I'm breaking into anime with Evangelion!


#1

So, when I was a kid, about a decade ago, I was really into the big 4 shounen series - One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and Fairy tail - as well as a fan of trashy fanservice harem series (look, I was 10, I didn’t get why I liked looking at squeamish anime girls so much back then).
But going into middle school, my interests changed dramatically and I got significantly more into film and literature. Now, that I’m a film and 3D animation student and have a new perspective on how much effort goes into making those shows, I hoped to get back into the series I enjoyed so much in my childhood - and was left dissapointed. I don’t know why; I guess the shonen bug just came and went for me.
Still, I was determined to find anime that would be more suitable to my taste, and asking around for advice with some of my more knowledgeable friends, the recommendation that I recieved over and over was one series - Neon Genesis Evangelion.
So here’s the plan. I am going to watch 1 episode a day for the entirety of the show, and try to share my thoughts on it, and Ya’ll can get to see my somehow unspoiled yet reaction and make sly remarks about stuff that I won’t get until 10 episodes from now, and I’ll (hopefully) get to stretch my creative muscles a little. Hopefully this will be fun! I’m excited!

Edit : I am not a native english speaker, so I hope you’ll forgive the amount of typos and misuse of words/phrases. Feel free to correct me and offer further insight! Thanks!

ALSO NO SPOILERZ PLZ THANX


#2

I’m excited for this, I’m near the end of the first series and god, it’s been amazing. It just feels so smart and I’m not going to say any more.


#3

Ok, so I got over-excited and decided not to wait until tomorow for the first episode.

Episode one impressions: Off to a strong start!

This show really doesn’t waste your time, does it? I always like it when stuff start happening in stories straight away and getting to know the characters along the way rather than have the story dawdle around. The Angel’s design is…interesting? cool? I like how it is made very clear that this is a machine designed to facilitate an alien invasion and colonisation rather than a pedestrian alien that just happens to be capable of and willing to inflict destruction on an city-sized scale. I also dig the how serene the environments are before the action kicks off. it’s only there for a short minute, but it serves as a nice reminder that life and nature don’t really care for all of our shenanigans.
So, unto the characters(I’m not discussing Akagi/Rei yet since we saw very little of them). To kick things off, I am really digging Shinji so far. I was quite surprised by how young he is. My initial impression was that he would be in his late-teens, but at least from the way he looks-specifically his height and body proportions- and sounds(I’m watching a subbed version) He seems to be like, 12 at most. This makes me wonder just how ‘Ender’s Game-y’ this experience is going to be for him. The dipiction of shinji’s various anxieties, which he very very clearly suffers from(thumbs up for that one, show) is not bad, but it’s a bit hit-and-miss. I could really do without the brief-unsaturated-photo-flashbacks - honestly, did any of you ever experience a traumatic trigger/panic attack in this way? I know I didn’t. That said, the thing I appreciate most about Shinji from this ep is his ability to say a lot while speaking very little. I think that succinct dialogue is one of the greatest forgotten virtues of good television(or any story medium TBH) and seeing how much He is able to convey in short sentences is both immpresive and is very good characterisation. That said, they do forgo it in one scene which dissapointed me a bit(I’ll elaborate later)
The other characters, I was not as impressed with. Katsuragi seems to belong to a character sub-trope that I’ve decided to call the ‘Sanses’(he embodies most of the tropes very clearly). Those characters are usually presented as happy-go-lucky charming rogues that make dumb jokes and don’t seemingly have much of an effect on the initial narrative. But! lo and behold, they have had a secretly deep and serious side this whole time! the story would then expect you to be absolutely shocked with how clever a trick it just pulled on you. Who coul’ve seen that coming?(except that it was literally the only logical character development that character could’ve gone through). Maybe I’m speculating too much too early, and I admit that my dislike of those characters is more personall that critical but I can’t deny that I found her pretty grating. Maybe she’ll grow on me.
The best way that I could describe Gendo in this episode is “tacky”. While I didn’t outright dislike him, the way that his character was presented in contrast to the mostly-pretty-grounded other characters is pretty jarring. This show really wants you to know that gendo is a BIG DEAL and that he is SMART and ABOVE IT ALL(in most cases quite literally, as the camera takes every opportunity to hover below him, even when stood next to a bunch people who are literally sitting 5 feet above him) , what with his reflective glassess and serene expression and constantly being flashed with white lights while everyone else is struck with blues, reds and oranges (everyone else is emotional except for him did you get did you get it) I’m probably going to like him better once we actually get a glimpse into his psyche, but I really hope that he isn’t as grandiose and melodramatic in the entire show the way he’s been in this episode, SPEAKING OF WHICH:
So there was this one scene in this episode I really didn’t like, despite finding the episode as a whole to be quite enjoyable: The eva-room meeting. There’s a bunch of stuff in there that I thought was really unneccesary and shallow, like how Gendo is standing on his raised platform like he is julius freaking caesar, or how Shinji breaks into shouting at his dad in the middle of an earthquake, or how shinji is motivated into fighting the Angel not by the prospect of thousands of people dying but by seeing this one girl in pain - like his penis brain saw a cute girl get hurt and started shouting “you must go into the big phalic-shaped robot to assert your dominance over the other big phalic-shaped robot”. This felt like a very standard “boy’s own adventure”, coming-of-age scenario in an episode that seemed to try and subvert those exact expectations.The fact that Katsuragi was literally shouting at Shinji to “act like a man”(ugh) didn’t help That said, the image of the Eva unit and Shinji’s hand moving in sincronicity was undeniably cool.

