Anticlockwise from top left: Ritsuko Akagi, Misato Katsuragi, Gendo Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu, Rei Ayanami. In the seat: Shinji Ikari. In the background: Evangelion Unit 01. Not pictured: Sanity.
"This is a giant robot saga the same way Twin Peaks was a cop show."
—Comic Buyer's Guide
Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangelion) is a 26-episode science fiction/action/drama anime series which aired on Japanese television in 1995-96. In 1997, Gainax followed the series with the film Death and Rebirth, a Clip Show revision of the series which condensed many of the series' episodes into an hour-and-a-half timespan (while also expanding a few scenes). Death and Rebirth also featured the first half-hour of The End of Evangelion, a full-length movie that brought the story to a much more definitive (but by no means less controversial) conclusion than the television series did.In the year 2000, a global cataclysm known as Second Impact changed the entire world. The event annihilated Antarctica (which caused global flooding), shifted the planet's axis (which caused global climate change), led to half Earth's human population dying, and resulted in geopolitical unrest. Fifteen years later, fourteen-year-old Shinji Ikari finds himself summoned to the fortress city of Tokyo-3 by his estranged father, Gendo, for a single purpose: to pilot a Humongous Mecha called an Evangelion and battle physics-defying beings known as Angels, which threaten to destroy what remains of humanity (though the show does not explain exactly how they plan to do so, and for what reason, until much later).What starts off as a relatively standard Humongous Mecha premise, over the course of the series, gradually transforms into a dramatic character study rife with psychological analysis, religious references, genre deconstruction, social commentary, and exploration of themes such as societal alienation, depression, and the repressive pain of human subjectivity. Prior to Evangelion, people considered this approach unprecedented and revolutionary — and after Evangelion's runaway success, numerous other anime producers created shows with a similar approach (with varying degrees of success).Evangelion defined the career of Hideaki Anno, whose personal battles with depression at the time of its creation directly inspired many of the show's themes. Anno has since come to fully own it, even as it's spun off into numerous extra adaptations which either play on the themes of the anime or ignore them to varying degrees:
Rebuild of Evangelion, a retelling consisting of four new animated movies which is currently in production. The first film was released in Japanese cinemas in September 2007, and as of the second film, Rebuild has become a full-blown Alternate Continuity. Although it is by no means Lighter and Softer, character angst/personality issues aren't quite as extensive, and some arrows point to an actual upbeat ending instead of the grim yet Bittersweet Ending of The End of Evangelion.
invoked The manga version, written and drawn by character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, which tells the same story as the anime (albeit with a number of changes) and is a glaring modern example of Schedule Slip (see below for details). It finally finished its run in June 2013, after starting out as promotion material for the upcoming anime back in December 1994.
Neon Genesis Evangelion ANIMA, a Light Novel series set in 2018 in an alternate continuity where Third Impact never happened. It's been described as if Anno made Evangelion like a Gundam show. It contains (among other things) Evas duking it out in space, three Reis (again), and Fanservice. Available here and here (untranslated, unfortunately, despite the efforts of the Translation project).
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel (also known as Iron Maiden), a Visual Novel in the style of an episode. This adaptation introduced Canon Foreigner Mana Kirishima, who went on to reappear some years later in Shinji Ikari Raising Project.
Apocalypse How: Second Impact was a Planetary event that bordered on Societal Collapse. The explosion melted the Antarctic ice cap and shifted the Earth's axis; coastal regions were flooded, and the entire ecosphere was thrown into chaos. Wars broke out, some going nuclear; many species went extinct; the oceans around Antarctica are completely dead; and roughly half of humanity is dead. The driving force behind the creation of NERV is that Third Impact will raised the severity to Total Extinction.
Artistic License: Misato having a RHD Renault A310. Can be justified that she probably had brought the automobile to a professional car shop that converted the vehicle from LHD to RHD and from gas to electric.
Bath Of Poverty: Asuka, who suffered a mental breakdown after being Mind Raped by an Angel and ceased being able to pilot her Eva, is found by Nerv personnel in a destroyed house sitting in a tub filled with nasty brown water. (Please let that have been rust...) Things just keep getting worse for her from there.
Citadel City: Tokyo-3, designed to fight back against the angels. Defense systems surround the city, buildings can retract underground, and there are structures holding scaled-up weapons to support the EVAs.
Driving Question: Many, but possibly the biggest one is the nature of the Evas, which is also the closest one to getting a straight answer.
Evil Only Has to Win Once: Should an Angel ever manage to penetrate into the depths of Tokyo-3 and manage to merge with Adam, the need for protection will be rendered moot.
Exact Time to Failure: The Evas can run for precisely 5 minutes disconnected from their power cord... except almost every time this happens they simply go berserk and kill the Angel anyway. It's also used a few other times to add drama to incoming disasters.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: It never comes up in the show itself, but if you keep a close eye on the opening, you'll see a frame that informs you that "AT Field" in fact stands for "Absolute Terror Field."
New Neo City: Even moreso in Japanese, where Tokyo-3's name translates as "New Tokyo No. 3". Justified, though, in that it is, in terms of Evangelion's alternate-history, Exactly What It Says on the Tin — after the original Tokyo was destroyed, at least THREE new cities were built around Japan, all named New Tokyo.
Our Souls Are Different: Souls are, in the Evaverse, not an ethereal/theological concept, but proven to exist as a form of entity/energy there is present in all living things, and controls the thought pattern, personality, and the sense of the self in a being, and a whole field of science, "metaphysical biology" is dedicated to the study of souls. It appears that souls are also capable of being split into fragments (although doing this seems to inevitably cause some sort of insanity in the person it happens to) which can remerge with other fragments of the same soul, and being extracted from its original host and transferred into another.
Rapid-Fire Typing: Played straight (as a Justified Trope) and subverted in episode 13, when it takes Ritsuko a significant amount of time to dismantle and restructure the Magi in order to program a back-hack for the attacking Angel.
Reality Warper: An AT-Field, the primary weapon of the Evangelion mechs and their enemies the Angels, is basically the territory within which you can alter reality to your own designs. It's mostly used to create Deflector Shields, but there are plenty of more exotic applications as well.
Science Fantasy: NGE is among the very softest science fiction. Those Humongous Mecha? They are revealed to be biological. CLONED FROM ANGELS! Who are aliens. Aliens with weaponized pseudo-Christian Kabbalah and existentialism-based force fields. And with human-like DNA but a different wavelength color(!?). All predicted by the Dead Sea Scrolls. The bodies of wizards and scientists alike are strewn across the field.
The Geofront has one. Arguably justified as it's meant as a last-ditch attempt at preventing an Angel from making contact with the Captured Super Entity kept underground. Naturally, it ends up getting abused.
Eva-00 has one as well, as (presumably) the other Evas. It does its job when Rei explodes her Eva around Armisael.
Single Specimen Species: Despite the common denomination of Angels, each of them is completely different from the others, with the exception of the red core near their center. Well, it's more accurate to say that most of them are completely unique...
State Sec: NERV. They are not only funded directly by the UN (actually SEELE), they have special legal protection and are the sole organisation operating Evas. There was one instance where an American admiral was forced to cooperate by a NERV captain, which shouldn't be possible in real life; in another example, the same captain requested a prototype weapon from the Japanese military and immediately got it without any red tape (they just waived a requisition order in their faces and had Rei's EVA fetch the canon). It is said that their expenses involving Eva repairs and collateral damage could immediately bankrupt a small country. They also happen to have an Elaborate Underground Base as their main headquarters and a Captured Super Entity in the basement.
Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Why are the Angels attacking Tokyo-3? Turns out that the "Black Moon" from which all life on Earth emerged just happens to be right underneath Japan, and their ultimate goal is to get in there and reunite with Adam. Subverted when Adam wasn't there originally and they were completely heading the wrong direction, and then played straight after episode 8 when Gendo has Adam brought there.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: An in-universe example. All of the religious terms given to the elements of the seeding system cloud their (rather mundane) purposes. For instance, the "Spear of Longinus" is a control rod; the "Dead Sea Scrolls" is an instruction manual/troubleshooting guide.
Shinji has blue eyes in the anime, presumably to play off the sense of innocence or purity that provides, but he has brown eyes in the manga for more of an everyman look.
In the first volume of Raising Project, his eyes are brown on the cover and blue in the first chapter artwork.
Yui has light green eyes in the manga.
Conspicuous Gloves: Gendo always wears gloves, and they cover burns he receives in an early episode rescuing Rei. He later has an embryo Eldritch Abomination implanted in one of his hands, which make the gloves even more necessary.
There are a lot of trios in Evangelion. One of these trios is Ritsuko, Misato, and Kaji, who went to college together. There's also Gendo, Yui, and Fuyutsuki; Yui was Fuyutsuki's favorite student at university, and Gendo was his advisee and Yui's boyfriend. And then there's obviously Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, who are all in the same homeroom.
Justified, as the Marduk Institute is not real: Unit 01 and 02 have the souls of their respective pilots’ mothers; the deal with 00 is never fully explained. Presumably, the attack on unit 03 was predicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the fourth pilot could have been anyone, as Misato said everyone in Shinji’s class was a candidate.
Fatal Flaw: Pretty much every major character has one. Some have more than one.
Shinji: A massive inferiority complex, a desire to please his apathetic father, and cripplingly low self-esteem.
