Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Neon Genesis Evangelion
Main Cast
Evangelion's main cast of characters
Original Manga None
Director/Artist Hideaki Anno
Format Anime (TV) & Anime (Movie)
Made By Gainax / Tatsunoko Productions
Episode Length 22 minutes
# of Eps/Volumes 26 episodes + several movies


Drama, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Mecha, Action

Sum it up in a Sentence

NGE focuses on Shinji Ikari, a fourteen-year-old boy who has just been choosen by the mysterious organization NERV to pilot a cybernetic mecha called Evangelion.

Main Description

At the start of the series, Shinji has just arrived by train at Tokyo-3. This is the location of NERV headquarters, which is commanded by Shinji's own father, Gendo Ikari. Shinji just happens to arrive right in the middle of a battle. An Angel, the name given to huge monsters that are well over 100 feet tall, is wreaking havoc on the surrounding city. And to make things worse for Shinji, the government is about to attack this creature with a huge bomb. Luckily for him, NERV employee Misato comes to pick him up and drive back to headquarters.

The rest of the show follows Shinji as he, usually unwillingly, takes the pilot seat of an Evangelion, the only thing that can effectively defeat the angels. As is apparent from the very start, these Evas are not just your average giant robot. The dire situation of the world is made worse as Shinji and his fellow fourteen-year-old pilots, who are some of the few who have the ability to synchronize with and control the Evangelions, are ripped to shreds both physically and mentally.

What The Hell Is Going On Here?

Evangelion is a different kind of show from most others by design. From it's outset it was designed to be a challenge against the other anime being produced at the time, which the creators saw as bland and unwilling to take risks. The show itself borrows very heavily from other anime that came before it, but attempts to combine these into a new series. It is not primarily a super robot show. It is primarily a show about interpersonal relationships in times of stress.

The original concept was supposed to explore what happens when individuals close themselves off from relationships with others (within the context of a giant robot show). The characters are dysfunctional and mostly unlikeable by design. However as the series progressed and the budget drained away, director Hideaki Anno became disgruntled with the reception of the show, feeling it to be oversimplified and insulting as portrayed in magazines and other media. As a result, the show takes a harsh, postmodern metafiction turn at Episode 16. The infamous final 2 episodes completed the original character development goals of Anno, but angered many fans as the series abandoned what, on the surface, seemed like the primary genre of the show.

The intentionally open and vague presentation of the world of Evangelion has lead to an astonishingly wide range of off-the-wall, "Epileptic Trees" style speculation in the NGE fandom. This only serves to further anger those who were not happy with the original show itself.

Movie Chronology Explanation

It's a safe bet to say that most people who watch anime have seen Evangelion. But if you've made it all these years without watching the series and you want to change that, here's a quick run down of what to watch and in what order. It's not that complicated.

Original series

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion First watch the TV series. The whole thing... yes, even the last two episodes. Get the Platinum version. It has vastly superior audio and visual quality. And it contains the director's cuts of episodes 21-24, which were compromised by budget and runtime issues.
  • Death and Rebirth This is the next step, and technically you can skip it without missing much. But watch it if you're going for completeness. It is split into two parts. Death is a recap of the TV series with occasional new footage (most of which was already shown in the aforementioned director's cuts of episodes 21-24). Rebirth is actually the first half-hour or so of the next movie...
  • The End of Evangelion If you watched D&R, you'll recognize the first part of the movie. It is an alternate version of the last two episodes of the TV series. While the TV show ended inside Shinji's fucked up mind, EoE is the action packed (yet still psychologically messed up) ending that everyone was hoping for.
  • (Note: You may come across some DVDs with weird names like Death(true) and Revival; these are essentially the same movies listed above with minor edits.)

Rebuild of Evangelion

A series of four newly animated movies from Hideaki Anno and studio Khara that tell an altered version of the Evangelion story:

  • Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone
  • Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
  • Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  • Evangelion: Final - (forthcoming release)

Originally thought to be a streamlined adaptation of the TV series with better animation (Evangelion 1.0 really is more-or-less a film version of the first six TV episodes with some small but significant changes), Rebuild of Evangelion has deviated substantially from the source material, albeit still under the direction of Anno. It is now a completely distinct story from the TV series.

It is frequently debated how accessible Rebuild is to new viewers of Evangelion. Some argue that it has streamlined the sometimes-rough series without demanding any prior knowledge from the viewer. Others argue that the changes to the plot are more interesting when viewed with knowledge of the TV series, even going so far as to treat Rebuild as a "sequel" series.

