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Reviews Comments: Over-hyped and underwhelming Neon Genesis Evangelion whole series review by Quirk

I wanted to like EVA. I really did. Unfortunately, the EVA the Internet portrayed and the EVA that I actually watched were two completely different entities.

The first problem is the characters. Now, I tended to see Shinji’s actions as relatively justified (The end of episode 21 and certain other events notwithstanding), but I still had very little sympathy for him, or for any other character for that matter. They didn’t feel human, because there was little to their personality outside of their various issues and neuroses, and little to no character development at all outside of “they get worse”. Because of this, there was nothing that made me consider them remotely relatable. I just didn’t care.

Secondly, the supposed “nightmare fuel” the series is famous for was suspiciously absent, though I blame this mostly on Internet osmosis. (I have not seen Eo E, however.) The Angels quickly lost any horrifying eldritch qualities they might have had when they became monsters-of-the-week, and even the infamous mind rape scene came across less as “this is horrible” and more “Oh, the Angel’s trying to communicate. Hello, Angel!”

Third is that fact that the series is simply boring. Outside the fights against the Third and Fourteenth Angels, there’s little dramatic tension, and there are long periods where characters will talk and talk and still accomplish nothing. Right when there seems to be a plot building up (Around episode 20 or so), the show peters off into more talking, post-modern psychological review, and shallow symbolism, none of which makes sense, and not in the way that FLCL made no sense. This cuts the viewer off from caring in the slightest about what’s left of the plot.

Fourth and final are the massive logic problems present in the series, which there is no room to explain here. Unlike a certain other Gainax show, these are not justified by Rule of Cool, and manage to derail anything the series was aiming for when looked at objectively.

For its flaws, Neon Genesis Evangelion is not actually a bad series. It is a passable, if somewhat mediocre and sorely over-hyped deconstruction of a mecha anime, and worth a watch for people who have time to kill and a high tolerance for boredom. For those who prefer the Gurren Lagann style of things, go watch that again instead. You’ll be glad you did.


  • starspawn17
  • 27th Aug 10
You reviewed the series WITHOUT WATCHING EOE?
  • Niaspace
  • 30th Aug 10
I think it might be more that you are jaded and the EVA tropes have become a bit of a dead horse. The combat was hi octane nightmare fuel for me because it subverted the whole trope of "hero's mech takes damage, hero inside gets zapped." Watching Rei's veins bulge or handprints form around Shinji's neck throttling him was unnerving. Also this is not the mech show where combat is laser beams and swords, causing the enemy mecha to blow up in a butterfly explosion.

As for not liking the characters I think that's part of the deconstruction. Shinji is a huge "take that" to the old style omnicompetent child pilot who despite fighting a war never seems to feel it. Asuka too, as a "take that" to a tsundere pilot. That you don't find them relatable might be because you still enjoy and are rooted in the clasic giant robot tropes. I found them very relatable because they are exactly what would happen if you put scarred children into war machines and manipulated them to fight a horrific war.

As for the logic, I agree with the lack of it, but to me Evangelion always seemed to be like someone trying to show a nightmare of the end of the world, rather than be consistent. It's more dream logic than illogic.

It's interesting you end with mentioning Gurren Lagann, because it is a counter-reaction to Eva, and to me is even weaker. There is no logic in Gurren Lagann, it's just whatever makes the coolest scene. Good review though.
  • Quirk
  • 6th Sep 10
Strangely enough, with some more exposure (and reading Nobody Dies), I've come to the conclusion that EVA is actually incredibly solid in concept. It's just the implementation of the show that messed up things. Maybe I'll get around to watching Rebuild sometime.
  • 10th Sep 10
NGE is one of those series where relating to the characters is neccessary, but difficult...for some people anyway. Others (myself included) find it pretty easy to relate to a wimpy adolescent misfit.

"For those who prefer the Gurren Lagann style of things, go watch that again instead. You’ll be glad you did." TTGL was alright, but I prefer Gunbuster.

  • Quirk
  • 11th Sep 10
^ The problem is that I'm a die-hard Romantic: I like seeing wimpy adolescant misfits actually beat their demons and earn their happy endings, hence the praise for Gurren Lagann.

I could relate relatively well with Shinji, until the end of episode 21. That's when he crossed the line and evaporated any sympathy I had for him. Misato, the only person who genuinely cares about Shinji, even if it's in her own, imperfect way, is in the next room sobbing uncontrollably over Kaji's death and Shinji does nothing to comfort the woman who's done more to treat him like an actual human being than his own father. I don't care what justification can be made for that, but in my eyes that wasted moment of character development turned Shinji from a human being to a pathetic caricature who's not worth sympathy of any kind.
  • Nettacki
  • 26th Sep 10
^ For all I know, that could have been exactly what Hideaki Anno was going for. I mean, he hated the Otaku and all that enough to not even keep in the usual tidings of Character Development, and could have deliberately made it to piss everyone off.
  • MasterDon
  • 27th Nov 10
The way I seez it, you're just complaining that the series wasn't upbeat or flashy enough for you.
  • cideto
  • 2nd Jan 11
^From the perception I take from this review, Quirk was more bothered by the lack of feeling to the series. I will write a review of this sooner or later, but to comment on this fully. There was little reason to care for any of these characters and too often than not there was the feeling of waiting. A story does not have to be action packed or upbeat, especially mecha ones think Big 0 which had a very similar philosophical feel to it, or Gundam 00 for the quite depressive aspects, to be good.

