Critic’s Log - Earthdate: June 27, 2014. Manga Review #1: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
In March 12, 2012. I posted my first Anime review which was on the Anime series Cowboy Bebop. I have been posting Anime Reviews since for two years. Now that I’ve been reviewing Anime for that long, I felt it was time for me to start reviewing Manga. Let’s face it, not every Manga gets an Anime adaptation, and some Anime adaptations do deviate from the Manga they are adapting from. There are even some Mangas that are adapted from Anime series as well… This Manga series I’m about to review isn’t really an adaptation to an Anime. My first Manga review is the manga version of what happens to be my gateway anime. That being said, here’s my first Manga review which is Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion
In 2000 A.D., a top-secret encounter between an Antarctic expedition and an entity known as an 'Angel' triggered a global catastrophe. It is the year 2015 and the Angels have returned. Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old child of the new Earth, is summoned by his father Gendo to an underground city underneath Tokyo-3, where the United Nations research organization known as NERV is stationed. To match the fearsome power of the Angels, NERV has constructed a biomechanical weapon known as 'Evangelion',
To be technical… The art and story of The manga version to Neon Genesis Evangelion is by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The Manga may have started in 1994 but it did start roughly at the same time the anime was starting its production. This is why I am not calling this a manga adaptation. I strongly view it as the Manga version of Evangelion. The manga version was made to generate popularity for the upcoming anime. I am not sure what the end result was because the anime was such a huge deal back then at the time. It was popular in Japan, and it definitely was a big deal for American Anime fans. Whatever the case. The anime was a commercial success, but the manga was also a success as well. For the entire run of 14 Volumes consisting of 96 chapters. The manga version of Evangelion looks very good as its own standalone creation. It does have some hiccups and miniscule inconsistencies but it does not ruin the experience at all. Allow me to bring up the Evangelion anime. The major technical flaw in that show was it’s recycling of certain animation cels because of the show’s budget. The Manga version never has that problem. It is an advantage to the Evangelion manga, but at the same time… I understand that the technical flaw I just mentioned over the Evangelion anime were overlooked for that reason. In the long run (and I’ll say it again). It looks very good as it’s own standalone creation.
Another thing that is actually a nice breath of fresh air is how the characters are presented in the Evangelion manga. If you’ve seen the anime, Shinji may have gotten mixed reactions out of viewers and I get it. However...there are monologues that come up often in the Manga version. This allows the person that is reading the manga to understand the trials, complication, and struggle that these characters are going through. Granted, the anime does this too at times, but I notice this a lot more in the Manga. I never once found it as overkill. These monologues come in at the right time. The portrayal of Shinji is very identical to the Anime with some significant differences. Rei does develop a little more than in the anime, but not much is different. Asuka’s background is different but like Rei, not much is different from the Anime. Misato is nearly identical than the Anime with some differences with how the story is portrayed. Same with Ritsuko. Toji on the other hand was handled differently and that’s the only thing I’ll say on him. Kaji isn’t different from the anime except that he was given a backstory. Also, Remember Kaworu, who was in only one episode of the anime? Well, his timing and portrayal plays out differently than the anime. I have no complaints on this. Hell, even Gendo Ikari is played out a little different and I took a liking to that. Also, let’s not forget that penguin Pen-Pen… He’s even given a brief backstory of where he came from that led him into the series, despite his reduced appearance in the Manga, it was a little interesting to know about his past. As far as characters go, I am liking how they are portrayed in the Manga a little more than the anime.
Which leads me to the story as a whole. I could say there’s some room for argument in regards to the authorship of the Evangelion Manga, 90% of the manga is based off the anime, and it does reflect on elements that came from Hideaki Anno’s vision. Anno-san did work with Sadamoto-san on starting the manga and since I have not heard a single complaint regarding this. I guess the authorship of the Evangelion Manga isn’t really a big deal. Even though 90% of the manga is based off the anime. The direction of the manga is not really the same like the anime. There are some significant plot changes and there are even little miniscule differences which may be hard to tell unless you watch the anime and read the manga side by side. Personally, I like how the Manga plays out. It took out the filler that the anime had at a few episodes. It had more in-depth insights on characters, and the changes that Sadamoto-san made compared to the anime are welcoming because for the most part, certain events and/or developments didn’t feel forced whereas the anime did due to technical constraints. Sadmoto-san fixed some areas that are kinda broken. As much as I liked the anime, The Evangelion Manga is my favorite version of the Evangelion franchise. God is in His Heaven, All’s Right With The World. Amen!
The manga to Neon Genesis Evangelion is available by Viz Media, the manga spinoffs “Angelic Days” and “The Shinji Ikari Raising Project” are also available by Viz Media. The Evangelion Anime was available by ADV Films until they went under, it was re-licensed by Section23 but no re-release has been made since.
With everything said, the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga may be 90% true to the anime but Yoshiyuki Sadamoto took some liberties with the changes that were made (notable or small) that can be seen as acceptable, reasonable, and welcoming. If you liked the Evangelion Anime. I strongly recommend you to give the Evangelion Manga a try. It will likely not disappoint. I consider it to be a Masterpiece of a Manga series.
I give Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s Neon Genesis Evangelion a 9.6 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to leave a comment, and don’t run away.
The manga that started a year before its TV counterpart, but didn't finish until nearly 20 years later. Comparisions to the legendary anime are inevitable, but how well does this manga stand on its own?
As it has been a couple years since I've seen the original anime, and the fact that the manga version is considered equally 'canon' with the anime, I'll be refraining from doing a full-scale comparsion and try to deduce whether or not this version can stand on its own.
