Neon Genesis Evangelion
|Neon Genesis Evangelion|
The Neon Genesis Evangelion logo
(Shin Seiki Evangerion)
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hideaki Anno|
|Produced by||Noriko Kobayashi
|Written by||Hideaki Anno|
|Music by||Shiro Sagisu|
|Studio||Gainax & Tatsunoko|
|Network||TV Tokyo, Animax|
|Original run||October 4, 1995 – March 27, 1996|
Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangerion?, literally "Gospel of a New Century"), commonly referred to as NGE, Evangelion or Eva, is a Japanese animated television series created by Gainax and Tatsunoko Productions and directed by Hideaki Anno. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from October 1995 to March 1996. The original Japanese cast of the show includes the voice actors and singers Megumi Ogata as Shinji Ikari, Megumi Hayashibara as Rei Ayanami, and Yūko Miyamura as Asuka Soryu. The music was composed by Shirō Sagisu and would top the Oricon charts upon release; the theme song continues to receive recognition for its lasting impact in the decades after its release. The Evangelion franchise also includes a movie tetralogy called Rebuild of Evangelion, as well as several other spin-off anime, manga and video game series.
Evangelion is an apocalyptic anime in the mecha genre. The series is set in a futuristic Tokyo, fifteen years after a worldwide cataclysm. The main story centers around Shinji, a teenage boy who is recruited by the shadowy organization NERV to pilot a giant bio-machine called an Evangelion in combat against monstrous beings known as Angels. The series explores the experiences and emotions of other Evangelion pilots and members of NERV as they attempt to prevent another catastrophe. Evangelion prominently features religious symbolism and themes throughout the series, including Kabbalah, Christianity, Judaism, and Shinto imagery.
Evangelion is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed anime television series of the 1990s. Considered both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre, the series has become a cultural icon and has resulted in the artistic and technical revival of the anime industry. The show's characters, music and individual scenes have been recognized by the Japanese public, and homage to its controversial ending resulted in the creation of two movies; each provided an alternate ending for the abstract and psychological analysis of the characters for episodes 25 and 26. The subsequent film, manga, home video and other products in its franchise have achieved record sales in Japan and strong sales in overseas markets, with revenues grossing over 150 billion yen by 2013.
In 2015, fifteen years after a global cataclysm known as Second Impact, fourteen-year-old Shinji Ikari arrives in the futuristic city of Tokyo-3 in response to the summons of his estranged father Gendo Ikari, the director of the special paramilitary force NERV. Upon reaching the city, Shinji witnesses the NERV forces battling an Angel, one of a race of large monstrous beings whose awakening was foretold by the Dead Sea Scrolls. NERV's giant Evangelion bio-machines, controlled from within by pilots whose nervous systems must be synched to the Evangelions, are the only weapons capable of keeping the Angels from annihilating humanity. NERV officer Misato Katsuragi escorts Shinji into the NERV complex beneath the city, where his father pressures him into deploying the Evangelion Unit-01 against the Angel. Without training Shinji is quickly overwhelmed in the battle, causing the Evangelion to go berserk and savagely kill the Angel on its own. Following a hospitalization, Shinji moves in with Misato to recover and begins settling in to life in Tokyo-3. In his second battle Shinji violently destroys an Angel but is later overcome with emotion and attempts to run away. Misato confronts Shinji, who ultimately decides to remain a pilot. Meanwhile, Evangelion Unit-00 is repaired and Shinji tries to befriend its pilot, a mysterious and emotionally cold teenage girl named Rei Ayanami. A strategy developed by Misato, termed the Yashima Plan, is implemented to successfully defeat another Angel, but Shinji is nearly killed in the battle.
