks were used to get through the last few episodes. Mouths were covered, meaning speakers didn’t need to be animated. One minute, single pan shots were used frequently along with long distant shots. It was a mess and a little insulting.
The last two episodes completely deviated from the plot. The final conflict was impending. Instead, everything took place in Shinji’s head. At first I had “The Emperor’s New Clothes” mentality. I didn’t get it, watching it several times trying to understand. Eventually I realized it was just nonsense masking itself as cerebral concepts. The budget had run out, so recycled shots and cheap animation tricks were used to finish the series.
Fans were rightfully upset by this. Two movies were released to deliver a proper ending; “Evangelion: Death and Rebirth” and “The End of Evangelion.” Guess what? They ran out of budget again! The movies were originally meant to be one, but split due to budget and time constraints. Death was 40 minutes of recycled footage from the series and 20 minutes of new while EoE began with the same 20 minutes of footage. Death was an utter rip off, and a complete disservice to fans. By then I didn’t care what the real ending was.
In typical Japanese fashion, not able to leave well enough alone, there’s a new Evangelion series. A set of four movies is trying to retell the story properly. Three of the four planned entries have been released since 2007. Who knows when/if the final one will see the light of day. Honestly, I stopped caring.
I’ve seen NERV pins/shirts/merchandise sported for years. Eva is incredibly popular, but I don’t understand why. I would love if someone could explain to me exactly what the hell is going on here. I can see why it’s held in high regards, but it ultimately boils down to no one wanting to admit they don’t understand and only liking it because it’s pretty.
La la la don’t care.