Asuka: Pride and, over time, an inferiority complex against Shinji, which manifests in misanthropy and self-esteem so low that it renders her unable to pilot an EVA.
Rei: A general disregard for her own life.
Misato: Alcoholism and issues with her father.
Gendou: A desire to see his late wife again, regardless of the safety and well-being of his son, much less the entire world.
Five-Man Band: The five Children superficially resemble this quite nicely, but all subvert the typical characterizations of their positions and are ultimately too complex to be described so simply. To further the subversion, the Children are never all together at once and thus never truly become one.
Shinji, in spades. It's his fault Touji's sister got hurt because he should've been more careful when fighting the Angel that almost killed him. It's his fault Asuka hates him because he can't do anything right. It's his fault he had to kill Kaworu because he could've chosen to Take a Third Option. It's his fault Asuka died because he couldn't get his Eva out of its restraints in order to save her...
This behavior is so ingrained in him that some fans think it was a minor breakthrough for him when he was angry at his father during the Unit 03 incident. But then he goes back to kicking himself in the head again.
Misato also blames herself often for things she had no control over.
Hot-Blooded: Deconstructed in more ways than one. First Asuka, who at first seems to be the typical Hot-BloodedAce Pilot. It becomes apparent however, that her sense of self worth is possibly even worse than Shinji's, and that her brash attitude covers up the fact that she requires the praise of others for validation. The trope is further deconstructed when characters in combat fly into berserker rages which prove either to be completely ineffectual or come at great cost to the characters.
All the Evas, but particularly Unit 01 to Shinji. This goes as far as the Unit 01 moving and behaving like a raging bear.
Misato definitely deserves a mention for her very protective attitude towards Shinji and even the other pilots, whenever their safety was an issue. She even goes as far as to slap Ritsuko when she felt Shinji's life was being threatened.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Gender role subversion runs rampant in Evangelion, especially with Shinji and Asuka. Played for drama in that Shinji wants Asuka to be more feminine, and Asuka wants Shinji to be more masculine, but they just end up clashing against each other due to wanting the other to change first.
Never Be Hurt Again: This can be said to be one of the central themes of Evangelion at work. All characters want to avoid getting hurt in varying degrees. Even SEELE's ultimate plan can be said to be this trope taken to the extreme.
Took a Level in Badass: While Asuka has already proven to be a capable fighter, her taking on not only one but nine Mass Production Evangelions in End Of Evangelion and seemingly succeeding right after snapping out of her catatonic state clearly tops the previous displays of her fighting ability.
Surprisingly absent from Shinji's school, where all pupils seem to be the same age and in the same grade. This is a deliberate subversion, as all of the students in Shinji's class are potential Eva pilots.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Kaji may actually be the most damaged of NGE's cast, just the best at hiding it, says Sadamoto. Misato is also one, and Shinji and Asuka too by the end. Gendo is one as well.
Despite being friends since college, Ritsuko keeps Misato in the dark about all of NERV's most important secrets until near the end of the series. She also gets into frequent (and sometimes physically violent) arguments with Misato about how to handle situations which could endanger the pilots, and while she never misses an opportunity to poke fun at Misato, her jibes become very cruel after things really blow up between Misato, Shinji, and Asuka. It gets to the point where their relationship at the end of the series can best be described as just a few steps away from getting into full-on We Used to Be Friends territory. It may be argued with some justification that Ritsuko never really considered Misato or Shinji "friends," and was just manipulating them the entire time.
Asuka probably deserves mention as well, though in her case the trope is deconstructed since her hostile behavior ends up driving most potential friends away.
Rei Ayanami is a reminiscent Yamato Nadeshiko. A "good old fashioned woman" who is reserved, modest and pretty, who also will fight for her family and country when necessary. Rei is reserved, beautiful and has little to no concerns fighting to the death to either protect or save the world/Shinji/NERV.
108: Kaiji notes that SEELE has 108 dummy corporations working for its UN front.
10-Minute Retirement: Shinji does this frequently: when he runs away in episode 04, when he leaves Nerv after the Unit 03 debacle, when he breaks down in the movie...
Action Insurance Gag: Both the TV series and the manga by feature Misato getting angry about her car being thrashed via N2 Mine going off close to it and having payments left.
Adam and/or Eve: The names humanity gave to the Seeds of Life: Adam and Lilith, Lilith being Eve's predecessor as the first woman.
For more fun: The short-hand term for Evangelion is "Eva", the form of "Eve" in most European languages, including most importantly Greek and Latin. The parallel is easier to see when you consider Evangelions are made from Adam's flesh, as Eve was made from Adam's rib.
Achilles' Power Cord: The Evas need an external power source and an early episode even has Shinji do a power cord transfer at one point to move into an area that his current cord doesn't reach. If the connection is severed, they can only function for a limited time on backup power.
After School Cleaning Duty: Shown in one scene where Shinji and Rei stay behind to clean the school, and Shinji causes Rei to blush by remarking on how she has very motherly mannerisms, and would perhaps be good as a housewife.
All According to Plan: Used by Gendo and SEELE to indicate that current events have not upset "the plan". Considering that they ultimately have different motives, by the end of the series it becomes clear that this is just lampshading that with a few exceptions most of the individual fights against Angels have little bearing on the larger plot.
Ambiguous Situation: Numerous instances, most notably Gendo's silent line and the final scene of End.
Appendage Assimilation: Unit 01 tears off one of Zeruel's "arms", and reshapes it to replace the arm that was torn off earlier in the battle.
Arc Symbol: Both SEELE and NERV's logos. The former is Lilith's face, and has a similar portrayal to Big Brother Is Watching You, which is what the corportation really is. The latter is a fig leaf, which has a very distinct shape, and is the leaf Adam and Eve used to hide their nakedness after eating the fruit of the Tree.
This applies to pretty much every bit of technology NERV owns. The Evas themselves are badass and extremely powerful, but can only operate for a couple of minutes on a battery, and have various unpredictable problems caused by their only-vaguely-understood operating principles and immature pilots.
In universe: the Jet Alone, a gigantic nuclear-powered mecha that lacks the Eva's AT field, making it pointless for Angel defense.
Baka: Part of Asuka's catchphrase. According to her, Shinji, Kensuke and Toji are also the "stupid trio" — this is rendered as "the Three Stooges" in the dub.
Bittersweet Ending: The conclusion of Shinji's battle with the last Angel (Kaworu) comes across as this. The Angels are gone and mankind is safe - but Tokyo-3 has been ruined; Kaji is dead; Toji is a cripple; Kensuke, Hikari, and their families have moved away, taking Pen-Pen with them; Asuka is catatonic; Ritsuko is in prison; Misato is a nervous wreck; Rei is "the third one"; and Shinji is utterly broken psychologically after having to kill the only person who has offered him unconditional love in the course of the whole series. The worst is still to come.
Depending on how you interpret things, the manga ending is this. Humanity has been restored in the wake of the aborted Instrumentality, and everyone who survived the End of Evangelion are shown to be living normal lives. However they've lost all of their memories from their time at Tokyo-3, but as Shinji's chance encounter with Asuka and Keisuke at Tokyo shows, there's still a possibility to re-established those lost ties, as the future is now wide open for everyone to take advantage of.
Black Box: The Angels are described this way by the scientists "not in the know"; they also complain about how dangerous using the S2 organ is, since they know nothing about it.
Blame Game: When the Jet Alone goes rogue, the various officials related to the project are preemptively doing this by trying to avoid the direct responsibility of giving the self-destruct code.
Arguably evoked by Bardiel and Armisael's infectious attacks, and by Gendo having the embryonic Adam grafted to his hand.
Also, arguably the situation for the human souls attached to the Evas. This might even qualify as And I Must Scream.
The fate of Unit 02.
Break the Cutie: Every last character you found the faintest bit sympathetic, in End of Evangelion, and several other instances that begin much earlier. Shinji and Asuka (especially Shinji) embody this trope.
Bright Is Not Good: The last two episodes are a complete psychological breakdown (and recovery!) which feature the most desaturated, brightest colors in the series at many parts.
Broken Bird: All the female characters, by the time it's all said and done. Of course, more than one were very broken already...
Bug Buzz: Cicada chirps frequently accompany outdoor scenes. The reason given for this is that Japan has been in a perpetual summer since Second Impact, and since the ecosystem is returning to its former state, cicadas are coming back to Tokyo-3. They're also used to dramatic effect in episode 4, where Shinji is overwhelmed by the din of cicada sounds at one point.
Butt Monkey/The Chew Toy: NERV itself, including the people who work there, are constantly hit time and time again. In the earlier episodes this can be rather funny, as in episode 12 where NERV undergoes a blackout resulting in huge problems with maintaining functionality, widespread problems in accessibility, everyone's jobs being disrupted- cue the following:
Charge Into Combat Cut: This happens with the first Angel in Episode 1. We only find out how the first battle went through flashbacks in Episode 2.
Chekhov's Classroom: Early on in "Magma Diver", Shinji is doing homework on thermal expansion. That episode's Angel, Sandalphon, which is able to somehow withstand the heat and pressure of swimming in magma, is defeated by pumping its body full of coolant.
About half of episode 14 is a clip summary of the first half of the series, packaged as an internal SEELE report about Gendo's activities.
Episodes 25 and 26 of the original TV-broadcast re-uses old footage all over the place.