Ritsuko Akagi, NERV's chief scientist, reveals to Shinji that the global cataclysm known as the Second Impact was not caused by a meteor strike as officially reported, but instead resulted when the first Angel to arrive on Earth, code named Adam, exploded in the Antarctic. The pilot of Evangelion Unit-02, teenage girl Asuka Langley Soryu, comes to live with Misato and Shinji and joins her fellow pilots in defeating the Angels as they appear. A boy named Toji Suzuhara is selected to pilot Unit-03 but during his first test synchronization with the Evangelion, Unit-03 morphs into an Angel. When Shinji refuses to destroy the rogue unit, his control over Unit-01 is cut off and supplanted by a separate Dummy Plug system that causes his Evangelion to savagely rip apart Unit-03 and crush the internal cockpit containing Toji. Shinji is traumatized by the attack on his friend and temporarily quits piloting the Evangelion, but is forced to return in order to destroy an Angel that has overcome both Asuka and Rei. Asuka loses her self-confidence following her defeat and spirals into a deep depression. In the next battle, Rei self-destructs Unit-00 and dies to save Shinji's life. Misato and Shinji later visit the hospital where they find Rei alive but claiming to be "the third Rei". Misato forces Ritsuko to reveal the dark secrets of NERV, the Evangelion graveyard and the Dummy Plug system which operates using clones of Rei.
Asuka is reduced to a catatonic state by her depression and Kaworu Nagisa replaces her as pilot of Unit-02. Kaworu, who initially befriends Shinji, is soon revealed to be the final Angel. Kaworu fights Shinji, then realizes that he must die if humanity is to thrive and asks Shinji to kill him. Shinji hesitates, then kills Kaworu. This act triggers the forced evolution of humanity, termed the "Human Instrumentality Project", in which the souls of all mankind are merged into one. In the final scenes of the last episode, Shinji's soul mentally grapples with the reason for his existence and reaches an epiphany, enabling him to destroy the wall of negative attitudes and emotions that tormented him throughout the series. The episode ends with all the characters applauding him, as Shinji smiles and thanks everyone.
Anno attempted to create characters for the Neon Genesis Evangelion series that reflected different parts of his own personality. The characters of Evangelion struggle with their interpersonal relationships, their personal problems, and traumatic events in their past. The deeply human qualities of the characters have enabled some viewers of the show to identify with the characters on a personal level, while others interpret them as historical, religious, or philosophical symbols.
Shinji Ikari is the main protagonist of the series and the designated pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. After witnessing his mother's death as a child, Shinji was abandoned by his father, Gendo Ikari. Shinji is emotionally fragile and does as instructed out of fear of rejection. Throughout the series he repeats "I mustn't run away!", but habitually withdraws in response to traumatic events. Anno has described Shinji as a boy who "shrinks from human contact" and has "convinced himself that he is a completely unnecessary person".
Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami are the two female protagonists and are presented with their own flaws and difficulty relating to other people. Asuka is a child prodigy who pilots Evangelion Unit-02 and possesses a fiery temper and an overabundance of pride and self-confidence. As a little girl Asuka discovered the body of her mother shortly after she had hanged herself, leading the child to repress her emotions and vow never to cry. The withdrawn and mysterious pilot of Evangelion Unit-00, Rei Ayanami, is a clone made from the salvaged remains of Shinji's mother, Yui Ikari, and is plagued by a sense of negative self-worth stemming from the realization that she is an expendable asset.
Misato Katsuragi serves as the caretaker and commanding officer for Shinji and Asuka. Her professional demeanor at NERV contrasts dramatically with her carefree and irresponsible behavior at home. Character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto conceived her as an older "girl next door" and promiscuous loser who failed to take life seriously. Misato has an Electra complex and is consumed with conflicting love and hate for her father, which manifests as a driving force in her decision to work at NERV and her attempts to "[seek] her father in Kaji's embrace." Anno described Shinji and Misato as "afraid of being hurt" and "unsuitable—lacking the positive attitude—for what people call heroes of an adventure."
The teenaged Evangelion pilots are ordered into battle by the steely Gendo Ikari, Shinji's father and the commander of NERV. He abandoned Shinji and recalled him only to serve as an Evangelion pilot. Gendo salvaged the remains of his dead wife's soul and body to create Rei, whom he viewed as a mere tool at his disposal to defeat the Angels. He is depicted as relentless in his drive to win, a man who "takes drastic and extreme measures, by fair means or foul, or by hook or by crook, in order to accomplish his own purpose." According to Sadamoto, the characters of Gendo and Fuyutsuki are based on Ed Straker and Alec Freeman of the television series UFO.
