Critic's Log: Earthdate - May 16, 2012. Review #3: Neon Genesis Evangelion
In the Year 2000, a disastrous event known as "The Second Impact" occurs. Antarctica has been destroyed and half of the human race has been annihilated. Gee! That is sure a way to start a new millennium. 15 years later (which is where the story begins) The Angels arrive. Shinji Ikari is summoned by his father who requests Shinji to pilot a giant mechanical humanoid known as the Evangelion...
I don't even think I need to say any more about the plot, because I think that most of the Otakus in the world know what the story is about. It is a very popular anime in Japan and America and maybe other countries. It is also a very controversial one at that.
With that said, I will give my case on this puzzling thriller. The show may have a following, but I hope what I say what is bad about the show may not piss everyone off. I like this anime, but I think the show has its strengths and weaknesses. So, without further ado... I will state my case about this classic anime known as Neon Genesis Evangelion.
CASE 1: The Story and it's themes
I will say that the direction of the story on its first few episodes is great. I like that the first episode gives the main character an introduction while not saying too much about him. I found the direction unique still at first. However the direction of the story isn't consistent at all. It jumps from giving out a unique start, then it turns into Robot vs. Monster episodes and when the show gets into its last third, it then jumps into a complex and Psychological direction mixed into action packed episodes. The direction is kind of a mess, the pacing is consistent, but it's still interesting to watch. if there is any themes that I think worked for the show was some of the religious symbolism and even some of the philosophical ideas such as The Hedgehog's dilemma and even existentialism themes such as Individuality, consciousness, freedom, choice, and responsibility, and hell... even some Freudian tropes are thrown in too. If there is anything that doesn't seem right is that it attempts to use these themes and play it along like it's trying to make Evangelion a smart anime. This anime will guarantee a high re-watch value, but it may still be confusing to understand. The use of the themes portrayed in the show however may not work for some.
CASE 2: The Animation, is it really a work of art?
This is a bit of a mixed bag to talk about. The animation for the show is what you would expect from a mid-90's anime. It is old but it still looks great... Actually, I may have to take that comment back at some point because there are some problems with the animation in the show. Gainax was under quite a budget during the making of Evangelion. This resulted in certain scenes being recycled, some scenes that are barely moving, and also led to the often criticized and mostly loathed final two episodes.
I don't think I even need to bring up these final episodes, but I will...
The final two episodes of this show confused and alienated the fans of the show. It kind of made no sense, the animation was poor and it feels like you are being slapped in the face. Is the animation good at this point? Hell no! Was it mostly good in the long run? hard to say, but its decline in quality really did hurt the show at the time. It should be noted that this ending takes place in Shinji's mind which I guess this theory would support the defense of this ending but is worth seeing but I won't guarantee you'll want to rewatch it unless you actually liked the ending.
CASE 3: The Voice Actors
The subtitled version is very well casted; the English dub is a bit off in some areas. You can't really go wrong with subs here. Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, and other cast members of the show really nailed their roles perfectly well. The dub may vary your mileage here. Spike Spencer is very well known for voicing Shinji. I have heard better from him, I did not like his performance in the dub. Tiffany Grant is mostly "Wunderbar" as Asuka, Amanda Winn-Lee is hit and miss as Rei, and Tristan MacAvery as Gendo was pretty good. Most of the cast members of the dub are hit and miss. The English cast during the Director's Cut episodes does have some slight cast changes. I am in more favor of the subtitled version than the dub. I have seen the entire dub and I might as well point out that the dub does take a little getting to used to and I'll give Amanda Winn-Lee and Matt Greenfield some credit for improving the dub little by little. Also, There is a Easter egg on the 7th Platinum Edition Volume and it's pretty damn funny...
