Friday, May 17, 2013



  Giant robots, high school, and alien attacks! Neon Genesis Evangelion is a 26-episode 80s anime that’s like if Power Rangers was conceived in the middle of a Freshman Philosophy course and turned suddenly into dark adult content. First of all, the art and detail are good: It’s set in the futuristic year 2015 and there’s always an electronic buzz in the background someone and cars whirring. The school kind of looks isolated if not for the giant robots underground.

(Remember it was the 80s in Japan; but the English version was conceived in this is still apocalyptic.) The series revolves around students, mainly a young boy named Shinji Ikari who do battle with giant aliens called Angels while piloting huge robots called Evangelions or EVAs. Every episode is seemingly divided into one of the character’s psychological problems, then a huge robot fight to help them confront it.

 And yes, multiple times the issues involve girls or Shinji’s female pilots/students. Most of the “fan service” however is done in the name of comedic relief. Occasionally, it addresses cultural, psychological, or philosophical issues. For example, one of the pilots is a German-Japanese girl dealing with fitting into post-apocalyptic Japanese society. Another girl seems completely detached from human relationships, for reasons that are later revealed, and also make her the best pilot. Shinji’s father issues also play in in the form of he’s the boss of NERV, which is the organization behind defending Tokyo and killing the Angels. Every episode has a bit of gossip and a big robot battle at the end.

  The EVAs and their pilots minds are connected, in a bit of man-machine symbiosis. Without spoiling anything, eventually the angels figure this out, and the series turns dark. Between battling with giant machine guns and lasers and knifes, now they must also shield themselves from mental attacks. Shinji begins to question the war: “Angels are envoys of God. Why are we fighting envoys of God?” (To which stubborn Asuka replies: “Are you stupid or something? They attacked us, Dummkopf!” So the action takes place on three fronts. Man vs. Society (Their base in Tokyo-3.) Man vs. Man, and Man vs. Angel. I wish I could discuss Rei’s dilemma, but no spoilers.

     Of course watching the battles is spectacularly fast-paced and over the top. When the drama gets too heavy they usually go back to their dorms, and then you see some funny stuff like Shinji trying to hide his nakedness from his commander, Misatu or Asuka Langley Sohryu being stubborn and adapting to Japanese ways. She’s usually scolded for being too stubborn and ambitious: “Asuka! The Japanese way is to consider others before yourself!” says Misatu.  Eventually, I don’t think I’m spoiling when I say that when confronting her battle trauma (Caused by a blast of German Opera music from an Angel!) you learn the real reason she identifies with her mother’s side in Germany.

    There’s always a battle going on; first the pilots are attacked individually, and you learn their bios, then NERV is attacked, and then the pilots’ minds when the episodes get darker and darker. The last few episodes take place almost exclusively inside the pilots’ tortured minds. I can’t imagine how this change in tone might have affected Japanese boys in the 80s, but it took me by surprise and added a lot of plot twists and suspense! There’s even some romance; yes, romance! Not just fan service. The big surprise though comes when the final form of the Angels is revealed, and they attack their young minds through the EVAs!

Overall, it’s a good show if you like extremes! Extreme action! Extreme fan service! Robots! EXTREME PSYCHOANALYSIS AND INTERCULTURAL CONFLICT! Oh, yes…and they all share a pet penguin! But don’t take my word for it: This stuff has to be seen to be believed! And when you're done with that I think there are Evangelion movies! PS: Sorry I couldn't find the English subs for the theme, but it's called "The Cruel Angel's Thesis"!


     PEN PEN!

                                               ASUKA LANGLEY SOHRYU ON HER EVA



No comments:

Post a Comment