Live Action Movie

  • Untitled Live Action Evangelion Movie ADV Films (the people who licensed the TV series for US release) have the rights to make a live action remake of the first six episodes. They even got Weta to draw up some concept art. However it ran into a few problems... licensing, funding, finding a director, scheduling time with Weta to create the special effects, just to name a few. Once the Rebuild movies were announced, not much has been said about these. It is worth noting, however, that Guillermo Del Toro's next movie, Pacific Rim (scheduled to open summer 2013) apparently began as a live-action Evangelion script.

If You Liked This, You Might Like...

NERV's logo

Also by Gainax:

Personal Opinions


With so much fandom and a few new takes on the genre (at least at the time), Evangelion has gotten a lot of backlash. There are a few unexplained logical gaps here and there and some people haven’t taken kindly to the occasional religious imagery spread throughout claiming it was only throw in to be pretentious. None of these criticisms have been rather new to anime.

Some people have tried to make this show something that it’s not. Neon Genesis, at the bottom of its heart, is not a mecha battle detailing the end of the world where all of humanity must pull together against an unknown alien force but unfortunately has a few too many scenes with whiny characters in them. No, Neon Genesis Evangelion is about the unashamed story of Shinji Ikari who’s been abandoned by his parents and has a complete lack of self-worth. The actual story is about Shinji Ikari and how he overcomes his mental barriers while thrown into extreme situations to help act as a catalyst. The battle sequences are then thrown in as an act of service to the fans of action and to sell more product. The fights are there because liven up what would otherwise be a pure character drama and to look flashy and cool. The religious portion of the show exists because a fight against God works and the mythology is all already there and we’re all already familiar with it and having a new take on it is interesting.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is still a show about a 14-year-old kid dealing with and overcoming an incredibly huge amount of angst. If you’ve already sailed that boat within your own life and have hardened up your emotions and don’t want to deal with watching another soul experience this journey, you probably won’t enjoy the main aspect of this show. Similarly, if you’re no longer at the age we’re your experiencing these often criticized emotions, you’ve probably missed your chance at being able to fully enjoy and appreciate this show.

Eva is still good though. It’s very well made and executes everything that it intended to achieve in the name of entertainment. Even with its suffering budget at times it still makes up for it all with very good dramatic music and decent art direction. Certain people out there consider this to be one of the best TV shows they’ve ever watched and this is for a very good reason.

Dan a man

Evangelion tends to be a very polarizing show. To be slightly corny for a moment, some love to love it while others love to hate it. I personally love the show; it is one of my favorites. I recommend this show to anyone who is remotely interested in anime. It is pretty much a must watch.


It took me some time before watching this show because I'm not really interested in mecha shows in general, but I absolutely loved it after watching it. So don't let the giant robots and monsters put you off because that's not what the series is about. What's really important is what's going on in the head of the characters. On a side note, the design of the costumes, buildings, weapons and of course the mechs is really good.


Evangelion does have positive sides, but has two major problems that made it one of the few anime i really dislike. First of all the protagonist is the most annoying character i ever saw in anime, so simply watching him whine and act all hysterical for several episodes was an incredible pain. The supporting cast each equipped with either a tragic past, or severe mental problems, usually both at once, wasn't much of a help either. The faux mysticism and overblown plot killed the rest of the show for me. Evangelion does have its moments, and i understand why people like it, but it is not a show i would recommend to anyone, since there are far better shows to see in the mecha genre.


NGE holds a special place in my heart because it was the anime that got me into anime. It was the first anime I saw and being a sucker for big robots I was instantly in love. However, despite my subtle love for this anime, I still think it didn't age well at all. As Totalizator mentioned, the main character can be incredibly annoying.. and that's putting it nicely. You also really notice the rather mediocre animation quality. Gainax started to run out of money and, as a result, the animation quality dwindled even more. Loads and loads of still images for minutes to save money, re-used scenes and so on and so forth. On top of that NGE has a really complicated and blown up story and an absolutely terrible and unsatisfying ending, which is why they made not only one but TWO movies replacing the final episode. I don't think I've yet understood everything about NGEs story to this day.