The Death sequence of Death and Rebirth is a clip show version of the entire series...26 episodes packed into 70 minutes. But then again, it also contained some new scenes that would later be used in the Director's Cut episodes.
Cooldown Stroke: In End of Evangelion, when Asuka touches Shinji's face in the same way that Yui had done earlier, which stops him from strangling her.
Creepy Cool Crosses: The Angels' energy blasts, and the shot of Misato's pendant in the final sequence of End of Evangelion, among many others.
Creepy Doll: Asuka's mother, Kyoko, kept one around during her confinement in a mental hospital, talking to the doll as if it were Asuka. The creepiness of this skyrockets when Kyoko asks the doll to "die with [her]", and later when Asuka discovers her mother hanged both herself and the doll.
Happens every time the Evas go berserk, and the first time the Dummy Plug is activated.
In End of Evangelion, Asuka's fight against the JSSDF and the MP EVAs...at first.
Curtain Call: At the Grand Finale, all of the named characters of the show appear at one final scene, congratulate Shinji on his epiphany, and then congratulate you, dear viewer.
Darker and Edgier: Zig-Zagged with the manga. Some consider it even darker than the anime, with Evil Manga Kaworu, Toji dying instead of getting injured after Unit 03 is destroyed, Gendo's villainous traits being played up, and having him outright saying to Shinji's face that he doesn't love him. On the other hand, the main characters (especially Shinji) are generally more mentally stable than in the anime, and while the movie had a Downer Ending, the manga ending is more bittersweet, if not a downright Earn Your Happy Ending.
Defusing The Tykebomb: Rei's the Apocalypse Maiden and Shinji's interactions with her is akin to him wandering around a powder keg with a zippo, not having a clue the crap's flammable. Surprisingly, it works to some extent, and in the movie Shinji becomes the tykebomb and Rei takes a stab at defusing him.
Episode 26, depending on interpretation (the ambiguity of Shinji's epiphany doesn't help.) Whatever the hell happened, at least Shinji ends it finally happy.
Played very straight by End though; although a brighter future is possible, the film ends with Shinji weeping.
An even darker ending, "Last B", was in the storyboard stages for End at some point. It starts with Shinji lying on the beach while holding hands with someone. He notices that he will probably never see his friends again, but that he also will keep on living anyways. He then squeezes the hand he is holding and sees a short flash of Rei. It is then revealed that nobody is lying next to him, and the hand he is holding belongs to that arm Rei lost earlier in the film.
Do You Want to Copulate?: Rei has no visible reaction whatsoever to Shinji seeing her naked, then falling on her and accidentally groping her. In the manga, she actually looks surprised but doesn't say anything.
Dying for Symbolism: Really, all of these are up to anybody's guess, but in End of EvangelionKaworu's death possibly represents the death of Shinji's sanity, Asuka's death could mean the death of Shinji's hope, Misato's death could represent the death of Shinji's love (Gendou might count), and the god-like Rei's death at the end could mean the death of Shinji's fear and return to peace. This movie is virtually the definition of Mind Screw, so you may have a different interpretation.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The manga ending. After enduring a slightly different version of the events of the End of Evangelion, humanity seems to have been given a fresh start. Even the Earth seems to have recovered, with the first scene showing a heavy snowfall on Shinji's hometown, whereas before Japan endured an eternal summer. However in return everyone who survived (Shinji, Asuka, etc.) have lost all their memories of the time they spent at Tokyo-3, and have all went their separate ways. That said, as Shinji's chance encounters with both Asuka and Kensuke at Tokyo demonstrate, it's still possible to re-establish ties anew, and as Shinji muses, the future is now full of possibilities.
Empathic Weapon: Due to synchronization, the pain an Eva feels when it is damaged is felt by the pilot, and at a high enough synch level, the pilot actually suffers the same wounds. Asuka's fight with the MP Evas in End graphically demonstrates this, as she appears to lose an eye and have her guts ripped open inside her plugsuit, and actually has her right arm split in two as a result of the MP Evas' fake Lances damaging Unit 02. Thankfully, we don't see what happens when the Eva is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice at the end of the fight. The trope is also deconstructed in that Shinji's empathy with his Eva is psychologically dysfunctional. For example, Shinji describes Unit 01's destruction of the possessed Unit 03 along the lines of "Father used my own hands to hurt Toji," despite the fact that (a) it was the Eva's hands, not his own hands, and (b) he was not in control of the Eva at the time; the dummy plug was. Also, Shinji's apology to Asuka when he fights the Kaworu-controlled Unit 02 can be seen as Shinji seeing the Eva as an extension of Asuka, so that attacking it is at some level equivalent to attacking Asuka.
It's more complex than that, but there's no way to explain it in short. Oh, and they aren't just a substitute for God, going by the Japanese notion of 'kami', the Evas pretty much are Gods.
Five Rounds Rapid: Conventional military efforts tend to do precisely jack against the Angels.
There is one notable exception when the UN Pacific Fleet defeats Gaghiel by getting two battleships inside it and firing their cannons by remote, then self-destructing the ships and killing it. They did have Unit 02's help though.
Flawed Prototype: Jet Alone. To be more specific, there were two Jet Alone models created. The first appeared in the television series. The second was improved and renamed Jet Alone Prime, appearing in the game Evangelion 2 for the PS2.
Foreshadowing: Ritsuko in Episode 11 talks about the three Magi supercomputers and how each one contains an aspect of her mother, Naoko Akagi. She talks about how much she admired her mother as a scientist and how much she hated her as a woman. In End of Evangelion Guess which personality belongs to the Magi supercomputer that chooses Gendo's scheme over Ritsuko?
In Episode 7, the representative from Japan Heavy Chemical Industries mockingly compares Evangelion Unit-01 to "A hysterical woman".
In Episode 22, Hyuga talks with Misato about the production of EVAs 05 through 13 having begun in several countries around the world. They finally appear in End of Evangelion as the tools of SEELE.
Freudian Excuse: Oh boy, where to begin? Every single main character is mentally unstable to some degree, as are most of the secondary characters. Given the crap they have been going through for the last 15 years, everyone has very good reasons for it.
Furo Scene: Numerous instances, but most memorably Asuka's in episode 22...which, typically for the series, is not so much titillating as it is disturbing, what with it showcasing her mental breakdown and all.
Gainax Ending: What The Prisoner was for the UK, Evangelion was for Japan. After 24 episodes of mecha action and conspiracy plotting, the show ends with a look into Shinji's psyche, where he ultimately finds peace of mind. Some fans consider End Of Evangelion (the alledgedly planned ending that is also concurrent with the TV show's last episodes) to be this, but ultimately it provides a more of a conclusion than the TV series, not least because it follows up on a lot of the Foreshadowing from the series and closes many of the running plotlines due to its blatant Kill 'em All nature.
Gambit Pileup: As the series goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to know who knows what, who has what interests, and who's leading the game.
Gambit Roulette: Arguably. Yui could have arranged her own "accidental" death in order to save humanity from being lost forever to Instrumentality. She would've been counting on Gendo's undying love for her to have him rescue her soul to inhabit Unit 01 where she could build up Shinji's confidence and ensure he was at the center of Instrumentality so that he could resist it and convince Lilith/Rei to let anyone come back who had the strength of will to rebuild their own AT Field.
Shinji comes face to face with his Eva, in episode 2. Here's looking at you, kid.
In a way, Matariel, because it has camouflage that looks like eyes, and its actual working eye cries tears of acid.
Sahaquiel is a gigantic eye with wings that bombs the planet from space, leaving giant craters that get ever closer to Tokyo-3. It's taken to an even greater extreme in Rebuild.
The explosion of Third Impact in End of Evangelion is shaped like an enormous eye that literally brings widespread death and destruction in its wake- thought it could be an artsy Shout-Out to Anno's previous anime, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
Good Morning, Crono: Spoofed in the final episode, when Shinji is shown what his life could have been like — a clichéd shounen series.
Gory Discretion Shot: All that is shown of Kaworu's death in the anime is the silhouette of his head falling into the LCL lake. The manga represents his death as Shinji strangling him in a field similar to where they first met.
Goth Spirals: The Lance of Longinus and Lance form of Unit 01 qualify.
Hammered into the Ground: During the episode "Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!", Shinji and Asuka are defeated when they first face the Angel. Each of their Evas somehow end up buried head-downwards with legs sticking up in the air.
Hates Being Touched: The Absolute Terror Field is essentially weaponized personal space. Later in the series it's revealed that all humans have A. T. Fields holding their shapes together, created by their fear of intimacy and rejection. There is a persistent Urban Legend among fans that "Absolute Terror" is a pre-existing psychological term, but this is false.
Heart Drive: The Angel's cores; they're the major weak point and a source of limitless life energy and "immortality."
Heroic Albino: Rei is actually a Double Subversion. She's borderline obsessed with making a Heroic Sacrifice. She's also the series' Apocalypse Maiden and when Gendou gets her to cause Instrumentality she demonstrates she opposes it, rather graphically. She tries to reason to Shinji that everyone has the right to life and when Instrumentality does occur Rei reverses it.
Heroic BSOD: Shinji and Asuka are the king and queen of this trope towards the end of the series, though it's debatable who's the king and who's the queen.