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto designed the visual appearance of the characters so that their personalities "could be understood more or less at a glance". The distinctive aesthetic appeal of the female lead characters' designs contributed to high sales of Neon Genesis Evangelion merchandise. The design of Rei in particular enjoyed such strong popularity that the media referred to the character as "Premium Girl" due to the high sales of books with Rei on the cover.
|Shinji Ikari (碇 シンジ Ikari Shinji?)||Megumi Ogata||Spike Spencer|
|Kaworu Nagisa (渚 カヲル Nagisa Kaoru?)||Akira Ishida||Kyle Sturdivant|
|Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイ Ayanami Rei?)||Megumi Hayashibara||Amanda Winn-Lee|
|Asuka Langley Soryu (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー Sōryū Asuka Rangurē?)||Yuko Miyamura||Tiffany Grant|
|Toji Suzuhara (鈴原 トウジ Suzuhara Tōji?)||Tomokazu Seki||Joe Pisano, Michael O'Connor and Brett Weaver|
|Gendo Ikari (碇 ゲンドウ Ikari Gendō?)||Fumihiko Tachiki||Tristan MacAvery|
|Kozo Fuyutsuki (冬月 コウゾウ Fuyutsuki Kōzō?)||Motomu Kiyokawa||Guil Lunde|
|Misato Katsuragi (葛城 ミサト Katsuragi Misato?)||Kotono Mitsuishi||Allison Keith|
|Ritsuko Akagi (赤木 リツコ Akagi Ritsuko?)||Yuriko Yamaguchi||Sue Ulu|
|Ryoji Kaji (加持 リョウジ Kaji Ryōji?)||Kōichi Yamadera||Aaron Krohn|
Anno fell into a deep depression following completion of work on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and the 1992 failure of the Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise sequel project. According to Yasuhiro Takeda, Anno agreed to a collaboration between King Records and Gainax while drinking with King representative Toshimichi Ōtsuki; King Records guaranteed Anno a time slot for "something, anything". Anno expressed the intention to create a show "with a soul", in contrast to his recent Nadia project which he viewed as "too childish". Anno began development of the new series in 1993 around the notion of not running away, which had been the underlying theme of Aoki Uru, an earlier Anno project that had failed to move into production. Early into the production, Anno stated his intent to have Evangelion increase the number of otaku (anime fans) by attracting interest in the medium. In the early design phase of the Evangelion project several formats were considered, including a film, a television series and an original video animation (OVA) series. The producers finally opted for the television series as it was the most widely accessible media in Japan at that time. The proposed title Alcion was rejected due to its lack of hard consonant sounds.
Evangelion borrowed certain scenarios and the use of introspection as a narrative device from a previous Anno project entitled Gunbuster. He incorporated the narrative structure of Nadia and multiple frames of reference to leave the story open to interpretation. Over the course of the writing process, elements of the Evangelion storyline evolved from the original concept. A female protagonist was initially proposed for the series, but the idea was scrapped. Originally, the first episode presented the battle between an Angel and Rei, while the character of Shinji was only introduced after the Angel had been defeated. Further changes to the plot were made following the Aum Shinrikyo sect's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March. Azuma Hiroki explained that the original Evangelion story and the sect's philosophy shared a lack of concern for indiscriminate violence. Although Anno took steps to address the consequences of violence in the story, Hiroki criticized Evangelion for subtly denigrating the very type of viewer it sought to attract, observing that both the Aum sect and the otaku culture are the consequence of social rejection and isolation.
The final version of the story reflects inspiration drawn from numerous other anime and fictional works. Chief among these are Space Battleship Yamato, Mobile Suit Gundam, Devilman and Space Runaway Ideon. The series also incorporates tributes to Childhood's End, the novels of Ryū Murakami, The Andromeda Strain, The Divine Invasion, the poem Pippa Passes, The Hitcher, and several television series including The Prisoner, Thunderbirds, Ultraman and Ultra Seven.
