Neon Genesis Evangelion was extremely popular in its time (some would say, it still is) and I believe the main reason for this is its captivating storyline. While the idea of humans riding around in giant robots wasn't particularly new when it was released, with series like Gundam and films like Roujin Z preceding it, Evangelion does successfully bring new ideas to the "mecha-table". We're given the impression right from the very first episode that the Evas aren't fully under the control of the humans who created them - that there is something more to their existence than meets the eye. The same can be said for the Angels, the enemies who seem intent on destroying the human race, though it becomes apparent during the series that they are an unknown enemy. Shinji, the main character, finds himself frequently asking why he is fighting them, and at one or two points, the border between friend and foe becomes noticeably blurred.So why not a higher score? Admittedly, despite the "enemy of the week" format that is never really explained (the attack in episode 1 is said to be the first in 15 years, and then they happen nearly every episode after that - why the increased frequency? Who knows...), it would have achieved a much higher score - without the final two episodes. What ruined this series for me, quite simply, was the ending. Without spoiling (though there's not a lot to spoil), I detested the way the director felt it necessary to alter the tack of the series in order to explain his overriding philosophy. I much preferred the small anecdotal philosophies that had subtly been dotted throughout the series up to that point - but in the home straight, all plot was thrown out the window in favour of some arthouse nonsense, that didn't seem to deserve the time spent watching it.What annoyed me most is that this was considered "an ending" when nothing ended at all. The series ends in stasis. It ended more because the 26 episode limit was up than because there was a reason to end it.
I'm afraid to say that Evangelion is feeling its age now. I acknowledge the fact that this was the last cell animation of its kind (before CGI was introduced into anime production) but it is found to be lacking at times. A number of occasions, I found myself staring at a still image for what seemed like an eternity for no apparent reason - sometimes even without dialogue! I admit that some of the scenery is still stunning (the forest landscapes and Tokyo 3 when it's in lockdown in the Geofront) and, in its right place, even the "arty" ending scenes could be inspiring - but (and it's a big but) I feel the only well-animated scenes are the Angel battles. If it wasn't for their extravagance, this series might as well be a slideshow.
One of the few things that Evangelion gets right most of the time. Yes, the music is reused a lot of the time (especially the Angel battle music) but it suits it well, and there's a genuine feeling of menace behind it. I also felt that the inclusion of Beethoven's Ode to Joy was a nice touch and one that becomes weighted between two of the characters late on in the series. The opening song deserves an honourable mention as well, purely because it's a great piece of music, which is quite rare for anime openings these days.
I'm often torn on this subject, though I feel it's largely because I'm looking at the characters retrospectively. Because of series like Bokurano and Now and Then, Here and There, the idea of depression and trauma in characters doesn't seem as new to me as it did when I first watched Evangelion in the late 90s. However, the motivations are key to what makes this anime worth watching. Shinji's hatred for his father is dissected, analysed and re-evaluated several times throughout the series, and it becomes more interesting than the Angel battles themselves. Similarly, this is one of the few series where you're more interested in how the characters don't interact with each other rather than any possible romance that could form. From very early on, you get a good idea of character and while there's progression, they never stray into the land of stereotype. Coupled with the most reluctant hero ever to grace the screen, and you're onto a winner.My only regret is that Rei Ayanami (who I maintain is by far the most interesting character) isn't explored as much as she should have been. There are a number of revelations about her that are somewhat eye-opening if confusing, but they never really amount to anything in the series, and it becomes a frustration that you never find out what the truth behind her actually is.
Considering how much I enjoyed the beginning of the series, this is a low score, but I'm afraid the ending just killed it for me. It made me feel as though the director had given up on the plot, that the plot hadn't actually been important at all, and that all that remained was a driven philosophy that I had little taste for. This series would have been so much better with a well-thought-out ending that actually tied together some of the loose ends left from earlier in the series. It's fine to delve into character motivations, but Evangelion does it with a blinkered eye, and all its good points are lost when you reach that final episode.I still recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion, as it is a thrilling watch, and at points, you will be carried away by the story. However, brace yourself for a disappointing ending. The director released two movies to rewrite the ending, so the series is far from complete, and I can only hope that in watching those movies, I will find the conclusion I feel this series deserves.
