These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Neon Genesis Evangelion
About the characters:
Alternative Character Interpretation: Intentional on the creator's part, but especially noteworthy in some cases: is Gendo a manipulative monster, a misunderstood genius, a loving but misguided father who wants to make his son strong, the show's biggest Woobie, or a mix of the four? Is Yui a soft and idealized mother/Virgin Mary figure (close to being the series' Canon Sue), the actual manipulative monster who's responsible for messing up Shinji, Gendo and the fate of the world, or just off her rocker? Is Shinji a neurotic, obnoxious wimp, a normal person dealing with impossibly overwhelming odds, or actually a courageous young hero? Is he "pure" or a pervert with Yandere tendencies? Since we're at it, is Shinji similar to Gendo, his polar opposite, or a complex mix of the two?
Don't forget the entire organization of Seele: is it a group of monsters out to end the humanity just to create a god, a way too well-intentioned group who just wants to end the insecurities and suffering that humans suffer because AT field separates them from each other and makes them unable to understand each other? Or maybe they are just bizarre.
The Super Robot Wars games also dabble in this (as they usually do with the series) giving Shinji a backbone and changing story details. For example Toji does not suffer the fate that he does in the TV series and can occasionally join the team as a playable character. Likewise Asuka, in her famous scene from the movie, does not die when she is attacked by the group of EVAs but can actually wipe them out instead.
Angst Dissonance: No matter how much hell he goes through, many viewers still attribute Shinji's issues to him just being a whiny, bratty wuss. Not even discovering Unit-02 disemboweled is an adequate excuse for him not taking insane amounts of tragedy, misfortune, cosmic horrors, and near-constant abuse in stride.
Awesome Art: Most of the fight scenes are very visually impressive, especially considering that the show was made on a shoestring budget.
Broken Base: The entire series itself. Either it's an awesome, inspired Deconstruction that gave the Super Robot Genre a breath of fresh air, or it's a nonsensical over-convoluted trainwreck with unlikeable protagonists and too much angst.
Not to mention the backlash against Kaworu — as Shinji seemed to be attracted to him (too) — for depriving fans of using Shinji as a self-insert to pair themselves with Rei, Asuka and/or Misato.
Double Standard: Some people consider Shinji and Asuka to both be annoying characters due to the former not being assertive enough and the latter being too brash. When you look at their backstories, it becomes clear that they were both essentially exposed to the same things as kids, but they dealt with them in two entirely different ways. Thus, Shinji becomes extremely quiet and introverted, while Asuka hid it by becoming loud, prideful and aggressive. Both of them do this because they don't want to be hurt. Were their personalities swapped, there would likely be less complaining due to gender role stereotypes.
There's also all the flak Shinji gets for being "whiny", especially in the West, when throughout the course of the show, it's probably Asuka who spends the most time angsting — not that she doesn't have cause to — particularly when you consider that she's not quite as major a character as Shinji, and only arrived on the show several episodes in anyway. It's just that Shinji happens to be our main protagonist, so we get his point of view for the most part.
In a Newtype poll in 2010, Kaworu was ranked as the 2nd most popular male anime character of the 1990's. Yeah...
Kaji, to a lesser degree.
Toji Suzuhara is also popular. Maybe the reason he ultimately ended up more important than his classmates Kensuke and Hikari.
Epileptic Trees: The series never explicitly states just whose soul is in Unit-00. However, implications and dug-up evidence points towards it being a part of Rei's soul, specifically the Rei I version, in a case similar to what happened to Kyoko's split soul in Unit-02.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Historically, Asuka has been a far more popular character than Rei among Western audiences, whereas the complete opposite is true in Japan — even Word of God has commented on this. Of course, Rei is still quite popular in the US and Asuka popular in Japan as well, as evidenced by all the Fanservice-based merchandise for them in both areas.
Ramiel is inexplicably popular in the English-speaking fanbase.
Ho Yay: Kaworu and Shinji. Episode 24 basically drives it home as hard as it possibly can in under twenty-five minutes of time, what with the two explicitly stating their love for one another on separate occasions, the whole holding hands-in-the-shower scene, and Shinji almost constantly blushing and being incredibly open to Kaworu in almost all of their scenes together, Kaworu blushing and telling Shinji "I really was born to meet you"... yeah. The manga, while it portrays a more antagonistic and one-sided relationship (although eventually realized as mutual) between the two, goes even further than the anime in this regard, and explicitly makes Kaworu kiss Shinji at one point.
Who doesn't know about the endings to the series nowadays?
Unit 01 is Yui Ikari, aka Shinji's mother.