In short, it does. The premise is established quickly and effectively, then built upon carefully to slowly turned what might first pass for a generic mecha story into a full-scale psychological drama. NGE functions on the principle of 'deconstruction', the idea of picking a genre story and its typical tropes apart with a more realistic approach and seeing what might actually happen in a more life-like setting.
I do have to mark one particular strike against this story, however. The final arc, while fast-paced, emotional, and intense isn't always fully comprehensible, with a great deal of techno-babble thrown around and and events occuring extremely rapid-fire. Though perhaps that helps induce the feeling of disorientation and confusion the cast is also feeling. In any event, it's the characters, not the events that drive NGE, and the story functions as a solid framework for their drama to unfold.
And while I promised to try and avoid an anime to manga comparison, there's no getting around the elephant in the room: the ending. The manga ending gives a slightly different spin on the anime's legendary/infamous 'Gainax Ending', opting for a more straightforward, less ambiguous conclusion. The more conventional finale will likely be loved or hated depending on your opinion of the anime's mind-screw ending. Less intellectually challenging, but more emotionally satisfying is the best way I can describe it- make of that what you will.
Sadamoto brought down the house with his artwork in this manga. There's a reason he's been hired to design characters for major projects such as 'Summer Wars', 'The Girl Who Lept Through Time', and 'Wolf Children'. And his characters simply steal the show in the artwork department: they have a certain, unique 'swagger' to their designs. Realistic, but with just enough 'manga' touches to make them distinct and memorable. Each cast member can easily be differentiated from the others, and they move and act with real energy. The backgrounds, however, while good, never achieve a truly jaw-dropping effect. Art is the strongest part of this manga, and that's no backhanded compliment given how good the rest is.
Let's start with the man so many fans love to hate: Shinji Ikari. He may not fulfill the typical power-fantasy archetype of getting all the girls and having all the deus ex machina powers needed to break the plot to his whim, but he is one thing: believable. Shinji's backstory and character development reveals a boy who's been traumatized, never in command of his own fate, cast off by his father, and treated as a burden by the people who raised him, and all this while growing up in a psycholgically scarred world that can no longer take humankind's continued existence for granted. Not exactly the ideal environment for raising a cocky, devil-may-care action hero. The battles may be fought from inside an EVA, but the war is being waged inside his mind.
The rest of the cast is very strong as well, each major character having a distinct and believable driving motivation, although some are explored more in-depth than others. Of particular note is Rei Ayanami, whose character I found to be most interesting in this version of NGE, as we get a few more looks inside her enigmatic mind (or, in less scholarly terms, I found Asuka more interesting in the anime, but Rei claimed the title of 'Best Girl' in the manga.... I can only imagine how Asuka might react to hearing that...). The characters drive this story, and they do an excellent job.
The Evangelion manga finds itself in a weird middle ground, being a technically an independent and equally canonical version as the Evangelion story found in animation, but also inescapably overshadoweded by the anime's fame. The biggest audience for this series will likely be anime fans looking for a more cathartic Evangelion experience after the animated version left our minds reeling. And the manga certainly isn't as iconic and influential within the world of manga as the anime is within the world of anime. But it is a solid manga perfectly capable of standing on its own two feet, and well worth reading.
This is, by far, one of the most compelling, interesting, unique and well-done manga I have ever read. I was NOT expecting it to be this good and my expectations were exceeded by about ten times. I’m not one to particularly care for mecha and science fiction, but something about this story is absolutely brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it almost all the way through. When you end up reading a manga for four hours straight, that’s when you know you’ve found some good reading material.
There is never a dull moment in the plot. It’s perfectly paced, very tense in parts, a little bit touching sometimes and manages to be thrilling to read without the use of music or special effects that you’d see in anime. It just tells an interesting story from start to finish, no screwing around. It takes a concept that’s overdone in anime and manga and somehow turns it into something entirely new with its easy-to-familiarise-with premise and a story that actually makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to follow and yet so intriguing that I could not stop reading once I really got into it. I won’t say that the ideas behind it are new or ingenious or anything, because they’re not - let’s face it, sci-fi is overdone - but the seemingly unoriginal premise is made up for tenfold by the way the whole thing is executed so professionally.
Most of these characters were wonderful from what I could tell. Strong, relatively realistic, loveable and developed wonderfully. I did dislike the tsundere-ness a lot but everyone else was incredibly interesting and I was so eager to read about all of their backstories. If that brat had been just a little nicer, and a little more like a regular person, I could easily give these guys a 9/10 because they are actually written in a relatable way which seemed slightly unconventional for a series in this genre. What I like about Shinji is that he is normal. He’s not your average whiny, weak, dull protagonist, nor is he overpowered. He’s actually a nice, courageous and relatable guy, and everything he’s feeling during the series is so damn easy to understand. He doesn’t sit there crying instead of taking action, and when he does sit there crying, the reader understands why.
The art is good for a series that first began in the 90’s. That may not seem long ago - heck, I was born in the 90’s! - but when I consider how far anime and manga has come since then, I can’t help but appreciate Neon Genesis Evangelion’s art style. The characters and settings are actually designed really well, and would have looked absolutely amazing in colour. What I also like is that it doesn’t drastically change as the series progresses. It’s iconic in the sense that anyone can recognise this series just from seeing the style of the character’s faces, which is a good, original quality that a manga can have, in my opinion. The art is suited to the series very well, and gives the characters a slightly more realistic and less cutesy look than what’s seen in many other series.
In short: excellent. I was actually kind of ticked off about finishing it in three days because I was enjoying it that much. I’ve read some damn good manga, but this has to be one of the best yet, and will certainly remain as one of my favourites. I’d highly recommend it even for people who aren’t typically fans of the science fiction genre because its story and characters are just excellent.