Neon Genesis Evangelion, or simply Evangelion, is one of a handful of apocalyptic animes with a lot of staying power, not to mention a fan base the size of Russia (figuratively speaking). It could be criticized (and is) as unsatisfactory in terms of the plot, the sheer magnatomy of the themes presented, and the fact that they ran out of money before they could finish the series - hence the two movies that follow: Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion. However, interwoven between the blatant use of Christian symbolism (every explosion is in the shape of a cross - figure that one out), the ever-growing pile of psychological issues with each of the characters, and the impending doom of the end of the world is a story about just how hard growing up can be.
The year is 2015 - fourteen years after the Second Impact that destroyed Antarctica, causing a tidal wave that wiped out half of the cities on the planet. With the appearance of a new enemy, dubbed the Angels, mankind must find a way to fight them if they are to survive. Enter Shinji Ikari, a fourteen-year-old boy summoned by his estranged father, Gendo, head of the UN organization NERV, to pilot a machine designed to fight the Angels - Evangelion, a machine cloned from the remains of the first Angel. The majority of the series revolves around Shinji and his fellow EVA pilots, Rei Ayanami (who bears a disturbing resemblance to Shinji's dead mother), Asuka Langely Soryu (a German redhead with an ego), and his guardian, Misato Katsuragi (who remains perpetually drunk throughout most of the anime). The plot also invovles detailed aventures into each of the character's psyches, which helps to explain why they think the way they do and why they are the way they are.
Grade: B. The characters are popular and memorable, but the hero is largely unlikable because of his inability to do anything (and I mean anything) without someone's permission - there isn't anyone in this series who isn't psychologically f***ed up in the head. And you thought it sucked to be you. The series was also not finished properly because the production company ran out of money, which left fans with more questions than answers. The recent remake of the series, Rebuild of Evangelion is just as compelling and much better addresses many of the questions left unanswered by the original series. A word of advice though - going through at least episodes 1-24 of the original series may help you understand what is up.
Though the series was aired in Japan in 1995, it is amazingly streamlined, particularly in comparisson to some of GAINAX's other later animated ventures such as FLCL (2000) and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007). What I find remarkable about the art isn't necessarily related to how well the animators could draw, but the scope in which it is drawn. What the anime lacks in terms of a coherent plotline it makes up for in the portrayal of a post-apocalyptic Japan. The series doesn't get overly cartoony at any point, which also adds to the story.
Grade: A. Considering it's 1995, the choreography of fighting and explosions is well-executed, but leaves room for improvement - however, I am willing to cut the animators some slack.
Shiro Sagisu pays some tribute to the Christian elements of the series with the insertion of such classics as Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," using this theme of classicism for the majority of the soundtrack. Evangelion's soundtrack is extremely compelling and beautiful, portraying a significant amount of heartbreak and terror in equal measure. The opening theme "Cruel Angel's Thesis" by Yoko Takahashi (who does the ending theme "Fly Me to the Moon" as well) fits the anime disturbingly well - and is also pretty darn catchy.
Grade: A. It may be going out on a limb, but even if the anime isn't enjoyable for you, the music certainly leaves a lasting impression and is well-liked even by those who haven't even seen the anime.
Evangelion is, let's face it, depressing and with the often convoluted plot line can make your head hurt. However, despite this, Evangelion has so many layers to it that one will get something more out of it each time they watch it - because in all honesty, this anime needs to be watched at least twice to keep everything straight. Yes, it is a mecha anime. Yes, you will get bored and tired and it will make you think more than normal. But the fact is that even if these things don't necessarily appeal to you, the character's struggle to figure out their place in an ever-changing world is something everyone can relate to.
Since I will leave out as much as unnecessary technicalities as possible, you can just read my further personal analysis here: http://www.mediafire.com/?gte22j9tuu7lm
Or more official sources here: www.Evageeks.com
1) Counter-escapism message
When NGE originally broadcasted, Japan was going through an economic depression, like the one we are going through now but not on a global level. Many young people were poor and unemployed, unable to begin a career and be useful members of society. There were lots of NEETs and hikikomoris wasting their lives in some basement, looking for escapism through anime. Unlike most modern anime that are about pandering otakus, NGE had the guts to be about counter-escapism, as presented by Shinji Ikari constantly trying not to run away from his problems. Which mean, a show from 20 years ago is more honest and motivational, than most of anything that is coming out today. That’s why retro wins and modern sucks.
