This series is a bit of a disappointment to me. It started out well and the built up was really great and suspenseful. Come the middle, the action became more intense and made you come back for more, however somewhere near the end it really loses steam.
Some aspects of the animation were great for their time. The character designs are pretty good, although nothing excellent but the Evas and some of the Angels are designed creatively. The backdrops are also very good although they are reused too often. What does not help the animation in this series are the very long shots of one scene that go on forever - one of the longest was a still frame that went for about 53 seconds. If the series did not go over the budget so much (reported fact and also visible in a few scenes that could have benefited from some editing), the fluidity of the animation would be more prevalent and would make the animation as a whole a lot better.
The sound is pretty good in this series as the opening and ending songs are two very enjoyable compositions. Depending on which version of "Fly Me To The Moon" you listen to, the feelings of inadequacy and detachment are conveyed very well. The normal background music also fits the series very well. Some tracks are obviously more memorable than others yet I would personally not want to own the soundtrack as none of the tracks had a replay quality for me.
The voice acting is pretty good on all accounts. With the seiyuu for Misato (also Sailor Moon's) really getting into her character. Same goes with the Asuka voice actor (Wedding Peach's Hinagiku) who sees the complexity of the character. Other characters are also good with a few just alright overall, like Gendo, Shinji and Rei. As all three are either passive or extreme characters, it must have been very hard for the seiyuus to bring them to life and in some scenes it shows, as the visuals carry more weight than the dialogue.
The story is one of those that have been done in older series such as Macross (themes of loss, inadequacy, separation from family) and Patlabor (mostly the mecha theme as Patlabor plays more like a comedy), and because the themes have been explored before - these series have already expressed some of those themes more coherently. The most original theme this series brought to the mecha genre would have to be religion (as far as I can tell). Though with this, imagery is shown but not explored to its full potential (especially with something as rich as the Christian Bible, it is disappointing.) The series tries to explore a few too many themes and as a result does not really do any of them justice. The story is told adequately, but it does not take the series as far as it should. Sometimes, they just throw in a cheap twist as a way to get the action sequence without really resolving the story from the beginning of said episode.
The characters in this are strangely developed. Only Misato comes out being a coherent and multi dimensional character. The likes of Asuka and Shinji are just given situations to further emphasise what we already know about them instead of developing as characters or resolving any of their dilemmas. My main gripe is actually with Gendo, as he had the makings of a great character - unfortunately he is hardly even touched upon. Maybe this was for the audience to relate to how Shinji felt about his father, however I felt it was a real failing on the series' part as I wanted to UNDERSTAND who he was. There were also many other possibilities between him and Rei, or Yui, or even Ritsuka, however those are only really hinted at as well. As it is, the character development available makes them out to be just about what they need to be to move along the story(in a convenient, but ineffective-for-the-audience-to-relate-to way).
The value of this series gets lost somewhere in the middle as I would recommend it to a few people who already have an interest in the mecha genre but chances are they would have already seen it I did enjoy the series enough while I was watching it but I am not sure how much of it I want to see again. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this but it could have been benefited from biting off less than it could chew.