Neon Genesis Evangelion
Hideki Anno's much talked about magnum opus takes us into the near future with cataclysmic events and unlikely heros.
Evangelion takes place in the year 2015. "Angels" have returned to attack humanity, 15 years after the devastating Second Impact melted antarctica, and the newly developed and still somewhat experimental combat units piloted by 14 year old children are the last best line of defense. These children quickly become the focus of the series, but the show is well balanced between action and character development.
Most of the story centers in Tokyo-3, a fortress city built with fighting angels in mind. Facilities for the giant Evangelion units are a feature of the city, and everything is designed to accomodate them. All of this was accomplished by NERV, an organization dedicated to destroying the angels.
The Angels appear as giant monstrocities, their shape, size and power varies without limit, they can almost literally be anything. Combatting each of these threats requires unique tactics. Captain Katsuragi, the NERV operations director, directs the Eva units in combat, helping their young pilots find the weak spot.
Little is known about the development of the Eva units, but no one questions their power and efficiency. Less is known about the angels, and their motivation for attacking Tokyo-3.
Two behind the scenes organizations pull the strings, directing the pawns to their own end.
The only reason the story drops to a 6 is the ending. I can't give anything away, but the ending is an excercise in frustration for the viewer. It is a sudden shocking slam into a brick wall for an otherwise excellent series. I know critics will say "You don't get it." I do get it. But it doesn't fit. I told someone it was like hammering an oreo cookie into the slot for the last piece of a huge puzzle. I feel the series ending would have been better suited to a stand alone movie.
Shinji Ikari is the 14 year old son of NERV's director. He is, like most 14 year olds, confused and self concious. He is perhaps more insecure than most, and thinks of himself poorly. He excels as the pilot of Eva Unit 01, and takes it on as his calling.
Rei Ayanami is the 14 year old pilot of Unit 00, the first prototype Eva unit. Rei is cold and almost emotionless, she follows orders without question. She defies almost all attempts at interaction on any level other than piloting the Eva units.
Asuka Langley Sohryu is the fiery pilot of the fittingly cherry red Unit 02. Unit 02 is the first production model Eva unit, and Asuka is very proud of it. She is self assured and brash, often boasting of her own abilities over everyone elses.
Misato Katsuragi is NERV's operations controller. She is the tactician for the Eva units, and directs them into combat. Misato is also Shinji and Asuka's guardian. They live at her apartment with her pet penguin, Pen Pen. Misato starts the day with a beer, and indeed, has a fridge that seems to be dedicated exclusively to storing them.
Gendo Ikari, Shinji's father, took his wife's name when they were married. This is unusual, but I've always noted the name, since "Ikari" means anger or hatred. He is the director of NERV, and leads all technical aspects of the project.
There are many other characters involved in the coordination, maintenance, and development of the Eva units, and the running of NERV.
Evangelion is quite well rendered. Art and effects are great. Mecha design takes a little getting used to, there are no stocky torsoed robots here, but once you're used to seeing them, they grow on you. The Angels are all unique and bizarrely rendered.
Outstanding. The subtitled voices are excellent. Evangelion deals a lot with emotional responses, and the voices excel here. Truly riveting.
The basic premise and story for Evangelion are great. The story unfolds like a good conspiracy theory, unveiling more and more of the truth slowly.
If nothing else, I have to say Evangelion will make you think. It cannot be easily discarded.
But that ending. While it might not be a bad thing on its own, the ending almost entirely tosses everything that happens throughout the series out the window. It leaves you going "Well where'd that come from?"
Eva can be a bit heavy on the pseudo-psychology sometimes.
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