20XX. The very near future. Yushio Gowa, test pilot for one of the four prototype Type 17 Raiden Tactical Armours, one of Gowa Co.'s latest products, is pushing his machine through its paces. Yushiro and his group have been dropped into a city and must destroy their target in a very limited amount of time. Yushiro does so and the simulation ends....
Later: The city of Gowa, stronghold of the Gowa family, one of the most powerful industrial and political entities in Japan (and in the world, though this is not publicly known). Yushiro, with the help of his mother, Yukino, and little sister, Misuzu, is preparing himself for the Calling of Gasaraki, a mysterious power his family has been trying to obtain for quite some time. His father, Daizaburo, and brothers, Kazukiyo and Kiyotsugu, are anxiously awaiting the preparations atop a rock platform that will serve as a stage for the Calling. The last time such a ceremony was attempted, the temple in which it was performed was obliterated. Yushiro, in full ceremonial garb, mask and all, steps out and stars his dance to the rhythm of the drums. At first everything seems to be going well, as a huge funnel of energy comes down from the heavens. However, as if in a dream, a figure attacks Yushiro, attempting to kill him. As the mysterious assailant's mask shatters, the face of a beautiful young girl appears. She is desperate and begs Yushiro to stop dancing, for he will bring about unspeakable horror if he completes the ceremony. Yushiro, somewhat impressed by her sincerity, stops, to his father & brothers' dismay (nobody, save for Yushiro, could see the girl). They are satisfied, however, for a good amount of data, more than they had actually hoped for, has been gathered....
And that is only the FIRST episode!
As the series progresses, the political manoeuvring around the Berghistan (read: "Irag") crisis (engineered by both Symbol, a terrorist organisation, and the Gowa family) becomes more important. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the Berghistan crisis ends, to be replaced by a more sinister conspiracy to topple the Japanese government and take control of the world arms market. Of course, while all this happening Yushiro tries to find out who he really is and what role he has to play in all the potting his father and brothers are doing. Not to mention the fact that he is supposed to have died at the age of nine! Likewise, the girl he met in the first Calling ceremony, Miharu, is questioning her role as a pilot in Symbol's ranks.
Wow. Now this is what Evangelion SHOULD have been like! I'd been eagerly anticipating this show for months, and I can safely say, it was worth the wait, and then some. The music, the animation, the pacing, the characters, all are fascinating, and the tiny hints at the story in the first episode leave one with a lot of questions and a crowd screaming for more. The Mecha designs really surprised me; They seemed like a cross between Gundam and Armored Trooper VOTOMS, hard science and realistic, but extremely versatile and sleek in design. Like Escaflowne and Bebop before it, this is another show whose producers know how to use CGI: sparingly. The few computer graphics used are seamlessly integrated with the cel work and actually do add something as opposed to so many other series which just use it as eye candy (and distracting eye candy at that). The cel animation as well is wonderfully smooth and fluid, and the music is haunting and delightfully accents the mysterious and dark mood of the story. Speaking of which, don't be surprised if it takes a while for the whole picture to fall into place, very little is given away during the first half of the 26 episodes, but from what I've been told it is very much worth waiting for (unlike Eva, the ending pulls everything together and makes sense). I've heard people compare this to a cross between Gundam and Eva...well, I can see it. With Gundams fantastic technology and Eva's cerebral story with plenty of twists and turns, and a production budget close to that of Escaflowne's, this is certainly one of the best shows of the year and should not under any circumstances be missed. Brain Powerd, eat your heart out; VERY highly recommended.
Soon (heh, yeah right) to be available subbed or dubbed through ADV Films.