2) Beacon of its time
The post apocalyptic setting of the series was also heavy on religious iconography and was using terminology from psychology, as a way to mirror the unrest Japan was going through at the time, with the millennium about to change, and cults talking about the end of the world being close. The subway gas attacks further fueled the paranoia of the times, which made the in-series psychologically unstable characters far more relatable with what was going on in Japan. Unlike other series coming out at the time, NGE did not water down its content as means to calm down the depressed audience. It remained true to what it was about, which is something I really appreciate because it reminds me of someone (me) who is not holding back from stating the truth, regardless of not pleasing the masses.
3) Vision of the director
Which is also why I like Hideaki Anno and old Gainax so much. Despite going through depression, he inserted his personal thoughts and ways to cope with it instead of going for pandering. The result of his attempts is questionable, as many can argue that it had the opposite effect on anime fans, who are still making waifu wars and draw hentai doujins to this day. The fact still remains that NGE is a personal work. Someone made it for himself, a purely artistic piece of fiction imbued with his thoughts and feelings, instead of a generic lifeless product aimed at pandering the masses. The fact that it eventually caters anime fans and turned into a 20 year old milk cow is something that came after the show, mostly through marketing and the fandom. By itself, the show is free of that.
4) More than fetishes
Despite sexualizing the females and popularizing the archetypes of tsunderes and coolderes, none of them were defined simply by fetishes. They had a personality and a backdrop, and this includes minor characters who were also contributing to the narrative somehow, despite not being sexualized. This is something which very few of its copycats bothered to have. Shinji Ikari is still being mocked today as the stereotypical beta male crybaby, yet how many of his counterparts in later shows are not simply spoiled brats with first world problems? Close to nobody. Shinji was excused to be acting the way he did based on the post apocalyptic setting he grew up in. The others have no excuse.
5) Reviving the industry
Even its nastiest parts can be seen as positive in the longrun. The waifu wars and doujins it begat helped the industry to get some much needed cash after the crisis was over. Combined with how it revolutionized marketing and promotion of anime through merchandising and the untapped after midnight timeslot, is enough to give it a pass since without those tactics the anime industry would be very different today. It wasn’t just influential as a series; it shaped the medium altogether.
6) Deconstruction of the genre
Something that didn’t age that well is the whole deconstruction aspect of it. Yes, it is one for seemingly being about giant robots and then becoming something completely different. The blurring of what is right or wrong was great, as its characters were not pure archetypes of good or evil. The social commentary and psychological examination of its cast were fantastic, the religious icons and naming on the other hand were not. Although they were offering food for thought to anyone looking for what everything symbolized or was named after, eventually it was just overthinking. The theories the fans were making up had nothing to do with the show besides adding to the confusion of what it’s actually about and blurring the initial message of the creator. The names and religious iconography were just superficial aesthetics for flavouring the messed up mentality of the cast; they were never meant to be taken literally. Yet the decorations ended up attracting more interest than the actual essence of the show.
7) Great directing
But it’s not like the meta is all that is good about it; the directing was also brilliant for its time. From cool robot battles, to camera angles, to timing of scenes, flashes of text, fish eye lens, strange use of filters, live action footage, characters standing still without talking for a minute, the storyboard is just fantastic when examined. And sure, the quality had its ups and downs, and they ran out of money to the point the final two episodes were badly drawn caricatures and random images flashing. Still, a typical director would have made a complete mess or a forgettable conclusion, yet Hideaki was talented enough and found a way to make the best he could out of all the limitations.
8) Battle Choreography
I might as well mention how there was close to no stock footage used despite these limitations. Every battle with an invading monster was unique and was using a completely different strategy. This is something unheard of even today, when every show uses the same old finishing move, or has the exact same transformation sequence.
Just like all series, there are still problems ranging from erratic pacing, the middle episodes not having much of a plot, lack of animation, many themes and characters not being explored much. It still manages to be a highly memorable series with the pluses overshadowing the minuses. As the recent Rebuild movies have proven, it’s not like those issues could be easily fixed without creating other problems and resulting to a completely different experience.
