There is a lot of good content out there. I am still a theoretical booster of Anime as a medium, and I think it really enables some superbly talented creators to get some ideas out there.
Discovering NGE was a classic 90’s moment: I had a friend who had a friend who he copied VHS tapes of subtitled anime. So when we hung out, he tried to sell me on various shows and manga. I found a lot it just loud and violent (not really a bad thing, but it didn’t grab me). But when he brought out NGE, he was sure he’d found the one I’d like. I was a classic skeptical teenager, but he was right. From minute one, I was interested. Something was going on, and it was big. This was a cartoon, but these characters were flawed and desperate.
As an agnostic at the time, I was fascinated with the descriptions of Seraphim and Cherubim and the like in the abrahamic Apocrypha. I found it so interesting that there was a time when angels were objects of terror (rather than the contemporary fluffy kind depictions). I was into the idea that the NGE project was a form of theological hacking, that aliens weren’t aliens at all, but the messengers of a disappointed and angry god, and that humanity wasn’t bowing down and worshipping, but instead sending back a message that “seriously, we don’t need your judgement here.” (I don’t think that’s entirely supported by the text, but it’s a place I went with it).
So when that imagery showed up in NGE, I was hooked in a big way. I made my own VHS dubs, and watched the series a bunch of times, and formed my own personal take on “the truth.” I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what Shinji’s real ‘deal’ was. I was troubled by Rei. I got involved, and I went looking for more shows. Akira and Ghost in the Shell (though the manga was better) hit for me, but the comedies did not. I was pretty much a dude, I guess.
I moved on from there and discovered a lot of (personally seminal) shows like Legend of the Dog Warriors, everything Ghibli, Grave of the Fireflies, Cowboy Bebop and Darker than Black over the years. But I got tired of what is sometimes termed “Anime BS”. The theme songs are not to my taste. Fan service and treatment of women and minorities can be really hard to take. The presence of so many characters whose defining characteristic is “makes the worst choice possible at all times” was grating. It got to the point where I dreaded trying a new show because I didn’t know what I was going to run into to, you know? And that same raised perception and awareness really hurt when I looked back at NGE. It has problems, and I had to admit that some of things that are problematic, are things I liked when I first came to it.
So you know: complicated. But that that does make me extra hype for the BGARWI take