Genre(s): Mecha, Psychological, Drama, Sci-Fi
Age-Appropriateness: 17+ (Frightening scenes, violence, brief nudity, sexuality)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.8 / 10 (A definite Icon)
Premise: In the year 2015, the world stands on the brink of destruction. Humanity’s last hope lies in the hands of Nerv, a special agency under the United Nations, and their Evangelions, giant machines capable of defeating the Angels who herald Earth’s ruin. Gendou Ikari, head of the organization, seeks compatible pilots who can synchronize with the Evangelions and realize their true potential.
Face to face with his father for the first time in years, 14-year-old Shinji Ikari’s average life is irreversibly changed when he is whisked away into the depths of Nerv, and into a harrowing new destiny—he must become the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01 with the fate of mankind on his shoulders.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: Man this was a ride and a half. Evangelion starts in probably the best way possible, giving you an accurate vibe for the show’s setting, themes, and giving you just enough intrigue to get you asking “now wait a second, did I just see…?” and keep you hungry for more. While it does get up to some classic anime antics of the ol’ pervy high school boys, “oops saw you changing” scenarios, and includes perhaps the seminal Tsundere, it doesn’t leave those antics at surface level. Evangelion has a lot of deep psychological exploration and philosophical questions; and I mean full on psychological lectures and exploration, filled with existential questions and gnarly gritty detail. There’s a lot of very raw emotional scenes, you will be left with goosebumps and genuine terror more than once. My biggest complaint is that the series doesn’t really wrap anything up concretely, so you’ll likely find yourself on a forum for answers.
TLDR: What made Mecha a great genre, filled with existential psychological enigmas and religious imagery.
Evangelion falls into the 1st season of SAO category for me in that a large bulk of it is absolutely stellar. Animation, emotion, characters, and moments that would make it a masterpiece abound. Then there’s a significant chunk that really falls short of that (though not as bad as with SAO). In another anime I wouldn’t mind so much, but it makes me feel like the parent or teacher of a truly gifted student who randomly will flunk a test. I’ve seen the amazing work you can do, so it’s that much more upsetting to see these random shortcomings.
There are two additional Evangelion movies on Netflix: Death (True)^2 is good for if you need a recap of the series and characters, in a somewhat artistic way. The other, which wraps up the series, albeit in a slightly “alternate ending” kind of way, is End of Evangelion, which will be reviewed next week. There are three *other* Evangelion movies (not on any streaming service) which are more or less a reboot called “The Rebuild of Evangelion” series that we’ll also get to. The fourth and final (I think) movie of the rebuild series is slated to air in theaters in Japan next year.
Undoubtedly one of my favorite anime series of mine too, especially when it comes to lore, character analysis (Pen-Pen is my homeboy), music, and its take on life. I can’t tell you the countless hours I spent after work reviewing the Evangelion wiki / forums to decipher the various intricacies of the show, the fanart, Shinji/Asuka fanfictions, and the playthroughs of the various spinoff games like that one Evangelion PC dating game (Iron Maiden). One thing’s for certain – IMO it beats the Rebuild by a longshot.