the cast of Eva.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Rating: 4½ Rampages - Up to episode 18/19
3½ Rampages - episodes 19-25
2½ Rampages - episodes 25 & 26. Misato Katsuragi, and Shinji Ikari

Synopsis:
In the near future the arrival of a strange being only known as an Angel triggers God’s Second Impact, levelling nearly 90% of the world’s cities. Fourteen years later, anticipating the return of the Angels, a conglomerate known as NERV, humanity’s last line of defense against the Angels, creates a creature called an EVA, piloted by children born the year of the Second Impact. Only specific children can control the strange biological/mechanical creations: Ikari Shinji, estranged son of the head of NERV and who would much rather not have the responsibility of piloting an EVA; Ayanami Rei, the mysterious and reserved First Child who would die for the commander; and Soryuu Asuka Langley, a hot-headed loudmouth who loves the thrill of combat. As they battle the Angels one by one, they discover more and more about the nature and the future of humanity and the dangers that lie ahead.

Review:
As you might have noticed from the ratings, Eva is a good show that's just a little inconsistent. Right from the start we get the feeling that this is far more than another giant robot show...comedy, philosophy and tense action animated exceptionally well for a TV series pushed Eva to the top of the charts very quickly. The hero has no desire to handle the monumental responsibility that has suddenly been dropped in his lap, especially since doing so would be helping his father (who seems to care nothing of his son's concerns, and simply views him as another one of his tools). While the "young, anti-heroic mecha pilot" idea behind Shinji isn't a new thing, the way they play out his story is. His attitude, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired, and it is very hard to feel any kind of connection with him; Shinji has little or no self respect, and hates himself even more than he hates his father...it's a little dificult to sympathize with someone who spends most of the series feeling sorry for himself and whining about how he's such a coward. Shinji aside, all of the characters have a good deal of depth to them, and though we get plenty of action in the first 2/3 of the series, we only get small hints of the greater picture each episode.

Which brings me to the problems with Eva. Around episode 14, the director, Hideaki Anno, left the production of the show to the rest of his team due to personal problems, and as such had rather little to do with the last half of the series. Perhaps this was a good thing on the whole (given the botching of End of Eva), and perhaps it was a bad thing, but the end result is a lot of buildup for an ending that did not do the rest of the series justice at all. The final message that we're being given is not a complex one (I'd clarify on that but I feel it would take something away from the rest of the series if you have yet to see it) yet the writers chose to frame it in the most confusing, roundabout way possible, for no other reason but to mess with our heads. Subtlety is a fine art, but making something obscure just to look cool is just pointless, not to mention mildly offensive.

The other big problem I have with the writing is the way they keep tossing Judeo-Christian iconography randomly throughout the story and paying no attention to their original contexts. Sure, they aren't going to confuse someone who knows nothing of what these things mean or are tied to, but those of us who DO are confused to hell because we keep trying to reconcile the original meanings with the (totally different) meanings they're given here. The result is that the images end up detracting from the story because you keep saying "NO! That's wrong!" The spear of Longinus is some gigantic coiled lance that can pierce the heavens??? What??? Frankly, I would have GREATLY prefered it if Anno had come up with a completely original mythology instead of just grabbing stuff from the Bible at random and tossing it in because it sounds neat.

But despite its problems, Evangelion really is a good show overall. The animation is very sharp, the action is excellently paced, and the comedic bits thrown in every so often are a welcome change from the heavy drama of much of the action sequences. A great many people will swear up and down that this is the greatest feat of animation ever achieved...sorry folks, it's not even close. While Eva accomplished a lot and helped push the standards of anime quite a bit further (for the small screen especially) it is still far from a perfect package.

Availability:
Available dubbed and subtitled through ADVision.


Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death/Rebirth

Rating: 4 Rampages The EVA 01

Synopsis:
The first of the two movies, this one was done to fill in the gap many felt was left with episode 26. The first half is a recap of the entire series up to episode 25. The second half is all new animation, and the first half of the end of the Eva story. After Kaoru is killed and the danger of the Angels is finally averted, Shinji is left in shock, Asuka is still recovering from her injuries, and Seele is drawn about the whole affair. They finally decide that the EVAs are too dangerous, and must be destroyed along with all of NERV. Seele brings all of its military might to bear on NERV headquarters, slaughtering all in their path. As Misato and the rest of the NERV personnel scramble frantically to defend themselves, Gendo and Rei dissapear. Misato orders a still vegetative Asuka placed in the EVA 02 at the bottom of the lake, to hold off Seele's forces while she attempts to retrieve Shinji, and get him to the 01 before it's too late. As Seele's troops discover Asuka in the 02, she awakens and engages them in a blind rage. But how long can Asuka hold them off, when Seele calls in their own EVAs to deal with her?

Review:
It's kind of hard to call this a movie really; the only part that needs to be watched is the second half. Though it's nice to have the TV series condensed so people new to the series will understand what is going on, I personally would have been willing to just wait for the second movie. Be warned though, this one ends with one real nasty cliffhanger...


The End Of Evangelion

Rating: 5 Rampages - The first half of the movie.
2 Rampages - The second half of the movie.The NERV insignia.

Review:
The second of the two Eva movies, this one was the director's idea of cleaning up all the loose ends from the TV series, and ending things his way. Unfortunately, like the TV series, The movie of Evangelion (this is really the only movie that needs any attention as it's two hours long and is composed of all new stuff) is quite inconsistent. The movie picks up right where episode 24 left off, and so the first half hour or so is the last part of "Death & Rebirth". As such, the first half is full of the excellent animation and Angel-stomping action we got used to in the early part of the series. ....and then it just gets weird. The second half of the movie is made up of the same kind of stuff we saw in Episodes 25 & 26; lots of still black-and-white shots of train stations and telephones and such, with Shinji's voice-over going on about 'What is a dream?'. This left me wanting to bang my head against something, and does a really poor job of creating any sort of conclusion to the Eva story. The movie is worth seeing if you're a die-hard Eva fan, but be warned that it will screw with your head.

Availability:
The EVA films are soon to be released in the "End Of Evangelion" format by Manga Entertainment. Ready for action!

Neon Genesis Evangelion Homepage
Misato's NERV Geofront
Top 15 Reasons Why Asuka is Better than Rei
GAINAX NEWS: Evangelion
Ikari Gendo's Ultimate EVA FAQs