and that’s it for this episode. I’m sorry that this came out as such a massive first impression but I usually like to really gush about every minute detail in the early stages of a show/film since I haven’t been absorbed enough in the story that my critical side of the brain has shut down yet. Expect the next few episodes to recieve significantly shorter reactions, and if the show really catches my interest, to slow regain size as it goes on) . I also haven’t covered several details presented in the show, such as Shinji’s vision of Rei(is there a possible supernatural element to this story?), how seemingly ambivalent everyone is towards the destruction that the Angel causes, or how interestingly Angel-like the Eva unit is in design, which I guess is a testament to the emount of stuff that was crammed into just one episode. I might elaborate more on some of these later. Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope my non-native english was at the very least readable and hopefully just a tiny bit insightful.
Peace.


#4

Good luck!
I love series like Eva that try and deconstruct a popular genre. A little off topic but just watched a video about the simpsons and how they did that very thing with family sitcoms back in the early nineties, basically changed American tv forever.
Evangelion had the same impact on giant robot shows, probably anime as a whole.
The Madoka series had a similar deconstructive take on the magical girl genre, I couldn’t say what it’s impact was exactly but definitely had one.


#5

I should give NGE a watch too, I’m not very well versed in anime but in my 20s I’ve enjoyed Kill la Kill, Berserk (first anime), One Punch Man, Little Witch Academia, Castlevania, and what little I’ve watched of Jojo.
Hope you have a good time with the show, I’ll personally skip the details of your impressions before I watch it myself.


#6

This might be a hot take: I think NGE is a specifically bad show to break into anime with. (Going too deeply into why might be spoilery).

However, I’m really interested to see how the middle and end of it play out for someone who isn’t marinated in the genre.


#7

I feel similarly about Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The people I know who are super into Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon etc. love that show, but it generally did nothing for the people I know who watched it as their first mahou shojou anime.

Anyways. Still interested to see what the OP thinks as Eva comes to a close. I think the themes of the show can be enjoyed without being totally immersed in all the nuances and tropes of mecha anime, but knowing all that stuff really enhances the experience. If anything I think it would be cool to go back to older mecha after watching Eva and sort of work backwards to find all that stuff.


#8

I think a person can enjoy those shows despite not having experience the more baseline shows they are subverting. I think it is a matter of how much you’re willing to look into how the show changes things.


#9

Madoka is interesting, because I definitely remember their being lots of shows trying to immitate it after it got super popular, but I’m not sure of how much of an effect it actually had on Magical Girl shows? I’m not super familiar with the genre, so I wouldn’t know and wanna ask if any of y’all know if it did have a long term impact?


