With the Netflix release of Neon Genesis Evangelion and then of course the rebuild movies, it seemed like a good time to consider why viewers should try Evangelion. 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.
What are your reasons to watch Evangelion?
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?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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31 thoughts on “Top 5: Reasons to Watch Evangelion”
Personally, I have always thought NGE was hugely overrated. Aside from the hot mess of Midrashic, Kabbalistic, Second Temple Jewish and early Christian apocalyptic references taken out of context and force fitted into an overly convoluted narrative framework, none of the main characters are especially likeable, and Shinji Ikari himself is a nauseatingly annoying whiner. While the “rebuild” movies do admittedly bring some order and coherence to the story and indicate what might have been possible had a little more time, effort, and possibly money been expended on the original, I think the ultimate reality is that NGE is an over-hyped mess whose concept and resolution had not been fully thought through at the time it was produced, and which accordingly doesn’t deserve its iconic status…not when you compare it to the likes of Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, Ninja Scroll, Trigun, etc….
I really disliked the ‘rebuild’ of this. you are right in that it is a mess of a story, that’s part of its charm (or at least I always enjoyed that aspect of it). I will admit, I only recently watched Bebop for the first time but kind of found it to be overrated (enjoyable to be sure but not as amazing as some fans would tell it) and Akira and I never clicked – that is one mess of a story.
What! You don’t like Bebop?!? HERETIC!!!! Burn her! Burn her! 😂
I liked it, I just wasn’t as enamored with it as some fans seem to be.
Well in that event…I suppose we can delay your execution…for now…. 😛
Eva left me wondering, “What the hell just happened?”
It’s funny. I felt terrible when the girls suffered. I hated Gendo because I knew real people who are like him. But I kept wishing Shinji would croak or grow a pair. Nothing but disappointment there. He was either a nothing or he was running on pure emotion and adrenaline.
I have to admit, the initial draw for me was watching giant robots fight. I think the thing that really hooked me was the idea of a giant robot that was hard to pilot. I was floored when the protagonist trips and falls over in the first episode.
At first I was rather frustrated with how little screen time was spent with the Evas, but gradually I started to recognize what the story was really about, and appreciate it.
Recently I had another thought about the show. I think in one sense Evangelion, Attack on Titan, and the Walking Dead are all examples of a specific type of monster/apocalyptic subgenre; where the world doesn’t end because of the monsters, nor do the humans defeat the monster and restore the prior order.
Instead the monsters become a recurring part of the world, something that can’t be permanently resolved. By their presence as a new, tougher enemy, who seemingly act without more motive than destruction and death, at least at first glance, they change the world, and create a new status quo.
What also strikes me is how all three stories focus on the characters as they try to adjust to or overcome this new world. Some focus on trying to “fix” the world, while others start playing politics, manipulating the situation so that they will come out on top if humanity wins, or be one of the last ones to die if it fails.
There’s that recurring theme that the “monsters” are not the real enemy; they’re just a force of nature that create opportunities, which the real villains use to their advantage.
It’s interesting. Makes me wonder if the story of Shinji and the others could be told in a contemporary setting, without the otherworldly Angels and Evas. Granted it probably wouldn’t appeal to me as much, but I wonder if it could work?
It’s an interesting thought and its probably the most important part of the show is that it can make you think. Thanks for the interesting comment.
The biggest reason I would recommend Evengelion is for how influential it was. Aside from all of the memes, virtually every dark, introspective mecha anime made since has taken some influence from it. It was also huge in the west when it first came out and was what got a lot of people into anime, although that was long before I started watching anime. I’d say anyone who appreciates the medium should watch it, even if they end up not liking it. It’s just too important to ignore.
Have to agree with this. Whether you end up liking it or not Evangelion’s influence is clear. Definitely worth checking out just because you are a fan of anime.
This series has been on my backlog forever. And I’ve owned it twice! Bad me, bad!
My friend sold me his Evangelion vhs tapes and I watched the series, enjoying it some. I will say the end left me with an “Uhh what the?” feeling. If I could get the original series on DVD for decent I’d take it!
The end leaves a lot people that way.
Almost sold them back over the ending, but… About 2005/06? I bought the two OVAs on dvd and it helped cleared up some things, but gods! 🙂
i still remember watching it when it first aired and i still think its amazing after all the times i have rewatched it. so i got to agree.
Eva is on of favorites. The Gendou pose is definitely iconic but that guy is such a prick. can’t stand him. lol
He is definitely a character that people love to hate.
This series was absolutely briljant. Even though I did not quite like the ending for it, overall it has been an anime experience unlike any other. The reasons you list here are pretty much spot on. One of the best reasons for me were the characters as well. Even though some could be considered heroes, all of them had their flaws, which made them more human in my opinion. Also I loved the Mecha in this series. Some of the best designed robots ever made 😊
I liked that they didn’t try to make the robots plausible by modern technology standards. Mostly I just kind of roll my eyes at explanations of how mecha work but Evangelion went with an explanation that had no grounding in technology in the end. Hard argument to fault.
Pretty great show. The End of Evangelion is a strong film too. Definitely one of those shows that anime fans should watch due to its cultural impact and the impact it had on the medium as well.
It’s definitely something that whether you like or not, just knowing about it changes the way you view other shows.
Ok. You’ve convinced me.
That I should watch this has been a niggling thought in the back of mind since I seriously got into anime but as you can see, I have yet to. You do present some compelling arguments here.
It’s definitely not perfect but it is an experience.
If I made a top 5 anime of all time this one would be on the list.
It’s definitely one of the series that got me into anime as an adult and helped me move beyond Sailor Moon and such in terms of what I thought anime was.