CASE 4: The Music
The music is composed by Shiro Sagisu; you may have heard his name in another popular anime known as Bleach. I love the soundtrack of Evangelion. It still sounds good today. I do like the use of classical music that was used for the show, even though the use of "Hallelujah" was used when Asuka was being mind-raped. But Episode 24 has the most epic use of Ode To Joy. It is still awesome. If only the show included Mahler's Eighth Symphony or Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, then it will be ten times more awesome. Air is in The End of Evangelion, but that's not what I am reviewing yet. Air is another good classical song. Another strong point of the music is its opening theme. A Cruel Angel's Thesis has been regarded as one of the greatest anime openings ever made and it is extremely hard not to like, the lyrics may not fit the show but this one has a place with a lot of otakus. This is also the first anime opening I have seen in my life, so I have fond memories with this opening. It was great back then and it has aged well.
CASE 5: The Characters, (A.T. Field Full Power)
Another thing that may vary your mileage in this show may be the characters themselves, Shinji Ikari is a mixed bag, and you either sympathize with him because he is anxious about his current position or you loathe him because he doesn't want to pilot a giant robot in order to save mankind thus making him a pussy. Of all the things I have seen in that show. I have observed that he has problems. I do feel sorry for the position he is currently in but he really needs to grow a pair of balls, drop them, and fight like a man. Some people find Rei one-dimensional, I almost could say that, but I like her mysterious personality. Asuka really made the show entertaining. Misato is an interesting case, Gendo is sort of badass LIKE A BOSS! (he might be slightly one-dimensional, but he was kind of alright), Kaji was cool, and Kaworu deserved more screentime instead of only appearing in one episode. Speaking of Kaworu, we all know the gay overtones and speculation between Shinji and Kaworu, all thanks to this scene I have here.
Anyway, some characters are great, some just need to be developed a little bit more.
CASE 6: Hideaki Anno... What makes him a unique director?
Let me inform you of the anime director that made an interesting innovative move to the mecha genre. It seemed to be just a mecha anime but Hideaki Anno deconstructs the mecha genre into a character study rife with psychological analysis, religious references, social commentaries, and explorations of themes such as societal alienation, depression, and the repressive pain of human subjectivity. If what I said goes way over your head, then I apologize. Some otakus have seen this approach out of the ordinary, unprecedented, and revolutionary. After its success, many anime producers have created shows with a similar approach. This is the anime that has defined Anno-san's career. Back then he suffered through personal battles of depression at the time Evangelion was being created and that directly inspired the themes for this anime. This anime has also led quite an impact for animes to come.
CASE 7: Why Am I writing reviews?
I really have a knack for critiquing stuff and I have fun doing that. I have such a passion for the arts whether its literature, art, animation, music, you name it. the reason I chose to review anime is because not every single anime is perfect and I like to pinpoint what's good and bad about some animes with some constructive criticism. Critiquing anime has been a hobby of mine for a while and I still enjoy this hobby. With that said, this is kind of pointless to the review and you probably already noticed that I am sort of making fun of the crappy final 2 episodes of the show already, and I really don't want to do this next part but I will...
CONGRATULATIONS: If you never seen the ending of this anime, you are about to right now!.
This anime was available by ADV films and was out of print for sometime until Section23 Films rescued this anime. The two follow up movies, Death and Rebirth, which is a recap and teaser for the next movie, The End Of Evangelion (which either replaces the final two episodes or contemplates the final two episodes) were also available by Manga Entertainment. They are unfortunately out of print unless someone rescues it. The manga adaptation of the same name by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is available from Viz Media, Spinoff mangas such as Angelic Days, Shinji Ikari Raising Project, and Campus Apocalypse are also available from Viz Media. A remake series which is notably called The Rebuild Of Evangelion is available from Funimation, at the time I am doing this review, Only 2 movies have been released.
With all that said, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a very unique series that has some interesting ideas but it is a difficult show to understand which gives Neon Genesis Evangelion a huge rewatch value. It does have animation problems, but has some great action scenes, This is definitely for Sci-fi buffs out there and this was my gateway to anime. I find this anime overrated to an extent but It is still a classic. It is a must see but I can't guarantee that it is a must-love.
I give Neon Genesis Evangelion a 8.4 out of 10. It is VERY GOOD!
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