Kaworu dying in the very same episode he is introduced in.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Shinji. Let's see, he gets paired up with Kaworu, Asuka, and Rei, like always. But he also gets paired with Hikari, Mana, Maya, Mayumi, Misato, Ritsuko, Toji, Kensuke, even ''his parents''... basically, everyone.
Gendo. He manipulated everything and everyone from the very beginning, using and discarding people like puppets for his own ends, and planning ahead in a manner that would make the original Trope Namer proud. What's really impressive is that he managed to completely manipulate SEELE, who are an entire evil council of Manipulative Bastards. The only reason he didn't get exactly what he wanted in the end was because he didn't count on Rei actually developing human feelings and growing to care for Shinji.
That's also the only reason Seele didn't get exactly what they wanted, and they arguably still did. They certainly came closer than Gendo to their ultimate goal.
Yui Ikari also qualifies, thanks to certain scenes during the End of Evangelion.
The Western fanbase Alternative Character Interpretation of Kaworu as "evil" counts. Anno intended to "make Kaworu someone that could be loved by anyone, an incredibly good person". Because of his controversial relationship with Shinji a lot of it may come from homophobia, since Westerns aren't as tolerant on the subject. Fortunately, Japanese and other Eastern Asian audiences managed to properly understand him.
The Mexican Spanish dub pull this out, albeit in lesser degree: Victor Ugarte (Shinji's Mexican VA) was previously associated with voicing hotblooded kids like young Zenki or jerkasses like Dilandau, and after EVA, he's sometimes typecasted with voicing wimps like Raj, Oxnard and others. Circe Luna (Rei's Mexican VA) is normallly typecasted with voicing hyperactive or sweet girls like Pan or Belldandy.
Ron the Death Eater: There are a surprising large amount of fanfics out there that have Kaji cheating on Misato as the reason they originally broke up, despite extended scenes in the anime directly contradicting this. And that's saying nothing on what some fans do to Kaworu in Shinji shippings.
Charismatic, wisecracking, and perhaps the main person Shinji (and in the manga, Asuka too) can have for a good father replacement? Way to seal your fate, Kaji.
Kaworu: Incredibly kind, compassionate, and selflessly loving towards Shinji, aka the boy who has been shunned and rejected by other people for nearly his whole life, either because his own actions or not... and Kaworu dies in the same episode he is introduced.
Ugly Cute: Believe it or not, some fans consider Sachiel to be this.
Uncanny Valley: Anno wrote and designed Rei to serve as this. For the major part — which is really an Understatement — it completely and utterly failed. Even so, there are still people here and there who see her as creepy and inhumane.
Unwanted Harem: Being the only major fighting male pilot in the series that lasts the whole series, Shinji is often hooked up with the female cast, even if some are way too old for him.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Occasionally happens when Maya is mistaken for Shinji, and the other way around. The source of this confusion is that, Word of God, Shinji's character design is actually a female head slapped onto a male body: he's based on Nadia, the main character from Gainax's previous series, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, just with shorter bangs and the jewelry removed. So when people accuse Maya of looking "butch" it's actually the other way around: Shinji is based on a girl. Maya is just how Gainax draws generic girls. This has actually led to some Epileptic Trees saying that Shinji and Maya are related in some way.
It happens a lot in the Alternate ContinuityGakuen Datenroku ("Records of Heaven's Descent"), where Shinji is at his most androgynous and really looks like Maya and where it's sometimes necessary to have a close look to realize that the cute short-haired girl is actually him.
Wangst: This is a common complaint about the show, especially about Shinji himself. Of course, opinions on whether the characters' have justified reasons for their angst are subjective, like other things on the show. Shinji is a very special case when it comes to Wangst designation, in that people agree that the amount of Shinji's angst is completely justified considering what happens to him, but they still find it excessive anyway. Asuka also gets stuck with the same situation, and it seems to be one of the more inevitable consequences of having a Dysfunction Junction series with such a high Dysfunction/Instability quotient that it's a wonder any of the characters can actually function at all.
The Woobie: Everyone, to some extent. Except possibly SEELE.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Jet Alone episode... never comes up again. Aside from giving an Awesome Moment to Misato, foreshadowing the Mass-production EVA units, and filling some space, it doesn't ever show up again.