10) Rebuild movies
As much as it saddens me, after Hideaki left Gainax, Neon Genesis was never the same anymore. It kept being changed and reshaped into another title aimed at pandering the otakus with worthless extra, such as more waifubaits that serve nothing to the story, and more pirate eye patches for the sake of selling more cosplay accessories. All these are blatant fan service which contradicts the initial message of the show and feel far more like a marketing ploy. Studio Khara is also flagging anyone who is using footage or music of the series, even if it was made many years ago for the sake of promoting the same story they are rehashing right now.
11) Final thoughts
Despite all these issues, the original series remains one of the most groundbreaking animated titles of all times, and easily deserves a spot in the top ten of anyone’s list. Hideaki didn’t sell out completely if he can still make something like Shin Godzilla, or still throws in a personal commentary when collaborating with Miyazaki for voice acting in The Wind Rises. It’s hard to be yourself in modern times without apologizing to SJW for having an opinion. He’s resisting as much as he can, and regardless of if he one day gives up, nothing will take away all the amazing anti-escapism shows he produced over the decades, with Neon Genesis being the most influential amongst them.
Have a nice day before the Third Impact turns you to orange goo.
Some people think mecha stuff is great. Some people think that character driven stories are where its at. Some people think that psychological drama is the way to go. Neon Genesis Evangelion spits in the face of all three groups. It is literally everything bad about all three. The mecha battles are unimpressive, the characters range between obnoxious to downright infuriating, and the psychological aspect here is about as subtle and clever as an axe to the face. And yet it is first and foremost a character driven psychological mecha anime - meaning everything else in there is actually worse. And my god, this is some terrible stuff.
The main character has to be the single worst male lead in anime history. He is a pathetic wimpering loser. He starts out that way, he ends up that way, and he will never be anything more than that. Of course the show decides to have a lazer focus on his perspective, which manages to taint everything good in the series by how much you will want to slap him around. Never, ever, has there been a character more detrimental to the enjoyment of anime TV anything than him. What's worse is that because of the huge success of Neon Genesis Evangelion, we still have whining losers that can do nothing except be pushed around as male leads in anime.
There is the classic quiet tortured girl, and the violent and loudmouthed obnoxious one. There are also other characters that don't matter. There are mecha fights which may have been impressive twenty years ago, but now look not only outdated but at times downright boring. The slow pace makes the terrible characters the center of it all, like a rock in the middle of a snowball to the face of the viewer. Oh, and if I hear a kid screaming in determination in real life, I may very well backhand him due to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
It is so bad that it has left me scarred for life. It was the first anime I ever watched, and caused me to leave it for five years in favor of smarter and deeper things like South Park and Invader Zim. You might say "but Neon Genesis Evangelion has an actual plot", and to that the answer is "well who the hell cares when it's so terrible!". And that really does sum it up - the things that should give it an edge over others are the weakpoints, so it ends up a complete piece of garbage that we are unfortunate enough have recycled pieces of it ruining modern anime.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Titanic. No, not the size nor the movie, the disaster. Whatever you say about Neon Genesis Evangelion, it is a good bet that the writing staff was so high that they just gave up on common sense. It is like they tried making a trainwreck on every single level. Seriously, writing so bad and yet not being even slightly funny is a challenge that none have excelled at like this since.
At best, the story reaches the heights of an incoherent mess. At worst, it is crystal clear, just plain stupid. Pretending to be smart does not make you smart, and someone should have told that to the writing staff. Aliens invade. Of course we need a kid to save the day in his robot suit. Of course there is no other option. Also, his dad and two girls are something-something-we-don't-care. How can something be so deliberately stupid and boring at the same time? Seriously, aliens invade, robots fight, characters talk. Done: terribly, terribly, painfully bad.
The characters. Oh god are they a cringeworthy bunch. When the alcoholic is the most sympathetic character in the cast, you know that something has gone horribly wrong. Other than having the dubious honor of the absolute worst male lead in broadcast history, the rest of the cast of Neon Genesis Evangelion manages to be a combination of annoying, obnoxious, and most of all uninteresting. The alcoholic is the only character that made me not wish a horrible death upon them. I just sat there hoping that the aliens would kill everyone and the show would end at that. They were that bad.