High-Pressure Blood: The Angels, and Unit 01 in the first episode, spray enormous fountains of blood that can literally paint the town red. The Rei/Lilith hybrid actually paints a stripe of blood on the moon when she dies. Justified, perhaps, when you consider how much blood there is in something taller than office buildings and what's needed to move it around, and when you consider how much pressure is required to pump blood in an organism that size.
Hint Dropping: Asuka does this towards Shinji a couple of times. Since Shinji is too socially inept and unsure of himself to pick up on these attempts, this also fuels much of Asuka's anger towards him. Ironically, her anger towards him is also a big part of what keeps Shinji from realizing how she feels.
Hit Me, Dammit!: Toji tells Shinji to hit him back as a "macho" way of apologizing. The manga adaptation subverts the trope, with Shinji deciding it'd be more interesting to have Toji owe him one instead. In Rebuild, he actually hits Toji right away.
Hive Mind: This would be part and parcel of Instrumentality as envisioned by SEELE — the souls of all of humanity combined into a gestalt where individuality would be completely erased.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The only reason Unit 01 wakes up when it runs out of power during the Zeruel battle is because Zeruel's merciless — and rhythmic — beating of Unit 01's core simulated a heartbeat in the entry plug.
Hope Spot: Most notably Asuka's very brief recovery in End.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: The reason for the plot. The First Ancestral Race sent Adam to Earth, and Lilith ended up there too. Lilith didn't know what to do, so she just used her blood as the basis for life. This life, the Lilim/human race, ended up populating the planet. So the Angels are now trying to reunite with daddy and eradicate the human race so that they can have their own planet.
I Can't Do This by Myself: In End of Evangelion, Shinji says this to Asuka when the burden of creating a new world falls on his shoulders. She refuses.
Immune to Bullets: The Angels are for the most part immune to conventional weapons, and super-weapons only slow them down. Only an Eva can hurt most of them, due to their usage of "AT fields".
Infant Immortality: In a blink-and-miss-it moment, this is averted in Episode 19 when Unit 02's head crashes into the shelter and kills several people, including a baby that was audibly laughing a few seconds earlier.
Instant Expert: Triply subverted in the first two episodes. At first, everyone's really excited because it looks like Shinji just might save the day, despite having absolutely no experience piloting the Eva unit. Then he trips, gets beaten up rather brutally by the Angel, and the next thing we see is him waking up in a hospital bed. However, it turns out that he really did turn around and beat the Angel...but this turns out to be due less to Shinji's own abilities and more to the fact that the Eva units are actually alive and intelligent, and more specifically because Yui Ikari's soul is inside Unit 01. It's Mama Bear doing the fighting, not Shinji.
It becomes more and more apparent as the series goes on that the "pilots" were chosen according to the "it's not what you know, it's who you know" principle ... they're there to keep the Evas from going berserk and are, almost uniformly, a hindrance as far as the whole fighting angels thing goes; the Evas would be much more effective without them.
Shinji also, as he is fourteen, lacks self-confidence and social skills to a spectacular extent, isn't particularly handsome, and still has at least Rei, Asuka, and Kaworu expressing interest in him, with some continuities taking it up to a pretty huge Unwanted Harem.
Kill 'em All: The movie looks like it, though it depends on your interpretation whether what happened to them actually counts as death. It is certainly implied that there can be a potential Everybody Lives.
Last Episode Theme Reprise: Episode 26 features "THE HEADY FEELING OF FREEDOM" and "Good, or Don't Be.", both of which are instrumental versions of the opening.
Latex Space Suit: The plugsuits for both sexes have a button that once pressed automatically makes the suit shrink to conform to the pilot's body. However, it is shown in episode 8 that they don't conform entirely to the pilot's body, with Shinji rather embarrassed to wear Asuka's shapely, feminine plugsuit, and Toju and Kensuke taking a humourous interest in Shinji's chest as a result. This is subverted in episode 10, "Magmadiver," where Asuka wears a special plugsuit that expands to a balloon-like shape and causes her no small amount of embarrassment.
Literal Metaphor: Kaworu's leitmotif. Notice that he's entering Heaven's Door as the choir sings "Und der Cherub steht vor Gott". Also, "Einen Freund geprüft im Tod" could describe his relationship to Shinji, other interpretations notwithstanding.
Living Relic: Revealed near the end of End of Evangelion to be the ultimate fate of Unit 01, and by association Yui Ikari.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Or rather, Mother. Unit 01 contains the soul of Shinji's long lost mother. Unit 02 actually holds the maternal aspect of Asuka's mother, Kyoko. At least that helps explain the term "Eva", which was made from Adam. Sounds like Everybody is Mecha Jesus In Purgatory, huh?
Foreshadowed by Shinji's reaction the first time he's inserted in the entry plug: "It smells like blood... But I feel comfortable in here." He's nestled in a fluid-filled chamber inside a being that has the soul of his mother embedded in it. Pregnancy metaphor, anyone?
Merger of Souls: The Third Impact as envisioned by Seele would've resulted in all human beings on the planet having their souls merged into one singular whole, with all individuality dissolved. Although the process is initiated in the middle of the End of Evangelion movie, it fortunately gets aborted before it reaches the point of irreversibility.
Million to One Chance: Ritsuko likes to predict that there's a 0.000000001% chance of Misato's plan succeeding, with lower probabilities as the series progress. There's also a subversion since the chances were actually 100% each time, as the happenings ride on a pretty accurate prophecy-based schedule.
Murder-Suicide: Attempted by Asuka's mother, except the "Asuka" that was murdered was the rag doll that Kyoko thought to be Asuka. It's not clear whether Asuka's more angry that her mother committed suicide or that she didn't get to die along with her.
Myth Arc: The Angel war, NERV, the Evas, and the tangled web of secrets surrounding all three.
Never My Fault: Shinji is a universal target for people unfairly shifting blame.
Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Shown in The End of Evangelion and the Director's Cut version of episode 22. The drawings are implied to be of Asuka's design.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The instances of Unit 01 going berserk, and the activation of the Dummy Plug. Honorable mention however, is the end of Episode 19, where we bear witness to a horribly vicious one.
Non-Indicative First Episode: Anno reportedly complained about the first episode being "a failure" and out of tune with the rest. It was supposed to create an atmosphere of total despair.
Averted for Asuka in both the anime and the manga—her period causes her a realistic amount of discomfort, shame, anxiety, pain and mood swings. Her written-out thoughts show that "menarche" is as much a source of anxiety for her as "sex".
Possibly implied to be the case with Rei by a cryptic piece of her dialogue in episode 14.
Asuka, to both Kaji (mostly) and Shinji (when she's not shunning him).
Kaworu in the manga, which is one of the reasons Shinji doesn't like him. This actually leads to a rather funny scene where Kaworu barges into Shinji's shower stall looking for soap, then wonders why Shinji's freaking out.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: During the Jet Alone incident, Misato has to deal with a five-person chain of command to force a deactivation command on the mech, who ultimately agree to grant her clearance... effective upon the arrival of the paperwork. Note that this is during an imminent nuclear disaster. After being given this message, she says "screw it", takes charge, and deploys Unit 01 to hold it steady so she can hang onto Jet Alone's back and manually input the shutdown command.
Official Couple: Amongst the tangled mess of unspoken/unrequited feelings, manipulations, and misunderstandings, Misato and Kaji as well as Gendo and Yui are stands out as the closest things the show has to this trope.
Played straight in episode 8: Asuka + sun dress + breeze = "viewing fee".
Subverted twice in the manga, first when Toji tries to teach Shinji how to turn cleaning the stairs into a peeping opportunity and gets caught by Hikari, and then when Shinji, Toji, and Kensuke first meet Asuka in the arcade.
Implied in the Alternate Universe sequence in episode 26, when Rei thinks Shinji looked up her skirt, as well as in one of the Petit EVA shorts, when both Shinji and Unit 01 get a look up Asuka's skirt while tunneling under the school grounds (don't ask, just go watch the clip).
Pillar of Light: The explosions set off by the Angels Sachiel and Zeruel turn into crosses and in one instance, an inverted cross. Likewise, the N2 mine, the only conventional weapon capable of harming the Angels, forms a pillar of light when it explodes. Second Impact also qualifies - twin pillars this time.
Possession Implies Mastery: Significantly averted: Unit 01 keeps going out of control and doing things that Ritsuko and her staff can hardly believe. This is presumably because NERV didn't so much "invent" the Evas as copy them from the Angels that they possess.
Precision F-Strike: The English dub of the series uses moderate swearing throughout, but does not drop the F-bomb until the movie, at which point it does so twice in suitably memorable fashion.
The Reveal: Quite a few later on, but like everything at that point in the show, there are times when it can get a little hard to figure what exactly is being revealed.
Riding into the Sunset: Occurs in a very odd and somewhat disturbing fashion in EoE as after Instrumentality is overturned, Unit 01, fossilized and still carrying Yui's soul, flies into space accompanied by the Lance of Longinus, beginning its "eternal reminder" journey.
Room Full of Crazy: Post-its all over the guts of the Magi; quantum physics graffiti in the room where Rei was born; random religious symbols and artifacts strewn about the place; graphs from a particle accelerator...heck, we're talking about a massive underground complex full of crazy here.
Sacred First Kiss: Subverted. Shinji and Asuka kiss, but it's painfully unromantic, it doesn't lead anywhere, and she never does stop bullying him, although she does later on seem to be pissed off that he wasn't more enthusiastic about it. A different subversion happens in the manga; Shinji and Asuka are just about to kiss, but are interrupted by Kaji and Misato.