To try and stay short, EVA is not bad as much as does not live up to the hype it receives. By that, I mean it got to convoluted and while the interest in the characters was stagnant for me at first. By the end, it did not matter to me how it ended because there was no to root for or boo which is key to every story.

  • iheartmountains
  • 29th Jan 11
People need to stop harping on how much of a "deconstruction" Eva is. Find me one quote from Anno that mentions any such motivation in Eva's development and I'll eat my hat. And, LOL @ your Gurren Lagann recommendation. That series is utter trash.
  • 5th Feb 11
Lots of series are utter trash. They are also usually the series with the largest fanbases.
  • GXfan24
  • 10th Jul 11
Gurren Lagann being trash is debatable. A lot of love and care was put into it, even though the series says "Fuck you!" to logic and sense.
  • eveil
  • 11th Jul 11
Love and care does not always make something good.
  • kay4today
  • 13th Jul 11
This is the best EVA review I've ever read. Like you said it's not a bad series, but overhyped and sometimes a little bit boring. I never disliked any character more than Asuka and laughed at her demise. The only real good thing about EVA is Gendo. And the Hi Octane Nightmare Fuel I always read about was absent in both EVA and EOE for me.

Oh and I recently watched Gurren Lagann and it's indeed trash.
  • kay4today
  • 13th Jul 11

  • sword_tenchi
  • 13th Jul 11
I agree with what's been said in a lot of the reviews, but dare I say that I found Eva a *fun* series and not nightmarish? Aside from the characters' plain stupidity in the early parts, I just felt like the violence that was intended to be horrific and shocking (and the supporting cast's reaction) was SO over-the-top that I could only laugh at it.

OT, as for a certain character and Anno's reaction to her popularity...a hauntingly beautiful girl plagued with identity issues and cloaked in mystery? Surely that's not going to resonate with anyone!
  • McSomeguy
  • 24th Sep 11
I felt pretty much the same about this series. The only reason I forced myself to finish watching it was to see if it eventually manages to live up to the hype. It didn't. Then I watched Eo E, and still nothing. Flawed characters are fine, unlikable characters are not. At least not if they're ALL unlikable, becase then you have no reason to care about what happens to them. At least I didn't find one.
  • Lunacorva
  • 23rd Oct 11
I agree with what Quirk said about the characters needing to OVERCOME there inner demons. which is why Is a problem I have with a lot of NGE fan fiction, is that, rather than letting the characters overcome there demons, they fix it so that those problems never existed in the first place.
  • Xacebans
  • 28th Dec 11
I dislike that you're saying that apparently one cannot like Eva if they prefer the TTGL style of getting things done. Gurren Lagann is my favorite anime—and Evangelion and Utena come in as close seconds. I think of Eva and TTGL as a set of twins—practically the same premise but with different outcomes. I also don't think you understand just how much this series influenced the world of anime, either. You may dislike it, but saying it's just not good is different from saying you personally didn't think it was good.
  • DeviousRecital
  • 29th Dec 11
^Be honest with yourself; Eva did have quite its share of technical problems, which may or may not have been due to budget problems. Either way, there's lots of recycled footage, a soundtrack that doesn't always kick in when it needs to, and LOADS of All There In The Manual. TTGL didn't have any of that crap.

That said, I will respectfully disagree with the review. Most of the elements s/he disliked were indeed subjective traits, and Eva's one of the most subjective series ever. There is one thing I will refute however: the idea of the characters having no personalities outside their various neuroses, which is quite untrue. Misato is probably the best counterexample: she could forget all her pain and become a beer-guzzling party animal. She could bottle it all in and become a hardass commander. The only time we really saw how she was hurt was when she was alone with Kaji. But yes, I believe Evangelion is fascinating, if not entertaining, so it accomplished its job for me. I'm sorry it didn't sit so well with you.
  • Valiona
  • 9th Jan 13
Regarding Episode 21, I had the opposite reaction. After seeing Shinji looking helplessly at Misato, unable to say or do anything for her, I started to realize that I could not have done any better in that situation, as I would have been unable to say or think of anything that would be truly meaningful for Misato. At that point, he went from a sympathetic but largely pitiful character to someone I could identify with. Shinji and Misato's relationship has a tragic element- they care for each other but they can't necessarily provide the help that the other needs, and this is a running theme in Evangelion's commentary on human relationships.

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