The development of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series ran close to deadlines throughout its production run. The initial cuts of the first two episodes were screened at the second Gainax festival in July 1995, only three months before they were aired on television. By episode 13 the series began to deviate significantly from the original story, and the initial script was abandoned. The number of Angels was reduced to 17 instead of the original 28, and the writers changed the story's ending, which had originally described the failure of the Human Instrumentality Project after an Angel attack from the moon. Starting with episode 16, the show changed drastically, focusing on the characters and discarding the grand narrative concerning salvation for a narrative focusing on the individual characters. This change coincided with Anno's development of an interest in psychology after a friend lent him a book on mental illness. This focus culminated in a psychoanalysis of the characters in the two final episodes. The production ran so close to the airing deadline that the completed scenes used in the preview of the twenty-fifth episode had to be redesigned to work with the new ending. These episodes feature heavy use of abstract animation, flashbacks, simple line drawings, photographs and fixed image scenes with voice-over dialogue. Some critics speculated that these unconventional animation choices resulted from budget cuts, but Toshio Okada stated that they were the result of the ending being decided only three months before airing. These two episodes sparked controversy and condemnation among fans and critics of the series, including significant vitriol directed at Anno himself. Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax released in 1997, two animated feature films: Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion.
The Evangelion series is permeated with references to Kabbalah, Christianity, Judaism, Shinto, and Gnosticism, complicating viewers' attempts to form an unambiguous interpretation of the series. Of particular influence are the Midrash, the Zohar and other Kabbalistic texts on the Book of Genesis, which are reworked within the series to create a new Evangelion-specific mythology while still maintaining a connection with the original texts. Assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki said the religious visual references were intended to make the series more "interesting and exotic", and denied the existence of a "Christian meaning" for the use of Christian visual symbols in the show.
The series contains numerous allusions to the Kojiki and the Nihongi, the sacred texts of Shinto. The Shinto notion of Black and White Moons is referenced in the series, and the mythical lances of the Shinto deities Izanagi and Izanami are used as weapons in battles between Evangelions and Angels. Elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition also feature prominently throughout the series, including references to Adam, Lilith, Eve, the Lance of Longinus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, among many others. The merging of all human souls into one through the Human Instrumentality Project at the end of the series is similar to the Kabbalistic concept of tikkun olam. The Evangelions have been likened to the figure of the golem in Jewish folklore, and their visual design in the series resembles the traditional depictions of oni (Japanese demons or ogres). Buddhist and Zoroastrian terminology are also incorporated at points throughout the story.
Evangelion has been interpreted as a deeply personal expression of Hideaki Anno's own emotional struggles. The series invokes psychological themes in character dialogue and the phrases used on intercut title screens throughout each episode; movements of the original score also derive many of their titles from psychological theory. Examples of both include "Thanatos", "Oral stage", "Separation Anxiety", and "Mother Is the First Other". In particular, the series references elements of the works of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Arthur Schopenhauer, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jean Paul Sartre and others.
Shiro Sagisu composed most of the original music for the series. The soundtracks released to high rankings on the Oricon charts, with Neon Genesis Evangelion III reaching the number one slot for highest sales in 1997; that same year, Sagisu received the Kobe Animation award for "Best Music Score" for his work on Evangelion. Classical music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel and George Frideric Handel were also featured throughout the series. Additional classical works and original symphonic compositions were used to score later movies produced within the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. In total, the series' discography includes 21 full studio, live, compilation and soundtrack albums and six CD singles.
The series' opening theme was "A Cruel Angel's Thesis", performed by Yoko Takahashi. It ranked on two TV Asahi polls, reaching #55 for best anime theme songs of all time, and #18 for best anime theme songs of the 1990s. Fifteen years after its release, the theme won JASRAC's annual award for the royalties it continues to generate from its usage in pachinko, pachislo, karaoke and other venues. The end theme of the series was a version of "Fly Me to the Moon" arranged and sung by Claire Littley.
In May 1996, Gainax announced an Evangelion film in response to fan dissatisfaction with the series finale. In advance of the promised film, on March 15, 1997 Gainax released Death & Rebirth, consisting of 60 minutes of clips taken from the first 24 episodes of the series and 40 minutes of the upcoming movie, The End of Evangelion.
The End of Evangelion, which premiered on July 19, 1997, provided a complete retelling of the final two episodes of the television series. Rather than depicting series' climax within the characters' minds, the film provides a more conventional, action-based resolution to the series' plot lines. The film won numerous awards and grossed 1.45 billion yen within six months of its release. EX.org ranked the film in 1999 as the fifth best 'All-Time Show', with the television series at #2. and in 2009 CUT Magazine ranked it the third greatest anime film of all time.