At one point, Misato and Kaji are in bed together, nude. The "camera" turns away, and stays focused, unmoving, on a nearby table while you hear the two of them going at it.
End features a couple. The "Shinji wanking" sequence is an Unsexy Discretion Shot; we hear what's going on but only see the output. Later on, Shinji is treated to a trippy flashback of Misato and Kaji screwing around in college. We mostly just see their feet, but the movement (and Misato's squealing) during the scene makes it decidedly more graphic than any of the TV sex scenes.
Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: N2 Mines. Although they are devastatingly effective against unshielded targets (Tokyo-3 and the Geofront in End), their effectiveness against the Angels ranges from significant (Israfel takes six days to recover from one) to minimal (Sachiel is damaged but heals very quickly) to useless (Sahaquiel and Zeruel are completely unfazed).
They are also used against Asuka in End, one of which hits Unit 02 in the head, and another that is stopped with a punch. In the manga, these are, however, left out during Asuka's seemingly final battle.
Stealth Insult: When Asuka tells Rei they should become good friends, Rei says, ‘I will [befriend you] if ordered to.’ Considering how Rei did defy Gendo’s orders twice later on (when refusing to shoot Toji and when refusing to let the Third Impact take place the way he planned to), this seems to be a fairly vicious verbal slap to the face.
In episode 11, when the power goes out in the city, one of the characters comments that it would be really bad if an Angel were to appear now. Cue next scene, showing an Angel appearing and approaching the now defenseless city.
In episode 22, Asuka complains about how the Angel hasn't shown up—just before she gets hit by its Mind Rape beam.
Through the Eyes of Madness: It's debatable whether the final two anime episodes really happened or were all taking place in Shinji and the other protagonist's heads.
Throw the Dog a Bone: Shinji's only moments of 'happiness' are so far and few they deserve their own drinking game. Let's see: when Gendo or Misato actually praise him overtly; when Rei reacts somewhat warmly to his presence; when he can hang around with Toji and Kensuke; when he thinks he's fusing with his mom; when Kaworu stands close to him looking handsome and saying ambiguous things. That's all. Every form of comfort has gotten out of his reach by the time The End of Evangelion happens. But congratulations, Shinji and all the children of the world!
Toilet Humor: In the first Petit EVA short, Unit 01 trades lunches with Shinji...but its lunch is nothing but batteries. Unit 01 expects Shinji to eat, so he does. The last scene shows Shinji coming out of a bathroom stall holding his butt and groaning.
Tomato in the Mirror: Humanity, being the ultimate result of the terraforming process started by Lilith, is the 18th Angel, and every single living thing on Earth is just protoplasmic ooze held bodily together by energy fields which are the physical manifestation of the ego. Angels are another, alternate conception of humanity, with the ability to exert physical control but with limited self-understanding.
Especially in End of Evangelion where Rei merges with Lilith and embryonic Adam and becomes a giant... something... and subsequently ushers in the infamous "Everyone hugs and turns into Tang" sequence.
On the other hand, the trauma is noticeably absent in the case of Gendo merging his hand with Adam. Heck, he's so stone-faced about it that in the manga, he even eats Adam in a very insane and squicky scene. Later, when Adam appears as an eyeball in his left palm, Gendo's reaction is basically "Oh, there you are."
Trauma Swing: During Asuka's Mind Rape and during a flashback to Shinji's childhood in The End of Evangelion. However, unlike other examples of this trope, neither one actually sits on a swing.
Tricksters: The Evangelions, Rei, Lilith and the Angels (with special mentions to Kaworu in all versions, Adam, and Iruel) are noteworthy examples. Yui (especially as a Spirit Advisor) is a more debatable case, and let's say Gendo is very mysterious and manipulative.
Anime: Asuka is a glorious Type A; Misato has a few tsundere characteristics too.
Manga: Some fans view manga!Shinji as a tsundere character, mainly in his sarcastic treatment of Asuka and Kaworu.
Non-canon: In Shinji Ikari Instrumentality Project, Yui is a Type B with violent approaches and Hilarity Ensues, whereas Rei tends to be a Type B who gives the cold shoulder to Shinji whenever she can't deal with her feelings towards him.
Two-Keyed Lock: In episode 13, Hyuga and Aoba unsuccessfully try to do this to shut off the MAGI system before an Angel (which has taken the form of a computer virus) can infect it.
Unusual Euphemism: One episode mentions thermal expansion in several different scenarios. One of these scenarios involves Shinji hearing Asuka and Misato giggling and talking about touching each other while at a hot spring. Shinji looks down and complains about "thermal expansion".
You'll be saying this to Gendo quite a bit. Shinji does in the manga but not in the anime.
Asuka actually inverts this in End Of Evangelion when she realizes her mom's soul is in Unit 02. She sees it as her mom protecting her in battle.
White Mask of Doom: Several of the Angels have what look like white masks with little more than eyeholes.
Working with the Ex: This applies to Kaji and Misato, who was none-too-pleased when she found out that Kaji would be staying with NERV after delivering Asuka and Unit 02, and lashed out at him at nearly every chance she got afterwards. The bickering led Ritsuko to comment that they sounded like an old married couple.
Adult Fear: While the plot focuses mainly on adolescent characters, the themes of self-loathing, social phobia, and the inevitability of hurting and being hurt by those close to us strike a nerve for many adult viewers, which is to say nothing of the conspiracy-related plot threads and the horrific portrayal of war (and the notion of being attacked by your own government and countrymen) in The End of Evangelion. It's also worth noting that the series contains what is probably one of the most thorough and realistic portrayals of manic depression in any medium. All of this is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot: Hideaki Anno was going through a very rough patch in his life.
Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged. Adults can't pilot the Evas, but they made, maintain, prepare, and otherwise function as integral team members around them. Played more strangely by the quasi-military setting, as the adult characters can go from a supervisory body to the pilots, to genuine help, to active hinderences and back, some times within the same episode.
A central theme of the series is that characters can't admit their deeper feelings for one another, and/or can't find the right way to comfort those they care about. So many examples, it's almost easier to list the aversions, and even the aversions tend to have a tragic cast to them.
Asuka is a simultaneous example and subversion; she has no problem letting everyone know the "depths" of her feelings for Kaji, but this becomes a way of deflecting attention from her developing feelings for Shinji.
Another exception: Kaworu, the final Angel, is the only character in the whole series (and possibly the only person in-universe since the death of Yui) who expresses love to Shinji in so many words.
Misato finally comes to terms with just how deeply she cares for Kaji...after he's dead.
Even Gendo admits to his fear of bonding with his son once his vague apocalyptic plan has failed and he realizes he's going to be killed.
Catch Phrase: In the anime, Shinji is constantly saying "I mustn't run away!"; also Asuka's repeated refrain of "What are you, stupid?" Let's also not forget all the times when Gendo tells Fuyutsuki to "handle the rest of this" "Scenario" and variants of "So," "Yes," and "I understand."
Four Is Death: Unit 04 explodes on its activation test. Unit 03, the actual fourth Evangelion, is infected by an Angel and eventually killed in a brutal manner by a dummy plug-controlled Unit 01. The pilot was, naturally, the Fourth Child, who just became the fourth person his new girlfriend makes lunches for.
When Shinji reaches 400% synchronization rate, his body disintegrates into LCL.
Grey and Gray Morality: Opponents NERV/SEELE and the Angels share a common goal: to defeat the opponent and initiate Third Impact for their own ends. NERV and SEELE want to hijack it and start the Human Instrumentality Project, and the Angels want their planet back.
Humans Are Flawed/Humans Are the Real Monsters/Humans Are Special: NERV and SEELE's motivation is that humanity, as it exists, can't be happy. Kaworu, despite having been raised (and perhaps created) by SEELE values the achievements of human culture and respects Shinji's ability to pick himself up and keep going after heartbreak instead of giving up on life the way Gendo and SEELE have. The belief that humans, not Angels, should have the future is the motive for his Heroic Sacrifice, and he later appears after Third Impact as a Spirit Advisor and the symbol that not all Humans Are Bastards: he's the one person to ever show pure, untainted kindness to Shinji, and if even an Angel can do that...
The show was meant as a deconstruction of Merchandise-DrivenGiant Robot series. It has become the most heavily marketed, publicized, referenced, and rereleased animated production ever.
Rei, who throughout the series is tormented by the knowledge that she is replaceable and struggles to establish an identity of her own, has become one of the most archetypal anime characters in history, and most of her "clones" lack the Hidden Depths of her character.
Euangelion means good news in Greek. Considering how it "ends," it's not exactly good news.
Lonely Together: Basically subverted. The conditions are there, but the characters are ultimately too screwed up to really help each other, as demonstrated by scenes like Misato's failed attempt to console Shinji after Rei's death. Asuka in particular is very bitter that Shinji only wants to be with her because he doesn't have anyone else.
Messianic Archetype: Yui Ikari, the self-sacrificial Rei Ayanami, and Kaworu "He Died For Your Sins" Nagisa. Shinji even has a few "temptation scenes" involving the choice of rejecting the world completely and being Tanged forever or, in the manga, of going ballistic on humanity with his Luciferian dad. Granted, he's a darkly ironic and/or pathetic kind of messiah.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Asuka and Rei, who've taken up where Kei and Yuri left off and ran with it. 3-4 paired figure sets a year for more than a decade. Also notice that their hair and eye colors are inverted — Rei's red eyes and blue hair vs. Asuka's blue eyes and red hair. It even carries over to their Evas once Asuka is introduced.