It's not like there weren't any chances to make things interesting. This is like scoring the lowest possible on the SATs, it is so hard to not get something right by accident that you have to do it on purpose. I think that whoever was responsible for the writing on the show did it specifically to mess with the viewers. Some kind of weird power trip in just how foul a dish he can serve and the morons will eat it up. There is no other explanation for the catastrophe that is the writing in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Art (Animation and Sound):
It was good at the time. Thank heavens that nearly two decades have passed. What was then impressive is now a bunch of stangnant scenes and mediocre fights that have absolutely no wow factor. As opposed to older anime with clever directors (Akira, for instance), the artwork manages to not have a single tidbit of artistic flair.
The soundtrack is pretty decent, but the voice acting is ultimately mediocre in the roles here. I do not blame the voice actors. I blame the director of this disaster. Over the top is over the top. Call it art all you like, but unless you intend for it to be a parody, tone it down.
Really, the art is the strong point of Neon Genesis Evangelion. By today's standards, it is well below average.
Do not watch this. People have said (repeatedly) that Neon Genesis Evangelion is good. They are wrong.
For context, this review comes from someone who didn't grow up with
nostalgia for this anime, and who just watched it about two months ago(Oct 2015).
***SPOILERS INCOMING*** (somewhat anyway, and there will be a TL;DR at the bottom)
Ah Neon Genesis Evangelion. I never saw this show growing up, even though I was a 90's kid, and once I started getting into anime when I was older, I would consistently hear good things about this anime. It's probably one of the most widely known anime in the world, and certainly influential on the Mecha genre. A couple of my friends watched it for their first time earlier this year, and so I decided I'd finally check it out.
STORY - Alright so lets get down to brass tacks; the story is completely hollow and almost every thing they say in the anime has no actual meaning. I know that some people will say "OMG but there's so much symbolism, and deep hidden meaning" etc, but let me illustrate a few points for the reader of this review.
The story itself focuses on a 14 year old boy named Shinji Ikari and a couple of other kids that are his exact same age as well, as they try to defend humanity from weird beings that their superiors call angels. They pilot these massive mecha units called Evas, which are supposed to be the only things that can stand toe to toe with angels.
Let's discuss that basic premise for a moment. At first glance, and indeed the first 10-12 episodes, it seems intriguing. The creepy giant angels are sufficiently scary looking and eerie that they make for good enemies, and of course their names bring up controversy as supposedly angels are servants of God. Also the teens pilot cool looking mechas that also show strange signs of organic, lifelike behaviour. All cool right?
A number of interesting questions are brought up through the first few episodes, and you are left wondering about the mystery of several things. For example: WTF is an Eva anyway? How is one made? They are implied to use a retarded amount of the world's resources to actually make and maintain, so why in the world would they let a whiny, abandonment-issues son of the base commander, a silent personality-less albino girl, and an extroardinarily selfish narcissist of a girl touch their trillion dollar machines, much less pilot one?
The show claims that only those kids can pilot Evas, and no one else in the entire world, and misleads you into thinking that you might get an explanation or backstory on them. It also claims later that all the metal and machines on the Eva are really just bindings on a living creature underneath, in an attempt to control it, and apparently pilots need to be able to "sync" their thoughts and emotions to pilot it. THE SHOW NEVER GIVES ANY BACKSTORY OR REASONING AS TO THESE CLAIMS!
I was literally waiting all the way up to the awful finale for some sort of explanation as to why the hell would Shinji or any other child qualify over a hardened military pilot. In fact in the middle of the anime they state that literally every child in Shinji's school (which by the way is a useless waste of screen time, I wish they hadn't felt obligated to include a schoolkid setting in the show) was transferred there for eventual Eva piloting. There's literally no excuse for telling the viewer you have a reason and there's some crazy link, and then letting it go for 20+ episodes and ending the show. It's not even a bad thing to have a whiny, parent issues character like Shinji be the only character who can save the world unwillingly, BUT, you have to freaking justify it. Even the other characters in the anime mostly don't care at all about shinji.
