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Manga / Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Prior to the release of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the first volume of a manga adaptation of the story, written and drawn by character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, was released as promotional material. This adaptation would eventually take up 14 volumes. It follows the overall story presented in the anime and The End of Evangelion, while making a number of changes in both the story and characters which gives it a very different feel at times.

The original run was from December 1994 to June 2013 (including several hiatuses). Beginning in 2012, it was re-released in a total of 5 omnibus editions, and is also available in digital format through Bookwalker.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Compared to the original anime, the manga cuts out several scenes, especially when it comes to some of the Angel battles, such as Sandalphon, Matarael, Ireul, and Leliel which are skipped entirely. Other scenes are altered and/or shortened, such as the encounter with Gaghiel, which instead happens in a flashback. A couple of characters, especially when it comes to their backstories, are also altered, some in subtler ways than others.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The manga details more of the odd relationship between Shinji and Rei (and Rei's character in general), 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.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Shinji is more assertive and outspoken here. For instance, after the Unit-03 incident he almost punches Gendo and has to be held back by Kaji. In the anime, Shinji simply looked at his father with quiet disdain. This also means that his relationship with Asuka is arguably betternote  while with Kaworu, it's arguably worse.note 
  • Adaptational Heroism: The manga version of Shinji's more assertive personality means that his Trauma Conga Line doesn't break him in quite the same way that it did his anime self. This means that most of his reprehensible actions in The End Of Evangelion, like masturbating in front of Asuka or choosing Instrumentality out of self-pity, don't happen here. His actions throughout the story's final act are instead more conventionally heroic; instead of sitting down in hopelessness when he finds Unit-01 stuck in bakelite, he calls on his mother to wake up. Unit 01 responds, and this means that Shinji is able to save Asuka from the MP Evas. He also convinces Rei to end Instrumentality, rather than the other way around.
  • Adaptational Romance Downgrade: The Belligerent Sexual Tension between Shinji and Asuka is downplayed compared to the anime. Their kiss is also Adapted Out and changed for an Almost Kiss where Misato and Kaji interrupt them. Instead, Shinji's relationship with Rei is more emphasized and Asuka's infatuation with Kaji has more focus than any attraction Shinji and Asuka can have for each other. Ironically, Asuka is the only one of Shinji's potential love interests who is still alive after the world gets reset, since Rei and Kaworu can't exist in a world without Angels, and there's something of a Maybe Ever After between Shinji and Asuka.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The manga's version of Kaworu is much creepier and his interest in Shinji is more selfish.
  • Adult Adoptee: The manga explicitly states that the working-class Gendo Rokubungi is adopted into the Ikari family as their legal heir after marrying Yui, which is why he took his wife's family name instead of the other way around.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Compared to the immediate friendship the two develop in the anime, Kaworu's relationship with Shinji in the manga is built around tension and the uneasiness Shinji feels around him. Kaworu is also no less interested in Shinji, but is presented as far more naive and a rather big Jerkass. Sadamoto described their relationship as two schoolboys who are constantly bickering but secretly desire to impress the other.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Depending on how you interpret things, the ending is this. Humanity has been restored in the wake of the aborted Instrumentality, and everyone who survived to the end is 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 Kensuke in Tokyo shows, there's still a possibility to re-establish those lost ties, as the future is now wide open for everyone to take advantage of.
  • Body Motifs: The manga places more attention on hands than the anime ever did, even playing into the story's resolution. During Instrumentality Shinji concludes with Rei that even though people in his life hurt him with their hands, or he hurt them with his, he still had much happiness with all of them, so even if he might get hurt again, he still wants to be with them one more time.
  • Book Ends: The manga begins and ends with Shinji walking through the streets by himself depressingly in the first chapter, triumphantly in the last.
  • Confound Them with Kindness: Shinji refuses to punch Touji back for the decking he got earlier, saying that he preferred Touji to owe him one.
  • Darker and Edgier: Zig-Zagged. Some consider it even darker than the anime, with Kaworu getting some Adaptational Jerkass, Toji dying instead of just 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.note  On the other hand, the main characters (especially Shinji) are generally more mentally stable than in the anime, and while the movie had an ambiguous ending that's subject to a variety of interpretations to this day, the manga ending is more of a clear-cut Bittersweet Ending, if not a downright Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The manga's take on the story's ending. After enduring a slightly different version of the events of End of Evangelion, humanity seems to have been given a fresh start. Even the Earth seems to have recovered, with the first scene showing heavy snowfall on Shinji's hometown despite Japan's previously tropical climate due to the Second Impact altering the Earth's axis. 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. And Toji's back too! The optimistic, confident way Shinji carries himself, directly paralleled to his downcast moodiness in the first chapter, says it all.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt: Asuka does this to Shinji after her initial strike against the Angel Israfel (seemingly) killed it.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Gendo has a large eyeball in the middle of his left palm due to swallowing Adam.
  • First Kiss: Unlike the painfully awkward kiss scene in the anime, it's subverted in the manga. As Asuka and Shinji are making their way through the NERV complex during the power outage, a discussion about the two of them and Rei leads Asuka to tease Shinji about being afraid to kiss a girl. Shinji gets irritated and snaps back at her, leading Asuka to essentially say "Okay, let's do this right here and now." They embrace, but just as their lips are about to meet, the elevator they're standing in front of opens, which just happens to be the one that Kaji and Misato were stuck in. When they realize this, Asuka hastily pulls away from Shinji.