Broken Base: One of the few irrefutable statements that can be made about Evangelion is that it is the most divisive anime ever. Virtually everything about this series has been, is, and will be the topic of heated debate. Is [insert character here] a sympathetic character? Do the religious allusionsreally meananything? Did the series change direction over its run, or was it all planned out from the beginning? Which ending is better? Are they the same, or do they conflict? Is the English dub as good as, better than, or vastly inferior to the Japanese? Is the series itself one of the greatest in the history of anime — or even cinema — or merely one of the most overrated? Can the live-action movies be done right? Which girl would you bang? If you wonder it for even a second, there is absolutely no question that it has been the subject of fierce debate inside or outside the fandom. The fact that, one way or the other, people generally tend to form very strong opinions about this series helps cement it firmly within this trope.
The Chris Carter Effect: The original series hit this trope hard by completely dropping the plot for the last two episodes, but with the addition of The End of Evangelion, its placement under this trope became ambiguous. Some felt that The Movie provided an adequate payoff for all, or at least most of the plot threads built up over the course of the series; others felt that it was just another cop-out.
Twenty-two versions of "Fly Me To The Moon" will catch up to you. There's also "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" (the theme song), the infamous "Komm, Süsser Tod" (which becomes really creepy when you consider the lyrics), and "Good or Don't Be", the instrumental version of the main theme that plays in the background of the infamous "Congratulations!" scene.
Epileptic Trees: If you thought that the show was disturbing and insane, you clearly haven't read the Fan Wank. One could basically go on forever given just how much there is out there.
Esoteric Happy Ending: In EoE. Almost all of humanity has become one. They have the power to go back to their individual selves, if they have the will to live and find happiness, but apparently... most chose not to.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Works particularly well. Shinji as a pathetic messiah/Jesus figure; the Jesus imagery/connotations that can be applied to Yui, Rei and Kaworu; Gendo as Judas, Satan or the antichrist, or alternately as the God of the Old Testament; angels/apostles; crosses... It's hard to tell whether the Eva verse is meant as a kind of Hell or as a purgatory, though...
Fandom Berserk Button: Due to the series' aforementioned divisive nature, so much as starting a discussion thread about it on certain message boards can result in this.
Fan Myopia: Due to the amount of critical praise the show has received, the fandom has a tendency to overestimate itself. It's gotten to the point where it's seen very frequently on this wiki.
Fanon: A general note: so many things about the series and its mythos are implied and left open to interpretation, rather than explicitly stated, that drawing the line between canon and fanon can in some cases be extremely difficult, if not downright impossible. As a rule of thumb: if you heard it from somebody on the Internet (including This Very Wiki and even The Other Wiki), or in a magazine, or at a convention, or even in the freaking DVD special features - don't assume it's canon. Hell, even the creators themselvestend to make contradictory statements about the series, so you might not want to trust them so much either.
No, Gendo and Fuyutsuki never actually have a drinking party in the series. And no, Shinji isn't some kind of sex master, thank you very much. This also extends to Misato's father's name; Hikari's sisters' personalities; Shinji's wardrobe; and many other things. The "SEELE dudes" have been given the fanon names Teddy, Vlad, Nigel, and Pierre.
Also worth noting: No matter how you might remember it, Gendo does not officially have a theme song.
Faux Symbolism: Debaterages to this day (and on this very wiki) regarding the degree to which the religious symbolism is meaningful, but at least according to one statement from assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki (whose other work you may be familiar with), most of it was thrown in simply to make the series appear "mystical".
Armisael shifts from a halo-form into a single tentacle that tries to... "stab" Unit-00. And then there's all the sexual imagery and implications, both between the angel psychologically contacting Rei in a similar — but far less nightmarish — way to Arael contacting Asuka, and attempting physical contact with Unit-00 in order to revive her sister angels...
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In episode 9, Toji wonders aloud if only weirdos are chosen to be Eva pilots. Come episodes 17 and 18...
Especially because he may actually be right. As it's revealed towards the end of the series that the Eva's all have to have the souls of their pilot's mother inside them, this means that Parental Abandonment is essentially a requirement to qualify as an Eva pilot.
Growing the Beard: The first half of the show is a fairly straightforward — albeit highly entertaining — character-driven mecha series. Starting around episodes 14 and 15, the focus shifts decisively from the Monster of the Week battles onto the relationships, internal struggles, and schemes of the characters as the pacing picks up, the action and drama become more intense, and the series gets progressively darker. It's in the latter half of the series that it develops an identity truly its own.
Jump the Shark: For fans who preferred it as a mecha series without heavy melodrama and Mind Screw, the same turning point marks this.
The English dub also takes some time to grow its beard. For the first few episodes it is admittedly rather clumsy and over-the-top (albeit no more so than most dubs of its time), leading many viewers to dismiss it entirely and question why it was ever so well-loved in the first place. Around the time of Asuka's introduction it starts noticeably improving, and the main cast become progressively better as the series goes on, until by the end of the show they are delivering the iconic, emotional performances that fans love them for.