On September 9, 2006, Gainax confirmed a new animated film series called Rebuild of Evangelion. Consisting of four movies, Rebuild of Evangelion presents an alternate retelling of the TV series that includes new characters and a different conclusion to the story. The first film, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone was released in Japan on September 1, 2007, with Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance and Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo released on June 27, 2009 and November 17, 2012. The final film, tentatively titled Evangelion: Final, is anticipated to be released in 2015.
Ten months prior to the television broadcast of Evangelion, Anno worked with author and illustrator Yoshiyuki Sadamoto to publish a manga version of the story designed to generate popular interest in the upcoming anime series. The first installment of the manga was published in the February issue of Shōnen Ace in December 1994 with subsequent installments produced on an irregular basis over an eighteen-year period. The final installment was published in June 2013. Several publishers were initially concerned at the selection of Sadamoto to develop the manga adaptation, viewing him as "too passé to be bankable". These concerns proved unfounded upon the strong commercial success of the manga: the first 10 volumes sold over 15 million copies, and the eleventh volume reached number one on the Tohan charts, selling an additional two million copies. The manga series won the 1996 Comicker fan manga poll.
Several video games based on the series have been developed, ranging from RPG and adventure games to mahjong and card games. The series has also spawned numerous art books and visual novels, one of which inspired the derivative manga series Angelic Days. The story has been adapted into two other manga series in addition to the original Sadamoto project: Petit Eva: Evangelion@School, a parody series which received its own original net animation serial show, and Campus Apocalypse, a character-focused story that omits the Evangelion robots. Several radio dramas have been released on CD and cassette to make the material more accessible to non-traditional audiences.
The original home video releases in Japan included VHS and Laserdisc sets using a release structured around "Genesis 0:(volume number)", with each of the first 12 releases containing two episodes each. "Genesis 0:13" and "Genesis 0:14" contained the original and the Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth versions of episodes 25 and 26. The fifteenth and final release for Laserdisc, entitled "Genesis 0:X", contained episodes 21 to 24 and was a special mail-in offer for fans who purchased all 14 discs. The Japanese DVD release was spread across seven volumes; all contained four episodes except the seventh volume, which included both the original and alternate versions of episodes 25 and 26. The Second Impact Box released in 2001 contained the 26 uncut and remastered original episodes and both movies. In 2003, the Japanese-only, nine volume "Renewal of Evangelion" DVDs were released, with improved acoustic effects, remixed dialogue and remastered soundtrack for 5.1 stereo sound. The first eight volumes covered the original 26 episodes, including two versions of episodes 21 to 24: the uncut version and a reconstruction of the edited version). The ninth volume, containing two discs, was named Evangelion: The Movie and contained Death(true)² and End of Evangelion. The Renewal Project release formed the basis for the western "Platinum Edition".
The series is distributed in North America and Europe by ADV Films and licensed by Manga Entertainment. The 13 English VHS tapes, released from August 20, 1997 to July 7, 1998, contained two episodes each and were released using the same "Genesis 0:(volume number)" titling convention as the first Japanese home video release. Two laserdisc collections were released as Collection 1 Deluxe Edition and Collection 2 Deluxe Edition, containing episodes one to four and five to eight, respectively. The first DVD release by ADV Films was the eight disk Perfect Collection in 2002, containing the original 26 installments. In 2004, ADV released two DVD compilations titled Neon Genesis Evangelion: Resurrection and Neon Genesis: Reborn, encompassing the directors' cuts of Episodes 21 through 23 and Episodes 24 through 26, respectively. In the same year, the Platinum Edition release was announced by ADV in 2004, consisting of seven DVDs released between July 27, 2004 and April 19, 2005. The Platinum Edition contained the original 26 episodes and the four "Director's cut" versions of episodes 21 to 24. A six-disc version of the Platinum Edition, the Platinum Complete Edition, was released on November 22, 2005, and omitted several extras included in other versions, including commentary and trailers.