  • Hidden Eyes: Shinji's uncle, aunt, and bullies are drawn in this manner, emphasizing the emotional anguish they create.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Since Shinji saves Asuka from the MP EVAs, he never experiences the mental break that pushes him to choose Instrumentality. In the manga's version of events, however, Rei still initiates Instrumentality, meaning the Third Impact still happens. This also means the dynamics of the ending are flipped - in End Of Evangelion, Rei tried to convince Shinji not to embrace Instrumentality, while in the Manga ending Rei creates Instrumentality as a gift to Shinji, while he has to convince her that what she's created isn't a "perfect world" after all.
  • Maybe Ever After: In the restored world of the final chapter, Shinji and Asuka have a chance encounter with each other at a Tokyo train station. Despite having no memories of the original timeline, they vaguely recognize each other and their mutual attraction remains. Still, it's unrevealed if they'll take this second chance and push their relationship any further.
  • Mercy Kill: Just after Kaworu and Shinji meet, Kaworu kills a very malnourished kitten. When Shinji reacts with shock and horror, Kaworu reasons that doing so was more merciful than letting it starve to death. This scene is the foundation for the "Evil Manga Kaworu" meme.
  • More than Mind Control: Gendo uses Shinji's insecurities and loneliness to try to convince him he's every bit as evil, desperate and vengeful as Gendo himself is.
  • Must Make Her Laugh: Rather than punching Toji as payback for being punched, Shinji tries to see if Rei can laugh by doing something funny—namely, embarrassing Toji in front of her and the rest of the girls during gym class by shoving two fingers up Toji's nose, causing him to freak out. This makes all the other girls laugh, but not Rei, who merely turns away with the same blank expression after seeing what all the noise was about.
  • No Periods, Period: Like the anime, the manga averts this for Asuka, and actually expands on it. Not only is the bathroom sequence late in the story carried over, in an earlier scene she asks Shinji to give Kaji a note she wrote.
    Shinji: Why don't you give it to him?
    Asuka: Because it's the second day of my period and I'm one giant cramp!
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Kaworu, 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.
  • The Peeping Tom: Toji tries to teach Shinji how to turn cleaning the stairs into an opportunity to look up the girls' skirts, but gets caught by Hikari. He freaks out and, in his flailing around, accidentally knocks Shinji down the stairs, leading Hikari to take him to the nurse's office.
  • Prank Date: Played With, as Asuka plays a prank on Shinji by feigning interest in him while they're living together. She first threatens him with death if he peeks on her in the shower, but later steps out wearing a Modesty Towel and acting flirtatious, asks if he wants to see what's underneath after all, only to drop it and reveal she was wearing her clothes underneath the towel all along.
  • Product Placement: UCC Coffee and Coca-Cola vending machines, Kaji brings Misato food from McDonald's, a bottle of Evian water is seen, and also an iPod in at least one chapter.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Sadamoto emphasizes Shinji and Rei's relationship much more than Anno ever did, making it clear that Rei's feelings towards the younger Ikari are indeed romantic. In the manga's version of events, Rei begins the Third Impact to create a "perfect world" as a gift for Shinji.
  • Quitting to Get Married: A flashback has Dr. Fuyutsuki asking Yui where she's planning to work after getting her doctorate. She answers she's actually planning to marry Gendo and start a family. It was only temporary, though, or else there wouldn't be a plot.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: The manga's move 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 transferred Evangelion to just another Shonen magazine.
  • Sleep Cute: Shinji and Asuka do a take on this after defeating Israfel. They practiced all night for the battle, and it catches up to them almost immediately after everything's over, so they end up conking out in their tangled-up Evas (Shinji flubbed the landing, which Asuka chided him for) as Misato and the rest of the crew watch in bewilderment.
  • Spared By Adaptation: In the manga's version of End of Evangelion, Shinji manages to activate Unit 01 in time to save Asuka from the Mass Production EVAs.
  • Take That!: Kaji brings Misato some McDonald's, since she's too stressed over Shinji being trapped in Unit-01 to leave to get food. When she protests, he urges her to eat up "before the grease solidifies". She ends up throwing the bag at him and he jokingly complains about it staining his clothes.
  • Taking You with Me: As in End of Evangelion, Misato gets shot and is dying from blood loss when she sends Shinji down to Unit 01. However, instead of succumbing to her injuries, she blows herself up with a pair of grenades to take out a JSSDF squadron that finds her outside the elevator to the Eva launch bay.
  • Tsundere: Some fans view the manga's version of Shinji as a tsundere character, mainly in his sarcastic treatment of Asuka and Kaworu.
  • Wham Shot: In Chapter 96.5, a unnamed friend of Yui Ikari grows jealous of her budding relationship with Gendo Rokubungi and her upcoming hiring at NERV. As the two reconcile, Yui ties her friend's hair in twintails and puts an old pair of glasses on her. revealing her identity to the audience as Mari Makinami.