#10

It helped show that a genre can branch out with new ideas. Many of them are just trying to imitate Madoka Magica but some were thinking outside the box like Flip Flappers.


#11

Madoka was an imitator in and of itself in a lot of ways, but like Eva it took established character tropes and did something that, to me personally, felt very fresh.

I also think it changed the Magical Girl genre a lot. It has a lot of imitators, like Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero, which is very directly imitating Madoka’s plot, but more than that it really feels like it changed the tone of the genre generally. Theres a darkness to the genre that I feel didnt exist before Madoka.


#12

I don’t really think that Evangelion is that great of an anime to start with (or at all, tbh) so seeing this topic made me recoil a little. I know people recommend Evangelion a LOT, so it didn’t surprise me to hear you got it from almost every person.

However, you seem to be enjoying it so far so I’ll follow this thread to see what you think of where it goes.


#13

Evangelion is good to start with I feel : it’s very different, has a lot of incentive to start since it’s a defining product of anime and can bring a lot of discussion around its themes with anime-savvy friends.

It wouldn’t be my first rec but a rec nonetheless. Saw it only three years ago and enjoyed the setting, the editing is also very unconventional and brisk.


#14

I feel like PMMM and NGE are both “reactions” to their respective genres in big ways and understanding some of what they’re doing is tough without that context.

I also think that NGE helped codify a lot of tropes, so the cheese is less of an issue than some of the less savory elements and formulaic writing people cribbed off of them.


#15

Madoka sorta helped revitalize the “dark” magical girl genre, but I don’t think it really did much for the normal more mainstream ones. That is to say, Precure for instance kinda just kept on doing what it always did and I think it’s the same with many similar shows.

That said, the popularity between the dark magical girl shows and the more normal ones seem a little reversed outside of Japan, so the influence probably feels more pronounced outside of Japan.


#16

So, first off, I think I should address some of the stuff that was disscussed in the comments. Yes, I am indeed a complete newbie when it comes to giant robot media, with my experience barely coming down to Pacific Rim, COUNTER/Weight, Titanfall and hatewatching the Bayformers movies. So I am probably not likely to have any particular insight into the way NGE configures into the big robot show mythos, but You gotta start somewhere, right? Besides, from what I’ve heard, NGE had become so ubiquitous in the last 20 years that if I were to try and engage with modern big robot anime without watching is I would be entirely unable to put much of the modern perspective into context. If it really is as good a show as people say it is, I should still be able to enjoy it, and if I end up not liking it, then I’ll still have a lot to talk about, which is fine by me( I am an avid proponent of consuming unenjoyable media for educational purposes).

I also want to thank everyone for commenting and showing an interest in this endeavor. I honestly thought only like 1 or 2 people will comment on this post so It’s quite reassuring for me to see people finding stuff to talk about in here.

Ep 1 Addendum:
Last thing I want to discuss before I move on to Ep 2 was the existence of the “next episode summary” that comes after the credits song(which was an english song, interestingly enough). It came to me as quite a surprise. I completely forgot that those really used to be a ‘thing’ years ago. It seems like such a weird choice in retrospect, and this one in particular was quite interesting to me, because not only did it spoil a major plot point for the next episode, it was also narrated as an in-show promo by katsuragi. Was this kind of ‘meta’ promo common in anime back in the 90’s? It’s so weird to see an in-universe character ‘promise’ certain events to happen in the plot. I mean, surely you’d want to keep these developments hidden as to not ruin the anticipation of the audience, right? That, as well as the inclusion of Katsuragi’s ‘promise’ for more fanservice (which, come on, really) made me wonder just how different was the anime viewing experience and culture back in the 90’s, especially in terms of marketing - was there some sort of expectation for shows to include certain plot/visual elements that ensured that a show would be popular? If there is anyone with a perspective on that who could maybe help me understand this more clearly? thanks!


#17

I’ve watched and enjoyed Evangelion but I’ve never realised it could be a reaction to a genre or something like that. It’s the only mecha or whateva series I’ve seen so it’s probably natural I didn’t pick up on that.

What are other good series of the genre? (Preferably something on Crunchyroll even if that makes the selection sparse.)