The finale is abolute trash, and the aesthetic of those episodes (of which really, it is barren) and story looks like it was made for another anime entirely. Why are those last 2 episodes absolute trash you say? Because there is zero build up to them. 16 angels come and die, and then literally as soon as the last angel comes (and by the way, what he actually did was supposed to end the world according to what the show itself claimed earlier but then just didn't for no discernible reason) and dies shinji's dad just walks over and flips a switch which basically kills everyone in the world and steals their souls to merge them into one in order to work out their differences. Why does he do this you ask? What's his motivation? How were we ever supposed to suspect this was coming and what does it have to do with the previous 23 episodes of the show? Why didn't he just flip the switch as soon as they bult the machine instead of randomly having to wait to kill a bunch of unexplained angels? I honestly couldn't tell you because there's literally no justification for any of those premises, and not a single speck of information about that appears anywhere in the main body of the show. Plus there's a bunch of creepy stuff in the basement of their fort that apparently, just disappears and is no longer relevant to anything as soon as the switch is flipped.
Now, a full list of things that the show TELLS you there is an explanation for, and then just forgets to tell you or retcons 10 episodes later.
1: Origin of Angels and their motivations
2: Origin of Evas, mechanics behind them, literally any solid info.
3: Origin of 2nd impact (literally just a provocative name. Never mention why it was a 2nd anything, what it was, why it happened, ANYTHING. They show like 1 flashback with Misato and then zilch. Supposedly if the angels get their way there's supposed to be a 3rd, but that actually HAPPENS! and nothing occurs. Complete bull. Nothing deep whatsoever.)
4: Why the main characters qualify as Eva pilots
5: Motivation behind important, shady characters that are central to the plot. (Most notable in this regard is Gendo Ikari, who get basically a full episode worth of flashbacks that STILL fails to explain anything relevant to the plot, or his motivations. It basically just shows that he's always been a dick, and makes you wonder how he ever got anything to do with the top secret stuff he's involved in.)
6: Symbolism (I mean really, this show is chock full of meaningless symbols. Absolutely none of these have any meaning: they're just there to fool people into thinking things are deep. None of the religious references the show makes or symbols it uses have an actual explanation. They're just kind of there. It's not a "unique interpretation" or interesting look at philosophy as some people consider it. They're literally just there to make it look controversial.)
7: Seele, the super shady organization which is basically a new world government that backs the NERV org that all the characters work for.
8: The human instrumentality project ("revealed" to be the whole purpose of everything Gendo Ikari did for like the entirety of his life and somehow related to killing all the angels first. Never does it explain why it's important or why someone like Gendo would have it as a priority)
Now for the positives! They exist! Honestly I actually did enojy the story for about the first half of the anime. Don't get me wrong, I DO like it when stories aren't fully explained right away and are temporarily shrouded in mystery and misinformation. The first half is exciting, since all of these crazy monsters are coming to trash the city and since the previous pilot was out of commision shinji is the only hope for stopping them. And honestly as whiny as he is he seems mostly justified since is father is a complete jerk. The plot seems to thicken consistently as you see shady deals and meetings with the mystery backers of NERV. Unfortunately, all those things I mentioned earlier come crashing down, and all of these expectations of things that seemed fascinating are dropped, and I personally was left with a hollow feeling, with plot promises unfulfilled.
All in all I gave the story a 2/10 because it CLAIMS to be deep and attempts to address issues, etc but has no actual substance. It's like ordering a brand new xbox online, then opneing the packaging and finding nothing but a few styrofoam peanuts and some plastic wrapping with a picture of the product on it.
ANIMATION - I gave this an 8 honestly. It was perfectly serviceable animation for the most part, and obviously the best quality stuff was with the Eva fight scenes. IDK why anyone would complain about an anime from 1996 or rate an anime lower due to that. HOWEVER the reason this wasnt a point higher is because of the Finale, and several episodes where they literally just sat on a still frame for over a minute with 0 animation, 0 sound, and 0 justification after the first time. It was an interesting concept the first time they used that technique and fit the situation, but since they tried it like 3 other times it gold old fast.
The finale really, really was awful by all accounts. Supposedly they ran out of money as well having a director with an emotional break down, but they really went for a horrible decision with it, and basically just decided to not animate anything. Extroardinarily low quality animation that is not saved at all by anything related to the stories and characters.
SOUND - There's really no complaint from me about sound and music. Honestly I would rate the opening animation much higher than the Anime itself. It has a great theme song, well edited sequence of scenes, etc. and it builds hype pretty well.
