Friday, August 01, 2014

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)

Anime Nerd?

I first watched Neon Genesis Evangelion in college or shortly after--some time around 2004. I loved it. It's one of the reasons I believed myself an anime fan, although that as a "genre" leaves something to be desired.* I recently had the chance to revisit the series, and it holds up.

Watching it now, it falls into that wonderful world of fiction which was set in a "future" that doesn't seem so futuristic. The series takes place next year--in 2015--and depends on events which were set in motion as early as 2000. I like that for some reason. It ostensibly falls into the genres of post-apocalyptic fiction and "giant robot" anime, but only the first is absolutely correct.

What made it so interesting to me the first time I watched it was how it doesn't really fit the "giant robot" idea, because the Evangelion aren't really robots. Early enough it's revealed they are organic, and unpredictable, and just humanoid enough to make it really disturbing (especially when they act like animals and engage in cannibalism). They fight "angels," which aren't really explained all that well but could be aliens or something else, and there are predictions based on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and crosses tend to show up when there's some big explosion. Religious themes taken into a sci-fi context! That's enough to make the show worth watching, but it's not all there is to it.

Now, with a little more distance between myself and my teenage years, I picked up on more. It's only partially about the conflict between humans and the angels. It's also about teenage sexual frustration and angst. The pilots of the Evas have to be 14-year-olds (presumably because of something that happened with the "Third Impact" in 2000). The main character lives with a beautiful but slobby woman and deals with other attractive teens who have complicated personalities. It's dark and sexually frustrating. That's what it's really about.

Now, I don't think I can recommend it to anyone who's not predisposed to liking anime. It's quirky in that way. And if you already like anime, you've probably already seen it. But I have to say that it holds up quite well for being nearly 20 years old, and I enjoyed watching it again.

I also want to point out that Pacific Rim ripped it off in big ways. So, there's that.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

* A friend recently pointed out that anime isn't really a genre, but a medium. Which explains why I don't love all anime, because that would be like saying I love all movies or all television.

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to get to this show for years, but I still haven't.