Edit: Oh and regards to the “next time on” thing. Every anime does it, more or less? Just straight up spoils the next episode. I would love to know why this is such a common thing. It happens from time to time on American tv too, but not like this.

Always turn it off after the credits, simply.


#18

Episode two impression : so how 'bout them ceilings huh?

I want to start this log by commenting about might be my favourite aspect of the show yet - its’ sound. Or rather, should I say, its’ lack of sound. The way the shows contrast moments of lowd mayhem and mellow ambiance is really fantastic, and is a great way to give a breadth and a space to the environments, and cutting between contemplative moments of Shini in his bed to seeing him deal with the after math of a huge battle felt horrifying (in a very good way). it’s just really fantastic, in a way I haven’t seen many other animated media attempt. I like in particular the way it uses echo in large halls and rooms in order to entrench the viewer in the environment. It also made me wish that I could know japaneze so that I could follow along whenever there are multiple sound sources in the same scene, which is another thing that I am enjoying about this show- I allways appreciate it when a scene has stuff going on in both the forground and the background, as it keeps my mind active and engaged in the events(although it could become overbearing if one abuses that technique).

To iterate upon my addendum comment from episode 1, I continue to be befuddled by the existence of ‘fanservice’ in this show, particularly because the show doesn’t seem to have a great enthusiasm for it’s existence. Not only is it incredibly jarring in terms of editing ( a scene that is entirely focused on Shinji’s mental struggles suddenly takes a 3 minute interlude to let us stare at Katsuragi’s ass, only to return into its’ somber tone a moment later). The funny thing is, the fanservice isn’t even especially tittilating. it comes and goes very quickly without much fanfare, almost like the makers of the show were forced to include it just to matk it down on some checklist. I’d have to assume this stuff exists only for marketing purposes? It seems oddly off-handed otherwise.

One thing I’m still waiting to be keyed on is how exactly does any of the show tie thematically into evangelism, or even christianity at all for that matter. The show clearly has a will to contemplate faith/godhood, what with its’ main antagonists being nicknamed ‘Angels’ and the show being named ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, but I’m really not sure what it’s going for. I’m led to believe the ‘neon’ is actually reffering to ‘neo’(new), and with ‘genisis’ and ‘evangelion’(is that even a real word?), the assumption is that the show is somehow focused on a gosspel for a new form of godhood/faith - presumably one that is brought forth by a belief that the either/both the units and/or the ‘Angels’ are god-like beings that must be worshipped? That would be my best assumption.

This also brings me to my last observation regarding the episode: The ‘Angel’ and the eva-1 unit are uncannily similar, in a way that would seem to suggest that the unit has some kind of basis in alien technology. The unit is capable of healing, transforming and creating protective energy fields in an almost identical manner to that of the Angel, and after the fight we get a glimpse of the inside of the armour of a repairing unit which seems to show some kind of organic material being used to repair it. This re
ally does make me wonder of just how influenced this show was by Ender’s game, considering how many of it’s plot developments were laid out similarly - Several waves of alien invasion, using the enemy tech to win the war, child soldiers being an ace-in-the-hole for the human forces, heavy themes of christianity etc.

I really wish I had better understanding or knowledge of robot design so that I could comment on the Eva units. The only real observation I have is - Why do they have mouths? Is there a purpose for that?

That’l be all, thanks for reading. Read ya tomorow.


#19

Gurren Lagann - Crazy goofy mecha
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans - Has interesting talks on child soldiers
Gargantia - Another subverting Mecha about being in a world that has no use for a mech.


#20

I’ve always appreciated this show’s historical importance even though I’ve never been able to enjoy it (see “How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally” but spoilers in that vid and thumbnail btw). I supposed that the problem was that I started it too early in my “anime career” that I never liked it because I didn’t have the context of anime as a whole. I started anime kind of late aside from DBZ, Pokemon, Yugioh, Naruto etc and watched Eva several years ago only after watching a bunch of mostly modern to semi-modern anime. Interested to see where this goes and if the lack of context ruins this for you or if maybe my was my yet undeveloped analytical brain parts. I should get back to watching the Rebuild series one day…
I recommend that video once you’re done with the series.