Recommending NGE is kind of a two-edged sword. On the one hand I'd only recommend it to people who are new-ish to anime due to its age and lack of awesome animation. If you've been spoiled by RahXephon (sorry, RahXephon fanboy here) or Eureka seveN, it's going to be kind of hard to get used to NGE, only taking animation style and things like that into consideration. On the other hand, people who are new-ish to anime will be absolutely put off by the story with all the crazy biblical references, random clones and god knows what else. Despite all that, I must still love it or I wouldn't have a limited edition DVD box with all episodes as well as both movie DVDs in the DVD rack behind me.


NGE is a show I liked A LOT for many years, then started to slide down on my list of favorites. At first watch it's a very punishing series, especially for anyone who has seen other good mecha shows and is used to the formula. The characters are broken emotionally, the amount of mecha action is relatively thin, and in general it just makes you uncomfortable. This tends to overshadow the excellent artistic work on the series. It wasn't until I learned more about the production of the show, and understood what Anno was trying to do with it, before I really liked it again. The appreciation of the original goals for the series helps lessen the grating nature of the characters and excuses some of the plot choices made, and made it one of my top 3 favorite shows again.


I really don't understand the appeal. It's got absolutely no redeeming qualities, no matter which aspect you consider, you will invariably come to a disappointing conclusion. Cliche and/or incredibly annoying characters that make you violently angry, the plot which is essentially no different from shows like god damned Pokemon or Beyblade, incredibly lazy animation (all the animated scenes that can be recycled, are recycled ad nauseum, the rest of it isn't even animated - actually a still image that's slowly being panned; they don't even bother making a new background for it, just reuse it as it was over and over again), idiotic premise, child heroes, this show has got it all. What good ideas might be left are akin to finding a peanut in a pile of shit. Except the pile is the entire universe, filled with nothing but shit and one lonely peanut.


I'm sure many people have stories like mine where they found this series in high school and it invariably ruined their mental psychology. However, if you overlook the token symbology, it's actually a pretty good character driven anime. Sure, there are giant robots and alien attacks, but they really serve to reveal more about a character's backstory or lend new light to their current psychological condition. A lot of people complain about the ending being disappointing and hashed together, but it does ultimately serve as the vehicle to the producers grand scheme. Of course, this show does have it's flaws, and a few are glaring. The extended characterization and timidness of the protagonist may turn a few people off, but I think he develops enough to have an impact. At the end of this series, you will be scratching your head thinking, "What the hell just happened?" The bottom line is, this show is groundbreaking and well worth a viewing.


Yea I didn't get it. I mean, after reading this page and understanding that the show was trying to be deep I guess I can see it as a kind of "artsy" anime, but it was painful to watch, especially towards the end. I can recognize that it is indeed a groundbreaking work and very popular in Japan so it's a must watch show, but it must be a really stark example of some cultural differences I'm just not seeing. How is this show so incredibly popular? I'm just absolutely baffled. It's like Hideaki set out to make a terrible show with a cludgy storyline and unlikeable characters and it somehow became a multi-billion dollar fan driven franchise which still produces massive income more than a decade after the show aired.


One of the most pivotal anime titles of all-time. Massively controversial for it's brutal deconstruction of the Giant Mecha genre, Eva is a dark and twisted foray into the human psyche. The exploration of the mentally unstable and emotionally stunted characters mirrors director Hideki Anno's own battles with clinical depression. The series unfortunately fell victim to the now-infamous "Gainax Ending" after the studio ran over budget.

Robert Denby

Even though it's flawed and incredibly scattershot (for reasons that have been described ad nauseam in the space above this comment), 'Evangelion' will probably always be on my shelf. The message I got from it when I first saw it, intentional or not, was 'You had better not retreat from your problems. At your darkest moment you need to stand yourself up and quit fucking whining about your angst.' The TV series gives us a chipper little send-off with that message, while "End of EVA" shows us Shinji not taking that to heart and setting himself and everyone around him up for more pointless misery.

Speaking of Shinji, I think this whole show's biggest flaw is that he starts out as a whiny sociopath who intentionally or not feels like he's trying to drag everyone else into his despair, but when shit happens to him that would send anyone into a psychological downward spiral, he can't really sink much lower. Think about the other characters and how much more disturbing and dramatic it was to see them get battered into an emotional wreck.

Rebuild movies:

After not seeing them for the longest time, I decided to check out the two 'Rebuild' movies and wanted to give my thoughts... They managed to do something I didn't think was possible: it took a show whose pleasures I thought I'd long since exhausted, and made it fun again. I actually think they might be a good jumping-on point for those curious about the franchise, provided you know someone who has seen the series and can explain some of the more confusing aspects.