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 There are mecha fights which may have been impressive twenty years ago, but now look not only outdated but at times downright boring.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.