Save The World Climax: Every fight has the fate of humanity hang in the balance, but it's all a plan by a few fractions of humanity to initiate the end of the world on their own terms. As their plans collide, the end of the world ends up in the hands of a mentally fractured teenager, with disastrous results.
There's also another few, most notable out of them being Reborn Zombie's Evangelion Abridged and The Puerto Rican Pizza Dude's A Parody of Evangelion, although the majority of the latter seems to have been banned by Bandai Channel. The former is still active, the latter seems to have gone dormant.
LittleKuriboh made a one-episode abridgement for a charity event.
Adaptation Distillation: The manga, to a degree. Some fans consider some of its changes to be an improvement upon the original anime. More attention is devoted to character relationships, several filler plots (including some of the less consequential Angels) are cut altogether, and a very controversial scene (you know the one) is changed to be more acceptable and arguably more appropriate. On the other hand, Asuka's screentime (so to speak) is cut down some, although the core parts of her story are preserved, and others are addednote the arcade fight scene, expandednote the tragedy with her mother, or alluded tonote the battle with Gaghiel.
Adaptation Expansion: The manga details more of the odd relationship between Shinji and Rei, gives Kaji a tragic backstory, makes Kaworu much more prominent, and the battle with the MP Evas is expanded since Shinji gets in on the action.
All There in the Manual: There are a few guidebooks that attempt to elucidate the series. Given that it's intentionally left up to the reader, they are less than helpful. There's also a PS2 game (Neon Genesis Evangelion 2) that contains a large amount of backstory for the series, including on the "First Ancestral Race". The in-game info is based on interviews with Hideaki Anno; however, since it's never been confirmed, the canonicity is technically up for debate.
It's worth noting that the voice actress for Ritsuko, Yuriko Yamaguchi, practically spells out Gendo's silent line from The End of Evangelion in her essay in the film's theatrical pamphlet, but non-Japanese fans are still scratching their heads nearly fifteen years after its release since the essay was never made available to them. The manga version of events further complicates the mystery by offering a different version of events leading up to the line (which is actually "heard" in the manga), and some fans believe that the manga line could also apply to the original version events despite obvious differences in characterization and the line's incompatibility with Yamaguchi's essay.
That's not what a Dirac sea is... at all. The show also fails quantum physics forever by throwing it around as a metaphor combined with Rule of Cool.
An in-universe example for whoever came up with the "Second Impact" cover story. Regardless of speed, a meteor as small as they described would airburst from friction, not capable of surviving our atmosphere long enough to hit the ground. Also, regardless of speed or angle, it would take a gigantic (dozens or hundreds of kilometers) stellar body to knock the Earth's axis off enough to cause the changes in seasons shown (for that matter, how would Adam's self-destruct be forceful enough to cause that?). Not to mention that an impact that destructive would hurl a shitload of ejecta into the atmosphere, causing a global nuclear winter that would lead to far more negative long-term effects than shown in the show (maybe Adam's explosion was focused up and out, not down?).
Adam was in the process of terraforming the Earth to support Angelic life as opposed to Lilim life. That's what caused the climate changes, not his subsequent explosion when they did whatever it was they did to regress him into embryonic form. That Earth is still habitable at all is only because they shut him down before he could finish. That it was caused by the explosion itself is just part of the cover story.
Author Tract: Having been inspired by Anno's own battle with depression, the series contains numerous in-depth discussions of the human condition and concludes with a lengthy expose on the thought process that leads Shinji to overcome his own depression, go on living and reject the Assimilation Plot he finds himself a part of.
Author Avatar: Word of God says Shinji is this, but Anno has mentioned that there are small aspects of himself in every main character; for instance, he is a vegetarian like Rei and was edgy (before his marriage) like Asuka.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Played straight, averted, and subverted, depending on which part or version of the story you're talking about.
Bilingual Bonus: Many. For example, the Japanese title for the last episode is "The Beast That Shouted "I" at the Heart of the World." The fact that "I" is pronounced the same way as "ai," the Japanese word for "love," triggers a second meaning. "The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World" is a classic science fiction story (and also the title of an anthology) by Harlan Ellison. There are also numerous songs in English, from the original compositions used in The End of Evangelion and Rebuild to "Fly Me To The Moon" and "Hallelujah" in the TV series. Additionally, there is a lot of English and German terminology, and some unsubtitled dialogue in German, especially in the English dub.
In particular, the legendary Lyrical Dissonance of "Komm, süßer Tod" is completely lost on The End of Evangelion's original audience, as the song wasn't even subtitled for the film's Japanese release.
Bishonen Line: Kaworu. If you're familiar with this trope, the revelation doesn't come as much of a surprise.
The bookend Reis, one in the first episode and the other in End.
Another easily-overlooked example, probably Fridge Brilliance: Shinji's first line inside Unit 01 is "Kimochi warui" (something akin to "I feel disgusted/unwell.") This is more famously Asuka's last line in End.
Episodes 1 and 24 have an interesting case of bookends. In episode 1, the Angel towers over Shinji. In episode 24, however, Unit-01 towers over the Angel.
The boat Ritsuko is riding during her first appearance is visible in the foreground during her death scene.
Shinji does save the world multiple times and becomes a god during the final. So it is not like it is incorrect.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Both the original ending and Evangelion: Death include visual references to a theater stage. The End of Evangelion takes it even further. A young Shinji is shown building a sand castle of the GeoFront...and then the camera backs up and shows that he's under stage lighting. Later on, there is a live-action sequence, which includes equivalents of several of the characters. The latter is even described as being a "dream" and "not Shinji's reality," hence the postmodern overtones of the movie.
Cerebus Syndrome: As the series progresses to its final episodes, all attempts at making jokes are dropped.
Covers Always Lie: A mild example at the back cover of End Of Evangelion's DVD; Toji and Kaworu are shown wearing plug suits, even though Toji does not appear at all and Kaworu only at the very end of the series.
Cut Short: Not the series itself — controversial as it is, the TV ending does wrap things up pretty neatly, if only from a thematic standpoint. Rather, in the original cut of Death and Rebirth, the "Rebirth" episode just...ends. Right in the middle. This effectively pissed off a number of Japanese fans who saw the movie in theaters (and Western fans who bought the VHS/DVD) expecting the final conclusion to the series, only to find out that they had to wait for The End of Evangelion.
Depending on the Artist: The show's artwork and animation quality varied a good bit from episode to episode. For example, episode 19 has noticeably thicker lineart in close-ups, 16's coloring is somewhat lighter and saturated, and 9 brought us a very bishie Shinji. Episode 11, having been animated with help from Ghibli, has received some flak for the significant difference in art style. Also, due to the budget shrinkage that led to, well, you know, much of episodes 21-24 needed to be redrawn for DVD, leading to further variation in the styles. Also, see Off Model below.
For some reason, whether Misato has lipstick on or not rotates, sometimes several times in the same scene.
Most of the female characters' hair lengths change frequently, particularly Misato who sometimes has fairly long hair and sometimes it appears to only reach down to her collarbones.
Deranged Animation: Numerous examples, but especially episodes 25 and 26 and The End of Evangelion.
Shinji is essentially a Gender Flip of Nadia (see here◊ for notes from Sadamoto himself). He was described by Sadamoto as looking like "a boyish young girl" (more evidence here◊), and was made as such to distinguish him from the mecha heroes at that time. Shinji's feminine facial features are brought up by Misato in the first episode, and during the eighth and ninth episodes he's made to look like a girl from nothing more than a wardrobe change◊.
One of the official games that had its scripts designed from interviews with Anno also had Fuyutsuki say that Shinji looked just like Yui and then crossdress Shinji for the role all while saying how beautiful "she" looks; Fuyutsuki's actions soon become overtly sexual.
Shinji and Kaworu also make rather pretty girls with little more than a hair and eyelash change (and breasts); in the GenderFlip version of episode 24, longer haired Shinjiko ends up looking like a young version of Yui.
The Movies feature commentaries by Amanda Winn Lee, her husband and Taliesin Jaffe, which are generally beloved/despised (some have even nicknamed it "Commentary of Evil") for being mostly riffing, with a lot of conjecture about the possible meanings behind the films' abstract symbolism, and details on the process of dubbing the films and remastering the audio.
The Platinum Edition of the TV series featured commentaries on several episodes as well, albeit less memorable ones.
Spike Spencer (Shinji's English dub actor)'s famous rant about the original ending from Shinji's POV, which includes gems such as "W-what's an Eva? Is that sort of a Freudian thing, or...um...am I real?" and "I mustn't run away, I mustn't run — okay, I got that, good, okay, now if I were to run away, let's analyze that, where the fuck would I go!?" Take a listen. It's even better if you think about how much Spencer's Shinji voice sounds like Larry the Cucumber from VeggieTales.
End of Evangelion has an awesome one. Early in the movie when Misato checks the computers, the screen with orange text has her saying "So that's what happened during Second Impact". However, the text is in fact a brief bio of Studio Gainax with IMPORTANT-LOOKING, ALL-CAPS phrases like SECOND IMPACT and ADAM inserted at random.