The sound effects and music used during the show are all fine, but not that incredibly inspiring. It's all very fitting to the situation honestly, so it deserves a 9/10 IMO
CHARACTERS - Welp, here's where it gets kind of bad again.
Shinji - Man, unlikeable to the max. Whiny, fickle, cowardly, depressing, etc. What I will say is that it's not bad by any means to have a character be depressed or emotionally scarred. Honestly it makes you wonder about his backstory, how he got to be that way, and then it gives the teller of the story a good way to expound upon back history to the main story without it seeming tedious and contrived, and some interesting character development can occur as the character connects with others throughout the story. Unfortunately for the character in question, Shinji just goes through a cycle of whiny refusal to help ---> minorly touching moment that makes you think he's developed his character ---> reoccuring daddy issues ---> whiny refusal to help.
The worst part about Shinji is that for some reason they decided to ignore all the other fascinating stuff they brought up and fascinating plot and setting for the anime in favor of making a 2 episode long psychological breakdown of Shinji and how awful his attitude with. Unfortunately they did that throughout the entire anime in better ways so it comes off terribly. The bad thing is not having an annoying and whiny main character. The bad thing is deciding to scrap every legitimate bit of plot they had to make the entire anime about the resolution of his personal problems. Supposedly he's all messed up because he saw his mother die when he was a kid, except for the fact that he didn't know that and the only time it was ever revealed was in a really really poorly done flashback where they supposedly brought him to their secret base lab and then it just shows him playing with toys, and no one ever mentions how the wife died or why. It just all ends up feeling pointless since Shinji never shows a single damn sign of missing his mother.
Rei Ayanami - Man, so much wasted potential. In the first half of the show you get like 3-4 somewhat touching scenes that make it look like she might be developing or growing an actual personality, but then they just completely leave her alone and refuse to have her learn to talk or feel. Ironically, Rei is probably the most popular character in the show despite the fact that they really should have just left her out since there wasn't anything worthwhile to do with her. Putting her on the cover of Evangelion marketing led to a super uprise in sales though, so of course they couldn't do that.
Right here I want to take a second and compare these two characters with the characters of a similar anime, that was made later and IMO, outclasses Evangelion in almost every way. I'm talking about Eureka 7, which you should really watch if you haven't already. Renton is kind of a snotty, whiny kid throughout a lot of the series, Eureka, who is a Rei analog, starts off as a mysterious, fully emotionless pilot of a unique mecha that exhibits similar organic-ish qualities to an Eva. However, while those are the main characters and their entire world is shrouded in mystery for a good portion of the show, Eureka 7 doesn't abandon the cool world setting they built in favor of just exploring depression. the do both at the same time while driving the story forward with somewhat interesting interactions towards the characters, much more realistic motivations from everyone involved, and eventually you get the full story on everything and can truly empathize with the people who have had awful, awful things occur. Of course Evangelion came first and was slightly more of a pioneer, but it had so many interesting things going on that were thrown away foolishly, and just because it was earlier is no excuse to rate the characters as actually being better than they are.
Asuka Langley - Narcissist. TBH this character probably popularized Tsundere as an archetype, but just because she was one of the first of a stereotype doesn't mean she was one of the best/most interesting. While I liked that much of her attitude was aptly explained by the mental trauma of her early childhood, because they took so long to get into any of her story we never get any closure. She just comes off as a heartless witch and flees her problems without any development at all. In fact she gets worse and worse over the series. Again, while it may be semi realistic reaction to her supposed past and trauma, and the Shinji envy, the fact that they decided to dedicate an entire finale to her and shinji's rehashed crap for no real reason is inexcusable from a character standpoint and for the show as a whole. The last couple of episodes are just a huge non sequitur. Also, fun fact, Asuka trained basically her whole life to be a pilot for Eva's, since for some strange reason she was selected before shinji, who's father DESIGNED everything, and still for some unexplained magical reason shinji outclasses her piloting in every way, despite her Eva being a newer model, her superior skills (as in actually knowing wtf to do and not just sitting there frozen in cowardice) and her experience in moving it around for years prior. Again, it literally never gives any plausible reasoning as to what makes a good pilot.
