Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the big classic anime.
Not only do a lot of people love the series but it also helped shape anime into what it is today.
So, with the anime being released on Netflix, I knew I had to check out.
And what did I think of it?
Well… its complicated.
After watching Evangelion, I had honestly no idea what I thought about it.
There were things I liked about the show and things I did not, and my mixture of feelings was blended into an anime with great symbolism, well done and problematic animation, along with a downright bizarre ending.
You probably all know the plot by now but, for those who do not, Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in a world where giant monsters known as Angels pose a threat to all of humanity.
In order to combat them and stop a world ending event known as the Third Impact, a group of children are chosen to pilot robots known as Evas to combat them.
Our main character is Shinji Ikari (Casey Mongillo), a 14-year-old boy whose father, Gendo (Ray Chase), leads Nerv, the organisation that runs the Eva program.
Shinji is called in by his estranged father to pilot Unit 2 and help save the world.
From there the story unfolds into an in depth character study of Shinji and his allies, along with plenty of Eva vs Angel fights spread out.
Speaking of these characters, I found them to be a bit of a mixed bag.
Shinji is a relatable protagonist, and I found his growing bond with his guardian Misato Katsuragi (Carrie Keranen) to be very well done.
But then there is the emotionless Rei Ayanami (Ryan Bartley) who was difficult to connect with a lot of the time, and Gendo, who both deserves the terrible father award and has pretty much no resolution with Shinji by the end.
And finally there are the characters who my opinion changed of over time.
A prime example of this is Asuka Langley Soryu (Stephanie McKeon), who I could not stand at first, until her backstory was revealed in an episode that sent her spiraling into a deep depression that I found very sympathetic.
However, while the characters were a bit hit or miss for me, I found that the symbolism and themes of Evangelion were usually spot on.
The director, Hideaki Anno has talked about how the anime expresses his experiences dealing with depression and this can clearly be seen with many of the characters.
Then there is the Christian symbolism, which is everywhere and incredibly well handled.
I have no idea what it means but I do not think we are supposed to.
Despite these themes, though, I honestly was not able to become fully immersed in Evangelion’s story until episode sixteen but, from that point on, I was fully on board.
Some really great episodes came after this point, my favourite of which is definitely episode nineteen, “A Man’s Battle”, which had plenty of amazing character development and the best action of the anime.
This is helped by the great animation of the episode, which details all of the epic battle moments.
The animation is far from perfect throughout, unfortunately, as there are constant still shots that go on for long periods of time with nothing moving.
The worst of these comes in the first few episodes when there is a shot of Shiji and Misato staring at each other at a train station that feels like it goes on forever.
Sadly, the still images are not the only problem with Evangelion’s animation because it becomes quite obvious that they had almost no budget left by the final two episodes, with literal drawings being used.
Speaking of the ending, I had heard that it was not very good but I was not expecting the confusing, absurd, drug trip that I got.
I literally laughed out loud at the ending because of how nonsensical it felt.
The ending is not completely terrible because it does do justice to the characters’ inner psychology, especially with Shinji, however, there is no narrative cohesion whatsoever in these final two episodes.
I understand that the movie End of Evangelion (which I will be watching and reviewing soon) explains the ending but that is not good enough in my mind.
When watching a finale you need to understand what is happening without needing a follow up movie to get it.
Still, I will not say that the ending ruined what came before.
Overall, I found Neon Genesis Evangelion to be a good anime.
I cannot say that it affected me on the level that it obviously did countless other people but I can recognize its significance in the anime world.
Without Evangelion anime would be in a very different place to where it is now and for that it should be recognized.
One thought on “Neon Genesis Evangelion Review: A Classic Anime with a Bizarre Ending.”
At 3 and a half stars, I certainly wonder what you would rank higher than NGE! I agree that the ending makes the series especially difficult to evaluate, both due to its obvious shortcomings (failure to tie up plot points) as well as the difficulty of depicting the Human Instrumentality. Overall though, I think it still has to rank in the top 10 for me.