Shinji, Ritsuko, Asuka, and Kensuke are similar to Nadia, Electra, Grandis, and Jean from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, respectively. Also, Asuka may be viewed as a partial expy of Jung Freud of Gunbuster fame.
Additionally, the later Gainax productions FLCL and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann seem to exist to represent how Shinji would have turned out if he was raised more successfully. Gainax staff have said that while creating the male protagonists for their recent major productions, they asked themselves how Shinji would have turned out if he had been brought up in different circumstances.
Fan Disservice: Many instances, with Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka and the more bizarre aspects of the Rei/Lilith hybrid in End of Evangelion being two of the most extreme, as well as the "naked Yui tempting Shinji" sequence in the manga.
The casting for the show pretty much revolves around the Power Trio, with a few characters even being part of more then one. In fact, the only two characters that don't fit into a trio are Pen-Pen, that Jet Alone guy, and the students' teacher...crap, that's three!
A meta example also appears in the American dub of the series, as the voice actors for the Bridge Bunnies and the voice actors for the pilots all got married after the production for the series was done. Tiffany Grant (Asuka) married Matt Greenfield (Hyuga), Amanda Winn (Rei) married Jason C Lee (Aoba), and Spike Spencer (Shinji) married Kendra Benham (Maya).
Gratuitous English: Frequently. Also, each child pilot is referred to as a "Children" in the Japanese soundtrack: Rei Ayanami is called the "First Children"; Asuka Langley Soryu is called the "Second Children"; Shinji Ikari is called the "Third Children"; and so on.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: The title itself is gratuitous Greek which would translate into English as "New Beginning Gospel" or "Gospel of the New Genesis" which may be more appropriate considering the way Shinji and Asuka are left at the end of End of Evangelion...
Gratuitous German: Gehirn = brain, Nerv = nerve, Seele = soul. Also, Asuka's dub dialogue features the occasional German word or phrase, and she has an entire conversation in German on the phone in one episode. And her German is so bad, it does worse things to a German-speakers ears than Arael did to Asuka's mind.
In the case of Asuka, the English dub was even more fond of this trope (with Asuka shouting "PERVERSER MENSCH!" ('perverted human') where the Japanese original had the much less cumbersome "ecchi!", just to name one of the many examples). However, it's safe to say that the English voice actresses for her had a somewhat better grasp of the language and got the pronounciation at least kinda right.
Heavy Mithril: Kinda. British rock band Fightstar are fans of the series and titled several songs from it. Their song "Lost Like Tears In Rain" even ends with the line "It's Neon Genesis".
On the other hand, in one episode freeze-framing the show during a particular scene will reveal a shockingly detailed account (written in Surprisingly Good English, no less) of the official cover story for Third Impact.
Misato, in End, was reading what really happened at Third Impact. If a curious person decides to read it, they find that it's really a company biography detailing the history of Gainax with words like GEHIRN inserted in all caps here and there to make it look plot relevant to the casual observer.
Leave the Camera Running: Appears frequently in the later episodes since the studio was getting increasingly short on money and time. This resulted in lots of still images, many scenes showing the characters from a great distance, and liberal use of Stock Footage, presumably to save some coin for the scenes where the Animation Bump was needed (and it was well worth saving the money for those stunningly animated fight scenes.) Notable examples include:
Misato watching the train Shinji has apparantly boarded leave the station.
The elevator ride with Rei and Asuka. The Directors Cut version at least mixes it a little bit up. That is to say, Asuka moves briefly and only once. The same shot is reused in Evangelion: 2.0, but for a much shorter amount of time (making its inclusion a bit of a joke for fans).
Misato being questioned by SEELE after Leliel's defeat: the longest still shot in the series at 80 seconds.
Shinji holding Kaworu in Unit 01's hand for one full minute before he crushes him.
Asuka curled up in Unit 02 at the bottom of the lake.
Lost in Translation: As a result of the varying translators and distributors, some nuances of the screenplay, particularly several instances of Arc Words and phrases, are lost or at least obscured by the English translations, especially in the dub. This is acknowledged in the DVD commentary of End of Evangelion.
Lyrical Dissonance: "Komm, Süsser Tod", legendarily so. (It's right at the top of that trope's page.)
"Shinji" ironically evokes the words for "truth" or "to believe" and can also mean "divine child." Shinji's name is even punned on in Rebuild 1.0; Misato exhorts Gendo to "believe in his own son", invoking of course the word shinji.
"Rei" can mean, among other things, "zero," "ghost" and "cold."
"Yui" puns on the word "yui" meaning "the only one."
"Gendo" is "limit" or "boundary."
"Ikari" uses the character for "anchor" (part of the nautical theme), but with a different character would be "wrath" or "anger."
"Nagisa" means "shore", but if you split the kanji in two you could read it as either "messenger" or "dead person."
The Japanese word given to the Angels, "shito," actually means "apostle" and in the original draft they were named accordingly in English. The "shi" in it is the same as in "shisha" (messenger; the literal meaning of Greek angelos and the Aramaic term it served as the translation of) and "tenshi" (heavenly messenger, i.e. angel in the English sense). It also sounds very close to the Japanese word for "person" or "human being," "hito", maybe hinting at one of the deep secrets of the series.
The Angels' appearances and attacks are based on their names: for example, Sandalphon, the angel of embryos, starts off as an embryo in a volcano; Arael is the angel of birds; Israfel, who's beaten with music, is the angel of music; Kaworu aka Tabris is the angel of free will, and chooses to die rather than kill humanity, i.e. kill Shinji.
"Evangelion" comes from "eüangélion", the Anglicanized version of the Greek word meaning "gospel" or "good news", which has led the series' title to sometimes be interpreted as "New Century Gospel" or "New Beginning Gospel".
"Seele" is German for "soul"; "Nerv" for, well, "nerve"; and "Gehirn" for "brain".
Medium Blending: The real-life photographs scattered throughout the series, particularly in the last two episodes, and an entire live-action sequence in The End of Evangelion.
Mind Screw: This show is the codifier for this trope in anime, especially in End. The fact that it also named Gainax Ending should definitely tell you something.
The plot basically goes like this: some aliens attacking Earth, and they need to be destroyed. The show is constantly setting you up for a big reveal by hinting at the truth and constantly introducing new plot threads that come from the aliens. And then... nothing. The final episodes, which in any other show would have given you The Reveal, got rid of the "alien attack" element and let the "psychoanalytical drama" element completely take over.
Mood Whiplash: Toji's just been nearly mortally wounded and is scarred for life? Cue cheery rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon".
Episode 26 has after the first breakthrough in his introspective mindscape, Shinji experiences a reality that's played as a straight highschool romantic comedy. Contrasted against the Mind Screw that is Shinji's revelation sequence, the scene is incredibly jarring.
No Pronunciation Guide: In the English dub, "Eva" is pronounced like "ey-va" in the series, while in End Of Evangelion it's closer to "evva".
Going by the Greek/Latin form of both "evangel" and "Eve", it should be pronounced "ey-va". Going by the Japanese, it's either or.
Our Angels Are Different: And how! Ironically, these are a lot closer to the actual, very trippy angel descriptions in The Bible, such as "beryl-coloured wheel within a wheel, each rim covered with eyes" and the like. Of course, they're not really angels, though. They're aliens. But they weren't meant to be.
Postmodernism: Oodles of it, especially in The Movie. The show is so postmodern the leaders of the superflat movement claim it as one of its precursors. Now that's some homage...
P.O.V. Sequel: The End of Evangelion is generally considered to show the the series' ending in a relatively objective light, whereas the last two episodes of the series show Shinji's personal experience.
Product Placement: Asuka plays a Sega Saturn in episode 22. Also, Yebisu/Yebichu beer. The manga has UCC Coffee and Coca-Cola vending machines, and also an iPod in recent chapters.
Psycho Strings: Unit 00's leitmotif and its derivative, "The Beast." End also has the track "The End of Midsummer."
Public Domain Soundtrack: The series uses various pieces of classical music for half or more of its soundtrack. The frequency of classical music appearing goes up as things get worse. Also when they started to run out of money.
Rousseau Was Right: Hidden so carefully under a thick veil of cynicism that you'd be forgiven for missing it entirely. But at the end of the day, all of the characters — even Gendo and SEELE — want nothing more than to be loved and accepted, and their actions, however twisted, all stem from their fear and misunderstanding of themselves and others. See the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism entry for more details.
Same Content, Different Rating: The Evangelion manga moving from Shonen Ace to Young Ace, thus cementing its Seinen demography since 2009. The actual reason for moving was Sadamoto's infamous Schedule Slips and the fact that Young Ace's editorial puts less pressure on their manga-ka because the magazine is less mainstream than Shonen Ace but still is just as popular. With that said, the actual contents in the series did not change at all to justify its newfound mature demography. If it wasn't for Sadamoto's tight schedule Kadokawa Shoten surely would have transfered Evangelion to just another Shonen magazine.
Scenery Gorn: The End of Evangelion is unprecedentedly, lovingly meticulous in its depictions of violence and destruction on a massive scale.
Anno: "I don't know why everyone loves this show so much, the characters are so sick!"
Anno (to a man who spent all his money for textbooks onEvangelionmerchandise): "You're an idiot. Study harder."
Anno: "This show really is interesting, isn't it? I never realized how interesting it was."