Misato - Honestly the best character in the entire show. She's basically there for sex appeal as an older woman for the most part (all though tbh a lot of people seemed to swap to Rei or Asuka for that), until you realize that she's the most believable (and likeable) one of the whole series. Honestly the theme of like every character is that a bunch of horrible crap (usually unsufficently explained) happened to them (often illogically as to why or how) as kids and now they struggle every day with it. Misato is no exception, since supposedly her parents were scientists investigating something in antarctica when the disaster of 2nd impact happened, and it's implied that their team somehow caused it (though of course they just never elaborate as to what anything has to do with anything or how Misato herself justifies her rank within NERV, etc.) Misato ends up with daddy issues since she blamed him for being too carefree and leaving their family all the time, but also realizes that's the type of man that attracts her. She ends up wanting to get revenge on angels for some unexplained reason, since somehow the angels unexplainedly caused the 2nd impact, so she joins nerv and somehow turns into an operative director.
The most enjoyable part of this anime for me was the dynamic relationship between Misato and Shinji, since Misato volunteers to take care of him and he moves in with her. It was enjoyable to watch them grow comfortable with each other and honestly Misato is the only character in the show that is able to have a sustainable, compassionate relationship with anyone else, exemplified by her older sister style feelings towards Shinji and her feelings towards her ex-boyfriend. Her dialogue is pretty well written at all times and while she obviously has demons in her past she keeps her chin up and tries to smile. Plus, you get to see her serious, no nonsense attitude that she has at work in contrast with her sloppy home where she usually just wants to let herself go and drink her problems away.
Everyone else - Pointless. The show is about those four characters hands down. Everyone else is supporting, and while some of them might seem like they'd be cool at first, almost all of them end up being hollow shells, just background for the crappy painting of the main character's personalities. Again, there are other animes and indeed, novels and all kinds of things that treat very well on the subject of coping with trauma and illustrate ups and downs and reactions, but those don't fake you out on trying to present and interesting alternate apocalyptic world and pretend to be deep and symbolic. The characters are the point and they don't pretend to have some crazy gimmick.
OVERALL - 5/10
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a poorly conceived story that uses a bunch of controversial words and imagery to hide a lack of creativity and lack of a story worth telling. The plot is so full of holes that it is almost nonexistent, and the supposed setting with a world under siege by strange monsters is never developed or built upon, past throwing vague references to world religions such as Christianity, Taoism, Kaballism, Judaism, etc with out providing any of the context, and in the end, the the first 20 something episodes of monsters and mechas and unexplained references and crappy interactions and angst scenes all turn out to mean nothing at all, because all that matters is the mind of Shinji of course.
In the context of history and influence, it turned out that Neon Genesis Evangelion sold pretty well in Japan because of various factors in play during the 90s, and the various meaningless symbolic mumbo-jumbos basically conned a lot of people into searching for deeper meanings with them, while the attractive female characters seem to have earned many other fans. While I think Evangelion is probably worth watching for anyone who really cares about historical anime, I would solemnly ask anyone who rated this anime above a 7 to take off their nostalgia glasses and classic boner, and look seriously at the story of this anime, and honestly tell me it's not a load of crap, and articulate to me exactly why it is good and explain the utter lack of consistency. Whether or not you decide to give it credit for exploring new territory, I argue that in almost every type of narrative area it did it poorly, from backstory, to character motivations, to development, to lack of climax.
Again, I don't argue that this shouldn't be your favorite anime if you did quite enjoy it, but I merely ask honesty and more objectivity as to people that rate this show, and I will always dispute that this is one of the greatest anime ever made. It simply does not merit that.
TL;DR - way too many plot holes, great first half but goes downhill and commits suicide with the finale, every character except Misato ends up being pretty 1 dimensional (and a bad dimension at that), awesome theme song, animation fine for the time it was made.
Thanks for reading, I had fun finally expressing my frustration that was building inside as I tried to figure out what the point of this show was and then realized there was none. This is my first review I've published, and I'd welcome any comments or suggestion on how to better format them in the future, as well as any well thought out counter arguments you make to my points. Part of the reason I made this review is that after looking at most of the revews here, they are plagued with either awful grammar/spelling that hinders understanding or unreasonable bias towards/against the anime in question. Thus I decided to write my own, better written review.