Shinji: "Okay, the movie better sure as Hell make up for this, I'm telling you right now, 'cause I'm stuck in Nowhereland!"
Come End of Evangelion, where everyone — save Shinji, and later Asuka, who are actually stuck in Nowhereland, surrounded by a sea of Lilith's blood and decomposing body parts — has become part of the sea of LCL. Despite that, however, there's still an underlying hope that others, like Asuka has done, will come back, because they have the will to live and find happiness, and eventually rebuild civilization.
The suicide of Ritsuko’s mother Naoko comes off as way creepier after the suicide of Robin Williams, who was probably Eva’s most famous fan.
The hum of the Entry Plugs also gravitates from soothing to disturbing over the course of the series, as the events associated with being inside the Eva become progressively more nightmarish.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Aoba's Instrumentality scene can be downright hilarious once you realize his (English) voice actor is married to Rei's (English) voice actress. Let the Freudian subtext wash over you.
At the end of the DVD Commentary for The End of Evangelion, Jason C. Lee and Taliesin Jaffe make a crack about the (un)likelihood of Eva 2: Electric Boogaloo. 10 years later, guess what one of the fastest-growing fan theories about Rebuild is...
In episode fifteen, before Asuka kisses Shinji, she says "Here I come!" triumphantly. Five minutes into End of Evangelion and... hedid.
Narm: Most of the series's more intense moments are so extremely serious that they will either come off as utterly spellbinding or hilariously over-the-top, depending on the viewer. Even many fans who adore the show agree that its dramatic extremes and rampant weirdness make it ripe for lampooning.
Narm Charm: Even some of the weaker moments in the English dub have their fans, such as the now-memetic "EVERY SINGLE MISSILE HIT THE TARGET!!!!"
Eva has the reputation of "that one robot show that nobody understands". In reality, it's actually pretty easy to understand on the surface; it's only when you start looking deeper, and more into the symbolism of things, that it starts getting rather confusing. Supplementary information has also been released to clear up some of the more confusing areas... but only in Japan.
Nightmare Retardant: Rei was meant to fit in the Uncanny Valley as a deconstruction of the Moe archetype. Apparently someone in the animation department didn't get the memo, since half the time she's utterly adorable.
Nothing Is Scarier: When Ritsuko's team discovers Rei II's body in the destroyed entry plug, we're never shown what's inside. Considering how often this is horriblyaverted in the rest of the anime, it's surprisingly effective.
Rewatch Bonus: This series has a very dense plot. If you only watched it once, you probably missed something. Watch it again, and you'll notice a lot of foreshadowing.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Good gravy. The show's a cracking good watch, even today; but to a modern viewer, some of it might seem pretty cliche, Reiinparticular. However, you have to remember that everybody copied this show like mad, after it aired in 1995. Strange, godlike robots; everyone having emotional problems, conspiracies within conspiracies; noodle-like protagonists... for anime, it all really did start here.
The manga goes extremely far in making all the Freud Was Right explicit when Shinji, trapped in the Eva, is "tempted" by a seductive apparition of naked Yui, or rather Unit 01's Angelic side in her guise. Even for Evangelion, that scene was seriously disturbing.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: The director actually researched some academic psychology, and when a man climbing out of a depression reads a psychology textbook you know he's paying attention. Consequently, its usage is fairly accurate in the show, although it suffers from All Psychology Is Freudian. For example, one of the episodes, "Oral Stage," is named after one of Freud's psychosexual development phases. Many of the music titles derive from mainstream psychology, e.g. "Borderline Case", "Separation Anxiety", "Mother Is the First Other", "A Fragile Ego Border", and "Hedgehog's Dilemma".
Woolseyism: Ample amounts; see the entry on the Woolseyism page for Anime.
A somewhat unusual case of Woolseyisms being enforced by the original creators: Anno himself oversaw the series' translation and dubbing, and personally selected translations for some of the terms in the series. These include the Angels (shito, which would ordinarily translate to "messenger", whereas tenshi would mean "angel"); the Human Instrumentality Project, more literally translated as "Human Complementation Project", was translated as such as a Shout-Out to the writings of Cordwainer Smith; the English episode titles (see Shout-Out entry) were in most cases completely changed from the Japanese originals, initially to titles of songs from the series' soundtrack, but later to original titles, e.g. episode 16's "Splitting of the Breast"; and of course the title of the series, which is a pretty accurate translation from the Japanese - to Greek, not English, where it would be something like "Good News of the New Creation".