The Neon Genesis Evangelion television series has received great popularity both domestically and internationally. Evangelion has developed into a social phenomenon beyond its primary otaku fan base, generating national discussion in Japan. The series has also been the subject of numerous media reports, debates and research studies.
Following the conclusion of the series' original television broadcast, the public and critical reception to Neon Genesis Evangelion was polarized, particularly with regard to the final two episodes. The experimental style of the finale confused or alienated many fans and spawned debate and controversy; Hideaki Anno received anonymous online death threats. The criticism was largely directed toward the lack of storyline resolution in the final two episodes. Opinion on the finale was mixed, with the audience broadly divided between those who considered the episodes "deep", and those who felt their meaning was "more apparent than real". The show's American voice actors admitted that they also had trouble understanding the series' conclusion. The Mainichi Times wrote that after episode 25, "nearly all viewers felt betrayed ... When commentator Eiji Ōtsuka sent a letter to the Yomiuri Shimbun, complaining about the end of the Evangelion series, the debate went nationwide." Despite the criticism, Anno stood by his artistic choices for the series' conclusion. The controversy surrounding Evangelion has not negatively influenced the popularity of the series, which retains strong popularity within and outside the otaku subculture.
Neon Genesis Evangelion has scored highly in numerous popularity polls. In 1995, the series won first place in the "Best Loved Series" category of the Anime Grand Prix, a reader-polled award series published in Animage magazine. The show was again awarded this prize in 1996 by a large margin. The End of Evangelion won first place in 1997, making Neon Genesis Evangelion the first anime franchise to win three consecutive first place awards. The website IGN ranks Evangelion as the 10th most recommended animated series. The series placed third in Animage's "anime that should be remembered in the 21st Century". In 1998, EX.org's readers voted Neon Genesis Evangelion the #1 US anime release and in 1999, the #2 show of all time. In 2007, a large-scale poll by TV Asahi found Evangelion was the second most appreciated anime in Japan. The series was ranked as the most popular of all time in a 2006 survey of 80,000 attendees at the Japan Media Arts Festival. Evangelion won the Animation Kobe award in 1996, and 1997. The series was awarded the Nihon SF Taisho Award and the Excellence Award Japan Media Arts Festival in 1997. The film ranked #6 on Wizard's Anime Magazine on their "Top 50 Anime released in North America".
In the August 1996 issue of Animage, Evangelion characters placed high in the rankings of best characters with Rei ranked first, Asuka third, Kaworu fourth and Shinji sixth. Rei Ayanami won in the Female Character category in 1995 and 1996 and Shinji Ikari won the Male Character category in 1996 and 1997. In 2010, Newtype magazine recognized Rei Ayanami as the most popular character of the 1990s in the female category, and Shinji Ikari in the male category. TV Asahi recognized the "suicide of Ayanami Rei" as the ninth most touching anime scene ever. "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" won the Animage award in the Best Song category in 1995, and TV Asahi recognized it as the 18th best anime song since 1990.
The series has captured the attention of cultural theorists inside and outside of Japan, and many critics have analyzed or commented on it, including Susan J. Napier, William Rout, Mick Broderick, Mari Kotani, and the sociologists Shinji Miyadai, Hiroki Azuma, Yuriko Furuhata, and Marc Steinberg. The series has been described as both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre. Mike Hale of The New York Times described it as "a superior anime, a giant-robot tale of unusual depth, feeling and detail". Theron Martin (Anime News Network) described the character design as "distinctive, designed to be sexy rather than cutesy", and the mecha designs as "among the most distinctive ever produced for an anime series, with sleek, lithe appearances that look monstrous, fearsome, and nimble rather than boxy and knight-like". Mike Crandol stated "It no longer seems contrite to say that Evangelion is surely one of the all-time great works of animation". Zac Bertschy remarked that "Most of the backlash against Evangelion existed because people don't like to think". Evangelion has been described as possessing complex characters and richness of narrative.
