With the Netflix release of Neon Genesis Evangelion coming up, it seemed like a good time to dust off this post and revise it a little. And no, I still haven’t actually written a review of Evangelion but I’m pretty sure I am going to make that a priority to tackle early in 2019. In the meantime, here are my top 5 reasons why you should watch Evangelion – they’ve been updated a bit since when the post originally came out in 2017. If you haven’t before, next year is the perfect time to get into this.
Please Note – There will be spoilers below.
Honourable Mention: The Online Discussions
Originally this was number 5 on my list but I’m going to be honest, in reconsidering what I love about Evangelion, this one didn’t rank as highly as some of the other points. Still, love or hate Evangelion, there’s a lot of ongoing discussions and debates about this anime. It is pretty much everywhere and anyone who has watched it has an opinion and those opinions are very diverse. The problem is, you can’t engage in these discussions until you watch the show.
Number 5: The Broken Characters
Some people love the characters of Evangelion and see them as deep with real emotions and emotional scars. Others just like looking at the girls in their flight suits. Whichever way you choose to look at the characters of Evangelion, what has to be obvious is that each and every character is fundamentally broken. We have a hero who isn’t just a wimp, he is all but completely passive about life except in a few key moments.
The supporting team of heroes is made up of one who has an inferiority complex made significantly worse after she becomes fully aware that she isn’t the one who is actually going to save the day and the other who seems equally indifferent about the fate of the world as the hero. We have the workers of Nerv all of whom are pursuing their own agendas and the members of the oversight committee who think they are in control of most of the other people but really are more or less helpless spectators.
Individually these characters aren’t particularly interesting or particularly good characters outside of the context of this show. But as a cast they pose so many questions and reflect so many of the darker sides of human nature that the sum is definitely greater than the parts that make up the cast of this anime.
What works is that each of these characters presents to us a recognisable fault or flaw that we might see in ourselves or others. They make us consider who we are and how we interact with others. And, most importantly, they deliver some fantastic moments along the way. Passive, helpless, broken, or not, these kids save the world an incredible number of times and it isn’t any wonder that it takes a toll on their fragile mental health particularly when they aren’t exactly being cared for in the most suitable manner.
Number 4: You’ll Get The References
Seriously, Evangelion is one of the most over-referenced anime I have ever seen. Not that intertextual references are a bad thing but it has gotten to the point where people are referencing the references and the actual source material and purpose are kind of getting forgotten. Still, seeing a Gendo pose, an AT field, any quote about a machine not responding, the epiphany sequence (totally used in the Simpsons movie as well as a whole bunch of anime), the monoliths (though these were definitely borrowed even when they appeared in Evangelion), and so on can just make you smile. There are literally references to this anime everywhere in other anime, in TV shows and movies.
Number 3: Can The World Be Saved?
I love that Evangelion takes place in a world that has been broken but is trying to rebuild. Facing the same threat again, it seems humanity is scrambling for a way to survive and like all good anime finds the only salvation in dysfunctional teenagers, but the world isn’t saved. At least not in any kind of form that would be considered saved in a traditional story. It puts all the struggles and minor triumphs these characters go through into perspective and the ending, while severely open to interpretation, really makes you think about all those stories where some big bad is just kind of swept away with limited fall out and makes you wonder about the credibility of either the evil they were facing and the effectiveness of the heroes.
Number 2: The theme song ‘Cruel Angel Thesis’ is amazing.
Originally this one was only an honourable mention, but that didn’t really do it justice. Long after the show is done, the opening song will linger within you and just hearing the first few notes can plunge you into a nostalgia trip that will last the whole day. This was the second anime theme song I learned to sing in Japanese (the first being Sailor Moon), and even now when I hear it I can’t help but sing along (very badly, off key, and with a lot of mispronunciations but I don’t really care).
There are few OP’s as iconic as this one, though for me Yuri On Ice’s History Maker comes close and I’ll see how I still feel about that one in another decade.
Number 1: It Makes You Think
Again, whether you love this show in the end or hate it, whether you think the references are simply religious jargon tossed around and the symbolism is mish-mashed, whether the characters work for you or not, what Evangelion does brilliantly is pose questions for the audience to ponder. You may not like the answer you are presented with (or you may not be presented with an answer), but you will have questions and feel that there is more than one possible answer.
There we have it, my revised top 5 reasons why I would say you should watch Evangelion (other than, it’s Evangelion). If you’ve seen it what reasons would you give for watching it, or not? More importantly, with it arriving on Netflix (new dub or not) will you be watching it?
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NEON GENESIS EVANGELION