06 January 2006

Neon Genesis Evangelion

For those of you who have watched this series, you will understand me when I say that it's one of the hardest animes to comment on for several reasons. Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) is one of those 1-season philosophical animes similar to Wolf's Rain. However, what makes NGE unique and difficult not only to comprehend but to watch is the fact that the makers of NGE ran out of money at the end of the series. The original series was made in 1995 and was 26 episodes long.

NGE is about a boy named Shinji who is summoned to the city Tokyo-3 by his father who was never there for him as a child, and is employed with a company called NERV to pilot giant robot like mecha called the Evangelions (EVA series). He meets two other NERV pilots, Rei and Asuka, and together they pilot the Evas against "Angels" who are coming to destroy Earth...

If you take the time to sit down and watch these original 26 episodes, you will go through a slurry of emotions. I feel that NGE is a catchy anime in the beginning; I even got a friend of mine who doesn't watch anime to sit down and watch it simply because he was hooked after a few episodes. As the series progresses, though, it becomes harder to understand and becomes a dark, disturbing series. This is by no means a bad thing, but the audience starts yearning for that penultimate ending to what has been 20 odd episodes of build-up. With a dwindling budget and time constraints, the producers of NGE could not complete the ending properly, which left a lot of people burned and confused at the end of the original series.

When I watched the end myself, I did feel unsatisfied, but I did not turn away from the series. I was attached to the vibrant characters that NGE presented to me, and was determined to find my own ending to what might be called the most ambiguous "zen" ending of any anime I've ever seen. It takes some deep thought to comprehend NGE, which is what I love about the genre as compared to the typical American film that outlines the ending for you (Vanilla Sky as an extreme example).

I mentioned that NGE was difficult to watch. I mean this in the most literal sense; it is hard to get your hands on all the different things requires to fully understand NGE. After the original series, the producers KNEW they left their audience short handed, so went on to make a new ending in a movie form, "End of Evangelion"(EoE). They also made "Death and Rebirth" which features highlights from the series. I have not watched "Death and Rebirth", so am unable to tell you what this movie is like.

EoE did give much needed closure to the series. My friend who I coerced into watching NGE I think hated the movie...this closure was obviously either not enough or not typical enough for him. I do not blame him for giving his honest opinion, but as I mentioned before, NGE isn't really a "sit down have fun and giggle" kind of anime. It takes time to sit down and figure out what is going on. Friends that will watch the series with you are helpful. This is a series that deserves to be brought up in philosophy class.

The music isn't anything special in this series. The animation is somewhere in the middle. While they employ some interesting flashcard techniques and in EoE there's some brillint artwork-like animation, for the most part they do a lot of re-using of sequences, etc.

This series deserves much more discussion, but it's too much to put in one post, and I fear giving spoilers.

It's hard to rate this one, since the opinions on it are all over the place. In my feelings, however, it deserves these ratings:

Plotline: Excellent
Characters: Excellent
Music: Poor
Animation: Fair


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