Shadow Archetype: A good example is Gendo-Shinji: Gendo gives a pretty good idea of an embittered, corrupt and still antisocial adult Shinji. The Evangelions are also pretty good shadows for the pilots' mothers and possibly the pilots themselves. The Angels may also represent humankind's basest instincts.
Far on the cynical side, though arguably not as it has often been represented. Evangelion characters do long for love and harmony...they're just existentially completely out of their reach, especially since all the characters are struggling with crippling mental illnesses and PTSD. Oh, feel the tragedy.
Among the fundamental themes of the series — yes, even The End of Evangelion — are that everyone just wants to be loved and accepted, that no matter how bad things get, happiness is always attainable as long as we are alive, and that the hope that people might someday learn to understand each other is in and of itself a reason to go on living and have faith in the human race. While the tone is undeniably grim and these conclusions are brought about through an exceptionally cynical (or, some might say, brutally honest) line of reasoning, the fact remains that the series is a LOT more idealistic than it's given credit for.
Soaperizing: ...to the point where the last 2 episodes abandon the rest of the plot.
At the beginning of Asuka's Mind Rape, the freaking Hallelujah Chorus starts playing while we see them go through a traumatic Freak Out.
The battle with the Seventeenth Angel in Episode 24, accompanied by a rousing rendition of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".
The ending credits of Death, a visage of an apocalyptic landscape with an overwhelming sense of foreboding, set to Pachelbel's "Canon in D".
The brutal fight with the Mass Production Evas and confrontation between Ritsuko and Gendo in The End of Evangelion, set to the soothing strains of Bach's "Air on the G String".
And of course, Instrumentality itself, mind-melting psychological trauma of epic proportions, accompanied by "Komm, süsser Tod", an original composition featuring upbeat, jazzy soft rock with lyrics about suicide.
In an ironic twist, "Komm, süsser Tod" ends up being used in an entirely different soundtrack dissonance moment in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3. In sharp contrast to the nihilistic lyrics, an instrumental version of the song is played during the upbeat ending for the Evangelion campaign, which sees the events of the film averted and most of the cast alive and happily reunited.
This series exemplifies this trope so much that examples alone could fill an entire page.
Somewhat justified with Ka(w)oru. The Japanese spelling would correctly be transcribed Kaworu, but the "w," depending on speaker, can become near silent to totally none existent. More generally, the "o" particle in the language is in fact "wo," but with the same issue, typically being transcribed without the "w" in romaji.
The synch tests a few minutes into episode 24 show that the official romanization of his name is "Kaworu." This also shows up on the Mass-Produced Evas' dummy plugs.
Asuka's last name as well. Is it Soryu, or perhaps Souryu or Sohryu?
Spoiler Opening: Played straight and subverted. The opening is loaded with information from all over the series, including prominent shots of all major characters and Evas, thus spoiling their introduction up until nearly a third of the way through the series. On the other hand, the opening also contains Foreshadowing of events right up to The Movie that viewers will not appreciate as such except in retrospect.
Squat's In A Name: The Angels' names and some terminology may be biblical, but the series itself has nothing to do with Christianity.
Stealth Pun: When Sachiel shanks Unit-01 through the eye in the second episode, it went berserk and jumped several city blocks at the Angel. Well, what do you expect from a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater?
Note how much time the characters spend on elevators and escalators in most episodes; also, Eva launch sequences. The end of the Unit 01 vs. Kaworu scene was also the longest still shot in anime history back then and might still be (but the end of the "Ode to Joy" sounded good!). Let's also not forget the original episodes 25 and 26, which consist almost entirely of reused footage, as the studio had run out of budget by that point.
The same clip of Shinji eating breakfast is reused several times, as is a clip of Misato drinking beer.
And one scene of a forest being destroyed was actually recycled from Nadia.
The clip of Shinji waking up with a start in the hospital is used numerous times.
The American pilots who fly Unit 03 to Japan and NERV employees heard during its activation test speak perfect, unaccented English accompanied by Japanese subtitles. This is because Gainax actually had an American in-house translator, Michael House, working for them at the time of the show's production, and used him to voice the roles, along with two of his friends.
Several vocal pieces in The End of Evangelion soundtrack, namely "Thanatos ~ If I Can't Be Yours", "Escape to the Beginning", "Komm, Susser Tod", and the unused "Everything You've Ever Dreamed" are performed in English, by British and American singers, with natural-sounding lyrics. Rebuild does this for numerous tracks, as well.
Averted, however, in the case of German. Asuka, who is German by birth, sounds even to a native English speaker distinctly not German when speaking in that language. This in itself is a bit of a meta-inversion of the trope in question: native English speakers tend to be, for obvious historical reasons, much more familiar with German phonetics than native Japanese speakers, making it more obvious to English viewers when a speaker is failing to approximate fluent German speech, whether or not the English viewer could themself fluently speak any dialect or extraction*
such as, uh, English
of German.note Think about how recognisably obvious it is for a series or film to contain bad fake German, even if it was produced by English speakers who presumably could tell the difference but didn't care. Ditto here, it's even got its own trope!
For example in episode 4, The Hedgehog's Dilemma, after Shinj slips out of his 10-Minute Retirement he and Misato stare at each other at the train station right after his train leaves. The woman at the intercom then says:
Woman: If you are accompanied by small children, please keep them close.
Technology Marches On: Back in the series' heyday in the mid-to-late 90s, Shinji listened to his music on an S-DAT player. Nowadays, with the sporadic manga releases, it's been replaced by a Mini iPod.
While Apple still makes very small MP3 players, the product officially named "iPod Mini" has been retired.
Most characters' family names are those of Japanese ships that were sunk during World War II. Additionally, Asuka's second family name, "Langley" complements this scheme too: Langley was an American ship sunk in World War II. Similarly her mother's second family name Zeppelin in this case references a German aircraft carrier that wasn't completed (just like Kyouko's mind was left fractured).
Maya Ibuki is both an example of the theme and an exception — while the HIJMS Maya was sunk at Leyte Gulf, the Ibuki would have led the Imperial Japanese Navy's "next generation" cruiser class, but the keel was never laid and the class was canceled.
The few important human characters that don't fall into this category are named after ship parts, and Nagisa (shore) is close as well.
Hikari and her two sisters Kodama and Nozomi are named after Shinkansen lines.
Shinji gets this treatment a few times. It's been theorized that Shinji, and even the whole show, were meant as Take Thats against otakus. What makes it funnier is that Shinji might be an Author Avatar of Anno himself, so he'd be including himself as a target with that giant middle finger.
Funnier, or possibly sadder, since Anno genuinely doesn't have a very high opinion of himself.
Sadamoto confirms in the manga's Bonus Material that Shinji is based on Anno.
Kensuke also falls under this, to an extent. He's essentially a pathetic otaku who wants nothing more than to pilot an eva, which he never does.
Title Scream: The eyecatches originally had this during the show's development. These versions can be heard on the S2 Works CD soundtrack set, where they are marked "F-0" and "F-1."
Training Montage: Shinji and Asuka training for the second battle with the Seventh Angel.
The most obvious is Rei, who would appear to be a brilliant Deconstruction of the Emotionless Girl archetype if not for the fact that she more or less created it.
Many tropes that Eva deconstructs have actually been deconstructed in older Super Robot Genre shows, notably the ones that come from the 1970's; in fact the stream of Lighter and Softer shows that defines the Super Robot Genre as a whole isn't so apparent in the 1970's era of Super Robots.
Unfamiliar Ceiling: Played with. Shinji is peeved because the NERV sickbay's ceiling is becoming too familiar to him.
United Nations Is A Super Power: It having undergone heavy reforms following the Second Impact and the Valentine Treaty of February 2001. To illustrate, all of the world's national militaries are explicitly under direct control of the UN - and are effectively subordinate to UN Special AgencyNERV.
Vocal Evolution: The voice actors' performances become more nuanced and multidimensional as the series does. This is more obvious in the English version, but it is true for the Japanese original as well.
Weirdness Magnet: Primarily Shinji, as the plot mainly revolves around the Mind Screw that happens to him (and let's face it, how often do you accidentally fall on a naked blue-haired clone of your dead mother?); Misato, due to her wacky angel-beating schemes and zany alcohol problem; Gendo has psychosis-induced plot-distorting abilities and lacks a sense of ridicule, especially in the manga and (on 'shrooms!) in Shinji Ikari Instrumentality Project; the rest of the cast, to various degrees.
To a lesser degree, Episode 14. Even though half of it is a clip show and nothing particularly dramatic happens, it's the point at which the show begins to switch tracks from a by-the-numbers mecha show to a bizarre Mind Screw with existentialist undertones. Notably, this is the first episode with a mind trip sequence, as well as hints about the connection between the pilots and their EVAs and the first appearance of the Lance of Longinus.
Writer on Board: End of Evangelion apparently subverts this; Anno has made several statements (supported by hints in the TV series) to the effect that it was the planned ending, but there are still fans who say otherwise. A lot of people believe that the hospital scene is nothing but this.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Misato and Kaji (dark purple and sorta greenish respectively); both can be argued to be stylized blacks. Rei and Kaworu are subversions; her blue hair and his gray hair are side effects of her being partly cloned from Lilith and him being the 17th Angel.
Your Size May Vary: The Evas are exactly as tall as they need to be to look cool/imposing/sinister in whatever shot they're in.