Influence and legacy
Evangelion has had a significant impact on Japanese popular culture. The series also had a strong influence on anime, at a time when the anime industry and televised anime series in particular were in a slump period. CNET reviewer Tim Hornyak credits the series with revitalizing and transforming the giant mecha genre. In the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese animation knew a period of crisis and decreased production that coincided with the economic crisis in Japan. This was followed by a crisis of ideas in the years to come. Against this background, Evangelion imposed new standards for the animated serial, ushering in the era of the "new Japanese animation serial", characterized by innovations that allowed a technical and artistic revival of the industry. The production of anime serials began to reflect greater author control, the concentration of resources in fewer but higher quality episodes (typically ranging from 13 to 26), a directorial approach similar to live film, and greater freedom from the constraints of merchandising.
Evangelion has influenced numerous subsequent anime series, including Serial Experiments Lain, Eureka Seven, RahXephon, Texhnolyze, Gasaraki, Boogiepop Phantom, Blue Submarine No. 6, Mobile Battleship Nadesico, Rinne no Lagrange, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Argento Soma, Pilot Candidate, Generator Gawl, Brain Powerd and Dai-Guard. FLCL contains allusions to Evangelion, and the series is also mentioned in the third episode of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. References and homages to the show are also contained in Koi Koi Seven, Hayate the Combat Butler, Baka and Test and Keroro Gunso. The show's mixture of religion and mecha also influenced several Japanese video games, including Xenogears and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. The design and personality traits of the character Rei Ayanami were reused for many anime characters of the late 1990s, such as Ruri Hoshino of Nadesico, Ruriko Tsukushima (The Droplet), Miharu (Gasaraki), Anthy Himemiya (Revolutionary Girl Utena), and Lain Iwakura (Serial Experiments Lain). The character of Asuka was parodied by Excel (Excel Saga), and some of her traits were used to create the character of Mai in Gunparade March. Evangelion's mecha design, characterized by a greater resemblance to the human figure, and the abstract designs of the Angels, also had a significant impact on the designs of future anime productions.
According to Keisuke Iwata, the global spread of Japanese animation dramatically expanded due to the popularity of Evangelion. After the success of the show, otaku culture gained wide attention. In Japan, Evangelion prompted a review of the cultural value of anime, and with its success, anime reached a new point of maturity. With the interest in the series, otaku culture became a mass social phenomenon. The show's regular reruns increased the number of otaku, which Lynden links to a boom in interest in literature on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Kabbalah and Christianity. Anime director Makoto Shinkai declared that the genre of anime owes a cinematographic debt to Evangelion. In the aftermath of Evangelion, Anno reused many of its stylistic conceits in the live-action Love & Pop and the anime romance Kare Kano. The UK band Fightstar's debut album, Grand Unification, was heavily influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Japanese band Rey derived its name from that of the character Rei Ayanami.
The popularity of Neon Genesis Evangelion extends to its merchandising which exceeded $400 million within two years of its release. The series has established itself greatly on the Japanese market, developing a varied range of products for adult consumers, such as cell phones (including a special NERV and MAGI-themed Sharp SH-06D smartphone released in 2012), laptop computers, many soundtracks, DVDs, action figures, and telephone cards. The stylized mecha design that would later earn praise for Evangelion was initially criticized by certain toy companies as being too difficult to manufacture, with some expressing concern that models of the Evangelions "would never sell." Eventually, Sega agreed to license all toy and video game sales. At the time of the release of the Japanese film Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion, estimated sales of Evangelion merchandise topped $300 million, of which 70% derived from sales of video and laser discs, soundtrack CDs, single CDs, computer software and the three-volume manga. Multiple merchandising products were released during the Renewal Project, such as CDs, video games, cel-art illustrations and collectible models.
The commercial exploitation of the series for the home video market achieved record sales and remained strong over a decade later. The fame of the show has grown through home video sales, which exceeded two or three times the sales of other contemporary anime series and films. The series contributed significantly to the spread of the DVD format in Japan and generated a considerable impact on the Japanese economy, calculated in billions of yen. A 2007 estimate placed the total value of the franchise at over 150 billion yen.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Neon Genesis Evangelion|
- (Japanese) Neon Genesis Evangelion—Gainax official Evangelion page
- Madman Entertainment Evangelion page
- (Japanese) 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン—King Records Evangelion page
Articles and information
- Neon Genesis Evangelion at the Internet Movie Database
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Neon Genesis Evangelion at DMOZ